by Ras Jomo Akomo
Keep RasTafari Community at the Table for Counsel in the Cannabis Legalization Discussion
I would like to submit information in support of: – Sealing the records of those convicted of minor Marijuana related offenses –
Insuring the access of small business, micro-business and community cooperative entry into the legal opportunities that will be available (especially for our black and brown community)
– Utilization of all tax revenues that are reinvested should carry a Repair The Nation law that disproportionally include the hiring , investing and training of all persons in communities that have carried the cross for so many years.
– Include the Rastafari community in counsel and even in research on surviving in the Western world while under cultural and spiritual (religious) persecution as it relates to cannabis use. The systemic and generational damaged caused by the so-called “war on drugs” has retarded our community specifically and the greater community at large.
There has been an over-criminalization of a race which has been fueled by disproportionate target policing. 70 -80 % of
marijuana possession arrests have been from African American and Hispanic communities. In Erie county, 76% of the arrests of low level Marijuana possession were with people of color, while we are on 18% of the county population and so called drug use is roughly equal across racial lines.
If marijuana becomes legal, it is only right to seal the records of those who have been convicted. I would also like to sensitize readers to the RasTafari family who use cannabis as a Healing Herb and not as the common term “drug.”
RasTafari have been right all along in terms of their cultural, spiritual, medicinal, and dietary use and historic knowledge of the properties of this plant. Long before NY State legalized medicinal marijuana, the Rastafari for generations, have cultivated and lived with healing knowledge of the many uses and benefits of Cannabis.
I propose that special consideration be given to those who have been severely persecuted for their spiritual (religious) and cultural reality about the powers of this herb, commonly called the Healing of the Nations in the Rastafari lingua.
Indigenous and ancient cultures have passed information to their generations and the laws that this state has enforced disproportionately have violated our human and religious rights. I would ask that all revenue generated as per section 99 of this Bill should contain a law or agreement that helps to restore and repair the affected communities.
It can be a Repair the Nation law that disproportionately reinvest monies to the same communities and ethnic groups in similar proportion to arrest and conviction and also, all state needed services contain the same rules to hire, train and do business with the said communities. Please keep Rastafari members at the table for counsel !
(Ras Jomo delivered the above comments at a statewide public hearing in City Hall Monday related to allowing adult use of marijuana, known as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA-bill no.A.3506C) sponsored by Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples Stokes.
The popular radio personality, show producer and community activist represented ProJect Access To AFreeKa Cultural Organization.)