This is How Many Blacks and Latinos Will Be Arrested For Pot Possession in 2014, Compared With Other Races

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Communities United for Police Reform
Projected marijuana possession arrests, 2014; Black and Latino New Yorkers are represented in purple.
Newly-installed NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure has been on the job for less than a week, but there are no shortage of demands on his attention. Last week, we reported on the first complaint filed with Eure's office, nestled in the Department of Investigation, by Robert Jereski on behalf of activists including himself whose organizations had been infiltrated and surveilled by undercover NYPD officers.

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New York is THIS Close To Legalizing Medical Weed, But NYC is Still the Pot Arrest Capital of the U.S.

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Tessa Stuart
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
On Tuesday the New York State Assembly passed, for the fifth time since it was introduced in 1997, the Compassionate Care Act. The bill would legalize medical marijuana in New York state, allowing sick New Yorkers relief from symptoms associated with cancer treatment, MS, epilepsy, and other ailments. With that vote, New York comes one step closer to joining the 21 others states and the District of Columbia where marijuana is legal in some form.

The same day, in downtown New York, demonstrators in front of One Police Plaza called attention to the fact that, despite progress in Albany, New York City remains the marijuana arrest capital of the United States.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries gathered with representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Watch, and Vocal New York beside a large graph showing that despite promises Mayor Bill de Blasio made during his campaign, arrests for simple possession have not dropped in any significant way since he took office.

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New York is Closer Than Ever to a Passing a Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Law--But Don't Hold Your Breath

Categories: Marijuana

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rafael-castillo via Flickr
On Tuesday, the New York State Senate's Health Committee voted to approve the Compassionate Care Act. If the bill goes on to pass the full senate, it would create a comprehensive statewide system for New Yorkers to access medical marijuana.

I know what you're thinking--didn't Governor Andrew Cuomo say back in January that he was going to legalize medical weed? Yeah, he said that, but his declaration came with a truckload of caveats: the program would be limited only to patients with specific ailments, and the marijuana, which the state planned to buy from the federal government, would be dispensed at just 20 hospitals. That plan, which was allocated $0 of funding in this year's state budget, has enough built-in logistical obstacles that, realistically, it will years before it sees the light of day, if it does at all.

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Video: Will NYC Ever Legalize Marijuana?

Categories: Marijuana, Video

"This year we're calling it a victory parade," says Laura Notini, an organizer for the 2014 NYC Cannabis Parade, which traveled down Broadway from 32nd Street to Union Square on Saturday, May 3, 2014. "We've had great victories around the country and we're hoping to keep that energy going and get some victories in New York."

We asked New Yorkers in Union Square what they think of New York's pot history -- of course, at least one person claims marijuana activism was first sparked here in the '70s, along with the the foundation of High Times magazine -- and about its future.

Most people videographer Saila Huusko spoke with on Saturday praised the benefits of marijuana as a medicinal aid --but as the performance by Redman in the video shows, it's also probably the single best party drug to ever exist.

Also read: "The Weed Issue: Like, a Village Voice Special Report, Man."

A Day in the Life of Your Friendly Neighborhood Weed Messenger

Categories: Marijuana

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Jeremy Eaton
Desmond* has been a weed courier on and off for almost four years. He's in his mid-twenties now, but he was still in college when he heard about the opportunity through a classmate. He works three days a week, and makes, on average, 15 deliveries a day. If he makes more than 20, he gets a free bag. Usually he'll give it away or resell it — he used to be a big stoner, but he doesn't smoke much any more; certain strains make him anxious.

The work helps him pay off his student loans and subsidizes his creative pursuits (he's in two bands and does photography on his days off). When he's working, he looks like any one of the hundreds of bike messengers who speed around New York City, clad in shorts, perched on a single-speed bike, with a bag and a couple of delivery tubes slung over one shoulder. And like any other messenger, he can be at your door in 20 minutes or less.

*Not his real name.

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Medical Marijuana Bill Wins in the New York State Assembly

Categories: Marijuana

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Alexodus via Compfight cc
On Monday, a bill that would allow medical marijuana use sailed through the New York State Assembly, passing with a clean 95-38. If the bill makes it through the Senate, folks with "severely debilitating or life-threatening conditions" could be prescribed pot by their doctors.

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NYPD Biased Against Blacks in Marijuana-Related Stops, Civil Liberties Group Analysis Suggests

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The NYPD's stop and frisk campaign led directly to the surge in low-level marijuana arrests, figures released today by the New York Civil Liberties Union show.

For context, marijuana arrests are the top arrest category in the entire stop and frisk program. Last year, five percent--or 26,000--of all stops were for suspected possession of marijuana. Despite the fact that whites use marijuana at a higher rate, blacks by far bore the brunt of those stops--61 percent, in all. Incredibly, just 9 percent of marijuana-based stop involved white folks.

Here's the kicker: misdemeanor law requires that the pot be in plain view, and cops can only stop people they actually see with marijuana, and yet, the drug was seized in just 8.5 percent of the stops, which means cops were either wrong or willfully wrong in the other 91.5 percent.

The numbers, the NYCLU says, "strongly suggest that officers are stopping people for alleged marijuana offenses without any justification."

Out of those 26,000 stops, just over 5,300 resulted in marijuana arrests.

"Despite the NYPD's repeated claim that its stop-and-frisk program is valuable because it targets guns, the facts show that it is much more a marijuana arrest program," the NYCLU says.

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in NY Legislature [Updated with Commentary]

Categories: Marijuana, Weed

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Assembly Bill 6357 and Senate Bill 4406 would allow for medicinal use of medical marijuana in New York.
A bipartisan coalition has introduced a bill in the New York State Assembly and Senate simultaneously that would permit use of cannabis for medical purposes by patients who have been certified by a doctor. So far, 18 states have passed similar bills, including New Jersey.

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Cuomo & Christie Complete Opposites on Marijuana Decriminalization... Kinda

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Gov. Christie has threatened to veto the Jersey weed decriminalization bill.
This has been one hell of a week for marijuana in the Tri-State reefer scene.

After Governor Cuomo attempted to pass a bill that would have decriminalized the "public view" loophole of pot policy, Senate Republicans banded together to scalp the proposal before reaching a vote. Once the bill was dead, Cuomo called out the Senate Republican blockers for their "extreme conservative policy" and warned them that they'd face electoral consequences for the buzz-kill opposition. Now that the legislative deadline past last Thursday, it seems as if New York State and its voters will have to wait until January for any future attempts to smoke their weed in a much calmer (and legal) environment.

And then we found out that New Jersey, our neighbor to the west, and its state government were weighing a decriminalization bill akin to the one that died in Albany. It would make possession of a half ounce or less a summary violation - a major downgrade from the current situation, where possession lands you a $1,000 fine and possible jail time. The bill runs parallel to Jersey voters' 58% approval rating of quasi-legalizing the cannabis and a vote is being pushed for this Monday to test this civilian-government relationship.

But, it turns out that Cuomo's "extreme" Republican accusation stretches into Jersey territory. And it includes his colleague, Governor Chris Christie.

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BREAKING: Parents Don't Know How To Talk To Their Kids About Drugs

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This just in: Parents don't know how to talk to their kids about drugs, according to media reports.

As detailed recently by The Associated Press, medical marijuana legalization efforts have complicated "the drug talk" between moms, dads, and teens.

"Parent-child conversations about pot 'have become extraordinarily complicated,' Stephen Pasierb, president of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, told the AP. "Legalization and medical use of marijuana have 'created a perception among kids that this is no big deal.'"

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