We demand change and reparations for communities persecuted by racist drug law enforcement

With New York State poised to legalize cannabis, criminal justice advocates and community members are demanding measures to strengthen and invest in the communities of color that have been targeted and devastated by racist drug laws. Pilar DeJesus, on behalf of HAPPEN, reminds us that: “It’s time for New York State to lead the way when it comes to reparations, expungements, community reinvestment and social equity for the families and communities who have been destroyed by racist outdated drug policies, like the prohibition of marijuana. The way to lead that charge is by passing legislation that mirrors the Marijuana Regulation Taxation Act (MRTA) — which advocates, defenders, small business owners, and Black and Brown people who have been directly targeted (aka the experts) have worked on for years, in partnership with Senate Majority Leader People-Strokes and Senator Kruger. The MRTA includes language to support worker co-ops (first of its kind), a way to invest the money that has been extracted from the communities back into them and create pathways for the community members to build generational wealth for their families.

MRTA focuses on reinvesting revenue into education, safe drug treatment programs, but mostly reinvesting back into the communities that have been targeted for decades by prohibition of marjuana. The governor should not dictate how the proceeds from legal marijuana will be spent; community members should and must decide how they want to rebuild their community. They are the experts.”

March 26, 2021

Update:

We applaud the new law legalizing marijuana in New York State. We commend Assembly Majority Leader People-Stokes and Sen. Kruger for their leadership and hard work on the new law, which includes the expungement of prior marijuana-related convictions. It’s a new day in New York, as we take an important first step toward dismantling racism within the criminal legal system by reversing the state’s racist ban on marijuana and removing tools used by the police to harass and incarcerate Black and Brown people, such as using the smell of marijuana to stop and frisk people.

We promise to hold public officials accountable to provisions in the law intended to reinvest in communities hardest hit and destroyed by racist drug policies. We will work to ensure that the economic boom is used to create pathways for those community members to build generational wealth for their families.

By reinvesting revenue into education, safe drug treatment programs the communities that have been targeted for decades by prohibition of marjuana, we can begin to repair the horrific harm of racist drug policies. We must ensure that community members decide how they want to rebuild their community.

April 1, 2021