BUFFALO, N.Y. - A small group from Buffalo joined dozens in Albany to lobby lawmakers about legalizing marijuana and the disparity in arrests based on race for pot possession.
Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), would legalize the production, distribution, and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill would effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
India Walton of Open Buffalo said, "We're hoping that the legislation will come out of committee and go to the floor for a vote and that our lawmakers will actually do the will of the people and legalize marijuana for adult use in for New York State."
The legislation also ensures tax revenue generated from marijuana legalization is put to use repairing communities devastated by harsh enforcement of prohibition by directing revenue to fund job training, adult education, youth development programming, establish or expand community centers, bolster re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated, and otherwise support community-focused programming in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the drug war, in addition to education, public health, and drug treatment.
Silver Light was on the bus for Albany and believes marijuana should be legal because, "for a long time marijuana has had kind of a bad rap and people haven't really done their research or really know what it's about and it's easy for legislators and politicians to be like, oh you know it's this, it's that. Now that we're in 2018, we have a lot more information."
2 On Your Side has shown in several reports: there's a racial disparity when it comes to low level marijuana possession arrests in the city of Buffalo. Mayor Byron Brown finally went on record with us and said he and the Buffalo Police department are considering making possessing marijuana a low level enforcement priority for police.
The group met with several lawmakers, including Democrats Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sean Ryan. Ryan told the group h e hasn't taken a position yet, but is researching the effects of prohibition on communities. They also met with Republican State Senator Chris Jacobs who has expressed concern about the health effects and the racial disparities.
Nine states and the District of Columbia have now ended marijuana prohibition in their jurisdictions.