The arrest rate for marijuana possession in New York is four times greater for blacks than whites, said a 4/20 op-ed in the New York Times.

Blacks account for less than one percent of the 3,000 marijuana shops nationwide, said the article by Vincent Sutherland, of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU, and Johanna Steinberg, director of impact litigation, Bronx Defenders.

They note that 39 states allow marijuana sales for recreational or medicinal purposes with sales estimated at $11 billion in 2018.

Possession of cannabis in New York can result in fines or prison sentences depending on the amount involved. Use for medical purposes has been allowed since 2014.

Sale of up to two ounces without payment can bring up to three months in jail or a fine of up to $500. Cultivating or selling up to .84 of an ounce can bring up to 1 year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Medical Daily warns that use of cannabis can weaken heart muscles, weaken verbal memory, cause gum disease, interfere with sleep and increase the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse also sounds warnings including the warning that use of pot can lead to use of other drugs including illegal ones.

Marijuana hit $9.7 billion in sales in 2017 in those states that have legalized it

Police Arrest Abusers

A crackdown April 20 on marijuana use while driving on the East End of Long Island led to numerous arrests. The date has become known as the marijuana use holiday, police said.

Eleven were arrested for driving while intoxicated, two for driving while impaired by drugs, 17 for unlawful possession of marijuana, eight for seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, one felony for aggravated unlicensed operation charge, and 48 vehicle and traffic law infractions.

State Police Major David Candelaria said that while marijuana use has become more socially acceptable, driving under its influence can have the same deadly consequences as alcohol or other drugs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said April 12 that since neighboring states such as New Jersey and Massachusetts have or are about to laws legalizing marijuana, “for all intents and purposes, it is going to be here anyway.” The Garden State would be the ninth in the nation to make recreational pot legally available, he said, noting it is legal in Washington, D.C.

Boehner’s Flip on Cannabis is Noted

Southerland and Steinberg note that former GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio reversed himself on the subject.

He was “unalterably opposed” to legalization in 2011 but earlier this month said joined the board of Acreage Holdings, cannabis cultivation and distribution company. He had voted to prohibit sales in D.C. in 2011.

Boehner cited the drug’s benefits for veterans with stress disorders.

Many blacks are languishing in jail because of drug busts, say Southerland and Steinberg. They cite Fate Vincent Winslow, a black who was sent to prison for life without parole ten years ago after he tried to sell two “dime” bags of cannabis to an undercover cop.

KCSA Leads Campaign for Cannabis

KCSA Strategic Communications is expanding its presence in the cannabis industry. It has acquired Salar Media Group (“SMG”), which it refers to as a leading PR and marketing firm specializing in the cannabis industry.

SMG founder and CEO Cynthia Salarizadeh will join as a managing partner.

KCSA produces “The Green Rush,” a weekly, 30-minute podcast hosted by managing partner Lewis Goldberg and managing director Anne Donohoe. They speak with industry leaders, the media, cannapreneurs and public advocates about cannabis issues.

In honor of 4/20, The Green Rush provided two episodes featuring Acreage Holdings CEO Kevin Murphy and Grammy Award Winner Ziggy Marley.

KCSA noted that Washington, D.C., Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

44 States Have Some Form of Legalization

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states allow use of marijuana in some form such as adult recreational use or medical use. Several states allow use of “cannabis extracts.”

Salar Media Group has represented brands that include cannabis tracking software company BioTrackTHC, Humboldt’s Finest and JuJu Royal, the cannabis brand launched by Julian Marley, son of late Reggae star Bob Marley.

KCSA’s cannabis practice includes cannabis-focused agriculture company Terra Tech and cannabis oil and solution provider Golden Leaf Holdings. It includes Acreage Holdings, multi-state owner of cannabis licenses and assets, and Twitter feed @KCSA_Cannabis.