They Call Out Governor Cuomo & The Legislature
Many states across the country are finding themselves closer to legalizing marijuana and now entrepreneurs are hopping on the weed train to make some coins. However, one coalition in New York is making sure Black people and other marginalized groups aren’t cut out of the edible American pie.
According to New York Daily News, a coalition of Black leaders, including Black Institute President Bertha Lewis, faith leaders, and other activists, are calling on Gov. Cuomo and the legislature to design a law that benefits communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.
The coalition will kick off a “We Rise to Legalize” campaign on Friday. Its goal is to require that any pot bill that issues licenses to grow and sell marijuana give priority to women, minority-owned businesses and nonviolent offenders who were convicted on marijuana charges.
The group also wants to ensure that any bill expunges non-violent marijuana convictions from people’s records and expand re-entry programs to folks impacted by drug arrests.
Along with all of this, the leaders want to expand access to the current medical marijuana program into communities of color, reinvest profits from pot businesses into minority communities most harmed by the current drug laws, develop community-based education and abuse programs, and create “good, sustainable jobs” in the marijuana industry.
Bertha Lewis pointed out that the criminalization of pot has disproportionately led to convictions for Black and Brown folks “and have created enormous suffering in communities of color.”
She said when the state legalized medical marijuana in 2014, no minority-owned companies where given licenses to grow or distribute the drug.
”Here in New York, marijuana legalization must advance racial justice and create real economic opportunities for people who have suffered the most under current marijuana laws,” Lewis said. “Cuomo and our state’s legislative leaders must ensure minority and women-owned businesses can thrive as entrepreneurs and job creators in the new cannabis industry in New York.”