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.