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Pot and Punishment: Dissecting Marijuana Policy, Mass-Incarceration, and Mental Health

Pot to Produce

Note: This Olio will take place on the Strand's 10th floor. To attend, please enter at 826 Broadway (just next to the main store entrance on Broadway at 12th Street) and take the elevator to the 10th floor.


“We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it.”
Émile Durkheim

In 2014, New York City pivoted on its marijuana policy, adopting “decriminalization” as opposed to full-scale legalization. The stated reason for the shift was to put a dent in the staggering numbers of people--mostly Black, Hispanic, and young--being funneled through the city’s criminal justice system due to use, possession or association with the greenleaf. Featured appropriately on 4/20, this talk will explore how far (or not) we’ve come and where we must go to ultimately adopt policies that support, rather than punish and stigmatize marijuana users. 

We will explore a history of drug criminalization and stigmatization (both locally and nationally) that is tied to racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia; delve into the linkages between marijuana use and mental health; and discuss what humane and equitable treatment can look like for individuals in communities targeted and criminalized because of the war on drugs. 


This special Olio will be co-taught by Patricia Kim and Brian Lewis. 

Patricia Kim received her MFA and MSW from Columbia University and teaches Comp Lit classes at Baruch College. She now works for the Mental Health Service Corps.

Brian Lewis is an adjunct professor at Eugene Lang College of the New School and Director of Programs at exalt, which works with young people in the criminal justice system.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.


Other upcoming Olios


Apr 24

The Problem of Evil

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

May 4

Wakanda Forever: Rethinking Killmonger as Villain

Taught by Makeba Lavan
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 11

The Myth of Progress: Our Most Violent Fantasy

Taught by Jamie Warren
8 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 14

Kafka Will Ruin Your Life and Make You Laugh About It

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $15

May 18

Wait...Where is the Right to Privacy in the US Constitution, Exactly?

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 25

Happiness?

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!