Civil Rights Coalition to Hold Juneteenth Teleconference on Tuesday, June 19 at 12:30

Drug Policy Alliance

For Immediate Release                                              Contact: Tommy McDonald 510-679-2311

June 18, 2018                                                                             Dr. Charles Boyer  570-401-7645

Civil Rights Coalition to Hold Juneteenth Teleconference on Tuesday, June 19 at 12:30

Faith Leaders, Civil Rights and Racial Justice Advocates Express Concern as New Jersey Considers Marijuana Legalization Legislation Lacking Fairness and Equity

Trenton, NJ – On Tuesday, June 19, a group of civil rights organizations and faith leaders will hold a press teleconference to discuss the need for racial equity provisions for legislation to legalize marijuana in New Jersey. The teleconference is being held on Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

Members of the press are invited to join Tuesday’s teleconference by calling 1-800-311-9402 (passcode: Equity).

Speakers will include:

The coalition is advocating to include specific racial justice elements into proposed marijuana legalization legislation that will encourage full participation in the industry by communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and repair past harms. These policies include:

  • Protections for those who apply for a license or employment in the industry who have prior arrests and/or convictions;
  • Access to the industry for individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds, including a path for small business owners and scaled application fees to enter the industry;
  • Requirement that the state shall actively seek to achieve a diverse industry;
  • Provisions intended to repair communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition, including automatic and retroactive expungement and a portion of the tax revenue generated by marijuana legalization reinvested into communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition; and
  • Civil penalties for marijuana activities that occur outside the new legal system to avoid the continuation of a criminal system that disproportionately harms communities of color.

“We are concerned that marijuana will be legalized and communities of color will be forgotten,” said Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer, Pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Woodbury. “It would be a major injustice for white entrepreneurs and the state to be enriched by legalization while black and brown people are incarcerated, burdened by criminal records, and excluded from the marketplace.”

Richard Smith, President of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, supports fair and equitable marijuana legalization in New Jersey. “It is imperative that any legislation to legalize marijuana include policies that encourage full participation in the industry by communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and invests some of the revenue generated by legalization back into those communities,” he said.

“Politicians and government officials have used cannabis prohibition to target and criminalize Black and Brown people and throw them in jail,” said Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucester County NAACP. “We in the Gloucester County NAACP are asking for reparations from government officials and corporations that stand to profit! We demand that a huge piece of the business that this legislation will generate make up for all the pain, suffering and loss of revenue that our Black and Brown communities have been subjected too.”

“Marijuana legalization is a moral issue,” said Reverend Timothy Levi Adkins-Jones of Bethany Baptist Church. “Marijuana enforcement has devastated families and communities, especially in Newark, and it is important that any effort to legalize marijuana includes provisions to right these wrongs and repair the harms of the War on Drugs. People of color must not be left behind in efforts to legalize marijuana.”

“If cannabis legalization will become the law of New Jersey, we raise a moral imperative to the Legislature to release persons with marijuana-related convictions, automatically expunge their records and create economic opportunities that repair the harm,” said Reverend Willie Dwayne Francois III, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville. “The future of democracy depends on the thorough practice of restorative justice for victims of failed draconian drug policies.”

Reverend Stephen A. Green, Pastor of Heard A.M.E. Church in Roselle, said “This year’s Juneteenth remembrance serves as a moral imperative for the State of New Jersey to make a bold step to legalize marijuana with progressive racial and economic equity imperatives to repair the harm on communities of color impacted by the war on drugs.”

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