Vincentian community activist hails marijuana vote with some reservationsSaturday, April 03, 2021
NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — A Vincentian-born community activist in Brooklyn has welcomed, with some reservations, New York State Legislature's vote legalising the adult use of recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years of age and older, saying “it's been a long time coming”.
“For many, it's an answered prayer; and, for the staunch advocates, a victorious battle won,” Owusu Slater, who is also a drummer and story teller, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Thursday. “I can almost hear the Niabingi drums and chants of jubilation. Rastafari rights to the holy sacrament marijuana, the herb is now a forgone conclusion.”
“Those who are currently detained, or those who were previously incarcerated, can now breathe a sigh of relief,” he added. “Their record would be now be expunged under the new legislation.”
“Employers and schools would no longer treat the convicted as criminals not worthy of a job, or undeserving of higher education, or equal opportunities compared to the masses,” Slater continued. “However, this legislative move has left more questions than answers in my mind.
“Are there going to be any guard rails (limitations or stipulations) to protect us from substance abusers who would be driving high as kite causing fatal car accidents, just like drunk drivers are held accountable? Are there going to be designated areas for smoking like [it's done for] cigarettes, or omnipresent in our faces?” he asked.
Slater said New York State has “moved on the decriminalisation of the herb knowing incredible dollars are the bottom line, just like Colorado, California and other states who made billions in revenue”.
“Who stands to benefit the most — the state, big business, the people of Brooklyn?” he asked. “I doubt it.”
On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James welcomed the favourable vote in the State Legislature, stating that the legalisation of marijuana is “a racial and criminal justice imperative”.
She said the vote is “a critical step towards a fairer and more just system”.
“For too long, people of colour have been disproportionately impacted by an outdated and shortsighted marijuana prohibition,” said James, adding that “it's past time we right this wrong”.
The legislation will allow for the adult use of cannabis for those 21 years of age and older, and provide for the possession of three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis. It removes cannabis from the list of controlled substances.
The New York State Senate also passed legislation Tuesday that will end the prohibition on adult-use marijuana in the state.
The MRTA will establish a new office for the regulation of cannabis and decriminalises the use of adult-use marijuana.
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