Newly elected Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said last night he is all for the legalization of marijuana, but legislation legalizing should be inclusive and not rushed.
Williams made his thoughts known on the issue as a panelist in a forum on marijuana legalization held at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in Grand Army Plaza. The Breakfast Clutch hosted the forum called “Talking about Mary Jane.”
The topic of marijuana legalization has been an ongoing battle between advocates and lawmakers over the past several years. In fact, in this year’s Albany budget deal, some thought it would include legalization of marijuana. Meanwhile, the city banned the testing of marijuana for non-safety related job applicants within city limits – a bill in which Williams was the driving sponsor. “My thing is if you’re not testing for alcohol why are you testing for marijuana. Everybody says, oh you want people to go to work high, no if you go to work high you get fired just like if you go to work drunk,” said Williams.
The Public Advocate was also glad marijuana legalization was not a part of the March state budget deal, because he believed the deal would not be done correctly.
“I was happy that the state almost passed it, but I was happy when they pulled it back because they seemed that they were rushing it through. I don’t think there should be any conversation about legalization unless we’re talking about the expunction of records for everybody,” Williams said.
Williams wants the legalization of marijuana done correctly that includes the expunction of records for previous offenders. The law would follow the footsteps of Seattle, where the governor announced he would pardon thousands with records for marijuana possession misdemeanors dating back 30 years. The law would be beneficial for previous offenders so that everyone can have access to selling the product once it is legal.
For the first time publicly, the Public Advocate admitted to selling marijuana in high school, “I don’t think I’ve said this publicly before but in high school, I sold weed for maybe a year or two,” he said. He added he never smoked marijuana, but had eaten edibles in the past. The Public Advocate explained that he sold marijuana to pay for extra books and candy.