New York, NY On Friday, June 16th Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes had the opportunity to participate in a legislative panel discussion at the Cannabis World Conference and Business Exposition held at the Javits Center, where roughly 4,000 attended in 2016. The discussion was moderated by western New Yorks own former Erie County Executive and NY Grows Founder Joel Giambra.
Alongside fellow bill sponsor Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan, Peoples-Stokes comments focused on the profound impact that decriminalizing marijuana could have on the futures of young adults of color. When discussing the advantages of decriminalization Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes stated, Historical data shows that blacks and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rate, but black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for pot. This criminal record follows them, as they can be discriminated against employment, housing, access to education and public benefits, and they're essentially locked into a second class status for life. The prevention of a criminal record will afford young adults basic opportunities that they would otherwise never have available to them. A member of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, Peoples-Stokes is self-charged with pursuing the passage of legislation such as this, Raise the Age (passed during the 2017 budget), and the Sealing of Certain Records (A.2142). These represent a single type of systems change approaches amongst many others that are being explored to close the criminal justice and socio-economic equity gaps that exist here in western New York and throughout New York State, the Assemblywoman stated.
Peoples-Stokes and Kruegers participation in the conference panel discussion comes on the heels of their hosting an Albany press conference in conjunction with the Drug Policy Alliance of NY on Monday, June 12th calling for passage of their legislation, A.3506-B/S.3040-B. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) as its known as does just that it establishes a licensing, regulation, and taxation structure for industry-related business ventures, and a legalizing and decriminalizing framework for adults 21 and older. Similar to states like Colorado and Washington, legalization has the potential to create millions in state revenue to support infrastructure improvements, education, healthcare or a combination of numerous state-authorized services.