Howie Hawkins and the Green Party support the immediate legalization of the growth, sale and possession of cannabis and hemp under NY State law, and for legal opposition to Federal prosecutions for the same.
The War of Drugs has been a failure. It hasn't reduced substance abuse, but rather has created a culture of violence fueled by profits from the drug trade, similar to the crime wave that accompanied the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s.
Despite decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana four decades ago, New York State leads the country in marijuana arrests. New York has led the way in making the United States the world leader in the number of inmates. New York spends more state dollars on prisons than it does on the State University. It is time to focus on rebuilding our communities and rehabilitating individuals.
A 2013 report by the NYCLU documents how NY's drug laws discriminate against people of color. The greatest racial disparities occur in Kings County (Brooklyn) and New York County (Manhattan), where black New Yorkers are more than 9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana. Enormous racial disparities exist in counties throughout the state, including several of the state’s most populous counties, such as Onondaga (7.75 times more likely), Niagara (7.56 times more likely), Monroe (6.5 times more likely) and Erie (5.66 times more likely).
One in eight black men in their twenties are locked up on any given day. 75% of people in state prison for drug conviction are people of color although blacks and whites see and use drugs at roughly the same rate. In NYS, 94% of those imprisoned for a drug offense are people of color.
Enforcing existing marijuana laws costs taxpayers $10 billion annually, with 734,000 individuals arrested nationwide per year -- far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Marijuana arrests have more than doubled since 1991, while adult use of the drug has remained stable. Marijuana violations constitute the fifth most common criminal offense in the U.S. Almost 90 percent of these arrests are for marijuana possession only.