In April of 2021, the New York State legislature passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) to legalize recreational marijuana use. Communities like Red Hook, where inequitable enforcement of drug laws has led to mass incarceration, are concerned about continuing to be penalized even after legalization.

How will marijuana legalization impact New Yorkers? How can the harm be repaired? Who will benefit? How will it impact youth?

In the Summer of 2021, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Elliott Golden and public high school students from the Red Hook Community Justice Center to investigate these questions. Students explored digital filmmaking by shooting commercial parodies, creating stop-motion animations, surveying community members, and interviewing stakeholders and decision makers.

The group gathered what they learned and created a short documentary film that explores the impacts of marijuana legalization on New York. Watch the film below!

Students debuted their final project virtually through a public presentation, where they presented their film and shared their creative process to almost one hundred attendees.

See more photos of students in action here!

Watch the student’s debut presentation below.

What People Are Saying

“My major takeaway from this project was knowing my rights and learning that the police can’t do certain things anymore in relation to marijuana.” – Dominique King, RHCJC student

“Something that stuck with me was doing the interviews. I learned how to actually structure an interview and how to ask questions. And I think this will definitely prepare me for future projects.” – Cristian Colon, RHCJC student

“One of the highlights of the program is getting to work with the camera. I worked with the camera, I’ve set up lights, I’ve set up a green screen and it’s really cool because outside of this program I would never really do those things.” – Jason Tan, RHCJC student

“My favorite part of the program came at the end, when we finally saw all of our work come together in the final film. And it was like, ‘Wow this whole thing is actually a real movie!’ And the final product is actually very informative and I think it would help a lot of people.” – Becky Zhu, RHCJC Student

Resources & Links

The Red Hook Community Justice Center is the nation’s first multi-jurisdictional community court. The Center seeks to solve neighborhood problems in southwest Brooklyn.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by Christine Coletta, Rebecca Karp, Jason Kim, Sam Marks and Lauren Pesso, Scott Powell, Jeremy Robinson-Leon, David Smiley and Lauren Kogod, Ayanna Oliver-Taylor, Joanne Witty, Mari Yahagi, the CUP Board of Directors, and more than 200 CUP supporters. Additional support provided by NYC Ferry operated by City Experiences.

Special Thanks

Thank you to our Interviewees: Jabari Brisport, Hon. Alex Calabrese, Edna McGoldrick, and Melissa Moore.


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Elliott Golden
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • Project Support
  • Ana Beirne-Meyer
  • Red Hook Community Justice Center

    • Students

        • Nasir Brothers

          Cristian Colon

          Suvana Cruz

          Jamel Evans

          Angelica Faustino-Restrepo

          Dominique King

          Dontae McCoy

          Romell Mendoza

          Luis Salgado 

          Angelica Santana

          Anissa Severwell

          Jason Tan

          Ashley Taylor

          Brandon Vasquez

          Karaz Williams

          Becky Zhu

          Viviana Gordon, Deputy Director

          Leslie Gonzaga, Manager of Youth Impact and Community Initiatives

          Christopher Cobar, Americorps Intern