The year 2017 saw the establishment of the New Solutions Campaign: Marijuana Reform and Start SMART NY, legalization campaigns in New Jersey and New York, respectively.Drug Policy Alliance, “The New Solutions Campaign: Marijuana Reform,”; Start SMART New York, “Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade,”; and Drug Policy Alliance, “Marijuana Reform in New Jersey,” While many legalization efforts have focused on ending marijuana prohibition, both New Solutions and Start SMART seek to legalize marijuana in a fair and equitable manner that addresses the disparate impact of the War on Drugs on communities of color.Drug Policy Alliance, “The New Solutions Campaign: Marijuana Reform,”; Start SMART New York, “Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade,”
The campaigns are similar to California’s Proposition 64, passed in late 2016, which, among other things, allows people with criminal convictions for marijuana-related misdemeanors and felonies to expunge their records and sets up a fund to assist women and minority-owned businesses in obtaining occupational licenses in the marijuana industry.Matt Ferner, “California’s Marijuana Legalization Aims To Repair Damage From The War On Drugs,” Huffington Post, January 2, 2018; California Proposition 64 (2016).
Similarly, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was introduced in the New York State Senate in 2017 and heavily influenced by the Start SMART campaign, establishes a Community Grants Reinvestment Fund to reinvest marijuana-generated tax revenue in communities of color that were disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.New York SB 3040-A (2017).
MRTA also promotes minority and female ownership of marijuana businesses.New York SB 3040-A (2017) at §189.
At present, less than 1 percent of businesses in the marijuana industry—which experts believe will generate sales in excess of $20 billion annually by 2021—are owned and operated by people of color.Debra Borchardt, “Marijuana Sales Totaled $6.7 Billion in 2016,” Forbes, January 3, 2017; and Drug Policy Alliance, “Thursday: Congressional Briefing on Diversity and Inclusion in the Cannabis Industry,” press release (Washington, DC: Drug Policy Alliance, September 12, 2016).