Criminologist Available to Discuss New Jersey Cannabis Reforms and Racial Inequities

Expert Pitch

New Brunswick, N.J. (May 16, 2019) – Kenneth Sebastian León, assistant professor of Latino & Caribbean Studies and Criminal Justice at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, and an expert in cannabis regulation, is available for commentary on the latest developments concerning cannabis regulations in the state of New Jersey. Lawmakers are reportedly focusing on expanding medical cannabis programs and expunging criminal convictions for possession. 

“Across the country, state legislatures have historically struggled to advance meaningful cannabis reforms, reflecting in part the structural dilemmas and competing interests inherent in establishing a robust taxation and regulatory structure for a highly profitable business sector. Fortunately, lawmakers have signaled that they are keen to disentangle recreational cannabis regulation from the imperative of social justice and racial equity. Cannabis has never been regulated on the basis of its objective or psychotropic qualities, but more so on the basis of which groups it was associated with,” León said.

“As states across the country legalize cannabis, we find that the ‘green rush’ of legal cannabis markets is overwhelmingly white, further underscoring the race- and class-based disparities in marijuana regulatory structures. Communities of color across the United States and especially in New Jersey have historically endured a series of harms, including formal criminal justice contact, as a result of the way cannabis specifically, and virtually all drugs generally, have been regulated. While legalization efforts are currently stalled, it is hoped that state legislators prioritize bills like NJ A4498 (18R) as a substantive step in the direction of remedying state-sanctioned harms, particularly for a drug that stands to make both the state and private investors even wealthier once legalization arrives.”

Please contact K. Sebastian Leon at


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