The Arc of Legal Weed Bends Toward Injustice

“As legal marijuana markets emerge in state after state and Democratic lawmakers race to outdo each other with their pro-pot cred, establishing equity benchmarks in the industry becomes paramount. How will people of color gain a foothold in and benefit from the legal-weed economy? Some states that have legalized are working to seal or expunge prior marijuana convictions, a barrier that has kept many would-be entrepreneurs out of the marketplace. [Read more…]”

CANADA -- Pot Pardons Plan a ‘Token Gesture’: Black Lawyers Group

“A member of the association that advocates for black attorneys says the government’s expedited pot pardons bill is nothing more than a “token gesture.”

Gordon Cudjoe, vice-president of the Canadian Association for Black Lawyers, told MPs Monday that offering faster and free pardons for Canadians previously arrested for simple possession of cannabis won’t make it easier for them to find work because potential employers tend to ask if someone has ever pled or been found guilty of a crime, not if they have a criminal record. [Read more…]”

Op-Ed: People of Color Were Targeted by the War on Drugs. They Must Benefit from Marijuana Legalization

“New York State is at an historic crossroads, one which requires us to make a choice. We could take this opportunity to improve the future for individuals and communities devastated by the war on drugs through revenue generated by legal cannabis. Alternatively, we could establish a lucrative new legal cannabis industry worth billions without regard for the millions of New Yorkers harmed by over-policing and discriminatory policies. Finally, we could choose to do nothing and to let the State’s estimated $2 billion underground cannabis market continue to evolve and exist with all of the inherit risks and hazards that come with it. The choice is clear to me. [Read more…]”

The Clean Slate Act's Record-Sealing Provisions Go Further Than Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act

“The Clean Slate Act, reintroduced this week by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D–Del.), should help advance the conversation about what the government owes to victims of marijuana prohibition, who face long-lasting burdens even after they have completed their sentences. In that respect, Blunt Rochester's bill goes further than the Marijuana Justice Act, which Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a presidential contender, reintroduced in February.

While Booker's bill requires expungement of records related to "marijuana use or possession offense[s]," Blunt Rochester's applies to "any Federal nonviolent offense involving marijuana." That's an important difference, because almost all simple possession cases are prosecuted at the state level, while federal cases typically involve manufacture or distribution. [Read more…]”

NEW REPORT -- Repairing the Harms, Creating the Future: Centering Cannabis Social & Health Equity in Los Angeles

“The new Repairing the Harms, Creating the Future: Centering Cannabis Social & Health Equity in Los Angeles (2019) report compiles extensive research that shows the City of Los Angeles’ promising programs meant to repair the war on drugs need a more comprehensive approach – and immediate funding – to succeed. A wide range community, worker and industry voices and experts are highlighted who share the effects of the war on drugs but also their engagements with health and social justice through cannabis. The report then outlines how to realize a broader vision of repair and renewal via cannabis in alignment with intersecting work throughout Los Angeles on social and health equity. [Read more…]”

California Bill Seeks to Automatically Seal 8 Million Criminal Records

“A proposal making its way through the California Assembly would automatically seal low-level criminal records -- part of a growing effort by several states to give offenders a better chance at reform.

The bill would affect millions of Californians whose prior rap sheets present significant social obstacles.  AB 1076 would ensure the automatic secrecy of records for certain offenders who  have completed their sentences. If passed, the law would take effect Jan. 1, 2021. [Read more…]”

Legalization Activists Push Marijuana Industry To Uphold Social Responsibilities

“A new memo from pro-legalization advocates offers some insight for marijuana businesses, investors and consumers on how they can better support social responsibility in the increasingly legal industry.

The four-page document unveiled by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) on Friday proposes guidelines to help assess whether a business is operating in a manner that recognizes the historic harms and injustices caused by prohibition. Specifically, the memo asks industry players to take a harder look at their policy positions, internal operations and practices, whether their company supports up-and-coming marijuana businesses and how invested they are in the local communities in which they operate. [Read more…]”

Latest Science Debunks Claim That Marijuana Significantly Harms Brain

“Claims that cannabis use is associated with lower cognitive functioning are largely based upon the findings of a single longitudinal study. The paper, published by Madeline Meier and a team of Duke University researchers in 2012, reported that the onset of cannabis use in early adolescence was associated with an average decline of eight IQ points by middle-age.

However, a critique of Meier’s study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, opined that the reported differences in IQ were consistent with socioeconomic differences among the study’s participants and likely were not attributable to marijuana use.” [Read more…]

Cannabis Industry Shouldn't Expand until We Fix Marijuana's Racial Inequities, Injustices

“Until states allow the immediate and automatic expungement of criminal records for all people with convictions for low-level marijuana possession, grant pardons for and release those who remain incarcerated on charges that are no longer criminalized, allow those with prior convictions to be first in line for licensing and job opportunities, and make current license holders commit to equitable hiring practices, there should be no further growth of the state-sanctioned cannabis industry. With the First Step Act now passed, it is important to turn to next steps in the fight for a fair criminal justice system. We must address the bill’s shortcoming — its failure to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. [Read more…]”

Baltimore to Stop Prosecuting Marijuana Possession Cases

“BALTIMORE - Marijuana is officially against the law in Maryland but Baltimore’s top prosecutor said on Tuesday that she would stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases within the city limits, regardless of quantity, and seek to vacate almost 5,000 convictions.

The announcement by Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, follows a nationwide trend in which big city prosecutors are de-emphasizing marijuana prosecutions. [Read more…]”