With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo setting the legalization of recreational cannabis as a goal for his new term, civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for justice, rather than profit, to guide the effort. In an op-ed published by NBC on Friday, Sharpton said that cannabis legalization is a civil rights issue.
“Legalizing marijuana is a civil rights cause that the National Action Network has championed for years because of the potential economic benefit for low-income communities across the country, and thus we commend the governor for taking the lead on this issue,” Sharpton wrote.
On Monday, Cuomo announced that legalizing cannabis would be a priority for his second term in office, which begins next month. Sharpton believes that the benefits of legal cannabis should be shared by the communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs.
“As we prepare to join states like California, Washington, and Oregon in embracing legal use and the economic future that will follow, we cannot forget those haunted by the ghosts of marijuana law’s (hopefully soon) past: People of color and the formerly incarcerated,” he wrote.
Sharpton noted that despite similar rates of cannabis use among races, minorities face legal consequences far more often.