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Legalize Cannabis in New York on Juneteenth — End Re-Enslavement

Image courtesy of Leafly.

By Annie Iezzi

On June 19th, 2019, cannabis could, should and can be legalized for adult use in New York State by a vote in the State Senate. Inform your senators of your support for the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act!

Tomorrow, Juneteenth, commemorates the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Texas and the official emancipation of slaves throughout the former Confederate States of America. So why, in the United States, are populations of color still being enslaved via the prison-industrial complex for cannabis violations? End the re-enslavement of communities of color who were, and still are, impacted by the fallacious War on Drugs by supporting the legalization of adult cannabis use in New York State. 

NY could be the first state in the country to require profit made from legalization to be reinvested in the communities most impacted by the War on Drugs and the prison-industrial complex.

After years, months, and a final weekend of debate, lawmakers are finalizing one last push to legalize recreational cannabis use in New York before the legislative session comes to a close on Wednesday. Debates have raged about the political fallout and revenue allocation contentions that will result from passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, but in keeping with Juneteenth, these potential pitfalls must take a backseat to the reparations owed to people of color in the United States. In an effort spearheaded by the Start SMART coalition, reparations begin with ending imprisonment by legalizing recreational use, and for this task, we need the support of the entire cannabis community!

The latest version of the bill, officially named “Senate Bill S1527B” is intended to end ineffectual and unjust cannabis prohibition in New York and usher in the conscientious regulation of cannabis to better serve public wellness and equity. It will allow the responsible use of cannabis by adults over 21 years of age and improve and expand both the medical marijuana program and hemp farming. Under the Office of Cannabis Management, all of the aforementioned will be regulated and monitored.

Additionally, the bill necessarily addresses cannabis as a criminal justice reform issue. It will expunge prior criminal records, expand resentencing and reclassification for those previously convicted of now decriminalized cannabis violations, and protect against the villainization of youth. MRTA protects these youth both legally and through education. It focuses on small businesses, family farms, and community participation while allocating tax revenue for social good, informing consumers and providing information for cognizant decision making. So inform your senators of your support for the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act!

Image courtesy of WomenGrow NYC and Start SMART NY.

This bill is currently stalled in the state legislature, where lawmakers are struggling to reach compromises that will allow the bill to pass. Should the bill pass, it will be named for the cannabis community’s beloved champion Doug Greene, and all of his hard work fighting for legalization. Despite setbacks and negotiations, this legalization is within reach. Victory in the assembly carries a distinct possibility, and the Senate is just a few undecided votes away from passing the bill. Senators Krueger and Savino are currently advocating for this bill and the social issues that it stands for, but their voices are not loud enough without a chorus from within the community to harmonize.

Sing, schmooze, ask, demand— reach out to your senators to add your voice to this fight! If you, or someone you know, is a resident of: White Plains, Hudson Valley, Long Island, Queens, or East Brooklyn, contact the following senators and tell them to PASS THE MRTA!

Urgent Priority:

Mayer (White Plains) (518)-455-2031
Stavisky (Flushing – Queens)(518)-455-3461
Kaplan (Nassau – Long Island)(518)-455-2170

High Priority:

Brooks (Nassau/Suffolk – Long Island) (516)-882-0630
Thomas (Nassau – Long Island)(516)-739-1700
Gaughran (Nassau – Long Island)(516)-922-1811

Medium Priority:

Addabbo (Queens incl. Rockaways)(718)-738-1111
Persaud (Brooklyn) (518)-455-2788
Harckham (Westchester & Hudson Valley)(914)-241-4600 

*Contact information courtesy of CannaGather.

This Juneteenth, take action to back a modern continuation of the Emancipation Proclamation by supporting the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, keeping communities of color out of prison, and supporting the freedom of the adult use of cannabis. 

Annie Iezzi is Honeysuckle Magazine’s Managing Intern. She is a second-year student at Barnard College of Columbia University, studying English and Political Science and writing in her  scarce (and cherished) free time.

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