In March of 2021, the New York State government enacted a landmark, progressive marijuana legalization bill rooted in racial and economic justice, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). It was a priority for BDS that this legislation work towards addressing the many harms that Black and Latine/x/a/o/Hispanic communities have long suffered due to the impacts of racist enforcement. The language of the MRTA also acknowledges that the War on Drugs is entangled in not only the criminal legal system but also the immigration, housing, employment, the family regulation systems and more, with devastating impacts on nearly every aspect of people's lives.
Even in the wake of decriminalization, law enforcement had continued to use the supposed ‘odor of marijuana’ as a justification to stop, harass, and search people of color without a warrant. Similarly, the family regulation system has long used marijuana prohibition and stigmatization as justification to surveil and separate Black and Latine/x/a/o/Hispanic children from their families and keep them in foster care longer. The MRTA protects against these and other discriminatory practices.
BDS continues to work with our clients in all practice areas to address the collateral consequences associated with decades of oppressive marijuana criminalization.