Full Equity in Adult-Use Cannabis Program Must include Reinvesting in Communities Harmed By Marijuana Prohibition

New York, NY – Below is a statement from Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, in response to Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal reaffirming support for comprehensive marijuana legalization in New York this year:

“We are pleased to see Governor Cuomo’s commitment to passing comprehensive marijuana legalization in the state budget this year, and to see him include social equity and small business incubator programs. 

We are disappointed Governor Cuomo doesn’t clearly guarantee that a portion of funds from marijuana sales will be reinvested into the communities most harmed by New York’s marijuana arrest crusade. Without this necessary component, the Governor’s proposal will not truly right the wrongs done to communities of color by disproportionate enforcement of marijuana. 

As New York establishes a new industry, it is vital that we seek to redress the significant damage caused by prohibition. Any bill legalizing marijuana that aims to center social equity needs to direct tax revenue from sales toward the communities that are still reeling from decades of biased enforcement, which the Governor has long recognized. And legislation must include specific language to resolve the devastating collateral consequences of marijuana prohibition in the fields of housing, employment, child welfare, and immigration. 

New York can get legalization right but it starts by centering reinvestment, equity, and justice within our comprehensive reform. We need responsible legalization that doesn’t leave out the New Yorkers targeted by marijuana over policing. The Drug Policy Alliance and our partners in the Start SMART NY coalition are committed to working for legalization with economic and social justice at its core.”