NEW YORK – The New York Democratic Party Executive Committee has announced the Party's endorsement of legalizing marijuana, according to CBS New York.
The announcement was made at the two-day Democratic convention which included a third-term endorsement for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who gave an acceptance speech on Thursday after having won 95 percent of the delegates. Cuomo was being challenged for the nomination by actress and activist Cynthia Nixon.
Nixon is a strong supporter of marijuana legalization. Cuomo has been supportive of medical marijuana but opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana. He has changed course after being challenged by Nixon along with the growing public support for legalization. At least 63 percent of New Yorkers approve of legalizing weed.
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Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky (NY) stated that the Party is excited, having approved a resolution Wednesday to make marijuana legal. The senator also told reporters that legalization is coming regardless of politics and his duty as someone who creates laws is to see that marijuana is regulated and safe. Sixty-one percent of Americans say that recreational marijuana should be legal, according to the Pew Research Center.
The announcement also comes just after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that the NYPD would be reforming how they enforced the law regarding marijuana in an effort to combat racism within the police force.
The New York Times reported that Black people are arrested at 15 times the rate of Caucasians in Manhattan despite using the drug at equal rates. The report resulted in an announcement from the Manhattan DA's office saying that they would no longer prosecute the majority of marijuana crimes and misdemeanors.
Nixon garnered attention for the disparity as well when she announced her candidacy and released a video stating that marijuana is legal for White people and illegal for people of color. The move prompted Cuomo to evolve regarding his marijuana stance and the governor now says that he supports legalizing adult-use marijuana.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) announced her endorsement for legalizing marijuana back in February and also cited racial disparities in New York. The senator said that legalizing marijuana was a moral and social justice issue instigated by the war on drugs that needed fixing.
Cuomo has noted surrounding states such as Massachusetts legalizing the drug as a reality to contend with, and neighbor Canada plans to legalize marijuana this summer. Washington D.C. and 9 states have legalized adult-use marijuana.
The Democratic Party Executive Committee says that by taxing marijuana like alcohol with a 13 percent excise tax, the state could generate millions of dollars for education and infrastructure.