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…]”

Structural Racism and Cannabis: Black Baltimoreans still disproportionately arrested for weed after decriminalization

“While decriminalization in Maryland has significantly reduced the number of cannabis-related arrests, data indicate the Baltimoreans still being arrested for cannabis remain almost entirely and disproportionately black.

During 2015, 2016 and 2017, Baltimore police arrested 1,448 adults and 66 juveniles for cannabis possession, according to Baltimore Police Department data supplied by the FBI.

Of those arrestees, 1,450 were black. That’s 96 percent. [Read more…]”

Marijuana Arrests Are Increasing Despite Legalization, New FBI Data Shows

“Marijuana arrests are rising in the U.S., even as more states legalize cannabis.

There is now an average of one marijuana bust roughly every 48 seconds, according to a new FBI report released on Monday.

The increase in marijuana arrests—659,700 in 2017, compared to 653,249 in 2016—is driven by enforcement against people merely possessing the drug as opposed to selling or growing it, the data shows. [Read more…]”

Cannabis Capitalism: who is making money in the marijuana industry?

“Besides the business challenges, America’s legal marijuana industry also has to reckon with an unavoidable moral dimension. The US has been engaged in a “war on drugs” since Richard Nixon declared it in 1971. While white Americans use marijuana and other drugs at roughly equal rates to African Americans and Latinos, in virtually every respect, racial minorities have been disproportionately incarcerated and otherwise punished for involvement with drugs, including selling marijuana.

In addition, marginalized groups – Aids patients, disabled people, veterans – who championed legalization when it was far riskier to do so now find themselves ill-equipped to compete against well-capitalized corporate refugees looking to jump on the bandwagon. [Read more…]”

Equity First Alliance Releases Letter Demanding Equity and Justice in Cannabis

“On September 17th, twenty-two organizations across the United States will release a letter that documents patterns of inequity and injustice in the cannabis industry. The signatories are set to announce themselves as the Equity First Alliance, the first national umbrella group to focus on these issues in the rapidly expanding cannabis landscape. The Alliance’s letter contrasts data from the burgeoning industry with data from the history of prohibition, which paint a picture of gross inequity, and concludes with a list of solutions. [Read more…]”

Here’s the FULL TEXT of the letter.

Will Criminal Records for Pot Convictions Be Expunged after Legalization?

"You’re out of luck—at least for now.

In January, the Trudeau government squashed hopes for exploring amnesty on possession charges until after the federal government’s legalization framework is instituted. A few months later, an NDP motion to pardon all cannabis offences that won’t be against the law post-legalization failed when the Liberals voted against it. “That’s not an item that’s on the agenda at the moment,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in May.

In 2016, 58 per cent of all police-reported charges related to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (about 55,000) were related to cannabis, and of those offences, roughly three-quarters were for possession. As of 2014, at least 500,000 Canadians had been charged with possession. [Read more...]"

US Inmates Mark End of Prison Strike with Push to Regain Voting Rights

"Inmates within America’s overflowing prisons are marking the end of a 19-day national prison strike on Sunday with a new push to regain the vote for up to 6 million Americans who have been stripped of their democratic rights.

The strike was formally brought to a close on the anniversary of the 1971 uprising at Attica prison in upstate New York. Though details of the protest have been sketchy since it was launched on 21 August, hunger strikes, boycotts of facilities and refusal to carry out work duties have been reported in many states, from Florida and South Carolina to Washington. [Read more...]"

Where Marijuana Is Legal, Some Cities Help People Still Haunted by It

"Nine states have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Despite that, and the fact that public opinion has grown in favor of legalization, people in those states are still serving jail time or facing professional and financial consequences for low-level, nonviolent marijuana arrests and convictions.

Generally, people with criminal records are about half as likely to receive a call back from a prospective employer. The numbers are worse for applicants of color. This can also hurt a person's eligibility for public housing and student loans, as well as their chances of obtaining personal loans.

But there's a small, growing movement among cities in legal marijuana states to either reduce sentences or expunge marijuana-related charges from before the laws changed. [Read more...]"