Empire State NORML (the New York State chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)) announces today the Third Annual St. Patrick’s Day Press Conference and Rally scheduled for Saturday, March 17th on the steps of City Hall at high noon to remind New Yorkers that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol and that marijuana prohibition must end.

“While scores of New Yorkers are out getting hammered, we want to remind the Big Apple that there is a safer, greener and cleaner choice for adults: marijuana,” said Doug Greene, Legislative Director of Empire State NORML, who organized the event for the first time in 2010.

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In 2011, marijuana possession arrests in New York City hit a ten-year high. These small possession charges have big consequences: a criminal record can put jobs, housing, education and families at risk. In 2010, 16% of New Yorkers reported that they had engaged in binge drinking (5+ drinks on a single occasion) within the past 30 days.

“In an era of budget cuts and worsening public health, why is the Bloomberg administration driving New Yorkers to drink while spending at least $75 million a year arresting peaceful, healthy cannabis consumers? New York City made over 50,000 marijuana possession arrests last year, and over 400,000 since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002. We’re here to slay the dragon of racist, expensive and unscientific marijuana policies,” said Greene.

Confirmed speakers include:

City Council Member Letitia “Tish” James (District 35, Brooklyn), sponsor of Resolutions 986 (in support of S.5187/A.7620, which would amend the Penal Law in relation to criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree) and 1191 (calling upon the Administration for Children’s Services not to file a petition of abuse or neglect in family court, when the sole allegation against the parent is marijuana use)

Retired NYPD lieutenant Joanne Naughton of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

NORML founder and Legal Counsel R. Keith Stroup, J.D.
Medical marijuana researcher Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD
Dominick Chang, Vice-President, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) at NYU

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