The prohibition of marijuana has failed New Yorkers. Beyond being obviously ineffective, keeping marijuana illegal saddles thousands of our fellow citizens with life-damaging criminal records. It distracts our police from stopping and solving real crimes. And it puts money directly into the pockets of violent gangs and drug cartels that control the illicit market.
While law enforcement officials insist that low-level possession is not viewed as a priority, people still get arrested for marijuana, particularly young people of color. Outrageously, over a 15 year period, 88% of all arrests for marijuana possession in New York City were of black and Latino people. (Even though young white people use marijuana at a higher rate, they only made up 12% of arrests.)
Polls show that a heavy majority of New Yorker voters back marijuana reform. According to a recent, 2014 poll, 89% of New Yorkers support legalizing medical marijuana, while 57% of New Yorkers support legalizing recreational marijuana.
A bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in New York would not only cease the costly, time-consuming and harmful practice of arresting, prosecuting and jailing adults in New York who choose to use marijuana, but it could generate billions in new tax revenue that could be put to good use supporting schools, healthcare and public safety.