For decades, marijuana prohibition has been used as a justification to stop, detain, search, arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate the most vulnerable members of our society. Marijuana is not a dangerous drug. The risk of dying from use of marijuana is extremely low. Meanwhile, thousands of people die each year from use of alcohol and tobacco. Eight states, including D.C., have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and there is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before.
Communities of color have been criminalized at a much higher rate for possession and use of marijuana than their white counterparts. Nationwide, despite using marijuana at about the same rate, Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for the drug than are white people. In Albany, the local stats were similar in 2018.
The following policy is aimed at addressing the inequities in the prosecution of marijuana crimes of the past, and advocating for the legalization, regulation and reinvestment in the communities that were previously targeted for marijuana use with tax revenue generated by the legal sale of marijuana in New York.
Decline to Prosecute:
- All misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges, which is possession of up to 8 ounces of marihuana.
- Probation violations based on positive tests for marijuana or misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
- Paraphernalia related to marijuana.
Divert and/or reduce the following charges:
- Felony Possession of marijuana, which is possession of more than 8 ounces of marijuana.
- Driving while under the influence of drugs, including marijuana.
- Sale of marijuana.
- Like alcohol, open container of marijuana in a vehicle or open use in a vehicle will be prosecuted without regard to the above policies.
Review Sentences for People Incarcerated for Marijuana Convictions:
- Look back at past marijuana convictions and prison sentences and move to resentence, when possible, including recommending time served.
- Vacating and sealing past marijuana convictions.
- Regulation and legalization of marijuana.
- Using tax revenue generated by the sale of marijuana to reinvest into communities of color previously aggressively policed for use of marijuana.
- Commuting long prison sentences for marijuana convictions.
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