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Legalizing Weed: 3 Quotes From Lawmakers After Pot Became Decriminalized in New York

Image: Legalizing Weed: 3 Quotes From Lawmakers After Pot Became Decriminalized in New York
New York State Senator Daniel Squadron speaks on the steps of New York City Hall in support of the proposed Fairness and Equity Act, which would attempt to reform racially biased arrests in regards to marijuana possession in New York state on July 9, 2014 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015 03:04 PM

Pot decriminalization in New York was recognized as far back as 1977. But law enforcement, particularly that of New York City, did not entirely recognize the measure that effectively legalized weed until 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio informed officers to start issuing civil infractions instead of arresting people for using it.

Lawmakers have been working towards making sure the 1977 law is recognized and applied to all citizens in the Empire State.

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Here’s what’s being said about pot decriminalization in the in New York:

1. "This is a basic issue of fairness – you shouldn't be able to predict who will be charged with a crime based on race and ethnicity," said Democratic state Sen. Daniel Squadron, sponsor of the Fairness and Equity Act, according to The Huffington Post.

"Today, marijuana possession almost never means a criminal record for white New Yorkers, but could easily mean a criminal record for many black and Latino New Yorkers, who are actually less likely to possess marijuana."

Squadron’s bill was the result of data indicating police were targeting minorities with criminal citations for marijuana, although it was decriminalized in 1977.

Police were stopping minorities and asking them to empty their pockets, if they had weed it was a violation of law to put it in clear view, which led to an arrest.

2. Other legislators sponsored bills in 2013 aimed at recognizing decriminalization as an actual law that applies to everyone, according to a 2013 press release.

“For too long, a loophole in the 1977 marijuana possession law led to the law being applied differently to different groups people based solely on race, age and geography,” said Assemblywoman Karim Camara.

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“By closing this loophole and standardizing the law, this legislation will help restore fairness, equity, and sensibility to our marijuana possession laws. Marijuana remains illegal, and penalties for possessing it remain on the books, but no longer will someone incur a lifelong criminal record for simple possession. This is a civil rights issue, and I’m proud of my colleagues in the Assembly for passing this important bill. Now it’s time for our colleagues in the Senate to act, so we can deliver this bill to Governor Cuomo for his signature.”

3. “Each day that the crisis of rampant marijuana arrests in New York goes unaddressed, hundreds of young people lose the opportunity to fully participate in our state’s economy and local communities. The use of this loophole in our drug laws to target and criminalize Black and Latino youth is not only ethically wrong, but it is bad economic policy,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley, according to a 2013 press release.

“By standardizing penalties for marijuana possession with the laws that have been in effect since 1977, we will save taxpayer money, provide broader opportunity for social growth, and promote greater fairness throughout the State of New York.”

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Pot decriminalization in New York was recognized as far back as 1977. But law enforcement, particularly that of New York City, did not entirely recognize the measure that effectively legalized weed until 2014.
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2015-04-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 03:04 PM
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