4/20 Civil Rights and Marijuana Legalization


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The South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY), in partnership with the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) and the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA), is convening a panel discussion entitled, "Civil Rights & Marijuana Legalization" on April 20, 2021 from 6pm-7:30pm. The event will be held online and is co-sponsored by a broad number of bar associations that represent communities of color throughout our state. Thanks to generous sponsorship from the New York Medical Cannabis Association, this event will be free and attendees who are members of co-sponsoring organizations can receive 1.5 hours of CLE credits (approval pending).

The panel's discussion will focus on a few topics, including how the war on drugs and the criminal justice system have adversely impacted communities of color and how legislation has been used to redress a number of inequities caused by a carceral criminal justice system. The panel will review the current cannabis legalization legislation adopted in New York and compare those proposals to recent legalization efforts in NJ, Oregon, and other states.

Our panelists include:

  • Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani, who represents the 36th Assembly District and supported the marijuana legalization bill that recently passed in New York, will add insight into the legislative process and where the fault lines exist in the legalization debate in Albany on this and related issues.

  • Amol Sinha, the Executive Director of ACLU-NJ and a former President of SABANY, who was instrumental in advocating for cannabis legalization in New Jersey, which was recently signed into law, will discuss New Jersey legislation and what still needs to be done in this effort.

  • Theshia Naidoo, Managing Director for Legal Affairs at Drug Policy Alliance, who will discuss drug reform efforts that go past marijuana legalization.

  • Prof. Terrence Coffie, a civil rights advocate and lecturer at New York University, will address the impact of marijuana criminalization on the crisis of mass incarceration and post-incarceration life.

  • Asha Smith, the Chair of NYCLA’s Criminal Justice Section and Co-Chair of MBBA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, will moderate the discussion and add her perspective as a former public defender.

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