Governor Cuomo to Announce Plan for Marijuana Legalization Today

Press Release January 15, 2019
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Melissa Moore 646-470-2827

Today Governor Cuomo is expected to announce legislation to establish a legal market for marijuana in New York. The bill would effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults over the age of 21.
The question is no longer should New York legalize marijuana, but what legalization will look like. There is a fierce debate right now about where tax revenue should go and how New York should establish a framework rooted in racial and economic justice.
Members of the Start SMART NY coalition (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) – which is comprised of organizations and advocates dedicated to criminal justice reform, civil rights, public health, and community-based organizations who support legalization – are available to comment on today’s milestone in the fight to end marijuana prohibition and build an equitable industry in New York.
“Nearly one million New Yorkers have been ensnared in the criminal justice system simply for marijuana. As the state closes the book on its shameful war on marijuana, legalization must help repair the damage perpetrated on individuals and communities,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance and member of Start SMART NY. “The Governor’s proposal must be as comprehensive as the damage that has been done throughout the state – it must ensure equity and diversity, while reinvesting in the communities that were the hardest hit by marijuana criminalization.”
The members of the statewide Start SMART NY coalition are available to comment on today’s announcement:
•    Kassandra Frederique, DPA New York State Director, on why it’s important for legalization to be rooted in racial and economic justice, crafting a diverse and equitable marijuana industry in New York.
•    Melissa Moore, DPA New York State Deputy Director, on the politics and framework for legalization, and economic considerations for the state.
•    Alyssa Aguilera, VOCAL-NY, on the need to reinvest in communities most impacted by the drug war.
•    Juan Cartagena, Latino Justice, on civil rights considerations surrounding legalization.
•    Doug Greene, Empire State NORML, on home grow provisions, social consumption, and interplay with the existing medical marijuana program.
•    Gia Morón, Women Grow, on navigating the licensing process, equity initiatives, and implementation hurdles for people of color and women entrepreneurs.
•    Peter Volkmann, Chatham New York Police Chief, can address law enforcement post-legalization.
•    Andi Novick, NY Small Farm Alliance of Cannabis Growers (Hudson Valley), on agricultural opportunity and family farming of cannabis.
•    India Walton, Open Buffalo, on marijuana justice and equity in Buffalo, community reinvestment, and diversity in the industry.
•    Mary Kruger, Rochester NORML, on the community impact of prohibition in Rochester and community reinvestment post-legalization.
•    Mohini Sharma, Metro Justice (Rochester), on economic opportunities for Upstate NY with legalization.
•    Kathy Kaufman, Westchester Communities for Police Reform, on criminal justice provisions and police-community accountability.
•    Michael Sisitzky, New York Civil Liberties Union, on the overarching legal ramifications of legalization and implications for reducing housing and employment discrimination.
•    Alisa Wellek, Immigrant Defense Project, on the considerations for immigrants who have had contact with the criminal legal system because of prohibition.

Learn more about the statewide campaign to legalize marijuana at Start SMART NY.


A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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