Today, Oct. 28, 2015, Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sen. Liz Krueger held a press conference followed by a public forum at Buffalo City Hall in Buffalo, New York, to address the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill sponsored by Krueger that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.
“Existing marijuana laws have created a violent, illegal drug market that consumes $675 million of New York’s dollars in criminal justice resources each year,” said Peoples-Stokes, representing New York’s 141st District. “Drug laws have also created a permanent underclass with people unable to find jobs after a conviction. One of the most damaging issues derived from the war on drugs is that the policies are inherently racist.”
According to a press release from the Drug Policy Alliance, leaders and members of the Buffalo community joined Peoples-Stokes and Krueger to discuss how marijuana prohibition has affected locals and how legalizing recreational marijuana could benefit the community.
Krueger explained, “Allowing personal use, with appropriate regulation and taxation, will end the heavily racialized enforcement that disproportionately impacts African American and Latino New Yorkers. It will also mean that limited law enforcement resources can go where they’re really needed, while closing off an underground criminal marketplace and providing additional revenue and economic development opportunities throughout the state. MRTA is the kind of win-win that our communities desperately need.”
Krueger had previously introduced a bill in 2013 that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, but the bill was unsuccessful, prompting Krueger to introduce a slightly revised version of the bill on Jan. 14, 2015.
While New York discusses recreational marijuana, the state is gearing up for the implementation of its medical marijuana program. According to the Department of Health, this program should be operational by Jan. 5, 2016, or “when the system is certified by the Commissioner of Health and Superintendent of State Police that it can be implemented in accordance with public health and safety interests.”