Big Turnout For Sanders’ Pot Talk


What would Queens look like if recreational marijuana was legal? On Saturday, February 2, Senator James Sanders, Jr. held a debate on the subject that had a big turnout from folks around the borough.

The event, held at the Black Spectrum Theater in Jamaica, featured panelists representing different perspectives on the social, economic, legal, and political pros and cons of marijuana legalization. The 200 community members who attended the event had an opportunity to voice their views and opinions on the subject. 

On the pro-side – participants said legalization would cause less arrests and interaction with law enforcement; increase potential opportunities for community growth and economic investment, and put in place regulations that would decrease black market sales.

On the con side – arguments were made that the drug could damage people’s health and cause car accidents and other fatalities; taxes collected from legal weed would not be reinvested into local communities, that a few top companies would monopolize dispensaries, as is the case in New York currently with medical marijuana. Also if marijuana is commercialized, it would increase the desire for people to want to smoke it, opponents said.

All of the panelists, however, as well as Senator Sanders agreed that marijuana should be decriminalized. Senator Sanders does not support the legalization of marijuana, because he said he is wary anytime the government becomes a “pusher” and has concerns about the “legalize it now, figure it out later” mentality.

The debate’s winner, as chosen by the audience, was a tie, with everyone agreeing that each side presented a compelling argument with many valid points. Senator Sanders plans to continue the conversation about marijuana legalization by hosting similar events around the district starting next month.