Marijuana Equity Programs & Criminal Justice Reform

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by VakarianZ, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    California’s Lt. Gov. Calls Legal Weed “Criminal Justice Reform”

    According to The Washington Post, California’s elected officials are “offering a second chance to people convicted of almost any marijuana crimes, from serious felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared or the charges sharply reduced.”

    Full story here: http://bit.ly/2DmpnJ2

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    Oakland gives pot convicts first chance to open marijuana businesses as part of reparations for war on drugs

    "Convicted pot felons that want to own a legal marijuana business in Oakland will now be prioritized under new, radical permit rules designed to make amends for the United States’ war on drugs.

    The city’s new Equity Permit Program calls for 50 per cent of all licenses for medical marijuana facilities to go to Oaklanders imprisoned for a pot offence in the last 10 years, or to residents of six neighbourhoods that police have excessively targeted for drug arrests.

    “Communities of colour have been negatively and disproportionately impacted by disparate enforcement of cannabis laws,” reads the ordinance introducing the rules.

    Oakland city council voted unanimously to approve the program — the first of its kind in the U.S. — last month."

    Full story here: http://bit.ly/2DImeA0

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    (Petition)
    San Francisco to follow suit: http://bit.ly/2mJ0Ang

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    Additional sources / articles:

    Oakland:
    http://www.okayplayer.com/news/oakland-drug-war-reparations-marijuana-equity-program.html

    Sacramento:
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article186433093.html
    https://www.kushca.com/sacramento-c...o-tout-women-people-of-color-in-pot-industry/

    Los Angeles:
    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-marijuana-equity-20171020-story.html
    http://blog.margolinlawrence.com/los-angeles-cannabis-social-equity-program
     
  2. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Cannabis Equity Programs: Updates from Oakland and San Francisco
    January 25, 2018

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    Oakland and San Francisco are trying to even the balance.


    In many of California’s major metropolises local legislators have made it a priority to enact social equity programs. The goal behind many of these social equity programs is clear: the war on drugs disproportionally affected communities of color and as a just society we need to right that wrong. In the Bay Area both Oakland and San Francisco have enacted legislation that stresses the importance of social equity programs.

    We previously covered Oakland’s regulatory regime here but as a quick refresher Oakland’s ordinance requires that half of all cannabis businesses permits are issued to equity applicants. Oakland defines an equity applicant as an individual that:
    • Is an Oakland resident; and
    • Has an annual income at or less than 80% of Oakland’s average median income;
    • and either
    • Was arrested after November 05, 1996 and has a cannabis conviction in Oakland, or;
    • Has lived for 10 of the last 20 years in a number of police beats
    After equity applicants, Oakland’s licensing regime gives priority to general applicants that are equity incubators. In order to serve as an equity incubator a general applicant must provide the following:
    • Providing free rent for a minimum of three years;
    • Provide a minimum of 1,000 square feet to the equity applicant; and
    • Provide the equity applicant with all required security measures.
    Oakland has also realized that just providing priority processing to equity applicants alone is not enough to combat a history of disproportionate targeting of communities of color for criminal law enforcement. Oakland will also be hosting cannabis summits, orientations, and bootcamps for equity applicants. They’ve also created an online portal for equity applicants to connect with incubation partners.

    San Francisco, like Oakland, has also created an equity program but has also taken the extra step by placing restrictions on who can apply for a cannabis business license. In 2018, San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis (“Office”) will only issue cannabis licenses to applicants that meet one of following criteria:
    • Qualify as an equity applicant or equity incubator;
    • Previously possess a valid medical dispensary permit under Article 33 of the Health Code;
    • Were issued a temporary cannabis business permit by the Office of Cannabis (which required you to register with the Office and show proof of operation prior to September 26, 2017);
    • Demonstrate compliance with the Compassion Use Act of 1996 (a/k/a Prop 215) and were shut down by federal prosecution or threat of federal prosecution;
    • Applied and received approval for a medical cannabis dispensary from the Planning Commission; or
    • Registered with the Office as pre-existing non-conforming operator.
    On top of restricting the individuals that can obtain a license in 2018, San Francisco is placing an emphasis on social equity by granting equity applicants and equity incubators with priority processing in the permitting process. San Francisco’s equity applicant definition and incubator requirements differ from Oakland’s. In San Francisco an equity applicant is defined as someone that meets at least three of the following six conditions:
    • Meet certain household income limits (income limit varies depending on the number of people in your household);
    • Have been arrested from 1971 to 2016 for a cannabis offense;
    • Had a parent, sibling, or child arrested from 1971 to 2016 for a cannabis offense;
    • Lost housing in San Francisco after 1995 through eviction, foreclosure, or subsidy cancellation;
    • Attended school in the San Francisco Unified School District for a total of five years from 1971 to 2016; or
    • For a total of 5 years from 1971 to 2016, have lived in San Francisco census tracts where at least 17% of the households had incomes at or below the federal poverty level.
    Both Oakland and San Francisco will be issuing progress reports on the status of their respective social equity programs and it will be interesting to see how many cannabis permits end up being issued. These are noble and necessary programs and we hope that they succeed. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.

    Full Story Here: https://www.cannalawblog.com/cannabis-equity-programs-updates-from-oakland-and-san-francisco/
     
  3. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    SF will wipe thousands of marijuana convictions off the books

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    "San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades.

    The move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances for finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits.

    Proposition 64, which state voters passed in November 2016, legalized the recreational use of marijuana in California for those 21 and older and permitted the possession up to one ounce of cannabis. The legislation also allows those with past marijuana convictions that would have been lesser crimes — or no crime at all — under Prop. 64 to petition a court to recall or dismiss their cases.

    Rather than leaving it up to individuals to petition the courts — which is time consuming and can cost hundreds of dollars in attorney fees — Gascón said San Francisco prosecutors will review and wipe out convictions en masse.

    The district attorney said his office will dismiss and seal more than 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions in San Francisco dating back to 1975, and review and re-sentence thousands of felony marijuana cases."

    Full Article Here: http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/SF-will-wipe-thousands-of-marijuana-convictions-12540550.php
     
  4. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    SF retroactively applying marijuana legalization, wiping out old convictions

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    The city of San Francisco will retroactively apply the state's new marijuana legalization law to past cases, a move that will wipe thousands of criminal convictions off the books, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced the move Wednesday and said that thousands of misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades will be expunged or reduced.

    The decision will affect thousands of city residents whose convictions hurt their chances for employment or obtaining some government benefits.

    The state of California legalized marijuana for recreational use under Proposition 64 in November of 2016. Gascón said Wednesday that more than 3,000 misdemeanor cases dating back to 1975 will be dismissed and sealed.

    Other cities across the state are pursuing similar measures, including Oakland, where the Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D) has introduced a bill into the state assembly to “allow automatic expungement or reduction of a prior cannabis conviction.”

    The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that at least 5,000 people have applied for marijuana convictions to be expunged since Proposition 64 was passed in the state.

    Full Story Here: http://thehill.com/homenews/state-w...ana-legalization-law-retroactively-wiping-old
     
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  5. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Now That Marijuana Is Legal, San Francisco Is Erasing Everybody’s Misdemeanor Convictions

    "San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced that his office will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases. This means San Francisco will expunge and seal the records of misdemeanor marijuana offenders, theSan Francisco Chronicle reported today.

    This decision was announced by George Gascón at a news conference. The San Francisco District Attorney was joined by city supervisors, the director of the city’s Office of Cannabis, the Drug Policy Alliance reform group, and the president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP.

    The same proposition that legalized recreational marijuana in the American coastal state allows offenders to petition for resentencing. That is, it allows it if their crime would have received a different penalty under the new law.

    Proposition 64, the 2016 referendum item that legalized recreational marijuana in California, allows marijuana offenders to petition for re-sentencing if their crime would have received a different penalty, or no penalty at all, under the new law. An individual can petition a court to recall or dismiss their case, but not everyone has the money for legal feels or the time to go through the entire process.

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    Jin Hera / Shutterstock

    However, instead of waiting for individual petitions, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón will speed up the entire process. Mr. Gascón and his office will immediately dismiss and seal over 3 thousand misdemeanor marijuana convictions in San Francisco, some of which date back to the 1970s.

    Thousands of people whose marijuana convictions branded them with criminal histories can now rest at ease. Obtaining government benefits and finding jobs will not be as difficult any more. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, around 5,000 Californians have already petitioned the courts, hoping to have their marijuana convictions expunged.

    But, that is not all San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón’s office will do. Offenders who received a felony marijuana conviction will also be resentenced.

    Meanwhile, social media is already buzzing with news about the DA’s decision, which seems to have caused celebration among marijuana enthusiasts all over California, who hope their cities will follow in San Francisco’s footsteps.

    Full Story Here: https://www.inquisitr.com/4764875/n...s-erasing-everybodys-misdemeanor-convictions/
     
  6. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    San Francisco Offers Thousands of Marijuana Convicts a Clean Slate

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    As the marijuana industry goes through its growing pains across the country, many have questioned whether lawmakers will make things right with the people affected most by decades of cannabis prohibition: those who were handed criminal charges for what is now legal in many places.

    District Attorney George Gascón revealed Wednesday that his San Francisco team of prosecutors will “dismiss and seal 3,038 misdemeanor convictions dating back before the state’s legalization of marijuana went into effect, with no action necessary from those who were convicted.”

    With San Francisco taking a huge step to rectify the problem by tossing out thousands of nonviolent cannabis convictions, some from as long as 40 years ago, a major California city is showing the rest of the country the right way to move into the next phase of the cannabis era.

    On top of that tremendous news, the prosecutors will also look at nearly 5,000 felony convictions on a case-by-case basis to determine which ones could be reduced to misdemeanors.

    While former cannabis convicts have had the ability to apply for expungement of their records, legal fees can pile up quickly and lawyers aren’t always willing to take the cases on. Gascón explained that only 23 petitions for retroactive expungement were filed in the entire city in 2017.

    “A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing, and other benefits, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, we’re taking action for the community,” added the San Francisco DA.

    Gascón also hopes this is a step in the right direction toward removing discriminatory law enforcement practices in the city, acknowledging that marijuana arrests have affected communities of color far more predominantly.

    Data from 2010-11 shows that Black people represented half of the marijuana-related arrests in San Francisco while comprising just 6 percent of the population.

    With well over half of the states in our nation enjoying the freedom of medical marijuana and another nine (plus Washington D.C.) fully legalizing the plant for adults, it only makes sense to clear the records of nonviolent cannabis offenders who were merely ahead of their time. Now, states just need to amend any laws preventing these former marijuana convicts from being able to apply for licenses to operate businesses in the legal industry.

    Source: https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018...housands-of-marijuana-convicts-a-clean-slate/
     
  7. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    San Francisco will wipe out thousands of marijuana convictions dating to 1975

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    San Francisco will retroactively apply California's new marijuana legalization laws to prior convictions, expunging or reducing misdemeanors and felonies dating to 1975, the district attorney's office announced Wednesday.

    Nearly 5,000 felony marijuana convictions will be reviewed, recalled and resentenced, and more than 3,000 misdemeanors that were sentenced prior to Proposition 64's passage will be dismissed and sealed, Dist. Atty. George Gascón said. The move will clear people's records of crimes that can be barriers to employment and housing.

    San Francisco's move could be the beginning of a larger movement to address old pot convictions, though it's still far from clear how many other counties will follow the famously liberal city's lead.

    Proposition 64 legalizes, among other things, the possession and purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana and allows individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use. The measure also allows people convicted of marijuana possession crimes eliminated by Proposition 64 to petition the courts to have those convictions expunged from their records as long as the person does not pose a risk to public safety.

    They also can petition to have some crimes reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, including possession of more than an ounce of marijuana by a person who is 18 or older.

    "While drug policy on the federal level is going backwards, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country's disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular," Gascón said in a statement. "Long ago we lost our ability to distinguish the dangerous from the nuisance, and it has broken our pocketbooks, the fabric of our communities, and we are no safer for it."

    About 75% of San Franciscans voted to legalize marijuana, the highest margin among all of California's 58 counties. But only 23 petitions for Proposition 64 reduction, dismissal or expungement have been filed over the last year, the district attorney's office said, adding that it does not have any active marijuana prosecutions.

    As of September, 4,885 Californians have petitioned the courts to have marijuana convictions expunged or reclassified, but many people don't know about the process, which can be difficult, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, which supported Proposition 64.

    "So instead of waiting for the community to take action, we're taking action for the community," Gascón said.

    Gascón's announcement came with special resonance in the city's Castro District, a center of efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in California. One of the biggest advocates of medical marijuana, Dennis Peron, died Saturday at 72 after a battle with cancer; Peron was considered a central figure in promoting the use of marijuana for AIDS patients, and in 1991 he co-foundedthe San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club, the first public marijuana dispensary in the country.

    Sheehy said Gascón's plan takes the burden off those convicted of marijuana-related offenses to ask the court to review their case. "People recognize that this really is not a crime," Sheehy said.

    "I'm totally in favor of that," Paul Greenbaum, 72, said of automatic expungement after he walked out of the Apothecarium, a medical and recreational cannabis dispensary in the Castro. "If it's not a crime now, what's the sense in continuing to stigmatize people?"

    Greenbaum said he has been regularly smoking pot since he moved to San Francisco when he was 30 years old.

    Some noted that the district attorney's move could help people with prior convictions improve their livelihoods.

    Convictions "really can hold you back from getting a good job," said Redding-area resident Tom Savasta, 32, adding that the move would help people "become more proactive members of society."

    Full Story Here: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-san-francisco-marijuana-20180131-story.html
     
  8. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Lawyers mull class action to push government into granting cannabis amnesty

    At Anthony Morgan's law office, the calls keep coming: parents of young black men hoping their son's marijuana possession charge will be wiped clean when the country legalizes the drug this year.

    The Liberal government has talked about granting amnesty for past marijuana crimes, but isn't likely to move until after the new cannabis regime comes into effect this summer.

    For black communities across the country, that's not soon enough – and frustrated lawyers in Toronto are now considering lighting a fire under the feds with a class-action lawsuit.


    "There are lawyers who are coming together to consider that as an option if the government is slow," said Morgan, a lawyer with Falconers LLP in Toronto.

    "They (the Liberals) are going to have to respond – and it's probably best that they respond internally and in a proactive way, as opposed to a reactive way where much is spent on litigation to move this forward."


    For black communities in Canada, amnesty would finally mark a break from a troubled history with marijuana – one wrapped in stigmas, stereotypes and shame that have left some feeling left out of the federal cannabis debate. Morgan recently encapsulated those feelings in a lengthy analysis published in the magazine Policy Options.

    This week, to mark the beginning of Black History Month, leaders in Ottawa began putting in their own words what the black community has felt for years.

    NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke about "tackling the systemic nature of anti-black racism," including "discriminatory policing." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed a desire to take on the "very real and unique challenges that black Canadians face."

    A federal apology for "discriminatory and disparate treatment" is called for, he added, alongside an amnesty for past marijuana offences.

    Amnesty needs to be part of a larger strategy, including helping black Canadians who might be eligible for a pardon, said Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes.

    Ideas that have been floated include helping those with convictions find work in the cannabis economy. Indeed, some companies are already looking to employ people with experience in the illicit market.

    "There are a number of different strategies that we could think of and be innovative around how to ensure that once they come out of the criminal justice system, there is hope for them," said Caesar-Chavannes.

    "This is going to take many people working ... in partnership with black communities across the country," Fergus said.

    "We can start having that conversation. Now the door is open."


    Full Story Here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/new...to-granting-cannabis-amnesty/article37828618/
     
  9. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    SAN FRANCISCO DA WILL OVERTURN MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS

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    When California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, many voters could clearly recognize the benefits. People would no longer be penalized after being caught possessing the medicinal plant and California could begin moving towards reducing the strain on its prison system. No longer will minor marijuana-related arrests be contributing to prison overcrowding.

    Many forget that while recreational marijuana is now legal in the state, there are still thousands of Californians imprisoned for what is now a legal substance. To help combat this, the city of San Francisco announced on January 31, 2018 that it will retroactively apply California’s new cannabis law to previous cases.

    HOW MANY CONVICTIONS WILL BE OVERTURNED
    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday that he expects thousands of misdemeanor and felony convictions to be shortened or overturned completely. Gascón mentioned that some of the convictions that will be affected under this law date as far back as 1975. Gascón said that his office expects to review and alter the conviction in over 3,000 cases.

    By undertaking this groundbreaking endeavor, San Francisco will significantly alter the lives of many of the 3,000 convicted for cannabis-related crimes, most of whom are unable to apply for various jobs or recieve certain government benefits. Some with felony marijuana convictions will be eligible to vote if their convictions are overturned. Those whose convictions are expunged will once again be granted the privileges of non-criminal California citizens.

    SAN FRANCISCO IS LEADING BY EXAMPLE
    Proposition 64, which passed easily in 2016, legalized recreational cannabis for people 21 and over and also legalized the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Another major piece of the Prop 64 legislation is that it allows cannabis-related convicts to petition courts to recall their case. While this provides many with a route towards freedom and clearing their record, the process of appealing a conviction can be exhaustive and lengthy. As District Attorney Gascón said, “Instead of waiting for people to petition – for the community to come out – we have decided that we will do so ourselves.” He elaborated, “We believe it is the right thing to do. We believe it is the just thing to do.”

    By taking the initiative to review all past cannabis cases, the city of San Francisco and it’s DA office will speed up the process and quickly have many convictions off the books. The expedited nature of what San Francisco is attempting is appealing and is why some, like California Assembly-member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), believe the entire state of California should implement some of the same review processes.

    San Francisco is attempting a massive undertaking by being the first city since Proposition 64 passed in 2016 to release those convicted for non-violent crimes related to simple marijuana possession. Only time will tell how this strategy works out. If they are successful, expect other California cities to follow in San Francisco’s footsteps.

    Source: https://medicalmarijuana411.com/san-francisco-marijuana-convictions-overturned-2018/
     
  10. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    San Francisco to drop all cannabis-related convictions since 1975

    Now that recreational cannabis is legal in California, the next logical step would be to dismiss all cannabis-related convictions in the state. This is exactly what San Francisco intends to do, according to the city’s district attorney when he announced that city prosecutors will be wiping out or reducing cannabis-related criminal convictions dating back decades.

    According to District Attorney George Gascon, San Francisco will immediately dismiss nearly 3,000 misdemeanor convictions that date back to 1975, as well as wipe clean arrest records for those who had faced such charges.

    What’s more, the city intends to review nearly 5,000 weed felonies that had been recorded during the same time period. In appropriate cases, these cases will be re-sentenced to misdemeanor offenses.

    Gascon said at a news conference on Wednesday that this is the city’s way of addressing the wrongs caused by the failures of the country’s war on drugs for many years and of starting to fix some of the harm done, especially to communities of color.

    Full Story Here: http://cannabizdaily.co/blog/san-francisco-drop-cannabis-related-convictions-since-1975/
     
  11. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Inside A Weed Training Program For California Convicts

     
  12. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Is Colorado About To Release Prisoners With Marijuana Convictions?

    With Colorado about to release prisoners with marijuana convictions, progress in criminal justice reform is undeniable. Will Colorado lead other states?

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    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently announced that he may release prisoners serving time for nonviolent, weed-related charges. With Colorado about to release prisoners with marijuana convictions, more and more states are exploring ways of granting leniency to people affected by cannabis charges.

    Another Step Forward
    Colorado has positioned itself at the forefront of cannabis law reform. The state approved its first legal medical marijuana program in 2000. Then, in 2012, the state voted to legalize recreational cannabis. And now, with Colorado about to release prisoners with marijuana convictions, it looks like The Centennial State is about to take another big step forward.

    On Tuesday, Hickenlooper told sources about his decision. In particular, he explained that he has already identified somewhere around 40 prisoners who could be eligible for release. Each is currently serving time for nonviolent, marijuana-related charges. Hickenlooper said that he and his administration are reviewing the prisoners’ records and looking into details regarding their cases. Authorities are also examining the prisoners’ conduct while in prison. If officials are satisfied with the prisoners’ records, they will be invited to formally file for clemency. And Hickenlooper has made clear that those applications would receive favorable reviews.

    For Hickenlooper, the decision has to do with a couple key points. For starters, he sees it as a way of dealing with overcrowded prisons. Additionally, he said releasing these prisoners would be a way of bringing law enforcement practices into line with current state laws.

    “Right now, we have not enough room left in our prisons,” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post. “So if what these people are serving serious time for wasn’t violent—is no longer illegal—maybe we should be looking at [whether it’s] safe to release them.”

    This isn’t the first time Hickenlooper has made this kind of move. Last November, he pardoned seven people convicted of marijuana possession.

    Colorado’s intention of releasing prisoners serving time for cannabis charges could be part of a growing national trend. Lawmakers are increasingly talking about the need to address the harm caused by cannabis laws. And some local governments are taking concrete action.

    Last week, San Francisco and San Diego made a groundbreaking announcement. In both cities, people with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions will automatically have their criminal records cleared.

    The conversation is also moving to the national stage. Last fall, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced The Marijuana Justice Act to the Senate. Then, in January, California Representatives Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna introduced a House version of the bill. This bill calls for the federal legalization of cannabis. But it also goes much further. If it ever becomes law, it will also expunge all federal cannabis convictions.

    Full Story Here: https://hightimes.com/news/colorado-release-prisoners-marijuana-convictions/
     
  13. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    If weed is no longer a crime, why are people still behind bars?

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    San Francisco’s district attorney, George Gascon, has announced that potentially thousands of past criminal convictions for minor marijuana offenses will be reduced or expunged, now that recreational use of cannabis is legal in California.

    Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend. It just makes sense, when voters or a legislature decide that an activity should no longer be illegal, to apply that standard retroactively.

    All across the country, millions of otherwise law-abiding folks are dealing with the consequences for having a joint or two, often decades past. Those consequences range from having to check a box on a job application to endangered professional certifications to even being denied the rights to vote or own a firearm.

    More than 100 million Americans have used marijuana at some point in their lives. Until a few short years ago, every single one of those millions has broken the law. The distinguishing factor between the criminals and the rest was nothing more than whether they got caught.

    With a majority of Americans now believing simple marijuana use should not be a crime, expunging or reducing the convictions of all those folks who got caught is the right thing to do. Not for violent criminals. Not for serious felons. But for the millions who are carrying a criminal record around for simple possession or other minor offenses under outdated laws, absolutely.

    Full Story Here: http://thehill.com/opinion/criminal...nger-a-crime-why-are-people-still-behind-bars
     
  14. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Why Seattle Is Erasing Misdemeanor Marijuana Convictions from People’s Records

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    Growing up, I always believed in fighting for the underdog. In law school at UW, I had an experience that changed my life: I got the chance to volunteer at public defender's office and represent clients in Seattle Municipal Court. For 25 years after that, I represented those who don’t always get a fair shake. Their stories stuck with me. In some cases, we were able to make systemic reforms for the better. For others, we couldn’t change the system.

    I saw firsthand the “war on drugs,” including its devastating impacts on people, especially people of color and their families. People’s lives were ruined for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Too many here in our community faced huge legal bills and fines, or had a harder time getting loans, apartments, and good-paying jobs.

    So as an attorney and advocate here in Seattle, I tried to have state sentencing laws changed to offer treatment alternatives. When that was blocked, I worked with then-King County prosecutor Norm Maleng to create a county drug court—one of the first in our country. After President Obama appointed me U.S. Attorney, I worked with the Federal Public Defender and the U.S. District Court to create one of the first-ever federal drug courts to battle addiction. And working with Attorney General Eric Holder, I pushed to reform sentencing guidelines to eliminate racial disparities and end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses. We also worked to get unjust convictions and sentences put aside.

    Now, Seattle has another opportunity to continue undoing the harm to people’s lives and our communities brought on by the failed war on drugs. That’s why I’m announcing with City Attorney Pete Holmes that our City will ask Seattle’s municipal court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

    Here’s why this is necessary: While minor marijuana possession has been the lowest enforcement priority for the Seattle Police Department since Seattle voters passed Initiative 75 in 2003, the City continued to charge for possession until City Attorney Holmes took office in 2010.

    This front of the failed war on drugs had a clear racial bias and disproportionately targeted and impacted communities of color in our state. Even though studies in Washington State show use rates were the same, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at 2.9 times the rate of whites. Latinos and Native Americans? They were arrested at 1.6 times the rate of whites.

    Our action will affect people who had been convicted of offenses for conduct that is now legal under state law. People won’t have to take any actions like hiring a lawyer or going to a court hearing. I hope these actions we’re taking here in Seattle can lay the foundation for other cities, counties and state to act, too.

    Addressing the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country – and particularly the damage wrought on communities of color – won’t happen overnight. We must provide more effective alternatives to prosecution and incarceration through drug and mental health courts, restoring rights and supporting re-entry. Our actions must go far beyond the realm of criminal justice reform; it will require us to make our City more affordable, close the opportunity gap through free community college and technical training, and to continue the hard work of building trust between our community and the Seattle Police Department.

    But today, this action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.

    Source / Full Story: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/02/08/25794565/guest-editorial-why-seattle-is-erasing-misdemeanor-marijuana-convictions-from-peoples-records
     
  15. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Vermont Lawmakers Consider A Fast Lane For Erasing Marijuana Misdemeanors From Record

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    After making some drastic changes to the state’s cannabis laws earlier this year, some lawmakers are now asking whether they should make it easier for people to expunge their old misdemeanor marijuana convictions.

    Vermont enacted a marijuana legalization bill last month, which means that starting July 1, people age 21 and older will legally be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to two mature cannabis plants.

    But even after the legalization law takes effect, people who get caught with more than an ounce of marijuana may still be subject to criminal prosecution.

    Given the state’s new approach to cannabis generally, lawmakers are considering legislation that would fast-track the process for expunging misdemeanor marijuana convictions.

    “Any criminal conviction impacts somebody’s ability to maintain housing, employment, student loans … so they do have lifelong grave consequences,” says Moretown Rep. Maxine Grad, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

    Full Story Here: http://digital.vpr.net/post/vermont-lawmakers-consider-fast-lane-erasing-marijuana-misdemeanors-record#stream/0
     
  16. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Time to end federal marijuana prohibition

    This month, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, introduced legislation to change the spelling of “marihuana” in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act to “marijuana” — and then to drop the word altogether from the federal list of “controlled substances” — that is, illegal drugs. Removing the marijuana prohibition from federal law is just the warm-up act to the bill’s primary goal: to end a counterproductive war on drugs. It’s past time to reform drug laws that have ruined lives and devastated communities.

    This isn’t the first time members of Congress have tried to reverse the law that has filled our prisons in the course of our nation’s nearly 50-year war on drugs and the 77-year federal prohibition on marijuana. Lee made her first attempt in 2011 with then-Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas. That bill died in committee, as did a series of similar bills introduced in each Congress that followed.

    The political landscape and the possibility for passage changed this month, however, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessionsannounced Jan. 4 that the Department of Justice would no longer recognize states’ rights to legalize some uses of marijuana but would instead double down on enforcement of federal marijuana laws. This decision to reignite the war on drugs comes as 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana possession and use — either for medical use only or both medical and recreational use — and when polling shows 64 percent of Americans support full legalization.

    The Marijuana Justice Act, introduced by Lee and 24 co-sponsors including Rep. Ro Khanna, D-San Jose, is the companion to a bill Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., introduced last year in the Senate. It seeks to repair harms that have disproportionately affected low-income communities and people of color while doing little to stem harmful drug use. It would end decades of prohibition and punishment for marijuana use and possession and offer retroactive expungement of criminal records for those who have served time in federal prison. For those still incarcerated, it allows them to petition for a new sentence.


    The bill offers a $500 million investment in communities hurt by the war on drugs to help people rebuild their lives. It also withholds federal funding for prisons or jails from states where marijuana is illegal and the arrest and incarceration rate for marijuana offenses by minorities is higher than the percentage of the minority population.

    Full Story Here: https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion...nd-federal-marijuana-prohibition-12529371.php
     
  17. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Philly lawmaker: Erase marijuana convictions for registered patients

    A Pennsylvania state representative said Thursday he will introduce legislation that will vacate previous marijuana convictions for patients who have enrolled in the state medical marijuana program.

    Jordan Harris (D., Phila.) first made the announcement Thursday morning on the “Wake Up with WURD” show on Philadelphia’s WURD-FM.
    “It’s not expungement. I’m not saying we would vacate all cannabis convictions,” Harris said in an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News. “But this would allow judges to remove convictions for people who now have medical marijuana cards.”

    San Francisco’s district attorney on Wednesday said that city prosecutors will toss out or reduce thousands of criminal convictions for marijuana dating back decades, according to the Associated Press. D.A. George Gascon said his office will dismiss nearly 3,000 misdemeanor cases and review nearly 5,000 felony cases.

    Harris said he was seeking cosponsors for the bill and said he was “optimistic” it would make its way to Gov. Wolf’s desk and be signed into law.

    “It makes no sense for something that is now deemed to be a medicine to be a permanent stain on a patient’s record,” he said, “especially if they were trying to treat a medical condition at the time of their arrest.”


    The state’s first medical marijuana products will be available to patients the week of February 15 at a handful of dispensaries across the commonwealth. There are 17 “serious medical conditions” that qualify for access to the drug. Patients must first register with the program and receive a recommendation letter from an approved physician. Dispensaries will sell only oils, tinctures, lotions, and vape pen cartridges. Traditional smokable marijuana in the form of joints, buds, and shake will remain illegal.

    Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/busine...philadelphia_expungement_arrest-20180201.html
     
  18. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    City Council Ruling First Step to Erasing Cannabis Stigmas in Erie Pennsylvania

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    On behalf of Erie Keystone Progress, we congratulate Erie City Council for approving a reform in our local drug laws. On the evening of Wednesday, January 17, Council voted to reduce possession of small amounts of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor offense to a summary civil offense. As a result, persons in Erie found to possess 30 grams or less will be subject to a ticket and a fine, but will not be subject to a jury or indictment. They will not have that civil violation be part of their record. The scarlet letter is removed which prevents good people from employment and entering the armed forces. This step by Erie City Council is a small step in the right direction.

    This is one of the early steps that need to be taken to stop the reefer madness.
    Marijuana is not a gateway drug to other drugs, and there never has been empirical evidence to support this fear. Remember, correlation does not imply causation. The use of marijuana for recreation does not carry the same dangers or health-threatening effects that the use of alcoholic beverages does. Marijuana is not associated with violence as the use of alcohol is. Nine out of 10 recreational marijuana users are happy folks who simply love to laugh and eat. I used marijuana regularly for four years in my college days, but ceased using it in favor of my preferred drug, red wine. I know people of all ages from teens to seniors who use marijuana safely and responsibly — to relax, socialize, and have fun.

    Pennsylvania has already joined the national trend in our country to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. These states include West Coast states like Alaska and Washington, and East Coast states like Maine and Massachusetts. It includes Colorado where Denver remains the "Mile High City." There are municipalities that have instructed their police not to arrest people for the possession or use of marijuana. In Pennsylvania, the cities of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia have passed laws which decriminalize marijuana possession in varying degrees.

    Decriminalizing marijuana will not only save good, non-violent Pennsylvanians from paying huge fines or going to jail, but it will be a boost to our economy. It will likely create thousands of full and part-time jobs, as it already has in the places here where it has been decriminalized. One study by Leaflydetermined that 150,000 jobs have already been created in the U.S. by the legal marijuana production-sales industry. Legal marijuana will fill state tax revenue coffers, help our legislators balance the state budget, and find needed money for public education and environmental protection.

    We can and should have age-appropriate drug laws for marijuana use as we do for alcohol. Let there be a legal age limit (18 or 21). We urge our state legislature to wholly decriminalize not only the possession, but the production, sale, and use of marijuana.

    Full Story Here: https://www.eriereader.com/article/city-council-ruling-first-step-to-erasing-cannabis-stigmas-in-erie-pennsylvania-
     
  19. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Colorado's Hickenlooper mulling clemency for dozens with nonviolent marijuana convictions

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    DENVER – Colorado’s governor is mulling granting clemency to a handful of state inmates in prison on marijuana-related convictions.

    The office of John Hickenlooper told Denver7 Tuesday it was reviewing fewer than 40 cases involving people convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses, and evaluating whether or not it would be appropriate for those convicts to apply for clemency.

    Last November, Hickenlooper granted clemency to 22 people, including at least six with only marijuana convictions, who he said had “taken great strides to improve their lives and communities.” All 22 of those people had already completed their sentences.

    Last week, prosecutors in San Francisco and San Diego moved to review thousands of felony convictions and possibly drop them to misdemeanors. Around 3,000 misdemeanor convictions in San Francisco could be dismissed.

    The move from both cities comes after voters legalized recreational marijuana, erasing certain marijuana-related crimes. Advocates say minorities had been unfairly targeted with marijuana prosecution in the past, and have asked other states and cities to follow suit.

    Hickenlooper told business news outlet Cheddar earlier this week that he was doing such, and his office confirmed the review with Denver7 Tuesday. In an interview with The Denver Post, Hickenlooper chalked part of the reasoning to overcrowded prisons within the state.

    His office confirmed that state attorneys had been working for months to evaluate which prisoners might be eligible for clemency based off their records both inside and outside of prison.

    “We have been discussing this idea for some time and are carefully evaluating whether there are some inmates who are appropriate candidates for clemency,” said Jacque Montgomery, the governor’s spokeswoman.

    Last year, Hickenlooper signed a bill passed by the state legislature that allows people convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession or use to petition to their local district court to have their criminal records relating to the cases sealed if the crimes were committed after Dec. 10, 2012.

    Full Story Here: https://www.thedenverchannel.com/ne...-dozens-with-nonviolent-marijuana-convictions
     
  20. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Sacramento County District Attorney's Office

    Marijuana Conviction Relief

    Proposition 64, adopted by California voters on November 8, 2016, allows persons convicted of certain marijuana crimes to petition the court to have their convictions reduced to a misdemeanor or dismissed (view or download PC § 11361.8 document).

    Sacramento County uses a one page form (view or download CR-335 petition document) for individuals or their attorneys to file in court and serve a copy on the District Attorney’s office. The process is simple, fast and effective.

    For more information, contact Ryan Raftery at the Public Defender’s office, 916.874.5578.

    More Info Here: http://www.sacda.org/services/marijuana-conviction-relief/

     

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