Pubdate: Wed, 11 Apr 2018
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2018 The Charlotte Observer
Author: Chris Carola, Associated press


A week after telling two interviewers her support for legalizing
recreational use of marijuana in New York was revenue-based,
Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon said Wednesday that
it's now foremost a racial justice issue for her.

The "Sex and the City" star posted a 90-second video on YouTube in
which she stated that it's time New York joined eight other states and
the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

"There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me,
it comes down to this: we have to stop putting people of color in jail
for something that white people do with impunity," Nixon said.

The actor, who turned 52 on Monday, then goes on to say 80 percent of
the New Yorkers arrested for marijuana are black or Latino. Nixon
added that legalizing pot use for non-medical reasons would end "a key
front in the racist war on drugs" and generate hundreds of millions of
dollars of tax revenue for the state through legal marijuana sales.

According to 2017 statistics compiled by the state, blacks accounted
for 48 percent of arrests in New York City for the lowest level of
marijuana possession, while Latinos accounted for 38 percent, compared
to 9 percent for whites.

In two interviews last week, Nixon mentioned supporting the
legalization of recreational marijuana because of revenue reasons.

Nixon said during an interview on Wendy Williams' nationally
syndicated TV talk show that marijuana should be legalized to "capture
some of that revenue" but she didn't mention race as a reason to
legalize it. In an interview conducted a few days later with The New
York Times, she referred to legalized recreational marijuana use as a
"moneymaker" and a "justice issue."

The Emmy, Tony and Grammy winner entered the governor's race last
month to challenge two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo in September's
Democratic primary. Much of her early campaign efforts have focused on
black and Latino communities in New York City, traditionally a
stronghold for the Queens-born Cuomo.

A group advocating decriminalization of pot in New York supports
Nixon's contention that there's a stark disparity in the number of
whites busted for marijuana crimes, compared to minorities.

"White people do get arrested for marijuana, but what we're saying is
you're more likely to get arrested for marijuana if you're black or
Latino," said Kassandra Frederique, New York state director for the
Drug Policy Alliance.

Bills to legalize recreational marijuana use have stalled in New
York's Legislature, where Democrats control the Assembly and yearslong
Republican control of the Senate is likely to shift to Democrats this
year. Lawmakers supporting legalization say the potential tax revenue
stream is considerable since it's estimated that New Yorkers spend $3
billion a year on marijuana.

Cuomo has been dubious about legalizing pot beyond limited medical use
of non-smokeable forms. But he has directed the state Department of
Health to conduct a study on the health, economic and criminal justice
impacts legalized marijuana could have across New York, especially now
that neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts have legalized it.

"We announced months ago that we were going to study the legalization
issue precisely for that reason," Cuomo told reporters Wednesday at a
Long Island event. "You have Massachusetts, you have New Jersey
talking about it -- that would be a fundamentally different situation
for the state of New York."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt