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New York

Chelsea London Phillips

Public listening sessions scheduled by the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take input on upcoming legalization legislation are underway, according to a Gothamist report.

The listening sessions — three so far, and a fourth in Manhattan later this evening — have been well attended, mostly by legalization supporters. Many had specific concerns they wanted to see addressed in the legislation, such as support for communities and minorities most impacted by the drug war and expungement of previous cannabis convictions.

“I grew up in the South Bronx, so I know how the police treated the inner city. I have friends whose lives were ruined. They couldn’t get a job because they smoked a little weed. So when prohibition ends I’m looking to create jobs for the same people who were persecuted.” — Ariel Bizardi, via Gothamist

There were also calls to add language to upcoming legislation that put an end to police using the smell of cannabis as a reason to stop and search citizens. Others were most concerned about creating a new “Big Tobacco” and wanted to ensure that the cannabis law prevented venture capitalists and large corporations from dominating the market.

Comments taken during the listening sessions will be used by the state-commissioned Regulated Marijuana Workgroup to shape the first draft of legislation. After tonight’s listening session in Manhattan, there will be eleven more, all listed on the state’s website.

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