Today, the New York State Young Democrats (NYSYD) declared their support for Governor Andrew Cuomo's (D-New York) efforts to reform the state's marijuana laws. On Monday, he announced a proposal to decriminalize possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana that's in public view. Currently, concealed possession of small amounts of marijuana is a violation, subject to a ticket and $100 fine, while smoking or public possession rises to a misdemeanor. The Governor stated his desire to create "fairness and consistency in our laws"; 82 percent of the more than 50,000 arrests last year in the state were of black or Hispanic individuals, primarily young men.
"Governor Cuomo's proposed legislation will close loopholes in our criminal justice system that unfairly target youth of color," said Joseph Coe, vice president of NYSYD. "This is an issue of equality and justice and we commend the proactive approach the Governor and his partners in government and law enforcement are taking to redress the injustice that currently exists in our penal code. The message that Governor Cuomo is sending both within New York and throughout the United States is clear: unfair and unjust laws must be changed, and that we must value our greatest human resource, the youth in our state."
"This is a new beginning for New York State in changing the decriminalization of our African American, Hispanic and all minority youth," said Rachael Walton, chair of NYSYD's Caucus of Color. "The New York State Young Democrats Caucus of Color is in full support of the Governor's new legislation and hope that we continue to make great effective policy that preserve the next generation.
NYSYD also encouraged Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to reexamine how it can help lead efforts to curb racial profiling concerns in municipalities across the state, including the controversy surrounding the stop, question and frisk policy of the New York City Police Department. Critics have alleged that this policing strategy magnified issues related to the discrepancy in the state's marijuana laws.
The New York State Young Democrats are the official youth arm of the New York State Democratic Committee. They represent Democrats between the ages of 16-36 living in all of New York's 62 counties.