Drug Policy Alliance Statement on NYC Council’s Passage of Vital Legislation that Safeguards Families from Separation Based on Marijuana Use or Possession Alone and Protects Pregnant Mothers’ Rights against Nonconsensual Drug Testing

New York, NY – Following New York City Council’s passage of Resolution 740, which keeps the Administration for Children’s Services from being able to remove children for the mere possession or use of marijuana, and Resolution 746, that provides clear and fair regulations for hospitals on drug testing those who are pregnant or giving birth, including informing mothers of their rights before any discussion of drug use or drug testing, the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York State Deputy Director Melissa Moore issued the following statement:

“Given parental separations for drugs have increased 250% nationally over the last two decades, we commend the NYC Council on passing vital legislation that keeps children from being ripped from their parents for low-level marijuana possession or use with no documented harm to the child. This legislation disrupts enforcement practices that have selectively targeted economically insecure parents and mothers of color for far too long.”

“The leadership from City Council, building on years of advocacy to address collateral consequences of marijuana prohibition, will begin to address the extreme racial disparities that stem from drug war enforcement. As New York policymakers acknowledge and recognize the failures of our draconian approach to the drug war and the pervasive and extensive reach of criminalization for drugs, we must ensure that there is comprehensive relief for those who have been harmed by unjust policies and practices.”

Both pieces of legislation are part of the #MarijuanaJustice legislative package introduced by the Progressive Caucus and the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus of the City Council; the package addresses multiple facets of collateral consequences from marijuana criminalization, supports legalization rooted in racial and economic justice, and promotes policies that prioritize the inclusion of communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization.

In New York, Black pregnant people and newborns are more likely to be screened for prenatal drug exposure than white pregnant people. Although drug screening of black pregnant people and babies occurs at higher rates, white pregnant people and children screened for drug exposure are more likely to test positive for drug exposure. (Reuters)

More information on child welfare and marijuana criminalization can be found here.