Black Lawmakers Threaten Block of New York Legalization Sans Racial Justice Measures

In New York, the process of getting marijuana legalized has uncovered some deep divides in the cannabis movement. Some of the state’s Black lawmakers say that unless racial justice is prioritized, they will withdraw their support of Governor Mario Cuomo’s legalization bill, which has also raised alarm over what some see as its over-reaching influence of medicinal marijuana conglomerates.

An article published by the New York Times on March 11 outlined the concerns of Black elected officials. “They thought we were going to trust that at the end of the day, these communities would be invested in,” commented Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the state’s first Black female Assembly majority leader. “But that’s not something I want to trust. If it’s not required in the statute, then it won’t happen.”

The Governor’s office holds that adding the allowances for correcting the racial disparities of the War on Drugs would be best added in after the passage of the bill. “We have to be careful about how we implement the legislation so we don’t have to change it every few years,” said Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David to the Times.

That reasoning may not be good enough if the Governor plans on retaining the support

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