Legislative Gazette on Albany rally to end racially biased marijuana arrests

Leg Gazette

Decriminalize small amounts of marijuana; end stop-and-frisks, say Black and Latino lawmakers

By JESS STRING | May 22, 2013

Members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, along with VOCAL-NY, rallied at the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capitol Wednesday to protest current stop-and-frisk practices and push for a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

With statistics showing that 82 percent of young individuals arrested for marijuana possession are either Black or Latino — even though more white high school seniors use marijuana than minorities — the lawmakers believe the penalty for carrying small amounts of marijuana is a gateway to racial profiling by law enforcement.

“It’s not in the best interests of society to give these young men and women a criminal record. It’s not right,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara, D-Brooklyn. “Many of them are first time offenders; non-violent, [with a] small amount for recreational purposes. Many times it’s because of stop-and-frisk. You’re told to empty out your pockets and at the snap of a finger you go from a summons to a misdemeanor.”

The recently amended bills (A.6716-a/S.3105-a) would decriminalize marijuana in a public place open to public view that weighs less than 15 grams. Any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor only when it is being burned in a public place. Camara, sponsor of the bill, said the opposition to the bill is confused about its initial intention, calling it a legalization of marijuana.

“Everybody’s talking about the bill and some people are misunderstanding what we are saying … That we’re trying to legalize marijuana and we’re not,” Camara said. “What we’re saying is that we want to stop injustices that are perpetrating against primarily black and Latino males.”

Read the full article here.

Blog, Civil Rights, Media Coverage

Comments are closed.