New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez have reintroduced S. 137 & A. 6218, the "Fairness and Equity Act" ("FEA"), a comprehensive piece of legislation that would expand the decriminalization of cannabis in New York State. Enacting the FEA would not only put an end to the racially biased practice of arresting mostly young men of color for criminal possession of cannabis, it would also establish a procedure for people previously convicted of certain cannabis crimes to vacate their judgments.

The collateral damage of being convicted of a cannabis crime can be life altering, including the loss of financial aid for students, exclusion from low income housing, deportation and adverse consequences for future employment. Under state law, the possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis in private is a civil violation, punishable by a maximum of a $100 fine. By contrast, the possession of any amount of cannabis that is burning or in public view is classified as a criminal misdemeanor [NY State Penal Law 221.10]. The FEA would redefine criminal possession of cannabis to amounts greater than 25 grams.

In 2013, New York State spent between $36 million and $72 million arresting approximately 36,000 people for criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree. Many of these arrestees had marijuana on their person, and only revealed the cannabis publicly after being ordered by police to empty their pockets during 'stop-and-frisk' searches. According to the Governor's office, 94 percent of arrests for small amounts of marijuana in the state are in New York City. Over 85 percent of those charged were either African American or Latino.

The FEA is the next step in our fight to end cannabis prohibition in New York State. By further decriminalizing cannabis, we will be paving the way for other important legislation, such as the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act. Please help us put greater checks and balances on unjust and discriminatory police practices throughout our state by further decriminalizing cannabis.

EDITORS NOTE: This was sent to us by NORML. We think it is crazy to continue to arrest and spend this kind of money for smoking Marijuana. It is time we wake up and for once New York State politicians need to do something the people of this state want.Tax it and make money for the state, stop spending money on these arrests and stop jailing people who enjoy a good smoke, just like other people enjoy a good drink.