New York, NY – Below is a statement from Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director and Managing Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance, in response to Governor Cuomo’s comments that marijuana legalization will likely be left out of the New York state budget:

“While legalizing cannabis is necessary to reduce the decades of unjust, racist targeting of communities of color in New York, our state faces a public health crisis right now and efforts to contain COVID-19 demand legislators’ full attention. We remain committed to seeing legalization passed in New York at a time when critical components of equity and community reinvestment can be thoroughly addressed. 

The regulation of marijuana in our state must be centered in economic and racial justice now more than ever, because we know the same communities targeted by drug enforcement are the ones with the least access to healthcare right now, the ones grappling with decades of the economic toll from criminalization, with low wages, unstable housing, and the ones losing jobs and loved ones at the same time. The creation of a diversified and equitable industry that supports New York-based small businesses farmers will be imperative coming out of this crisis. When the dust settles and New York has survived this pandemic, these communities that are on the frontlines of this crisis — in addition to the legacy of harmful enforcement — must be the center of our rebuilding effort.”