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Citizens should support Cuomo’s marijuana plan

What will it take to scale back our country’s failed war on drugs that disproportionately criminalizes African-Americans and Latinos and often involves unconstitutional arrests for marijuana possession?

One might begin by reading “The New Jim Crow” by Michele Alexander, follow up by logging onto the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York office at www.drugpolicy.org/new-york and then contacting our state legislators in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to reform New York’s drug laws by standardizing penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

It is, after all, a matter of justice. We all bear the horrendous costs – financial, social and moral – related to the staggering numbers of arrests that are often biased and unlawful. As reported in Gabriel Sayegh’s recent Another Voice column, a report by the Drug Policy Alliance documented 1 million hours, over the last 11 years, wasted by police in New York City arresting and processing people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession.

More reasonable drug laws and fair criminal justice practices would also result in more fathers and mothers in their children’s lives, not sitting in prison. Add to this: family and social support, adequate funding and opportunities for solid alternatives to drug involvement such as jobs and job training, quality education, drug treatment and drug court programs, and the bulk of people who might otherwise end up in the criminal justice system on drug-related charges will have a better chance at becoming contributing members of our society.

We are, in the end, one people – a community that needs to come together on this issue. Let’s do our best to better value and support the needs of all our fellow citizens by lending wholehearted support to Cuomo’s marijuana law proposal.

Mary O’Herron

Buffalo