You are on page 1of 2
f =o ae SrATE OF NeW YORK Orrice OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL 28 LipeRy STREET New York, NY 10005 Lerma JAMES: (212) 4168050 Arronney Geverat June 14, 2019 Hon. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Temporary President and Majority Leader New York State Senate Legislative Office Building Room 907 188 State Street Albany, NY 12247 Hon, Carl Heastie, Speaker New York State Assembly Legislative Office Building Room 932 188 State Street Albany, NY 12247 Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie: Over the past 20 years, New York has become the marijuana arrest capital of the world. With nearly 800,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, we have burdened several generations of young men and women with a criminal record for activity that is currently legal in 11 states, and decriminalized in 15 others. These records prevent them from accessing higher education, block them from obtaining public housing and too often prevent them from finding gainful employment. Despite the fact that New York is included in the list of states that have decriminalized minor ‘marijuana related offenses, our state still arrests an average of 60 people every day for marijuana possession. While marijuana consumption and sales occur at nearly identical rates across racial and ethnic groups, minority communities are arrested at disproportionate rates. In 2016, more than four out every five marijuana arrests involved either an African American or a Latino, = 1 commend you for your leadership in pushing for marijuana legalization and working to create a fair and equitable regulatory system. This is a racial and criminal justice imperative and we simply cannot afford to wait. However, I believe that, as we seek to replace criminalization with regulation, we must ensure that the individuals who were unjustly harmed by the “war on drugs” be given the certainty of a truly clean slate. That means going beyond our current sealing statute to provide full expungement for individuals with convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses. Expungement must mean the extraction and isolation or destruction of all records on file within any criminal justice agency concerning a person's detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system. We must ensure that any nullified record cannot impair the ability of an individual to participate in a lawful activity or participate in a legal right. We must guarantee that the door is shut forever and that past policy mistakes do not further haunt the victims of over-policing. Before we create a booming business for legal marijuana, we must provide relief to those individuals that have paid much more to society that what was due. We must stop the cascade of social and human harms imposed by the Rockefeller drug laws and give individuals who have been held back a chance to succeed. That means expunging the records of New Yorkers still burdened with the stigma of non-violent marijuana related convictions. I therefore strongly urge that any legislation you consider include the complete expungement of ‘marijuana related convictions. ‘Thank you in advance for your consideration. Sincerely, aaa qe Letitia James