The legalization of cannabis in New York is once again on the agend for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and many state lawmakers.
But even as the proposal is being pushed in part to aid a cash-strapped state by generating more revenue, the measure could once again face similar scrutiny over how it aids communities affect by stricter drug laws of the past.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday formally called for the inclusion of a marijuana legalization measure, pointing to the need to generate more cash for the state, but also as the criminal justice issue it has been considered for years by advocates.
“This will raise revenue and will end the over criminalization of this product that has left so many communities of color over policed and over incarcerated,” he said.
And progressives are going to be closely watching to ensure that is the case with whatever final measure is agreed to. A joint statement from the Rev. Al Sharpton, former Bernie Sanders campaign chair and Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum pointed to the need for an equitable distribution of revenue, workplace compensation and the right to join a union.
“For decades I have been a vocal opponent of discriminatory drug policies,” Sharpton said. “Now that cannabis is being legalized around the country, we have a responsibility to ensure that New York is at the forefront of directing the benefits its industry to the places that have been most negatively impacted from its previous criminalization.”