After nearly a century the prohibition on recreational marijuana use is over in New York. Residents of the state who have no medical conditions may now legally enjoy the perspective-broadening and de-stressing benefits of cannabis.
In becoming the 15th state in the U.S. to lift the ban, New York has deliberately designed its new laws with an eye toward racial equity.
“Equity is not a second thought; it’s the first one, and it needs to be, because the people who paid the price for this war on drugs have lost so much,” said New York State Assembly member Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes just before the bill was passed.
Under the new legislation, 40 percent of the tax revenues from cannabis sales in New York will go toward black and Latino communities that have been damaged by the war on drugs.
Since it began, the war on drugs has been used as a justification for police brutality and for the imprisonment of racial minorities. UN experts have said it is more effective as a vehicle for oppressing people of color than as a means of stopping the use and trafficking of narcotics.
Statistics back up that statement: According to the American Civil Liberties Union, black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, in spite of the fact that black people and white people use roughly the same amount of marijuana.
Along with helping make amends to victims of the drug war, the ending of this prohibition in New York is a big win in the ongoing fight for the right of adults to choose what they do with their own consciousness.