By NICHOLAS WILLIAMS

Low-level marijuana offenses and past marijuana offenses should be expunged in the event of New York State legalization of marijuana, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.urged in a report on Thursday.

“It is important that when recreational marijuana is legalized in New York State we do that in the right way,” said Diaz Jr. “Just legalizing marijuana and not addressing the entire world of ramifications that would come isn’t finishing the job. I am relieved that there is now time to map out a course of action about how to address surrounding issues that will arise through the legalization of recreational marijuana, and I look forward to being a part of that conversation.”

The report, titled “Marijuana Justice In New York: The Path to Reform” made  six recommendations that should coincide with the likely legalization of recreational marijuana in New York, which Diaz Jr. predicted could happen as early as the 2020 Legislative session in Albany.

Diaz Jr. also urged that job applicants who failed marijuana drug tests be given a second chance.

“Employers should be encouraged to call these job-seekers back for future openings, and services should be available to help these individuals find employment,” Diaz Jr. said in the report.

Diaz Jr. focused on the role small businesses should play in the marijuana industry, and having the state ensure access to funds for smaller marijuana businesses, so that the industry isn’t dominated by larger businesses.

He also recommended that low-income and minority communities across the state that have been affected by marijuana criminalization in the past should see the benefits of the legalization by getting grants and other opportunities from the revenue of the legalization.

Lastly, the report concluded by espousing the end of family separations because of marijuana use. Currently, a positive drug test for marijuana is sufficient to start a child neglect investigation which could play a part in potentially separating a child from their family.

“No families should be broken apart because a parent, particularly a new parent, tests positive for marijuana,” Diaz Jr. said.

Photo of Ruben Diaz, Jr. by Flickr