Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Legalize To Our Demise

Council Member King City Council

Council Member King, one of the authors (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)

As we talk about legalizing marijuana, or cannabis, in New York, let’s look back on our nation’s history and see the good of endorsing harmful substances. We recognize that alcohol is legal, but let's face it -- it isn't good for you. Alcohol impairs judgement and making it easily available for adults means it is easily available for young people. For decades, our nation has seen alcoholism ruin marriages, families, and lives. We've seen countless alcohol-related vehicular deaths and alcohol-related activities destroy healthy academic careers and undo people's’ ability to go to work everyday.

Are we ready to have the conversation about the costs of legalizing another harmful substance?

Marijuana shouldn't be consumed by any young person, but our conversation recently on legalization has involved young black and brown men being policed unfairly, and all we seem hear is: let's legalize marijuana to end this unfair policing.

Can't we separate these issues? Of course we can, because they are indeed two separate issues. Poor policing has nothing to do with using drugs. If we want to deal with different policing strategies in communities of color and white communities, then that should be the conversation.  Legalizing marijuana does not address those policing strategies. What it does is send a poor message to kids that smoking weed is OK.

Fernando Cabrera, Chaim Deutsch, Andy King & Ruben Diaz Sr. are members of the New York City Council representing portions of the Bronx and Brooklyn. On Twitter: @FCabreraNY & @ChaimDeutsch & @AndyKingNYC & @revrubendiaz

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