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Hip-Hop Summit Says Hip-Hop Helped Change Drug Laws

russellsimmons

After relentless protests

and campaigns to increase awareness of New York’s famously

harsh Rockefeller Drug Laws, the Hip-Hop Summit Action

Network (HSAN), headed by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, has induced lawmakers

to enact significant reforms.

Simmons, Chairman

of HSAN, said hip-hop played a major role in revisions of the Rockefeller Drug

Laws, as artists actively disputed the strict regulations, which require judges

to issue mandatory minimum sentences to drug offenders.

"It’s

because of the artists. There’s no way that it would have

happened without the help of Jay-Z and Puffy and all the people who contributed,"

Simmons told AllHipHop.com. "All those people really worked

hard, they pushed, and it’s really the power of hip-hop that

made that happen. People came out, it was a big deal."

Senate Majority

Leader Joseph Bruno and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have reached a

bi-partisan legislative agreement to restructure the minimum sentencing terms

of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, which have been in place for more than 30 years

in New York.

Under the Drug

Laws, the possession of four ounces or sale of two ounces of certain controlled

substances warranted a penalty of 15 years to life in prison, and possession

of two ounces or the sale of half an ounce, three years to life in prison, according

to the Drug Policy Alliance website.

HSAN President

and CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis called the law reforms a significant progress.

"The hip-hop

community hopes that the new provisions proposed will bring retroactive relief

to those unjustly incarcerated in the state prison system," Chavis said

in a statement.

Simmons also stressed

that the changes are a gateway to a greater goal.

"A lot of

people are going to come home as a result of the retroactives," Simmons

said. "This is the first step. There [are] laws like this all over the

country."

HSAN is a non-profit,

non-partisan organization of artists, entertainment industry leaders, education

advocates, civil rights supporters and youth leaders, who see hip-hop as an

important foundation for social change.

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