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EDDIE EGRIU: "Higgins doesn't have the political courage to demand an end to the failed War on Weed. I do-and I am."

Eddie Egriu wants to stop putting people in jail for smoking weed.

U. S. Congressional candidate Eddie Egriu is calling for an end to the nation’s "War on Weed," and pledges to introduce federal legislation that expunges all marijuana convictions, if elected.

Egriu is running against Rep Brian Higgins in the Democratic Primary for New York's heavily Democratic 26th Congressional District, which includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

According to Egriu, "The War on Weed has failed to reduce either marijuana use or availability, while diverting limited resources that could be better invested to keep our communities safe." Egriu also chastised his opponent for not taking a stronger stand on legalizing marijuana.

In 2012, more than 740,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses -- one person every 42 seconds. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests made between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent were for simple possession.

"Our nation’s aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws needlessly burdens hundreds of thousands of people- pulling them into a criminal justice system that wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars..." Egriu said. “We are going to end the drug cartels by moving peddlers off the street and into storefronts. I want to see our young people growing businesses -not being thrown in jail. They are doing it in Colorado, and we should be pushing it at the federal level as well.”

Colorado voters approved a law last year that legalizes recreational use of marijuana. The state received $2 million in taxes on the sale of $14.02 million worth of recreational marijuana in the first month.

Twenty states plus the District of Columbia permit the use of medical marijuana and two states (Colorado and Washington) allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind alcohol and tobacco). It is estimated to have been used by over 100 million Americans. Government statistics indicate that 25 million Americans smoked marijuana in the past year and 14 million in all smoke marijuana regularly despite laws against its use.

Egriu wants to stop criminalizing Americans for victimless crimes. “We do not want to be known as “the ‘United States of Incarceration,’" Egriu said. With 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, and 751 people incarcerated per 100,000, the U.S. ranks number one of all countries in incarceration rates. England is at 151 people imprisoned per 100,000, Germany is at 88, and Japan at 63.

With over 2.3 million people behind bars, the U. S. also has the most citizens in prison. China, with four times the population of the US, has 1.6 million prisoners.

Egriu said that even if someone does not go to jail, the personal cost for those arrested even for possessing small amounts of marijuana can mean lost employment opportunities, and effect child custody determinations and immigration status. In the United States, drug convictions bar students from receiving Federal Student Loans.

An analysis of data from the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) indicates that American taxpayers pay about $1 billion annually to incarcerate more than 40,000 people for marijuana offenses. Non-prison costs of marijuana prosecution are estimated to be another $8 billion.

Egriu's opponent, Higgins, has been a member of Congress since 2005. The 26th District includes most or all of Buffalo, Lackawanna, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Tonawanda, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Grand Island, Town of Tonawanda and West Seneca.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar 18, 2014