Editor’s Note: It is the policy of KCP to post nearly all op-eds it receives to promote freedom of speech and civic engagement. On occasion, the op-ed takes a lawmaker rightfully or wrongfully to task, in which we hear from the local lawmaker who logically asks why they weren’t called to respond. We tell them it is our belief the op-ed writer should have their say unadorned as opposed to standard journalistic practices to make a due diligence attempt to get every side of an issue. In this story, we heard from State Sen. Roxanne Persaud’s office and this story is based on her response.
State Senator Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, Starrett City) clarified her position against a local constituent’s criticism over her opposition to marijuana legalization.
Earlier this week, Floyd Jarvis, a 27-year resident of Canarsie criticized Persaud alongside Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D-Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach and Gerritsen Beach) in a KCP op-ed for a recent video that depicted community opposition to cannabis regulation and taxation for New Yorkers with 15 residents visible in the social media posting.
Jarvis claimed, “15 residents that appeared alongside the elected officials at their presser are in no way representative of the larger district that totals 150,000 and their feelings concerning cannabis regulation.” Jarvis claims that the majority of the constituency in the Assembly members’ district believe legalization will decriminalize marijuana possession amongst black and Latino populations, particularly amongst males who are disproportionately arrested for the schedule 1 narcotic amongst any other ethnicity across the city.
But Persaud said Jarvis mischaracterizes her opposition to marijuana legalization and totally supports Jarvis’s push for decriminalization.
“I extend my appreciation towards constituent Floyd Jarvis for participating in the far-reaching discussion on cannabis legalization and fighting for those wrongfully imprisoned on possession charges. While I indeed do not agree with legalizing recreational use at this time, I want to reiterate that I am in full support of decriminalization — which includes reviewing past cases of New Yorkers currently incarcerated for possessing marijuana, as well as statewide legalization of usage for medical reasons,” said Persaud.
Persaud and AM Williams’ opposition to the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) include health and safety quality of life issues. The state lawmakers recently voiced their concerns at a meeting of the NAACP of Freeport Long Island on Monday March 19 citing health risks like how dispensaries are magnets for violent and serious crime.
Williams also went on to note at the meeting that the known health risks of secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke—to the heart or lungs, for instance—raises questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke poses similar health risks.
Currently, state lawmakers are looking to pass legalize cannabis and have been holding community forums on the issue to gauge local sentiment on the issue particularly amongst underprivileged but highly incarcerated populations and getting them involved as the state nears legalization.
Late last month, Brooklyn’s Emmanuel Baptist Church (EBC), 279 Lafayette Avenue in Clinton Hill, became the first church in the United States to host a summit aimed at educating, empowering and readying the black community to participate in the budding $11 billion cannabis industry, according to organizers.
The legislation would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana under state law along lines similar to the state’s current system regulating alcohol, and would represent a new approach for New York State after decades of costly, counterproductive policies that have produced racially discriminatory outcomes.
The measure was introduced by State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) last December and would empower the State Liquor Authority to act as the primary regulatory agency. The cannabis industry is currently valued at $11 billion.