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Hawkins Renews Call for Marijuana Legalization at NYC Cannabis March; Accuses NY Police Department of abusing law to target people of color

Hawkins Renews Call for Marijuana Legalization at NYC Cannabis March; Accuses NY Police Department of abusing law to target people of color

For immediate release: May 5, 2018

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, repeated his long standing call for legalization of recreational use of marijuana at the annual cannabis parade in New York.

“We must demand more than our present ineffective medical marijuana program which seems primarily designed to enrich a few well-connected business people. Even though New York decriminalized small amounts of marijuana 40 years ago, local police especially in New York City have used the discriminatory enforcement of the law to target people of color,” noted Hawkins.

Hawkins believes cannabis legalization should include the following measures:

  • Regulate cannabis industry to include and encourage minority, women, small, and cooperative businesses and exclude big pharma, liquor, tobacco, and agribusiness.

  • Regulate cannabis to encourage organic production methods and protect consumers from pesticides and chemical additives.

  • Full Re-Legalization of Industrial Hemp for any hemp grower.

  • Tax cannabis products at the normal sales tax rates, excluding homegrown not for trade or sale.

  • Pardons for all non-violent drug felons.

  • A Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to assess the impact of the war on drugs and mass incarceration, particularly on communities of color, and recommend policies to repair the damages.

  • State Attorney General to defend of all cannabis producers and consumers who may be prosecuted by federal law enforcement.

Based on data received from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) released findings last week showing that the NYPD continues to violate the marijuana decriminalization law to target people of color. PROP found that the NYPD continues to arrest thousands of New Yorkers for marijuana possession, 4,081 for the first three months of 2018, over 45 per day. 93% of the NYPD's marijuana possession arrests involved New Yorkers of color. This, despite research showing that white people use and sell the drug in equal or greater proportions than African American and Latino people.

New York State is the marijuana arrest capital of the world with nearly 800,000 marijuana possession arrests and summons over the last 20 years, the most of any state in the nation.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington state became the first states to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Since then, seven more states and Washington, DC, have followed.

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