12.15.16 — In the wake of Massachusetts voters opting for marijuana legalization, a report by Northeastern law students is being used by the Northeast Cannabis Coalition and Union of Minority Neighborhoods to ensure racial equity in cannabis legalization efforts. Despite fairly equal rates of usage among black and white individuals, blacks are almost four times as likely to get arrested for possession of marijuana in the United States, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union. Students researched legal barriers to regulations that would support full participation in the industry, and otherwise positively affect, communities previously disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

“This report is a critical piece of our being prepared to tackle these incredibly complicated issues. Northeastern’s involvement will have a significant positive impact on how this all shakes out for people of color in the commonwealth,” said Shanel Lindsay '07, founder and president of Ardent Cannabis, a member of the coalition.

The report was produced by first-year law students in the School of Law’s Legal Skills in Social Context (LSSC) Social Justice Program. Students in the program operate in small “law offices” that provide research and reports to nonprofit community-based or advocacy organization focused on societal problems involving issues of diversity, the law and social justice. The report calls for increasing full participation in the legal industry by residents of affected communities and creating a positive impact in affected communities. 

Northeast Cannabis Coalition and the Union of Minority Neighborhoods are currently working with community stakeholders to develop recommendations and requirements for the incoming cannabis control commission. The Northeastern report has played a key role in the coalition’s discussions with Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg regarding the priorities for implementation. The Boston City Council is also looking to the report as it prepares its industry recommendations.

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students an unparalleled full year of practical legal work. All students participate in four, full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 900 employers worldwide participating in the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.