For Immediate Release

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the National Action Network Call on NY General Assembly To Tie NY Marijuana Legalization to Economic Equity Requirements

WASHINGTON - Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the National Action Network issued a joint call to leaders of the New York State General Assembly in support of the State’s fight to ensure that the legalization of marijuana in New York State is tied to an economic opportunity program with specific requirements to address racial inequities.

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, noted: “The Controlled Substances Act of the 1970’s used racism and bias to criminalize marijuana. Generations of African Americans have been on the receiving end of a decades-long public relations campaign aimed at pinning drug use on this particular group, jailing millions and wreaking havoc on generations of African-American families. The current decriminalization opens this old wound, and fails to provide meaningful economic opportunities for communities ravaged by the "War on Drugs." The leaders of the New York State Assembly have shown great leadership in their effort to course-correct. The legalization and resulting commercialization of marijuana in New York must not leave African American communities behind. The Assembly must prioritize the grants of licenses for people from communities that have been ravaged by the war on drugs, invest revenue from legalized cannabis into communities of color, and eliminate the barriers to reentry faced by those with criminal records tied to prior marijuana offenses.”


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Reverend Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, said: “An equitable legal marijuana industry in New York State and across America must include pathways for communities who have traditionally been afflicted by marijuana related crimes, namely low-income families, formerly incarcerated individuals, and communities of color. This is a unique opportunity for the State of New York to be an leader in the marijuana industry in regards to economic and restorative justice for all. I applaud the efforts of Black lawmakers in New York who have stepped up to represent the interests of so many communities that otherwise stand to be left out of the conversation and face continued inequality in the burgeoning marijuana industry.”

Read the Full Letter here.


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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.

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