Marijuana Decriminalization: Public Opinion vs. Those Who Profit From the Broken System

Public Opinion in the United States favors the moves being made in many states to relax marijuana laws. Last year in the U.S. more than 850,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession, but, despite public opinion, little has been done to change the policies. In NYS Governor Cuomo has proposed to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of marijuana. In New York the arrest for low levels of marijuana constitutes one in seven of all arrests made.  The public possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana would become a violation and no longer a misdemeanor. Police would issue a summons for the violation, but the subject would not be arrested and fingerprinted, and have a criminal charge hanging over his/her head for life. The NYC police, where search and frisk tactics are most common, arrested 50,864 people in 2011 for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Eighty five percent of those arrested were black or Latino. 

Cuomo Plan

The Cuomo plan is a very small start to the decriminalization of marijuana. Violators will be required to appear in court and will face a fine. If the court date is not met or the fine not paid on time the individual can face arrest and then have a criminal record.  In NYS the Senate is holding back even this beginning effort to change the law.

Where Does the Opposition to the Decriminalization of Marijuana Come From?

An article in the Republic Report lists the five major groups that are spending millions to oppose the broken laws on the books;

1. Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget.

2. Private Prison Corporations: The private owners of prisons make huge profits by incarcerating persons for drug crimes, including marijuana. Continuation of the current policies on drugs is part of their business plan.

3. Alcohol and Beer Companies: These companies along with the tobacco people fear competition for dollars spent on leisure.

4.  Pharmaceutical Corporations: the medical uses for marijuana can replace many high priced prescriptions and over the counter medications.

5.     Prison Guard Unions: Like for profit prison companies, the prison guard’s unions oppose the decriminalization of marijuana and programs that favor drug treatment over incarceration.  The more people in prison, the better.                                                                                   

 Call or send your opinions to your NYS Senator Thomas Libous and to the Governor’s Office.








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