With mass gatherings continuing around the county to protest police killings of Black Americans, a call for legalizing marijuana in New York for 2020 and defunding the police is growing among advocates. The call includes renewed demands to legalize marijuana.
New York State Senator Julia Salazar, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn. is being very specific.
Sen. Salazar, the youngest woman elected in the history of the New York State Senate, recently presented the Safer NY Act, which is a collection of five previously introduced bills that focus on policing reform as well as legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis.
In a press release, the Senator recommended that her colleagues urgently get behind the Safer NY Act in order to “increase police transparency and help increase accountability to New Yorkers’ most common encounters with police.”
Change for New York Cannabis Laws in 2020?
Though the New York Senate and Assembly, currently controlled by Democrats, oversaw the expansion of cannabis decriminalization in 2019, Salazar has said full legalization is essential for the police and law enforcement to stop criminalizing a plant that is legal just miles from the New York border.
In her press release announcing Safer NY, Salazar noted that marijuana legalization should be undertaken “with strong attention paid to ensuring that resources are reinvested in communities most harmed by prohibition.”
In her Community Safety and Criminal Justice Reform platform, Salazar called for legalizing marijuana and providing “treatment for victims of the opioid crisis instead of criminalizing them.”
Marijuana prohibition, over-policing marginalized neighborhoods and mass incarceration seem to go hand in hand all around the country.
Most advocates and legal analysts agree that cannabis legalization would help put an end to discriminatory policing against communities of color and other marginalized groups.
Calls for New York Police Reform
Meanwhile, protestors and advocates are calling for defunding, or substantially diminishing the roles the police play in U.S. society, following the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark and numerous other Black Americans who have been killed by police officers.
“We must demand that local politicians develop non-police solutions to the problems poor people face,” Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, wrote in The Guardian. “We must invest in housing, employment and healthcare in ways that directly target the problems of public safety.”
N.Y. State Senator Salazar argues that policing reforms “have failed” and that funds should be reinvested into other services.
“These changes won’t be made unless we demand them loudly and relentlessly,” Salazar said.
Salazar also defended a bill to diminish arrests over minor violations such as “riding your bike on the sidewalk.”
Echoing the criticism of disparate policing which is central to the nationwide protests, Salazar said “If you live in a neighborhood that isn’t heavily policed, it sounds so absurd.”