Update: A. 2142 has passed the state Assembly by a vote of 95 to 38. The Senate has yet to take action on its companion bill, S. 3809.
New York has historically had the highest marijuana-related arrest rate in the nation largely because of questionable arrests made under the ‘public view’ exception. These arrests primarily target African Americans and Hispanics, and have been roundly criticized by leading politicians and civil rights advocates. (Legislation to close this loophole is pending, and you may contact your lawmakers and urge them to make this change here)
Passage of A. 2142 and S. 3809 will make it so these hundreds of thousands of minor offenders are no longer stigmatized by their arrest record.
“I introduced the marijuana sealing bill because drug laws have created a permanent underclass of people unable to find jobs after a conviction,” said Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “One of the most damaging issues derived from the war on drugs is that the policies are inherently racist. Communities of color have been devastated by bad drug policies and hyper-criminalization for the last 40 years. It is an approach that has never worked and has caused significantly more harm than good to our communities and to our families. If today’s moment of increased attention to heroin encourages us to center public health in our drug policy, then we need to ensure that we are making amends to communities of color by alleviating the burden bad policies have had on their lives. Sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions is the first step to reintegrating thousands of New Yorkers who are inhibited daily from accessing employment, housing and an education all due to a conviction on their record for simple possession of marijuana.”
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