Cynthia Nixon is not only in favor of legalizing cannabis, but she also believes that black communities should be given the first crack at cannabis licenses as a form of “reparations.”
The Sex and the City star told Forbes in an interview after speaking at the Cannabis Parade in Union Square that blacks should be prioritized when it comes to licenses as reparation for all the harm and devastation they experienced from marijuana arrests.
Nixon, who is running for governor of New York, has made cannabis legalization the core of her campaign against current Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Nixon said that cannabis was a “racial justice issue” because so many people of color are sent to prison on possession charges.
Cuomo called cannabis a “gateway drug” last year. However, this year, he has ordered a study into the matter of legalizing the pot, saying that the issue has changed with New Jersey considering legalization and Massachusetts having already legalized the drug.
Racial justice issue
Nixon said that arresting people, especially people of color, for cannabis-related offenses is “the crown jewel in the racist war on drugs” and that they need to pluck it down. She said that they “must get people out of prison” and expunge their records.
She further told Forbes that cannabis was a “racial justice issue” because so many people of color are sent to prison on possession charges.
Citing recent data from the New York Police Department, Forbes wrote that minorities were 10 times more likely to get arrested for possession of marijuana in 2017. Moreover, they made up 86% of all cannabis-related arrests last year, even if white people were just as likely to use the drug.
The use of marijuana, according to Nixon, has been effectively legal for whites for a really long time. It is time that the drug be legalized for everybody else, she added.
People are not happy
Nixon’s comments, however, have ignited the outrage of various groups and individuals.
“Reparations are a repayment for the free labor that built this country.” – Manhattan Democratic Party Chairman Keith Wright
Manhattan Democratic Party Chairman Keith Wright, for one, said that Nixon’s comment shows that she has a lack of understanding and is ill-informed about the greatest crime in history.
Wright, who is a former state assemblyman and a former state Democratic party chairman under Gov. Cuomo, explained that “reparations are a repayment for the free labor that built this country.”
He said that Nixon should limit her comments to legalization, whether it is pro or con. While he believes that social equity should be considered when it comes to cannabis licensing, if and when legalization does happen, he said that it is “insulting to (his) soul” that the free labor that his ancestors offered would be “equated with the selling of marijuana.”
Rev. Al Sharpton tweeted that he is in favor of legalizing weed and he likes Nixon, but that there were much larger issues to be attended to such as education and health care. Sharpton, who is an American civil rights activist, White House adviser for Former President Barack Obama, and TV/radio talk show host said that putting marijuana shops in their communities is not reparations.
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter of Greater NY criticized Nixon’s comments and described them as ignorant and offensive.
In a statement, the group said that what the gubernatorial hopeful said does a disservice to their community as she is playing into dangerous stereotypes of African-Americans as drug dealers and drug users. Moreover, the group said that it does an even greater disservice to the enduring consequences of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the inequities that these systems of oppression had perpetuated for Nixon to claim that cannabis legalization would somehow erase this experience.
The group called on Nixon to issue an apology.
(Featured image is from Cynthia Nixon’s Twitter account.)