With New York on Brink of Marijuana Legalization, Conference Lays Out Blueprint for Legalization Rooted in Racial, Economic, and Social Justice

ALBANY, NY — Momentum for marijuana reform continues to build across the country and in New York. On November 6, Michigan became the tenth state to legalize marijuana for adult use and in September Governor Cuomo endorsed legalization and established a workgroup to draft legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate adult-use marijuana in New York.

With the Democrats regaining control of the New York Senate and Assembly for the first time since 2010, New York is on the cusp of legalizing marijuana. The question is no longer should New York legalize marijuana, but what legalization needs to look like.

The Drug Policy Alliance is bringing hundreds of leading experts from the country to Albany on December 11 and 12 for the Marijuana: Justice, Equity, and Reinvestment conference focusing on how marijuana legalization in New York presents a unique and much-needed opportunity to create equity, economic justice, and work to restore communities most harmed by the war on drugs.

“As New York State is on the brink of legalizing marijuana, we are clear that Governor Cuomo and the legislature must build an adult-use program that ensures equity and diversity and reinvests in the communities that were the hardest hit by marijuana enforcement,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act does all of these things. Governor Cuomo and the new Democratic majority need to take action right away.”

The Drug Policy Alliance is currently leading a campaign, Start SMART New York, to legalize marijuana in New York for adult use, with a focus on racial, economic, and social justice.

The Marijuana: Justice, Equity, and Reinvestment conference in Albany on December 11-12 will bring together experts in the fields of public health, regulatory development, social and economic justice, community reinvestment, and sustainable agriculture with the intent of framing what sound cannabis policy and reinvestment should look like in New York ahead of likely negotiations around legalization in the state budget process, which begins in January.

The conference will have sessions on Finance and Banking, Equity in the Industry, Diversified Economic Opportunities, Public Health, Community Reinvestment, Economic Opportunities for Upstate, Restorative Justice/Reparations, Sustainable Production, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Industry, among many others.

There will also be a community event featuring Wanda James, the first Black woman to open a dispensary in Colorado.

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