Supporters of including legalized recreational marijuana for adults rallied Wednesday at the New York state Capitol to try to convince lawmakers to move faster on the issue. Backers are hoping legalization will be included in this year’s state budget.
Around 200 advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL-NY and other groups held a boisterous rally, at one point blocking off entrances to the Assembly and Senate chambers.
Stanley Fritz of Citizen Action, who spoke at rally one day earlier, says it’s a matter of justice for communities adversely affected by the cannabis prohibition.
“We have a silly war on drugs that has disproportionately gone after black and brown people,” Fritz said.
Kelly Cardinuto, with the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, begun by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, says the protesters will not see social justice if the drug is legalized. She says they will instead see tactics by the major manufactures, similar to big tobacco, to target adults and teens.
“I believe the vision that they have is not what’s going to happen,” said Cardinuto. “This industry, their goal is to create an entirely new class of addicted people, for profit.”
She says around 5 to 10 percent of marijuana users become addicted, around the same percentage as those who use alcohol.
Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say it’s still possible that legal marijuana could be part of the state budget. The spending plan is due March 31.