Close this search box.

weekly update – february 21, 2020

Share This Post

In this issue…

Recap, Reparations Now: Black America and the War on Drugs

New York: Stop Criminalizing Mothers

#LessIsMoreNY Forum at NYU Law School 

Recap, Reparations Now: Black America and the War on Drugs 

Lorenzo Jones, Natalie Papillion, and Lawrence Grandpre speak on the Reparations NOW panel at Civic Hall moderated by Imani Dawson.

After decades of the War on Drugs, mass incarceration and intergenerational trauma, what does accountability look like in the United States in the context of legalization?

Last nightKatal’s Lorenzo Jones joined Lawrence Grandpre, Director of Research for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle; Imani Dawson, Executive Director of the Cannabis Education Advocacy Symposium and Expo (CEASE); and Natalie Papillion, Founder and Executive Director of The Equity Organization on a panel at Civicc Hall, exploring possible answers to this longstanding question.

The conversation spanned limitations of the misconstruing of the term “reparations” in relation to the marijuana justice movement to tactics and different avenues that advocates, community groups, and people on the ground can pursue that are reflective of the needs of impacted communities. During the talkback portion of the conversation the audience was engaged and passionate — inquiring to the panel about direct action steps they can take in their efforts to achieve marijuana justice for impacted communities.

This work is far from over and this is a multi-generational fight, and we are thankful to Minority Cannabis Business Association for giving us the opportunity to help provide the knowledge and tools for people to begin to imagine a new world in which justice is possible.

New York: Stop Criminalizing Mothers  

Roundtable participants including Katal Leader Marketa Edwards gather for a photo at the close of this week’s conversation.

This week, Katal Leader Marketa Edwards joined a roundtable at the New School on New York’s response to drug use. The roundtable focused on understanding substance use during pregnancy and after giving birth as a public health and reproductive justice issue. The roundtable was coordinated by the Bronx Defenders and the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention, and moderated by Senator Gustavo Rivera.

The conversation spanned topics including: assumptions and misconceptions surrounding pregnant women who use drugs and the impact of prenatal drug exposure on newborns; unintended and collateral consequences of non-consensual drug testing during the prenatal period and at birth in hospitals; and language that needs to be included in legislation to best address the harms of criminalizing drug use during pregnancy.

We thank the Bronx Defenders for including Katal in this important discussion. Katal leader Ms. Edwards has experienced first hand the trauma of being stigmatized for drug use, and the trauma of having their children removed by child protective services due to non-consensual drug testing; these voices need to be centered in the effort to change the laws.

Here’s some resources you can check out to gain a deeper awareness of the issues:

 #LessIsMoreNY Forum at NYU Law School 

The #LessIsMoreNY panel on mass incarceration and parole in New York, February 18, 2020.

This week, we hosted a forum at New York University School of Law in partnership with The Advocacy Project and the #LessIsMoreNY Campaign leadership team including Unchained, A Little Piece of Light, A More Just NYC, and the Columbia Justice Lab. The forum explored mass incarceration and the parole crisis in New York State — through the lens of how to resolve the issue of reincarceration for technical violations by passage of the #LessIsMoreNY Act.

The conversation was moderated by Emily NaPier-Singletary, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Unchained. And panelists included Katal Leader Marketa EdwardsDonna Hylton, Founder of A Little Piece of Light; and bill sponsors Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley and Senator Brian Benjamin. Attendees came from NYC, Syracuse, the Capital Region, and Long Island.

Special thanks to our bill sponsors for their leadership and dedication to fighting for justice. And thanks to all who attended this timely event!

Check out our twitter thread to view videos and images  from Tuesday’s forum.

We are building momentum to pass #LessIsMoreNY this year! Learn more about the #LessIsMoreNY parole reform legislation.

To learn about our effort to pass #LessIsMoreNY and for more details about our upcoming #LessIsMoreNY Forum, contact Yan Snead at or at 518.360.1534. 

More To Explore