• In addition, New York, like many other states, has highly restrictive, unreasonable local zoning ordinances that don’t allow treatment centers to open, even though there is a large and growing need for them — the New York State Department of Health has estimated that 1.9 million New Yorkers have a substance abuse problem.
• Although about half of New York’s voters have tried marijuana, thousands of New Yorkers are still fined, arrested, and even jailed for using it. Ninety-one percent of the people arrested are minorities, even though minorities use marijuana at the same rates as whites. Legalization of marijuana would save New York hundreds of millions of dollars a year in enforcement, and in addition, avoid doing real harm to the lives of thousands of New Yorkers by defining them for life as “criminals” in the process.
• A constitutional amendment to provide the right to substance abuse treatment should also limit and more clearly define the ability of local ordinances to prevent treatment centers from opening up. The State clearly needs more treatment centers in residential areas, not the small number misguided zoning laws currently permit.
• The legalization of marijuana is progressing rapidly around the country. Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington and all permit recreational use.
• New York needs a whole new constitutional approach to how we treat drug use and addiction, emphasizing treatment rather than incarceration. As part of this new approach, we must pass a constitutional amendment to legalize the personal use and cultivation of marijuana.
What do you think?
• “A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.” – Pew Research Center, “America’s New Drug Policy Landscape,” April 2, 2014.
The State must be responsible for providing substance abuse programs for all New Yorkers in need. This will save lives, and ultimately save the state millions of dollar per year.
Being convicted for drug use has profound negative effects not only on the addict beyond mere imprisonment. As the Drug Policy Alliance has written:
New York is one of nine states that constitutionally specifies a method for election administration. The others are Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Virginia. Of these, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Vermont and West Virginia give this duty to an elected Secretary of State; in Texas a Secretary of State appointed by the Governor (with no legislative advice and consent) is responsible.
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