Thursday: Forum on Racial Justice and Marijuana Legalization at Bethel AME Church in Woodbury

Press Release March 6, 2018
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243

Woodbury, NJ—On Thursday, March 8th, the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Woodbury, Gloucester County NAACP and the Drug Policy Alliance will host, “Marijuana Legalization: Faith, Facts & Fiction,” at 7:00 pm at Bethel AME Church (32 Courtland Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096).

As the political debate around marijuana legalization heats up in New Jersey, the forum will focus why legislation to legalize marijuana in New Jersey must be fair and equitable and must repair past harms to communities of color.

“The most immoral thing we could do is allow prohibition to continue when it has devastated our communities,” said Rev. Charles Boyer, Pastor of Bethel AME Church. “Cannabis prohibition was devised to control communities of color and it has worked as intended. We must end the drug war which is a war on people.”

“Politicians and government officials have used cannabis prohibition to target and criminalize Black and Brown people and throw them in jail,” adds Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucester County NAACP. “We in the Gloucester County NAACP are asking for reparations from government officials and corporations that stand to profit!  We demand that a huge piece of the business that this legislation will generate make up for all the pain, suffering and loss of revenue that our Black and Brown communities have been subjected too.”

“New Jersey’s marijuana laws are failing people of color,” said Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. “Our state’s criminal justice system has placed a disproportionate burden on people of color and ending marijuana prohibition for adults is a start to lifting it. Our state has a choice: it can generate revenue to invest in our communities, or it can waste resources to target our communities for arrests unfairly and unnecessarily. The answer is clear: it’s time for legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana for adults.”

Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, agrees, “Until recently, with the passage of Proposition 64 in California, marijuana legalization initiatives have not gone far enough to repair the harms of marijuana prohibition. What we’ve seen in California is what we want to replicate here in New Jersey. Legalization legislation in New Jersey must include automatic and retroactive expungement and resentencing, meaningful access to the marijuana industry for people of color, including those with prior convictions, and investment of the tax revenue generated into those communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition.”

The forum will be facilitated by Loretta Winters, President of the Gloucestor County NAACP. Panelists include:

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a historic church in Woodbury, New Jersey. Bethel’s church organizations are committed to sowing Christ’s love throughout the world by being the epicenter for worship in sanctuary and community, expanding the Kingdom one soul at a time through discipleship, salvation, sanctification and social justice. The Gloucester County NAACP branch works to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The New Solutions Campaign of the Drug Policy Alliance has advocated for criminal justice reforms in New Jersey for nearly a decade. Fair and equitable marijuana legalization is the next initiative in its campaign to reform New Jersey’s broken criminal justice system.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.