Home / #Solutions / Assembly Passes Landmark Bill to Seal 800,000 Pot Convictions, Giving People a Second Chance

Assembly Passes Landmark Bill to Seal 800,000 Pot Convictions, Giving People a Second Chance

At a time when freedom seems to be under siege from all sides, cannabis decriminalization provides a thread of hope. Lawmakers in several states and even federal government are coming to their senses about the necessity of cannabis freedom, and in some cases are applying rationality retroactively.

The state of New York, which now allows medical cannabis and has decriminalized possession of small amounts for recreational use, is set to seal the records of those who have been convicted of simple possession of cannabis.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance:

“[Feb. 14, 2017], the New York State Assembly voted in support of A.2142, a bill that will seal the criminal records of people who have been unjustly and unconstitutionally arrested for simple possession of marijuana in public view. The vote was 95 in favor and 38 opposed. Over the last 20 years, more than 800,000 New Yorkers have been arrested for simple possession of marijuana. Those convicted face significant barriers to accessing education, employment, housing opportunities, and other state services.”

Backers of the bill recognize that cannabis arrests have been used to target minority populations, and are still used by cops across the state thanks to a loophole in the law. In 2016, more than 22,000 New Yorkers were arrested for simple possession – despite decriminalization – and 80 percent of those were black or Latino.

Case in point: Bobby Lopez. Lopez is left permanently disabled and missing part of his skull because cops thought he was in possession of a small amount of cannabis last August. When they approached Lopez, police tackled him down a flight of stairs, sending his head smashing into the pavement.

READ MORE:  Police Implement Program to Snoop Around Private Property, Leaving Notices "To Keep You Safe"

Since cannabis use is about equal among all ethnicities, this rate is a clear sign of discrimination. But this is not entirely surprising, considering that the war on drugs was initiated as a means to target minorities and political dissenters.

I introduced the marijuana sealing bill because drug laws have created a permanent underclass of people unable to find jobs after a conviction,” said Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “One of the most damaging issues derived from the war on drugs is that the policies are inherently racist. Communities of color have been devastated by bad drug policies and hyper-criminalization for the last 40 years. It is an approach that has never worked and has caused significantly more harm than good to our communities and to our families. If today’s moment of increased attention to heroin encourages us to center public health in our drug policy, then we need to ensure that we are making amends to communities of color by alleviating the burden bad policies have had on their lives. Sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions is the first step to reintegrating thousands of New Yorkers who are inhibited daily from accessing employment, housing and an education all due to a conviction on their record for simple possession of marijuana.”

A companion bill in the Senate will be considered before the session ends on June 21, and Governor Cuomo is likely to sign the legislation. Cuomo has also vowed to close the loophole that still allows cops to arrest people for “public view of marijuana possession,” a misdemeanor that brings a permanent criminal record.

READ MORE:  The FBI Paid Best Buy's 'Geek Squad' to Spy on Americans

Sealing cannabis convictions is a great step toward freedom and equality, and has the added benefit of protecting immigrants being targeted by a hostile Trump administration. DPA notes that “simple marijuana possession is the fourth most common cause of deportation,” so sealing records will make it that much more difficult for immigration authorities to deport lawful permanent residents.

Possession of cannabis — or any drug for that matter — should not be the basis for uprooting lives, nor should it provide opportunity for law enforcement to continue the racist war on drugs. New York’s bold step should be a model for other states.

  • The Cat’s Vagina

    Sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions is the first step to reintegrating thousands of New Yorkers who are inhibited daily from accessing employment, housing and an education all due to a conviction on their record for simple possession of marijuana.

    Anyone caught using cocaine or heroin or meth or pills that weren’t theirs even just once can still go fuck themselves and die in a gutter, I guess? This is a start, but it’s not enough by a LONG shot! Drug use and possession should never be criminalized AT ALL, much less allowed to follow someone around for the rest of their lives in ways that even child murderers don’t have to endure. In most states, only convicted drug and sex offenders are barred from seeking public assistance… and sex offenders can still get food stamps, cash assistance, and student aid. The fact that murderers are never put on any of the “special criminal” lists shows exactly how much human life is valued by those in charge.

    • I got paid 104000 dollars last year by freelancing from my house and I was able to do it by w­o­r­k­i­n­g part-time f­o­r 3+ h /day. I was following a business model I stumbled upon from company that i found online and I am so amazed that i was able to make so much money on the side. It’s very beginner-friendly a­n­d I’m so happy that i discovered it. Here is what i do… http://easyurl.net/f2265

    • [email protected]

      I profited $104,000 previous year by doing an online job and I did it by wor­king in my own time for 3+ h every day. I followed work opportunity I stumbled upon from company that i found online and I am so thrilled that i earned such great money. It’s very user-friendly a­n­d I am just so happy that I found out about this. Here is what i did… http://gee.su/hV6Je

  • Vincent D’Emidio

    How do you like that story about that youngblood who’s face got smashed because the cops, their mouths salivating at the thought of a nice, E-A-S-Y Marijuana bust, assaulted this kid. As is their custom, they attack the person from behind, and tackle them, not giving them a chance to surrender, or even understand what is going on!!! They ASSAULT you, just to show how fuckin’ “macho” they are, and then they turn it around, and try to call it “Resisting arrest”, just to make it stick!!! And, all the while this is going on, there are people being killed across the city, but these cops are too busy making EASY busts on Herb-smoking, PATRIOTIC AMERICANS. (that’s more than I can say about these cops)

    And they wonder why people can’t stand them! .

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      It isn’t just the ease of sneaking up on teenagers, it’s also the MONEY involved. Asset forfeiture is becoming a MAJOR priority for greedy cops, to the exclusion of all the real crime that doesn’t allow them to snatch up everything on the scene.

      • 174thandvyse

        I’m hip! That’s why they call cops, ahem, “pigs”, because they are GREEDY PIGS!

  • Mother Earth

    So it’s true, certain American states are incarcerating innocent people, especially if you’re black to force them into America’s slave trade to work for the man and getting chips in return, the crooked states who haven’t legalized pot are on a roll and keeping marijuana illegal gives them the right to do whatever they desire.

  • tom browne

    illegal aliens getting caught as members of nortenos or that ilk do not deserve protection from being uprooted. they are a plague that needs correction. if they are caught – it is entirely different from a citizen being caught. lets make that distinction.

    • 174thandvyse

      How about we arrest illegal, legal, or citizens when they commit REAL crimes? Marijuana is harmless, and a gift from the TRUE God, so it MUST be legalized! In my opinion, anybody under 75 years old, i.e. a Baby-Boomer, who is against pot legalization, is a B-R-A-I-N-W-A-S-H-E-D piece of shit.

  • I’ve profited $104000 in last 12 months by doing an on-line job from home a­n­d I did that by work­ing in my own time for few hours every day. I’m using work opportunity I stumbled upon from this website i found online and I am thrilled that i was able to make so much money. It’s so beginner-friendly a­n­d I’m so grateful that i learned about it. Here is what i did… http://statictab.com/r2tyhgi