New York, NY – New York communities most impacted by the nation’s deep inequities and resulting stark consequences in education, the environment, and mass incarceration need candidates fighting for them. Community activist and celebrated lawmaker Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes has officially launched a new political action committee to support legislation and progressive candidates committed to fostering equity around three key pillars: cannabis, education, and environmental resiliency.
You may recall that the passage of adult-use cannabis legalization in New York was ultimately championed by Crystal Peoples-Stokes who sponsored the bill while it was on its journey. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the historic cannabis legislation in March, 2021, making New York the 15th state to legalize adult-use cannabis. The state is now positioned to become one of the largest markets for legal cannabis in the U.S. Additionally, New York is now one of the few states where legalization is directly tied to economic and racial equity. The new law will enact a program that will reinvest millions of dollars of tax revenues from cannabis in minority communities that have suffered for decades because of the racial criminalization of cannabis and the war on drugs.
The majority leader will be joined by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs, Assemblymember Charles Fall, and a host of advocates, prospective entrepreneurs, and other community stakeholders to advocate for equitable cannabis regulations in New York State. The PAC will support legislation and candidates pledging to help repair the social and economic harms of cannabis prohibition and build generational wealth for those most impacted by prohibition through the newly formed EquityPAC.
On Saturday, February 19, Community activist and celebrated elected official Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes announced the launch of a new political action committee, EquityPAC, to support legislation and progressive candidates united around three key pillars: cannabis, education, and environmental resiliency.
“Inequalities in our society do not occur in silos, they require a full-scale approach to fix them. Education, environmental health, and cannabis are core issues for EquityPAC because of glaring deficits in our most vulnerable communities, both historically and more urgently, right now. It’s time for New York to live up to its ideals and become more inclusive and just. Equity PAC will work tirelessly to empower communities by supporting legislation, candidates, and policies that will uplift them and restore what has been lost. The cannabis industry, specifically, will provide a pathway to this restoration. We have the ability to build an equitable and sustainable industry from the ground up. Now is the time to seize this opportunity.”–NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Held at the historic Harlem Repertory Theatre, the press announcement featured respected leaders and advocates voicing their support for EquityPAC. The majority leader, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs, as well as a host of advocates, prospective entrepreneurs, community stakeholders, and legacy operators, joined forces to advocate for equitable cannabis regulations in New York State.
On the announcement of EquityPAC, Senator Gillibrand remarked, “The unfair and shortsighted enforcement of marijuana laws has harmed countless lives, predominately in black and brown communities. This injustice must be rectified, and New York will lead the way. Marijuana should be legalized, non-violent marijuana convictions should be expunged, and the jobs and economic benefits resulting from legislation must be directed to the communities harmed from the failed policies of the past. I applaud Leader Peoples-Stokes for fighting tirelessly to make cannabis legal and to ensure that its legalization helps people of color access wealth and job creation.”
Newly elected Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs said, “Cannabis prohibition created the system of mass incarceration we see today. Every person imprisoned as a result of these unjust laws should be given a second chance to restore their lives and communities. I know firsthand how a criminal record can impact someone’s life, and I deeply respect Leader Peoples-Stokes for creating EquityPAC and taking a stand for those forgotten by our society.”
EquityPAC is a political action committee that supports candidates and fights for equal access to education, a healthy environment, and pathways to generational wealth in the burgeoning cannabis industry. One of EquityPAC’s core thrusts is to support both legislation and candidates committed to repairing the social and economic devastation caused by cannabis prohibition and building generational wealth previously denied to those directly impacted by prohibition. These key areas are vital to the enfranchisement of Black, brown, and working-class people who have suffered from these cruel inequities as a result of deliberate policy choices.
- Only 37% of NY 4th graders performed at or above proficiency in math and 34% in reading.
- In reading, 60% of students from non-economically disadvantaged backgrounds were proficient compared to just 36% of economically disadvantaged students.
- In NYC, 94% of elevated lead levels in children are among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.
- In 2017 African Americans were 8.1 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses in NYC and 11.2 times more likely in the rest of NY State.
- The City of Los Angeles prioritized African American applicants for dispensary licenses, yet only 11 Black businesses were approved for the first 100 retail locations.
Race, socioeconomic status, or location of residence should not determine a person’s life, health, or educational outcomes. EquityPAC will work to bring an end to this blatant affront to justice and equity.
EquityPAC is an independent, Black-led political action committee that advances justice in New York State through engagement and support of candidates committed to achieving equity around its key pillars of education, environmental resiliency, and the legal cannabis industry. EquityPAC is committed to vitalizing voters from communities most impacted by systemic racism and structural inequities.