The Cannabis Cultural Association is proud to be working alongside our Drug Policy Alliance brothers and sisters in an effort to legalize Cannabis in New York. Smart for Racial Justice, Smart for Communities, Smart for NY's Economy. #Legalize #Decriminlize #NYS #Cannabis #StartSmartNY 

-Mission Statement-

Start SMART NY – Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade – is the campaign dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in New York. We believe that it is time to stop the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice.

New York’s marijuana policies are broken. Prohibition has done more harm than good. Arrests prohibit individuals from fully participating in society, inhibiting their ability to get a loan, get a job, go to college, or even have a place to live. Start SMART NY is more than a call to action, it is a demand for a new approach. We believe that while legalizing marijuana for adult use won’t alleviate all the challenges faced by those communities who are most criminalized, it will remove a tool that has been used for their criminalization.

We also believe that marijuana reform is criminal justice reform and immigration reform, and that it is entwined with economic justice and at the nexus of racial justice. Further, we understand that in finding a SMART way to end prohibition and move forward into a new era -- we must also look back and repair the harm that’s been caused.

Our campaign goals are to: end to senseless marijuana arrests and citations, create a public dialogue on collateral consequences and the hyper criminalization of communities, transform stigma, and build economic power. And we believe that all of this CAN be done while also inhibiting access for minors, putting state tax dollars to better use, creating new jobs, and generating millions in tax revenue.

Prohibition is broken. Legalization is coming. Let’s Start SMART.

SMART for Racial Justice

While the current illicit market is composed of people representing all populations, people of color have been the specific target of efforts to enforce prohibition. Regulating this industry with provisions to ensure diversity in licensing and employment represents a crucial first step toward repairing the harms of the drug war and alleviating the disproportionate burden that communities of color have borne as a result. Ending prohibition is SMART for racial justice because it will combat the hyper-criminalization of communities of color and provide new opportunities for social and economic advancement.

SMART for Communities

The enforcement of marijuana prohibition has devastated communities across New York State, primarily those of color and low-income communities. It has saddled hundreds of thousands of people with criminal records that yield significant collateral consequences for them—and their families, including limited access to housing, employment, and education opportunities. Marijuana prohibition has also been a justification for a drastic increase in policing activities in certain communities. This disproportionate enforcement has substantially eroded police and community relationships. Ending prohibition is the SMART choice for communities because it will alleviate one of the biggest causes of negative interactions with law enforcement. It will also provide an opportunity, due to the revenue it will generate, for the communities that have been most devastated to start to repair the harms of the drug war.

SMART for NY’s Economy

Creating a system to tax and regulate marijuana use by adults over the age of 21 is a sound economic investment for the state of New York. In the states with existing regulated markets, previously static economies have experienced a new small business boom coupled with technological advances that benefit a variety of industries. Additionally, legalization presents an opportunity for New York’s agrarian community to foster the development of a new crop that is sustainable, resilient, and widely consumed. Similar to the rise of New York’s craft wine and beer industries, a regulated marijuana market could also provide opportunities for small businesses in small towns across the state to cultivate a business model that is not reliant on access to large amounts of capital but is instead dependent on local resources as well as their own ingenuity and creativity. Ending prohibition is the SMART choice for New York’s economy because our state is uniquely positioned to reap the financial benefits of reducing the cost of enforcement while also capitalizing on the diversity of our landscape.

Nationwide, the current legal marijuana market’s estimated value is more than $6.6 billion, with recreational sales expected to exceed $10.9 billion by 2025. Illicit sales are estimated at nearly $3 billion for New York State, and an official study by the NYC comptroller in 2013 estimated potential tax revenue for a legal marijuana market in NYC alone would be more than $400 million, acknowledging that the actual revenue could be much higher.

 

The War on Drugs: From Prohibition to Gold Rush

This video, narrated by Jay Z, is part history lesson and part vision statement. Jay Z maps the devastation caused by the war on drugs and raises important questions about economic equity in the emerging above ground marijuana industry.

We are working to end prohibition in New York and establish a well-regulated and inclusive marijuana industry -- one that will create new jobs, foster small businesses, and generate millions in tax revenue. These funds will be used in part to reinvest in communities that have been most harmed by marijuana prohibition.

Why We Should End Prohibition

In a country characterized by a punitive approach to marijuana policy, the state of New York has some of the harshest enforcement practices. New York’s decriminalization of personal possession of marijuana still operates within the framework of prohibition, allowing profound harms to be inflicted upon the state and its residents. Here are some of the symptoms of New York’s broken marijuana policies.

New York’s Marijuana Policies Are Broken

Over the past twenty years, New York has become the marijuana arrest capital of the world, with nearly 800,000 marijuana possession arrests and summonses in New York – more than any other state. The lack of statewide reform means that every year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers continue to be swept into the criminal justice system.

People arrested or ticketed for simple marijuana possession face a range of collateral consequences with long-term damaging effects – even when there is no conviction – including being denied access to housing, educational opportunities, and, most regularly, being denied access to employment opportunities. These obstacles can seriously hinder an otherwise law-abiding individual’s ability to succeed and participate in society.

New York’s Black and Latino populations combined account for a little more than a third of the state’s total population. Yet more than 80% of the people arrested annually for marijuana possession across New York State are Black or Latino, mostly young men, despite young white men being more likely to use marijuana.  There is no evidence to suggest that these racial disparities in arrests will cease without reform, as this trend continues today.

Of those arrested in 2016, more than 80% were people of color, despite similar rates of use across racial lines.

Of those arrested in 2016, more than 80% were people of color, despite similar rates of use across racial lines.

Take Action

Without reform, New York will continue to fall behind changing public opinion and responsible policymaking regarding marijuana. It is time for New York to fix its broken marijuana policies and repair the harm caused by the war on drugs. It is time to end prohibition.

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