Marijuana consumers in New York City already know that pot prices are sky high. But how about dropping a cool grand on a few grams? Professor Harry Levine and the Drug Policy Alliance released a landmark report this week showing that NYC sinks $75 million dollars annually into arrests for small amounts of marijuana. Read the full report
“We are spending all of this money to basically to get nickel bags, dime bags … a joint,” Levine said at a press conference last Thursday.
That would equate to $1,500 per nick’ or joint, assuring that New York City taxpayers own the most expensive pot in the country. Too bad no one will get to enjoy it.
Douglas Greene at Empire State NORML organized the press conference and it was a privilege for me to speak alongside some powerhouses of reform. Our job was to take an important message to the streets: Smoking marijuana is much safer than drinking alcohol for St Patrick’s Day.
Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist and popular author made a compelling case: “Alcohol withdrawal comes with a 30% chance of death. This is much more deadly than even heroin withdrawal.” She went on to emphasize the overwhelming safety of marijuana, a substance that never caused a single human death.
Doug Greene and Rev. Jay Goldstein (friend but not related) spoke on behalf of the local effort to change cannabis laws including a medical marijuana bill active in Albany.
Daniel Jabbour of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) emphasized that most pot arrests are young people of color who may loose their financial aid over a joint.
Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance closed out the talks with the appeal that all substance prohibitions should end.
The public gave us us a tremendously positive response. Scores of passersby gathered on both sides of Broadway listening to the passionate and informed speeches.
NYC saw gorgeous spring weather on Thursday for the celebration of everything Irish. The warm and welcome sun brought out a lot of green. There were emerald ties with every suit, prolific shamrock buttons, giant Leprechaun hats, more than few lime colored wigs and even bagpipes (ok those were plaid).
My own quote: “I say we wear green every single day until we get legalization because marijuana is safer every day not just on St. Patrick’s Day.”
The second annual St. Patrick’s Day press conference was inspired by the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano and Mason Tvert.