Tompkins County
New York


Resolution in Support of Marijuana Legalization in New York State


Department:Tompkins County LegislatureSponsors:
Category:Public HealthFunctions:Public Safety


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Resolution/Document Body

              WHEREAS, over $1 trillion has been spent nationally enforcing drug laws, including those pertaining to marijuana, since the drug war was initiated in the 1970’s, and


              WHEREAS, the existing drug laws have contributed significantly to the mass incarceration of 2 million American citizens which represents the highest imprisonment rate of any nation and 25% of the world’s prisoners, and


              WHEREAS, marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance and marijuana possession is the most commonly charged drug offense; accounting for over 600,000 Americans who are arrested, imprisoned, fined, or otherwise criminalized and stigmatized, potentially for life, because of their use of marijuana each year, and


              WHEREAS, New York State has one of the worst racial disparities in arrests in the United States, with people of color being eight times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people, despite similar rates of use, and


              WHEREAS, since 1996, there have been over 800,000 low-level marijuana possession arrests in New York, and


              WHEREAS, in 2010 alone, New York State spent $675 million enforcing marijuana prohibition, and


              WHEREAS, existing marijuana laws have been ineffective at curbing use, improving public health outcomes, or increasing public safety, and


              WHEREAS, the American public, at 93%, overwhelmingly supports legalizing medical marijuana and believe the drug should be legal for medical uses, and


              WHEREAS, 30 states and the District of Columbia have broken from the federal government and allowed access to marijuana for medicinal purposes, and


              WHEREAS, nine states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia, have voted to legalize marijuana for adult use, and


              WHEREAS, 63% of New Yorkers support the legalization of marijuana for adult use, and


              WHEREAS, the New York State Department of Health has concluded that the benefits of taxing and regulating marijuana far outweigh any potential negative consequences, and


              WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of New York has accepted that conclusion and endorsed marijuana legalization, and


              WHEREAS, legalizing and taxing marijuana would generate significant revenue that could be used to fund public schools, libraries, early childhood education, re-entry services, adult education programs, research, public education programs, and community development projects, and


              WHEREAS, legalizing marijuana would spur development of marijuana-based agri-business in rural areas of New York State, and


              WHEREAS, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) S. 3040 (Krueger) / A. 3506 (Peoples-Stokes) legalizes the production, distribution, and use of marijuana by removing the substance from classification as an illicit drug under New York’s Controlled Substances Act, and


              WHEREAS, the MRTA will create a responsible and well-regulated industry for adults over the age of 21 and work actively to limit youth access in ways that are unachievable under prohibition, and


              WHEREAS, the Tompkins County Legislature understands the legalization of marijuana in the state of New York could have unintended negative consequences, and


              WHEREAS, the MRTA will address the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and work to undo some of its negative results, and


              WHEREAS, the MRTA will serve a greater public good than prohibition has by saving law enforcement resources and instead generating millions in tax revenue to be used to support efforts to end the opioid epidemic in New York State, to invest in New York’s public schools, support unintended consequences, and rebuild communities that have been most harmed by marijuana prohibition’s collateral consequences, and


              WHEREAS, the MRTA will end the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana prohibition in communities of color that has directly led to reduced access to advancement opportunities including the ability of an individual to get a loan, get a job, go to college, or have a place to live, and


              WHEREAS, racial justice, economic opportunity, and public health are priorities of the residents of Tompkins County, now therefore be it


              RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Health and Human Services Committee, That the Tompkins County Legislature:

1.              Supports the bringing an end of marijuana prohibition;

2.              Supports the creation of a diverse and inclusive marijuana industry;

3.              Supports the reinvestment of revenue from taxed and regulated marijuana in communities that were impacted by the war on drugs; and

4.              Supports the passage of the Marijuana Regulation legalization of marijuana and the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,


              RESOLVED, further, That the Clerk of the Legislature send copies of this resolution to Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and State Senators James L. Seward, Pamela Helming, and Thomas F. O’Mara and request their support for the passage of the legislation.