Metro: Gov. Cuomo proposes changing marijuana drug laws

VOCAL-NY leader Brian Pearson and community organizer Alfredo Carrasquillo are profiled in a June 5th article discussing the impact of minor marijuana arrests on employment. Read the full article by Alison Bowen here.

Gov. Cuomo proposes changing marijuana drug laws 

An arrest for small amounts of marijuana can lead to a criminal record – not to mention putting employment in jeopardy if a person misses work. Job applicants often must also include arrests on most applications.

Woodhaven, N.Y., resident Brian Pearson, 35, was on his way to work in January when cops found the remainder of a smoked joint in his cousin’s car, who was driving him to the train in Crown Heights. Both men were arrested.

After missing three days of work, and several more for court appearances, the charges were dismissed when a urine test came back negative for marijuana, he said.

“It was real scary,” he said. “Everything was on the line.”

After mounting criticism over the pot arrests, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told officers last year not to arrest people taking small amounts of marijuana out during stops. But Cuomo’s law change proposal would be the first time New York officially categorizes this as not a crime.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today he supported Cuomo’s legislation.

A life derailed after arrest

Alfredo Carrasquillo, 28, a Yonkers resident and community organizer with Vocal New York, an activist group focusing on incarceration and drug use, said he lost a job after he missed four days of work following a marijuana arrest.

“I had to go back on welfare,” he said. “It forced me to be back on a lower position when I worked so hard.”

This wasn’t the first time cops had taken him in after finding marijuana during a stop-and-frisk incident, he said. Another time, he spent 24 hours in jail when he was stopped on the way to a friend’s house.

Many he shared a cell with were in on similar charges, he said. “I’ve been arrested with individuals who literally were crying because they were going to lose their jobs.”

He added, “Not only do you lose your job, it affects your whole life.”

Blog, Civil Rights, Drug Policy, Media Coverage, Prison & Parole

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