Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has welcomed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for legalization of marijuana, saying that “it is time overdue for New York to chart a path toward” regularizing the herb.
“As legislative debate begins on this issue in Albany, we must keep mindful of longstanding disparities between communities across our state in commercial entrepreneurship, criminal justice and public health,” Adams said on Tuesday.
“There must be mechanisms in place that ensure the public is protected from recreational marijuana’s harmful effects, as well as that create truly meaningful pathways for historically disadvantaged and persecuted communities to be uplifted out of the shadows and into the bright light of a new economic and social opportunity for themselves, their families and the communities in which they live,” he added.
Adams said that includes expunging the records of individuals previously convicted of low-level marijuana-related crimes, such as possession misdemeanors.
He, however, said a legal marijuana market requires setting stringent health standards, just like recommended dosages for alcohol and warning labels for cigarettes.
“Without these kinds of advisories and protections, we risk exposing our communities to lifelong health damage, which could also lead to an increasing burden on our health care system,” Adams warned. “We cannot have legalization lead down a path toward irresponsible use of marijuana that exacerbates health disparities in poor, urban communities of color.”
The Brooklyn borough president also said disadvantaged communities must also be empowered to “actively participate in a newly regulated market that would eliminate racial and socioeconomic disparities.”
He said licensed vendors should be able to open new establishments in disadvantaged communities through the promotion of local entrepreneurship, particularly in communities of color.
“In the months ahead, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the State Legislature on this important matter, as well as preparing for the opening of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in our borough,” Adams said.