Getting harassed marijuana activists

New York: Legalizing Marijuana as an Anti-Racism Measure

New York. Those arrested in New York have often violated marijuana laws. According to the 2019 civil rights organization ACLU, cannabis-related crimes are the most common cause of imprisonment. And the numbers reflect the deeply rooted racism, despite the same level of consumption among whites and non-whites: “Throughout the state, black New Yorkers are 4.5 times more likely to be arrested for weed than white New Yorkers. In Brooklyn and Manhattan, blacks are nine times more likely to be arrested than whites, ”writes the ACLU.

As the 15th US state, it is expected that New York - with its 20 million inhabitants and the metropolis of the same name - will allow the consumption of marijuana after years of dispute. The political and social milestone should come into force in the coming days with the passage of a corresponding law in the local parliament in Albany. It is expected with great approval.

Up to 85 grams of cannabis allowed

In the future, people over the age of 21 will be allowed to carry up to 85 grams of cannabis with them for personal use. And according to the media, consumption should also be allowed in special lounge-like places. At a later point in time, it should also be possible to grow plants at home for personal use. It could be a year or more before the first cannabis stores open.

The license to smoke weed is above all a measure to combat structural racism. "For decades, the war on drugs has been a tool to target black and brown Americans and change the fortunes of their communities for millions of people," wrote the Brookings think tank last year.

Past marijuana crimes will be deleted from police files

From now on, New York police officers are no longer allowed to search cars just because they smell grass coming from the vehicle - but testing drivers for the influence of cannabis is still allowed. The records of previous marijuana crimes, which will no longer be banned in the future, are also to be deleted from the police files. Members of minorities are also to be better placed in the future when it comes to the distribution of business permits, which experts see as a central measure for supporting disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Last but not least, a large part of the additional tax revenue to be expected should flow into neighborhoods affected by racism. How this money is to be distributed has recently been one of the major points of contention between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MPs in New York's capital Albany. Cuomo had urged, among other things, that his government should have greater influence over the use. It is estimated that the state could create a $ 4.2 billion cannabis industry in the coming years, with tax revenues of about 350 million annually.

According to media reports, the 63-year-old Prime Minister Cuomo had recently clearly approached the parliamentarians during the negotiations. Some linked this to allegations of sexual harassment against him by several women. The governor - so the reading - needs a political success in order to ease the pressure on himself.