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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director August 14, 2013

    appleUPDATE: Thompson, McDonald, Catsimatidis, and Carrion’s positions have been added. The race to become the next mayor of New York City is one of the most publicized and followed of 2013 and the issue of marijuana has been playing a prominent role, with a large majority of the candidates backing some degree of reform. NORML has compiled this list of the candidates and their statements surrounding marijuana policy to help educate New York City voters where they stand on the issue.

    DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

    Supports Full Legalization:

    Sal Albanese

    Background: Former New York City Council Member

    Position: “I believe that the time has come to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. By legalizing it, we can allow police officers to focus on local crime issues and improving clearance rates for homicide, rape, and robbery. By regulating marijuana, we can put black-market drug dealers out of business. By taxing marijuana, we can raise billions of dollars in new revenue to pay teachers better, create pediatric wellness centers, and expand health services.” – Sal Albanese’s Response to NORML

    Click here for more info.

    John Liu

    Background: Current New York City Comptroller

    Position: “By keeping it illegal, you actually encourage more violent crime. Why not regulate and tax it? We can derive $400 million in revenues for the city, use that money to cut CUNY tuition in half and reduce the disparate social impact that’s occurring in too many of our communities.” – John Liu Statement to NY1

    Click here for more info.

    Supports Decriminalization:

    Bill de Blasio

    Background: Current Public Advocate for New York City

    Position: “In New York City, nearly 50,000 people were arrested last year for marijuana possession. Low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families. These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs. What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low-level possession, with African-Americans arrested four times more frequently as whites — despite roughly equal usage rates. This policy is unjust and wrong.

    First-time offenses for possession of small amounts of marijuana are supposed to be punishable by fine only, unless publicly displayed. Commissioner Kelly instructed NYPD officers to stop making arrests for marijuana possession unless it is in public view. However, too many young African-Americans and Hispanics — without prior convictions — are still arrested for marijuana possession after being stopped and frisked by police, who then treat it as public display.

    Bill de Blasio will direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions and push for the passage of Governor Cuomo’s marijuana possession law, which would remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession under 15 grams. Bill de Blasio will enforce these standards and ensure cases of marijuana found through police stops are treated as possessions, not public displays. These commonsense changes will help reverse the racial impact of low-level marijuana arrests and align policing practices with constitutional protections.” – From Campaign Website

    Click here for more info.

    Christine Quinn

    Background: New York City Council Speaker

    Position: Supported Governor Cuomo’s efforts to decriminalize marijuana. Also supports medical marijuana.

    Click here for more info.

    Bill Thompson

    Background: Former New York City Comptroller

    Position: Supports decriminalization of small amounts and medical marijuana, but not legalization. (Source)

    Click here for more info.

    Anthony Weiner

    Background: Former United States Representative (D-NY)

    Position: “End Arrests for Small Amounts of Mari- juana. These arrests serve no purpose; they worsen NYPD/community relations, create criminal records that ruin lives, and waste the time and energy of officers who should be fighting serious crime.” – Campaign Website

    “I can tell my police officers and my police commissioner, that’s [marijuana arrests] not a priority for my administration. [It] damages lives, and very rarely do you catch a master criminal that way.” – Anthony Weiner to Capital New York

    Click here for more info.

    No Formalized Stance:

    Erick Salgado
    Ceceilia Berkowitz

    REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

    Supports Full Legalization:

    Joe Lhota

    Background: Former Deputy Mayor of New York City, Chief of M.T.A.

    Position: Supports marijuana legalization, but believes that responsibility for acting on the issue falls to the governor and federal government.

    Click here for more info.

    Supports Decriminalization

    George McDonald

    Background: Founder and President of the Dole Fund

    Position: Supports decriminalization. (Source)

    Click here for more info.

    John Catsimatidis

    Background: Owner, president, chairman, and CEO of the Gristedes Foods

    Position: Supports medical marijuana, but not legalization.

    Click here for more info.

    The independent candidate, Adolfo Carrión, Jr, supports decriminalization, but not legalization.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director May 20, 2013

    Marijuana law reform is gaining some serious momentum in New York as we approach the end of this year’s legislative session.

    Recent polling data released by Siena Research Institute revealed that 82% of New Yorkers support the medical use of marijuana. Fortunately for New York lawmakers, they can take action to address this issue that’s supported by an overwhelming majority of their constituents. Medical marijuana legislation is currently pending in both Houses of the New York Legislature and these measures have been gaining substantial political support. This legislation is expected to be debated by elected officials in the coming weeks. If you live in New York, click here to quickly and easily contact your state politicians and urge them to support this important legislation.

    In addition to medical marijuana, it seems that full legalization will also soon be debated. State Senator Liz Krueger announced her intentions to introduce legislation that would legalize the recreational use and limited cultivation of marijuana. The measure would also allow for the commercial sale of marijuana at retail outlets regulated by the New York State Alcohol Authority.

    “It is my intention as a New York State senator to soon introduce a law that would actually decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana in New York,” stated Sen. Krueger.

    NORML will update you when this legislation is introduced.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 9, 2013

    In his State of the State address, delivered this morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed his commitment to reforming his state’s marijuana laws. The governor proposed decriminalizing the possession of 15 grams of marijuana in public view to a civil violation. Currently only possession of marijuana in private is decriminalized, possession in public view is still currently a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $250 with a maximum sentence of 90 days.

    “These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end and it must end now,” Governor Cuomo stated.

    Last year, the Governor declared his support for a similar proposal, but was unable to gather significant support in the state legislature by the end of the year. NORML applauds Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the issue and we were glad to see him putting the topic front and center in a prominent speech.

    You can view Governor Cuomo’s speech on C-SPAN here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director October 23, 2012

    While the discussion of marijuana policy may be noticeably absent from the current dialogue in the presidential race, one prominent Democratic Party member is not backing down on his push to reform his state’s marijuana laws.

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has redoubled his efforts to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in public view after state legislators failed to act on the measure before the end of this year’s session. Amid discussions of a pay increase for legislators, Governor Cuomo told reporters this morning that, “I would not even consider, even consider a pay raise, unless the people’s business was being done in a thorough, responsible way.”

    Included in his definition of “the people’s business” is the decriminalization of marijuana he had championed earlier in the year, along with an increase in New York’s minimum wage.

    There have been talks about the legislature reconvening for a special session in the state after election day and before the start of next year’s session in January, but the governor made clear he would not sign off on their desired pay raise without action on these reform efforts.

    “I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise. I’m interested in a people’s agenda and that’s what the session would be about,” stated Gov. Cuomo.

    It is refreshing to see such a prominent sitting politician stand up for sound marijuana reform. New York’s current failed policy has cost the state around $75 million a year to arrest about 50,000 people for small amounts of marijuana, 85% of whom were people of color. This policy disproportionately targets the most vulnerable in our society and we applaud Governor Cuomo for taking a strong stance on this important issue. We can only hope other elected officials take notice and follow suit.

    UPDATE: New York City Council Member for Council District 8, Melissa Mark-Viverito, has released a statement applauding the Governor’s action:

    I commend New York Governor Cuomo for urging the State Legislature to adopt what he calls ‘The People’s Agenda,’ which includes an end to unjust small-quantity marijuana arrests, before they consider a potential salary hike for legislators.

    I strongly support this principled act of leadership in the face of a hostile Republican State Senate which in the last session blocked legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view. This inaction has led to thousands more unjust stop-and-frisk arrests of young men of color when they are told to empty their pockets during stops. Enforcement of this policy costs the city an estimated $75 million each year.

    The new law would make marijuana possession merely a violation, like a traffic ticket, and not a crime that the police can arrest people for committing. Since there are currently over 50,000 annual stop-and-frisk arrests for small-time marijuana possession in NYC, this will dramatically reduce the unjust criminalization of our youth. Earlier this year, the New York City Council passed a resolution in support of this legislation, which I sponsored, and Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly have voiced their support of these reforms. The Commissioner even issued a directive to officers intended to slow down the number of marijuana arrests. Still, it is essential to codify this policy change at the State level, and I thank Governor Cuomo for taking this issue so seriously. – Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (source)

    Note: This story was featured on The Colbert report last night. You can view the segment here. You can view more press coverage here.