Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Move on Marijuana in New York

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Cannabis Health Science
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Re “Police and Mayor Back Plan to Curtail Marijuana Arrests” (front page, June 5):

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s call to end the criminalization of the possession in public view of small amounts of marijuana could end a serious injustice in New York’s criminal justice system. Many critics of the current law point out that it is counterproductive and wastes police and court resources. It also results in blatantly discriminatory arrests.

Each year, tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics acquire a criminal record for marijuana possession, while whites walk around with marijuana in their pockets knowing they are unlikely to feel the heavy hand of the law.

United States obligations under international human rights law may not prohibit drug arrests that defy common sense, but they do prohibit those that are racially discriminatory.

JAMIE FELLNER
Senior Adviser, United States Program
Human Rights Watch
New York, June 5, 2012

To the Editor:

I applaud Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York for announcing legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession in public (“Cuomo Seeks Cut in Frisk Arrests,” front page, June 4). But drug use and addiction do not discriminate. In our haste to right the social wrongs in drug policy, let’s not forget the hazards of marijuana itself.

Marijuana use among youth continues to rise. For brains that are still maturing, marijuana has a litany of negative effects, including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia.

Marijuana is illegal for a reason and should remain so. It’s addictive for about 10 percent of users. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 104 million Americans 12 or older have used marijuana at least once.

Addiction is a disease, and you cannot treat a disease with jail time. We must stop incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders. They have no place among actual criminals, and exposing them to that environment puts them at risk of assimilating criminal behavior. Decriminalizing marijuana allows people with drug abuse and addiction problems to benefit from the treatment they need and deserve.

HOWARD MEITINER
President and Chief Executive
Phoenix House
Los Angeles, June 5, 2012

To the Editor:

I applaud Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to downgrade the penalties for marijuana possession in New York. The United States’ absurd “war on drugs” has done nothing but nullify individual rights, attract organized criminals to a black market, squander taxpayer money, drive drug use underground and create a vast government bureaucracy.

It is my hope that Governor Cuomo’s actions will serve as a springboard for a larger effort and be emulated throughout the country.

AMESH A. ADALJA
Pittsburgh, June 7, 2012

The writer is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

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