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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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 Executive Director June 3, 2013

    Legislation that allows for the therapeutic use of cannabis by qualified patients, Assembly Bill 6357, was approved today by members of the New York state Assembly in a 95-38 vote. The debate now moves to the Senate where members are expected to take up companion legislation, Senate Bill 4406, in the coming days.

    These measures would allow for the therapeutic use of cannabis by qualified patients who possess a recommendation from their physician. They are being supported by a bi-partisan coalition of more than 50 lawmakers.

    Under these measures, state-registered patients diagnosed with one of over a dozen serious medical conditions — including cancer, HIV, post-traumatic stress, arthritis, diabetes, or epilepsy — would be allowed to possess up to 2 and one-half ounces of cannabis. The measure also allows for the establishment of licensed not-for-profit and for-profit facilities to produce and distribute cannabis to qualified patients. Non-registered patients would be able to present an affirmative defense of medical necessity at trial.

    New York voters strongly support allowing patients to have access to marijuana therapy. According to a 2013 Sienna Research Institute poll, 82 percent of New Yorkers — including 81 percent of Democrats and Republicans — endorse the use of marijuana when authorized by a physician. This is an increase in support of 21 percent since pollsters last asked the question in 2012.

    Despite this widespread public support, Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County) has stated his opposition to the measure. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated he opposed the measure, but was keeping an “open mind” on the issue.

    If you live in New York, it is imperative that your elected officials hear from you. Please take a minute and click here to quickly and easily contact your State Senator, Senate Co-Leader Skelos, and Governor Cuomo and tell them to stand with the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers by supporting this important legislation.

    NORML will continue to update you in the coming weeks as this proposal moves forward. You can track the progress of marijuana law reform legislation in other states via NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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 Executive 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 Executive Director December 17, 2012

     

     

     

    Two new polls, published this week by Quinnipiac University, show solid support for marijuana legalization in both New York and Ohio.

    In a New York State poll of 1,302 voters, conducted December 5th through 10th, 51% stated that they believed marijuana should be made legal and only 44% stated they opposed the idea. Support was slightly strong among men (56% support to 41% opposed), but a small plurality of women also backed legalization (47% support to 46% opposed). Also, as we’ve seen across the board in marijuana reform polling, the strongest age group in favor is the 18-29 year old demographic (61% support to 34% opposed), with support declining through the older age groups. You can read more about the New York poll here.

    Quinnipiac also conducted a state poll in Ohio of 1,165 voters from December 4th through 9th and found Ohioans evenly split on marijuana legalization, with 47% support to 47% opposed. You can view the cross tabs for the Ohio poll here.

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