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LAS Calls Out Disparities in Cuomo's Marijuana Legalization Proposal

Attorneys at The Legal Aid Society criticized a marijuana legalization proposal put forward by Governor Andrew Cuomo for its lack of focus in areas of racial equity, as reported by City and State.

Unlike a similar bill sponsored by the New York State Legislature, Cuomo’s Cannabis Revenue and Taxation Act has no language meant to protect people from potentially improper stops and searches – a loophole that defenders say has been exploited by cops to claim to have smelled marijuana in order to justify illegal stops.

Legal Aid attorneys claim the governor’s proposal risks continued criminalization of communities of color through penalties for illegal sale and possession. Under the governor’s proposal, getting caught with three ounces of pot is considered criminal possession in the second degree – a misdemeanor that leaves someone with a criminal record, while a violation does not.

“I think he’s coming at it from the wrong place,” Anne Oredeko, an attorney with The Legal Aid Society, said. “I think he lacks imagination in his plan. And I think he’s woefully unprepared to really talk about equity in a meaningful way.”