Full Disclosure. I have been smoking Marijuana since I was 16 years old. My smoking marijuana had nothing to do with the trend at the time, but rather I learned that smoking marijuana helped me control my asthma. Later in my adult life it was the only relief I had from the pain I suffered from an auto accident that caused a permanent herniated disk in my lower spine. I refused to take the strong painkillers that they prescribed that would have affected me worse than the daily pain. If not for marijuana, that now is officially called “medicinal marijuana” I would be suffering a lot more from this lifelong pain.
I am grateful that New York State legalized the medicinal use thus allowing someone like me who suffers from daily chronic pain to acquire a Medicinal Marijuana Card so that I can now purchase my medication from a legal dispensary not far from my home. This has made it easier as I no longer had to buy it illegally, or as in the recent years from neighboring states that had approved medicinal and recreational use of marijuana before New York State.
Since the age of 16, I have seen many of my friends and relatives harassed, jailed and fined for the possession of marijuana. I have seen brilliant dedicated friends lose their jobs because of marijuana. Stop & Frisk and the easy overtime for police officers also subjected many youths to the criminal justice system for as little as possession of a joint, or a nickel (small) bag. I also remember how some NYPD rookies who wanted to impress their commanding officers improve arrest rates for that prescient and help themselves to additional overtime pay by driving to any NYCHA basketball court an hour, or two before their shift was over and stop a game in progress claiming they were called by neighbors observing “criminal activity” on the basketball courts. These police officers would submit all the youths (sometimes as many as 15) to line up and empty their pockets, something that they did not have to do, but youth in our community learned from experience not to challenge police officers. As such, they would always find at least one of them to possess a joint, or a small bag of marijuana and thus provide a great collar (arrest) of the entire crew. Those unmarked vans roving through our streets to make those types of arrest were much too common. As one police officer that confided in me told me how that would provide what he called and “easy collar” and “great overtime.”
That is why today as a congressional candidate my position is quite clear and I will not rest until we accomplish the following:
All individuals arrested for the sole possession and distribution of marijuana with no violence, or armed possession should have their criminal record expunged.
All individuals arrested for the sole possession and distribution of marijuana with no violence, or armed possession should be placed on a list for having priority on all employment generated by the legalization of medicinal, or
recreational marijuana in that state.
The government should set aside a minimum number of dispensary licenses for community run and operated dispensaries and the establishment of cooperatives in each borough, or community where they were a high number of marijuana arrest. Recognized organizations and members of the community in that borough/community should operate these cooperatives. This will allow for the profits of that dispensary to stay in the very community that was once a cash cow for the Criminal Justice System.
Allow for a specific number of for profit dispensary licenses to be a joint venture with minority members of the community who might not have all the license requirements, but could invest as a minority partner.