Since cannabis has become recreationally legal in 8 states now, and medically legal throughout many other states, more and more discussion among lawmakers has spread across the country. One of the main questions is whether or not to overturn sentences of those who had been convicted for prior marijuana charges. It seems that local governments are acting to begin the process. Just last week officials in the cities of San Francisco & San Diego announced that people with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions will have their records cleared. Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis. It may also be the first to begin legal reform of those convicted of past offenses.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced, prisoners that are currently serving time for non-violent cannabis related charges may receive an early release of clemency. This move could very well help pave the way for other states to observe their current cannabis cases. Specifically looking into ways of being more lenient to those who’ve been convicted. Hickenlooper is looking to release 40 eligible prisoners that have non-violent convictions in cannabis related charges. His administration is gathering more detailed information on each of the prisoner’s cases and their conduct while being incarcerated. After the full investigation, those same individuals would be invited to formally file for clemency and receive positive reviews from the Governor.
Like many other states, Colorado is also dealing with an overcrowded prison system which is another reason for Gov. Hickenlooper’s decision. He also noted that these releases would be a way of affirming that law enforcement procedures adapt to the state’s new cannabis laws. Late last year, the Governor ended up giving a pardon to seven people convicted of marijuana possession. Hickenlooper stated… “right now, we have not enough room left in our prisons. 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.”
Many who are currently incarcerated for cannabis in other states are sure to look forward to this becoming a national trend. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker recently introduced The Marijuana Justice Act to the Senate. California representatives Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna placed a House adaptation of the same bill in January 2018. The bill calls for the federal legalization of cannabis and it will also expunge all federal cannabis convictions if it passes. The intention behind these bills is an effort to clear, or greatly reduce, the harm that has been created by the war on drugs which has had the most impact on minorities. The ACLU reports that black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. This is a general estimated figure, but the number increases throughout various areas of the US.
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
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