TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

Many people and businesses no longer use cash to buy and sell items, but for the 25% of New Yorkers who are “underbanked,” is this a form of bias against the poor? As the push for recreational marijuana legalization gets the Governor’s nod, a powerful group of New York officials are vehemently opposed to the plan. Find out why. On a day when the Supreme Court Justice missed her first oral arguments in 25 years, public television airs a special conversation with the Justice. We have your preview.  Now an American citizen, an Iraqi poet on Saddam Hussein’s enemies list reflects on what it means to create art, a new life, and a new identity.

Aired on January 7, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METRO FOCUS' CASHLESS BUYING?

MANY PEOPLE NO LONGER CARRY DOLLARS FOR PURCHASES, AND NOW SOME PEOPLE ARE ONLY ACCEPTING CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS FROM THEIR CUSTOMERS.

DOES THAT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST THE 25% OF NEW YORKERS WHO ARE POOR AND UNDERBANKED?

ONE COUNCILMEMBER SAYS YES, AND HE IS ON A MISSION TO CHANGE THE SITUATION.

THE DETAILS AHEAD.

> IS THAT POT YOU SMELL?

PROBABLY.

AS THE PUSH FOR LEGALIZATION HITS THE FAST TRACK, AN IMPORTANT GROUP OF NEW YORK OFFICIALS ARE STRONGLY OPPOSING THE PLAN.

FIND OUT WHY.

> AND THE NOTORIOUS RBG.

JUST AS RUTH BADER GINSBURG MISSED ORAL ARGUMENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 25 YEARS TODAY, BUT JUST BEFORE SHE TOOK ILL, PUBLIC TELEVISION HAD A CHANCE TO CHAT WITH THE SUPERSTAR.

WE'LL HAVE THE PREVIEW.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING BY METRO FOCUS WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT FUNDING COMPANY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS ALSO PROVIDED BY THE JPB FOUNDATION AND THE FORD FOUNDATION.

THIS SEGMENT IS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

TONIGHT THE QUESTION FOR YOU, HAVE YOU STOPPED USING CASH TO BUY THINGS?

MORE AND MORE PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY HAVE AND ARE NOW JUST USING CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS WHEN PURCHASING GOODS.

ALONG WITH PEOPLE GOING CASHLESS, SO ARE SOME BUSINESSES.

BUT WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE A CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD?

WHAT IF YOU'RE UNDERBANKED, AS 25% OF NEW YORKERS ARE?

WHAT IF YOU'RE UNDOCUMENTED?

WHAT IF YOU'RE HOMELESS?

WHAT IF YOU JUST LIKE TO USE CASH?

WHEN YOU CONSIDER A CASHLESS SOCIETY, ARE WE ALSO LOOKING AT IN SOME WAYS A BIASED ONE?

BRONX COUNCILMEMBER RICHIE TORRES HAS STRONG OPINIONS ON THE ISSUE.

HE IS TACKLING IT HEAD-ON AND HE JOINS US WITH THAT.

IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.

IT'S AN HONOR TO BE HERE.

YOU SAID I WALKED INTO A STORE IN NEW YORK.

I'D LIKE TO USE CASH RATHER THAN CARDS FOR NORMAL LUNCH, THAT TYPE OF THING.

AND I WALKED IN, GOT SOME LUNCH AND GOT TO THE COUNTER AND SAID WE DON'T TAKE CASH.

AND I SAID REALLY?

WE DON'T TAKE CASH?

SO LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHY YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT THAT NOTION OF CASHLESS BUSINESSES.

WELL, MOST PEOPLE HAVE THE SAME PUZZLED REACTION THAT YOU DO.

WHEN YOU OPEN A DOLLAR BILL, IT READS 'THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS PUBLIC OR PRIVATE'.

RIGHT.

IF I HAVE CASH, WHICH THE LEGITIMATE UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED CURRENCY OF THE UNITED STATES, ON WHAT BASIS CAN A BUSINESS DENY ME THE ABILITY TO USE CASH TO PURCHASE FOOD, SHELTER, AND CLOTHING, BUT INCREASINGLY IN NEW YORK CITY WE HAVE A RISING TIDE OF WHAT IS KNOWN AS CASHLESS BUSINESSES THAT INSIST ON CREDIT ONLY AND THAT REFUSE TO ACCEPT CASH.

AND MY CONCERN IS EVEN IF THE POLICY APPEARS TO BE NEUTRAL ON THE SURFACE, IT CAN HAVE AN EXCLUSIONARY EFFECT ON THE MOST VULNERABLE NEW YORKER, PARTICULARLY THE UNDERBANKED WHICH IS 25% OF OUR POPULATION.

I'LL TALK ABOUT THAT IN A SECOND.

BUT GIVE US A SENSE OF CONTEXT FOR THE ISSUE.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS THAT HAVE BEEN OFFERED BY BUSINESSES WHEN THEY SAY ALL RIGHT, WE'RE GOING TO GO CASHLESS.

WE'RE NOW JUST GOING TO DO BASED ON CREDIT CARDS OR DIGITAL BILL?

THE REASONS CAN VARY.

SOME WILL CLAIM EFFICIENCY.

OTHERS WILL CLAIM CLEANLINESS.

AND THEN THERE SEEMS TO BE A MISCONCEPTION AMONG SOME BUSINESS OWNERS THAT EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO CREDIT.

YEAH.

WHEN IN FACT 25% OF NEW YORKERS ARE UNDERBANKED, AND IT'S DISPROPORTIONATELY TRUE IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

WHEN WE SAY UNDERBANKED, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

THERE IS A LACK OF BANKS THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY, PARTICULARLY THE LOW INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF NEW YORKERS THAT HAVE NO CREDIT RATING OR TOO POOR CREDIT RATING TO QUALIFY FOR CREDIT.

IF YOU HAVE NO ACCESS TO CREDIT, YOU HAVE NO MEANS TO PURCHASING GOODS AND SERVICES IN A CASHLESS SOCIETY.

YOU MIGHT HAVE THE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET TO DO IT.

YEAH.

YOUR WAGES MIGHT BE SUFFICIENT TO ALLOW YOU TO GO TO A GROCERY STORE AND BUY AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR FAMILY, KEEP FOOD ON THE TABLE, A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD, BUT IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN THE CREDIT CARD WORLD, THEN SOME OF THESE BUSINESSES ARE SAYING TO YOU CAN'T DO BUSINESS WITH US?

AND YOU'RE EFFECTIVELY EXCLUDED.

IT'S FAIR GAME IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY TO DISCRIMINATE ON PRICE.

BUT I WOULD REGARD IT AS UNFAIR TO DISCRIMINATE BASED ON METHOD OF PAYMENT.

DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANY INTENTIONAL DISCRIMINATION GOING ON HERE WITH THESE DECISIONS BY BUSINESSES TO GO CASHLESS, THAT THEY'RE TRYING TO LIMIT IN SOME WAY THE CLASSES OR THE TYPES OF CUSTOMERS THAT ARE COMING INTO THEIR STORES?

I THINK AS A GENERAL MATTER, IT TENDS TO BE DISCRIMINATION IN EFFECT.

BUT I SUSPECT THERE ARE SOME BUSINESSES THAT KNOWINGLY ADOPT THESE POLICIES KNOWING THAT IT WILL FILTER OUT A CERTAIN CLIENTELE FROM THEIR BUSINESS.

IF YOU LOOK AT IT, AND I MENTIONED TO YOU, I JUST HAPPEN THAN NOT, I'VE SEEN IN SOME OF THE STORIES ABOUT THIS SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE SAYING, LOOK, I DO THIS AS A BUDGET MECHANISM FOR ME TO KEEP MYSELF ON BUDGET.

THERE ARE STUDIES THAT HAVE SHOWN THAT PEOPLE WILL SPEND MORE WHEN THEY'RE USING A CARD THAN THEY WILL IF THEY'RE TAKING CASH OUT OF A WALLET.

SO YOU HAVE PEOPLE SAYING IT'S A BUDGET TOOL FOR ME.

OTHER PEOPLE SAYING ESSENTIALLY, IT KEEPS THEM FROM OVERSPENDING, EVEN THOUGH THEY COULD, THEY COULD AFFORD IT IF THEY WANT TO.

AND THEN OTHER PEOPLE ALSO SAY, AND BY THE WAY, THIS IS -- SETS UP A SCENARIO WHERE THE BUSINESSES CAN BE MAKING MORE MONEY TO THEIR BOTTOM LINE.

YEAH.

SO HOW DO WE RECONCILE THOSE TWO?

I WOULD ARGUE THAT WHATEVER EFFICIENCY GAINS COME FROM A CASHLESS BUSINESS IS OUTWEIGHED BY TWO CONSIDERATIONS.

FIRST IS PRIVACY.

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO PREFER CASH FOR REASONS RELATING TO PRIVACY, BECAUSE IT DOES NOT INVOLVE THE SHARING OF THEIR PERSONAL INFORMATION.

CREDIT CARDS HAVE HUGE QUANTITIES OF INFORMATION ABOUT OUR LOCATIONS, OUR WHEREABOUTS BECAUSE WE'RE CONSTANTLY ENGAGED IN CREDIT TRANSACTIONS.

AND THERE ARE MANY NEW YORKERS WHO PREFER TO USE CASH BECAUSE IT'S MUCH MORE PROTECTIVE OF THEIR PRIVACY.

SECOND IS CIVIL RIGHTS.

SINCE 1965 THERE HAS BEEN A RECOGNITION THAT EVEN PRIVATE BUSINESSES ARE PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION AND HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO TREAT ALL OF THEIR CUSTOMERS EQUALLY, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU PAY BY CREDIT OR BY CASH.

SO HOPEFULLY MY BILL IS ABOUT AFFIRMING THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY IN THE MARKETPLACE.

TELL ME WHAT THE BILL WOULD SAY AND THEN LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT YOU HAVE FOR IT.

THE BILL WOULD REQUIRE EVERY RETAIL AND FOOD ESTABLISHMENT TO ACCEPT CASH, RIGHT.

CREDIT SHOULD BE AND CAN BE ONE OPTION AMONG MANY, BUT IT SHOULD NEVER BE THE SOLE OPTION BECAUSE IT HAS AN EXCLUSIONARY EFFECT ON UNDERBANKED AND VULNERABLE NEW YORKERS.

SO YOU WOULD BE REQUIRED TO ACCEPT CASH.

AND WHAT SORT OF SUPPORT ARE YOU GETTING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE?

THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN OVERWHELMINGLY FAVORABLE.

I HAVE THE SUPPORT -- WE SEEM TO HAVE THE TENTATIVE SUPPORT OF THE MAYOR WHO HAVE VOICED SUPPORT FOR THE CONCEPT OF BANNING CASHLESS BUSINESSES.

I HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE ON CONSUMER AFFAIRS WHICH WILL HEAR THE BILL IN FEBRUARY.

SO THE SUPPORT HAS LARGELY BEEN FAVORABLE.

WHAT WOULD BE THE TIME SCHEDULE, THEN, FOR THIS TO GET DONE?

SO IF WE WERE ABLE TO SECURE HEARING IN FEBRUARY AS I SUSPECT WE WILL, THEN WE CAN GET THE BILL ENACTED BY MID- TO LATE NEXT YEAR.

WE'LL HAVE YOU COME BECOME AND TALK ABOUT THAT.

BUT I CAN'T HAVE YOU HERE WITHOUT BRINGING UP THE TOPIC THAT WE TALK ABOUT SO OFTEN HERE.

BASICALLY, GIVE US AN UPDATE.

WHAT'S GOING ON?

LOOK, THERE HAS BEEN SOME BREAKTHROUGHS.

THE GENERAL MANAGER AND THE NEW CHAIRPERSON WERE ABLE TO STRIKE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE TEAMSTERS WHICH REPRESENTS THE MAJORITY OF THE EMPLOYEES WHICH WOULD -- WHICH WOULD REQUIRE THE EMPLOYEES TO WORK EARLIER ON WEEKENDS.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 50 YEARS WE'RE GOING TO HAVE CARETAKERS EARLY IN THE MORNING, LATE IN THE EVENINGS, ON WEEKENDS, AVAILABLE TO DO WORK.

THE MANY OF THE PROBLEMS ARE RELATED TO SKILL TRADES LIKE PLUMBING, PLASTER, PAINTING, BASIC REPAIRS.

AND THE NEW CONTRACT FAILS TO COVER MAINTENANCE SKILLS TRADES WHICH REPRESENTS THE NEED FOR REPAIRS.

SO THAT'S THE DOWNSIDE OF THE CONTRACT.

BUT THERE IS ALSO THE THREAT OF THE RECEIVERSHIP.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS THREATENING TO TAKE OVER PUBLIC HOUSING.

AND NOW IF THAT HAPPENS, THAT WOULD BE THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS STRIPPED A MAYOR OF CONTROL OF PUBLIC HOUSING.

DO YOU THINK THAT'S AN EMPTY THREAT OR WOULD THEY FOLLOW THROUGH?

IS IT LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

NO.

BUT THE RISK OF RECEIVERSHIP HAS NEVER BEEN MORE REAL BECAUSE NYCHA IS IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY.

THERE IS REASONS FOR PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE TO LET'S DO WHAT WE HAVE TO DO TO AVOID.

THE MAYOR HAS NEVER BEEN UNDER GREATER PRESSURE TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS ON PUBLIC HOUSING BECAUSE HE HAS THE THREAT OF RECEIVERSHIP HANGING OVER HIM.

WE'LL SEE WHERE THAT GOES TO.

RICHIE TORRES, GOOD TO SEE YOU AND ALWAYS GOOD TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS ON ALL OF THIS.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

YOU BE WELL.

> GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO HAS MADE THE LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA ONE OF HIS TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES OF 2019.

WITH DEMOCRATS NOW IN CONTROL OF BOTH THE ASSEMBLY AND THE STATE SENATE, LEGAL POT HAS A GOOD CHANCE OF MAKING TO IT THE GOVERNOR'S DESK SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.

STILL, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNOR, WHO ONCE DESCRIBED MARIJUANA AS A, QUOTE, GATEWAY DRUG NOW FULLY SUPPORTS LEGALIZATION, NOT EVERYONE IS ON THE LEGALIZATION BANDWAGON.

A GROUP REPRESENTING LOCAL HEALTH OFFICIALS FROM ACROSS NEW YORK STATE RECENTLY CAME OUT AGAINST THE MOVE, ARGUING THAT SERIOUS HEALTH CONCERNS STILL REMAIN.

AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THOSE CONCERNS IS SARAH RAVENHALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS.

SARAH, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME, RAFAEL.

SO SARAH, FIRST OF ALL, PLEASE ELABORATE.

WHAT IS THE NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY, STATE OFFICIAL?

THE NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS FOR THE LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS.

THERE ARE 58 LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS ACROSS THE STATE, AND WE SUPPORT AND EMPOWER OUR MEMBERS TO DO THEIR PUBLIC HEALTH PREVENTION WORK IN THEIR -- IN THE COMMUNITIES THAT THEY SERVE.

SO WHY DOES THE ORGANIZATION OPPOSE THE LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA?

SO THE COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE REALLY THE LEADING EXPERTS IN THEIR COMMUNITIES WHO MAKE DECISIONS AS EVIDENCE-BASED DECISIONS THAT SHAPE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF COMMUNITIES.

THAT IS OUR PRIORITY.

SO ALL OF THE DECISIONS WE MAKE REALLY NEED CONCRETE EVIDENCE TO INDICATE THAT THERE WOULDN'T BE UNDUE HARM TO PEOPLE OF THE STATE.

AND AFTER REVIEWING THE RESEARCH, WE FELT LIKE THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH LONG-TERM EVIDENCE TO INDICATE THAT AN ADULT USE REGULATED MARIJUANA PROGRAM WOULD NOT CAUSE UNDUE HARM TO COMMUNITIES IN NEW YORK STATE.

SO WHAT SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HARMS, THE HEALTH ISSUES YOU SEE COMING?

SO AN INCREASE IN MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS.

AND THE COLORADO STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT HAS SEEN THAT OUT OF COLORADO, WHO ALSO HAS A REGULATED MARIJUANA PROGRAM.

INCREASED EXPOSURES IN CHILDREN.

THERE ARE A LOT OF PRODUCTS THAT COULD BE ENTICING TO CHILDREN, EDIBLES FOR EXAMPLE.

AND COLORADO HAS SEEN AN INCREASED NUMBER OF HOSPITALIZATIONS DUE TO THAT.

A POSSIBLE LINKAGE IN THE USE, LONG-TERM USE OF MARIJUANA BEING CONNECTED TO POSSIBLE FUTURE ADDICTION.

THIS ONE'S PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT AS WE CONTINUE TO COMBAT THE CURRENT OPIOID EPIDEMIC.

IT'S SOMETHING ON OUR RADAR.

THOSE CONCERNS REALLY, REALLY CULMINATE IN OUR POSITION OF OPPOSITION.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THOSE WHO ARGUE, WHO HAVE HEARD THESE POINTS AND ARGUE, LISTEN, ALL THOSE THINGS, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE ALREADY SMOKING MARIJUANA RECREATIONALLY.

SO ALL THOSE THINGS ARE ALREADY HAPPENING.

THEREFORE, MAYBE IT'S BETTER TO LEGALIZE AND REGULATE IT AS ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO IS REGULATED.

AT LEAST YOU HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER IT.

YOUR RESPONSE.

ABSOLUTELY.

AS PUBLIC HEALTH STEWARDS, AND THAT REALLY IS OUR ROLE, PUBLIC HEALTH, COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS, OUR REAL HEALTH IS PUBLIC HEALTH.

WE FELT IT IMPORTANT TO COME OUT TO THE PUBLIC AND MAKE SURE THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RISKS AND PRELIMINARY RESEARCH THAT IS OUT THERE INDICATING POTENTIAL HEALTH IMPACTS.

BUT AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE GOVERNOR IS FOR LEGALIZATION.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS FOR LEGALIZATION.

ALMOST EVERY SIGNIFICANT TOP ELECTED OFFICIAL IS FOR LEGALIZATION.

NOW MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IS FOR LEGALIZATION.

WHAT IS IT THAT THEY DON'T KNOW?

AND WE DO -- OUR MEMBERS DO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE MANY BECAUSE IT'S A VERY COMPLEX ISSUE THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.

WE'RE VERY AWARE OF THE POTENTIAL SOCIAL JUSTICE, RACIAL JUSTICE IMPACT THAT SOMETHING LIKE THIS COULD HAVE.

WE'RE ALSO AWARE OF THE INCOME.

WE WANT TO SUPPORT INITIATIVES TO BRING INCOME TO THE STATE, BUT NOT AT THE RISK OF THE HEALTH OF THE COMMUNITY WE SERVE.

SO -- WE'RE REALLY COMING FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVE.

AND IN ADDITION, WE SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING, AND THERE ARE SAFEGUARD I THINK THAT THE STATE CAN CONSIDER WHEN PUTTING REGULATIONS TOGETHER SUCH AS SETTING THE AGE OF SALE AT 21 YEARS, AND THEN CONCURRENTLY, LEGALIZING TOBACCO 21 AT THE SAME TIME.

THIS TYPE OF REGULATION WILL PROTECT PEOPLE FROM EXPOSURES TO E-CIGARETTES, TO TOBACCO PRODUCTS, AND NOW POSSIBLY TO REGULATED MARIJUANA.

YEAH?

NO, NO.

I WAS JUST GOING TO -- YOU MENTIONED THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE IMPACT OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA.

AS OBVIOUSLY YOU KNOW THAT THE LAW HAS BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY ENFORCED IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

BUT YOU DON'T -- YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION DON'T THINK THAT REVERSING THAT IS A SUFFICIENT REASON TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?

WE'RE REALLY COMING FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF COUNTY HEALTH OFFICIALS.

THE LEADING HEALTH STRATEGIST IN A COMMUNITY WHO KNOWS THE COMMUNITY, KNOWS WHAT THE COMMUNITY NEEDS, AND WANTS TO COMMUNICATE THE POTENTIAL RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH USING THIS TYPE OF PRODUCT.

FOR EXAMPLE, THERE IS RESEARCH THAT SHOWS THC REMAINS IN THE BREAST MILK OF A BREAST-FEEDING MOTHER FOR UP TO SIX DAYS AFTER USE OF CANNABIS.

WE ARE GOING TO BE EXPECTED AND RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMUNICATING THAT TYPE OF INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC SO THAT WE CAN HELP PROTECT VULNERABLE POPULATIONS FROM THAT PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVE.

EARLIER YOU MENTIONED THE EXAMPLE OF COLORADO, WHICH HAS RELLIZED MARIJUANA NOW FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS.

AND THERE IS TEN STATES, PLUS WASHINGTON, D.C. THAT HAVE LEGALIZED IT.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LESSONS THAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THOSE STATES, SINCE AS YOU SAY, YOU KNOW, IT'S PROBABLY VERY LIKELY GOING TO HAPPEN HERE.

THE PROGRAM NEEDS TO BE IMPLEMENTED AND LAID OUT BEFORE SALES BEGIN.

THE AGE OF SALE NEEDS TO BE SET AT 21.

WE NEED TO FUND RESEARCH AND CLINICAL TRIALS THAT WILL HELP US KIND OF GROW THE AVAILABLE EVIDENCE BASE SO THAT WE CAN STAND PREPARED AND READY TO KNOW WHAT THE IMPACTS ARE GOING TO BE AND WHAT THE LONG-TERM OUTCOMES ARE GOING TO BE.

IN ADDITION, LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS HAVE TO BE FUNDED TO DO THIS WORK.

THEY ARE THE HEALTH EXPERTS IN THE COMMUNITY, AND THEY'RE GOING TO BE RELIED UPON TO DELIVER THIS TYPE OF INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC.

WE SERVE THE PUBLIC THAT IS OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.

BUT WE NEED THE INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE TO DO THIS TYPE OF WORK BEFORE THE POLICY ROLLS OUT.

AND FINALLY, SARAH, I IMAGINE, MAYBE I'M WRONG, BUT I IMAGINE YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS HAD A CHANCE TO SIT DOWN AND TALK TO THE GOVERNOR ABOUT THIS.

IF YOU HAD, WHAT'S BEEN THE RESPONSE OF HIS RESPONSE AND HIS ADMINISTRATION'S RESPONSE?

THANK YOU.

SO TO BE CLEAR, WE WEREN'T INVOLVED IN THE INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF THE POLICY, THE STATE'S POLICY OR ASSESSMENT.

BUT WE HAVE HAD THE WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY AND VERY HELPFUL CONVERSATIONS SITTING DOWN WITH HIM, TALKING ABOUT THE ROLE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, AND THEY'VE BEEN RECEPTIVE TO THAT.

THEY'VE ASSURED US THAT THE ROLE OF PUBLIC HEALTH WILL BE INCORPORATED INTO WHATEVER PROGRAM THEY PROPOSE.

BUT AGAIN, AS PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS SERVING THE COMMUNITIES, WE REPRESENT COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES AND CHILDREN.

WE WANTED TO COME OUT VISIBLY TO THE PUBLIC TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT OUR CONCERNS REALLY ARE.

ALL RIGHT, SARAH.

WELL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT.

AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU POUR THE OPPORTUNITY, RAFAEL.

> THE SUPREME COURT RUTH BADER GINSBURG APPEARING BEFORE A SOLD OUT AUDIENCE FOR THE MUSEUM OF CITY OF NEW YORK SERIES, AN EVENING WITH JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG.

IN A SPECIAL HOUR-LONG CELEBRATION, THE 85-YEAR-OLD, WHO REACHED CELEBRITY STATUS AS THE NOTORIOUS RBG SITS DOWN WITH NPR'S NINA TOTENBERG FOR JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG IN CONVERSATION.

AMONG MANY ISSUES, THE TWO DISCUSS HER QUARTER CENTURY ON THE NATION'S HIGHEST BENCH.

HER 2016 BOOK 'IN MY OWN WORDS' AND HER CONTINUES COMMITMENT TO PRINCIPLE DEFEND.

WE ARE BY FAR THE MOST COLLEGIAL INSTITUTE IN TOWN.

WE ALL RESPECT AND GENUINELY LIKE EACH OTHER.

I THINK YOU CAN SEE THAT IN SO MANY WAYS.

ALL THE THINGS THAT WE DO TOGETHER.

IN JANUARY THERE WILL BE A DINNER IN HONOR OF THE NEW JUNIOR JUSTICE.

THAT'S A TRADITION.

THE PERSON WHO HAS JUST GIVEN UP THE JOB OF BEING THE JUNIOR JUSTICE MAKES DINNER FOR THE LATEST ARRIVAL.

AFTER LIVING IN WASHINGTON FOR I GUESS NIGH ON TO 40 YEARS, DO YOU STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF A NEW YORKER?

NOT ONLY A NEW YORKER, BUT A BROOKLYNITE.

[ APPLAUSE ] YOU KNOW, WHEN I LEFT NEW YORK TO COME TO D.C., I THOUGHT THERE WAS NO OTHER CITY IN THE WORLD FOR ME BUT THIS ONE.

BUT INSIDE OF SIX MONTHS, I FOUND MANY TREASURES IN D.C., INCLUDING ALL THE MUSEUMS THAT ARE FREE AND THE CONCERTS THAT ARE FREE.

BUT MY DAUGHTER MADE A COMMENT.

SHE SAID IF YOU HAD MOVED WHEN YOU WERE IN YOUR 30s RATHER THAN IN YOUR LATE 40s, YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN SO CONTENT WITH THE CHANGE.

SO WHAT IS IT THAT YOU MISS ABOUT NEW YORK?

WELL, THE TREMENDOUS VARIETY.

ANYTHING YOU WANT, YOU CAN FIND IN THIS CITY.

THE GREATEST MUSEUMS, THE METROPOLITAN OPERA.

I LOVE THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA, BUT I DON'T THINK THE MET HAS ANY RIVAL IN THE WORLD.

I'VE GONE TO THE MET EVERY FIVE YEARS ON A NOTABLE BIRTHDAY.

STARTING WITH MY 70th, 75th, 80th, 85th.

AND I GET PETER GELD'S BOX, AND MY CHILDREN ATTEND.

AND IT'S A FANTASTIC EVENING.

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG IN CONVERSATION AIRS JANUARY 7th AT 9:00 P.M., JANUARY 9th, AND JANUARY 10th AT 9:00 P.M. ON MJ TV.

PLEASE CHECK YOUR LISTINGS FOR ADDITIONAL VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES.

> IRAQI POET CAME TO AMERICA AFTER LEARNING SHE WAS ON A LIST OF ENEMIES BEING MONITORED BY SADDAM HUSSEIN.

SHE BECAME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN IN 2007, AND SINCE THEN SHE HAS CALLED HERSELF AN IRAQI AMERICAN.

SHE SAYS SHE HAS EARNED THAT HYPHEN, WHICH SEES AS AN EXPRESSION OF HER TWO CULTURES AND TWO NATIONALITIES.

MIKAEL REFLECTS ON WHAT IT MEANS TO WRITE POETRY AND TO ADOPT A NEW LIFE AND IDENTITY.

I KEPT, ALTHOUGH IT'S EXPIRED, YOU KNOW.

BUT THE REASON THAT I'LL ALWAYS KEEP THAT, IT'S UNIQUE.

IT SAYS THAT MY PROFESSION IS A POET.

THOUGH IT'S EXPIRED, I WILL ALWAYS KEEP IT.

IT SAYS HERE EXPIRED ON MAY 19th, '94.

AND THAT'S THE TIME, THE DAY I LEFT MY COUNTRY.

BEING A POET, YOU DON'T NEED A LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM ANYWHERE.

I STARTED TO THINK OF MYSELF AS A POET FIRST IN HIGH SCHOOL.

AND THEN THE COLLEGE I HAD MY FIRST BOOKPUBLISHED.

THAT WAS IN BAGHDAD.

IT WAS NOT MY INTENTION TO MAKE PEACE, CHANGE THE WORLD.

THAT WAS NOT MY GOAL.

I DON'T BELIEVE POETRY HAS THESE TYPE OF TASKS.

BEFORE COMING HERE, I DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT THE TRANSLATION OR ENGLISH.

THEN I REALIZED THIS LANGUAGE ISSUE THAT YOU HAVE NOT ONLY THE BEING, THE MEMORIES, BUT ALL OF YOUR LANGUAGE.

WHEN YOU WRITE A POEM IN YOUR LANGUAGE, YOU WRITE IT ONE TIME.

AND THEN YOU THINK INTO OTHER LANGUAGE AND TRY TO WRITE A POEM IN THE OTHER LANGUAGE, I FEEL AS IF IT'S A NEW FORM.

THEY SAY LOST IN TRANSLATION, BUT ALSO THINGS FOUND IN TRANSLATION.

I BECAME AMERICAN CITIZEN IN THE YEAR 2007.

AND I EARNED THAT HYPHEN.

NOW I BECAME IRAQI-AMERICAN.

AND CONTEMPLATING LOOKING AT THAT, I WAS THINKING THAT HYPHEN, I ALWAYS THINK OF IT.

AND IT LOOKS LIKE SUBTRACTION, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY A PLUS IN RETAIL IT ADDS TO YOU.

WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME ARE YOU GOING TO GO BACK, I FEEL IT'S A STRANGE QUESTION, AS IF I HAVE TO GO BACK TO A DREAM.

AND SOMETIMES YOU FEEL LIKE WAS IT YOU REALLY THAT YOU WERE IN THAT PLACE?

DID YOU SEE ALL THAT?

WILL I SEE WHAT I KNOW?

WILL I KNOW WHAT I SEE?

REALLY, I FEEL AS IF I WOKE UP FROM THAT LIFE.

PEOPLE SAY EXILE THEY CALL IT.

BUT MAYBE THIS IS FOR ME IF I HAVE TO CALL IT EXILE, THEN MAYBE I WOULD EXILE.

♪♪

BEFORE WE LET YOU GO TONIGHT, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A WONDERFUL EXTENSION TO 'METROFOCUS.'

OUR NEW TWICE WEEKLY PODCAST WITH ME AND YOUR HOST.

ON IT, WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE IN-DEPTH CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE A LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN THEY ARE ON TELEVISION, AND A LOT MORE INTIMATE.

ON THE PODCAST, I'LL TALK TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS PODCAST COMPLETE WITH NEW YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY HALL AND FROM WALL STREET TO BROADWAY?

ABSOLUTELY FREE.

SO HEAD ON OVER TO iTUNES OR SOUNDCLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THIS ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH A UNIQUE 'METROFOCUS.'

I'LL SEE YOU THERE.

METROFOCUS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ.

ROSALIND P. WALTER.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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