Cannabis, Drugs and the Law Committee

Committee Mission Statement: 

The Cannabis, Drugs and the Law Committee is a dynamic group of lawyers and law students committed to helping re-envision a drug policy approach that is fair and free of racial bias, keeps communities safe, and respects the dignity and rights of all. Since its establishment, the Cannabis, Drugs and the Law Committee has worked to provide a voice for civil liberty, equality, and justice, by addressing drug policy and alternatives to current drug policy that are grounded in science, justice, compassion, health, and human rights. Committee members have been drawn from law firms, corporations, state and federal agencies, legal aid groups, and law schools, and represent diverse viewpoints.

The Cannabis, Drugs and the Law Committee is dedicated to promoting understanding of and discussion about the legal, political, economic, and social issues and developments that impact current trends in drug policy, the law, and culture. The Committee follows legal developments related to drug policy and builds relationships with leaders in the drug policy community to understand how the law affects this community’s work.

As the Cannabis, Drugs and the Law Committee moves forward in the next phase of our work, we are prioritizing and addressing these key legal issues:

    • Cannabis Legalization and Implementation
    • Psychedelic Therapies

The Committee serves several roles important to the practice of law in its areas of focus, including facilitating, educating, and developing conversations with law makers, the legal community, and the public on important and often contentious issues in the drug policy arena, including issues impacting marginalized and vulnerable communities in New York and beyond, and coordinating with other committees on issues that intersect with drug policy. The Committee regularly sponsors drug-policy-related speakers and events, many of which are open to the public. In addition, the Committee has co-sponsored a CLE for practitioners on New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act’s Impact on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs.

At the city and state level, the Committee has taken positions on issues such as supporting harm reduction strategies that address the problem of drug use without injury to the general welfare, such as syringe exchanges, the expansion of Methadone and Buprenorphine availability, and other public health measures to reduce harm to users and restrict the spread of HIV / AIDS and Hepatitis C, as well as advocating for the removal of punitive criminal drug laws that can be used as a tool of oppression by supporting automatic expungements and sentence reductions.

To achieve its mission the Committee will, as it deems appropriate:

    • Legislation. Review, comment on, and propose changes to the statutes governing drug policies in New York City and State. Provide experts to speak or testify at drug policy events. Provide legislative testimony on bills regarding drug policy.
    • Case Law. Advise and assist courts, file amicus curiae briefs, or propose legislation. Submit drug policy articles to law journals.
    • Education. Educate the members of the Bar and the community regarding developments in the laws governing drug policy. Organize CLE seminars. Encourage law schools to start drug policy clinics. Mentor law students interested in drug policy.

Of Interest

Marijuana Legalization & Regulation resource page

Criminal Justice, Police Reform and Civil Rights sectionaddresses the intersection of criminal laws, policing and racial justice, and contains information regarding City Bar reports and programming on those subjects.

Policy Recommendations for New York City’s Next Mayor (2013) 

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