Drug Law

Marijuana Safer for St. Patrick’s Day in New York City

| by NORML

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From Chris Goldstein at Freedom Is Green – St. Patrick’s Day is Thursday and there will be plenty of green beer for everyone. How about making a safer green choice this time?

On March 17th at high noon things with get a little greener in Manhattan: Empire State NORML will remind New Yorkers that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.  A rally and a press conference are planned for City Hall Park.

Douglas Greene of Empire State NORML organized the event. He was inspired by the book Marijuana is Safer – So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano and Mason Tvert.

“While scores of New Yorkers are out getting hammered, we want to remind the Big Apple that there is a safer, greener and cleaner choice for adults: marijuana.”

The State of New York decriminalized minor marijuana possession in 1979. But the city has since enacted municipal codes that spur all of the arrests. For instance, Marijuana in Public View is a criminal misdemeanor.

“New York City made over 50,000 marijuana possession arrests last year alone, and over 500,000 since 1996,” Greene said today.  “Why are we wasting all of this money and why is the Bloomberg Administration continuing to push New Yorkers to drink?”

According to Greene the NYPD is now handling nearly 1,000 arrests a week just for pot or 15% of all arrests in New York City. This is no small matter, with 2.7% of the U.S. population; New York City alone now represents a striking 6% of all the marijuana arrests in the country.

Press conference speakers include:
· Dr. Julie Holland is a psychiatrist specializing in psychopharmacology, with a private practice in New York City established in 1996. She is the editor of The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis, and Ecstasy: The Complete Guide.  Holland is the author ofWeekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Nightshift of the Psych ER.  She has frequent appearances in news media as an expert guest on drug issues.

· Dr. Harry Levine: is a professor of sociology at Queens College, City University of New York.  He has won awards for his writing about the history of addiction, about alcohol prohibition and regulation, and about crack cocaine and the war on drugs. His current research examines the epidemic of racially-biased marijuana arrests in the U.S and why, since 1997, New York City has arrested more people for possessing small amounts of marijuana than any city in the history of the world.

· Tony Newman, Director of Media Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s leading organization calling for alternatives to the drug war and policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights.

· Daniel Jabbour: New York State Coordinator for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities.

· Chris Goldstein:  Chris worked on behalf of PhillyNORML with city officials in Philadelphia to urge for a change in procedures. A new marijuana diversion court was employed in 2010.  Goldstein is also on the Board of Directors at NORML-NJ and The Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ (CMM-NJ). He recently launched www.freedomisgreen.com to cover East Coast cannabis reform.