For Immediate Release
February 18, 2019
716-243-8777 x 103
Open Buffalo welcomes Mayor Brown's new marijuana stance, continues larger cannabis justice agenda
Organization continues to push for statewide marijuana policy to repair and invest in communities on the frontline of the war on drugs
Buffalo, N.Y. — Following the 2019 “State of the City” Address last week, Open Buffalo welcomes Mayor Byron Brown’s announcement that he will direct the Buffalo Police Department (BPD) to de-prioritize low-level marijuana possession enforcement. Such a policy shift can be an important step in erasing the harmful racial disparities in policing and drug policy enforcement in our city.
As part of a larger cannabis justice reform platform initiated in 2017, Open Buffalo has publicly called on Mayor Brown and the BPD to de-prioritize arrests for low-level marijuana possession and designate it as the city's Lowest Law Enforcement Priority (LLEP).
The #BuffaloLLEP Campaign has included community forums, original action-oriented research, direct discussions with city policy-makers, and an online petition, where hundreds of individuals have added their voices to the #BuffaloLLEP chorus.
“Since November 2017, we have been working in coordination with Partnership for the Public Good and Drug Policy Alliance on #BuffaloLLEP, gathering more than 1,300 signatures in support of the mayor using his executive power to address this local racial equity issue,” said Franchelle Parker, Open Buffalo’s executive director. “Eight out of 10 people arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Buffalo last year were African-American, despite using the substance at slightly lower rates than their white counterparts.”
The #BuffaloLLEP campaign is part of Open Buffalo’s Justice & Opportunity campaign work, through which we advance policies and practices to create safer neighborhoods, dismantle mass incarceration, increase grassroots power in frontline communities, and remove barriers to civic participation. As regional organizer of the statewide “We Rise to Legalize” campaign, Open Buffalo is also mobilizing the voices of hundreds of Western New Yorkers in support of marijuana legalization that prioritizes rebuilding communities that have been ravaged by the war on drugs. (https://www.werisetolegalize.org) Specifically, this campaign pushes for a marijuana legalization law that includes:
- community investment;
- expansion of access to medical marijuana in communities of color;
- sustainable workforce opportunities;
- community-based education programs;
- and expungement of non-violent marijuana convictions.
Said Parker about Mayor Brown’s announcement, “I feel as though it’s a step in the right direction, and now we are focused on ensuring that legalization addresses the harm from decades of the failed war on drugs.”
About Open Buffalo:
Open Buffalo is a community movement for social and economic justice. We harness the power of a citywide network of community leaders to advance deep systemic changes to public institutions to create justice and equity for all in the Buffalo, N.Y., region. We provide leadership development, media and policy strategy and advocacy, technical assistance, action-oriented community research, and infusion of arts and social justice to achieve this vital mission.