Marijuana Legalization Must Include Justice Reform
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Marijuana Legalization Must Include Justice Reform
Posted by CN Staff on February 01, 2017 at 15:33:19 PT
By David Dinenberg, Opinion Contributor
Source: Hill
USA -- Across our country, we routinely take a pledge that ends in ďwith liberty and justice for all.Ē Yet that fundamental promise has been broken in six of the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, as tens of thousands of people remain in state prison for nonviolent marijuana crimes.The majority of America is now cannabis friendly; nearly 60 percent of our nationís population resides in states with some form of legalized marijuana. 29 states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana and eight of those states have also legalized marijuana for recreational use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Washington DC.
Now, itís the responsibility of these eight state governments, concerned citizens and the leaders of the marijuana industry to also demand justice reform for those who have been the past victims of the war on marijuana, those that will not enjoy the privileges and freedoms that come with this new legislation.To date, only Oregon and California have taken the lead in addressing marijuana criminal justice reform. According to a Drug Policy Alliance report, in 2015, more than 6,000 Californians were in state prison or jail for the non-violent offenses of growing or distributing marijuana. The day after Proposition 64 passed in California, these inmates were allowed to apply for early release or parole and have their records expunged. Itís only reasonable that the six other recreational states pass similar legislation for those prisoners who remain incarcerated for acts that are now legal in their own state.In addition, people who were previously convicted of marijuana offenses and have since been released from prison or jail should also have their records expunged. There is a very real impact on those who have been arrested on marijuana crimes, even if they are no longer incarcerated.They have been saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain a student loan, get a job, maintain a professional license, secure housing, or even adopt a child. It is cruelly ironic that there now are farms in America legally growing thousands and thousands of plants worth tens of millions of dollars, while someone who has served their time for that same action is sitting at home with a felony conviction still on their record.And while it is legal in recreational states to possess and smoke marijuana, federal laws outlawing its use make it a firing offense for government workers remain in place.There is another serious social impact of the governmentís war on marijuana. According to the ACLU, marijuana arrests now account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States and the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. The prison population in the United States is 2.4 million and Blacks and Hispanics make up two-thirds of that total, while Blacks only consist of 12 percent of the general population and Hispanics around 17 percent.Despite roughly equal usage rates, blacks are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana and Hispanics more than three times. Going strictly by the numbers, itís clear that Black and Brown Lives Matter less when it comes to marijuana enforcement and incarceration. As part of this discussion, there is also a fiscal argument to free non-violent marijuana prisoners. I work in the financial sector of the cannabis industry, providing sales software and financial technology that enables producers to transact safely, securely and in regulatory compliance. Marijuana is now a mainstream business in eight states and our company was recently selected by Microsoft to participate in its newly created Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers. That means Iím a by the rules and numbers guy.States spend more than $3.6 billion dollars enforcing marijuana laws every year. In 2015, law enforcement agencies made 574,641 arrests for small quantities of the drug intended for personal use, 13.6 percent more than the 505,681 arrests made for all violent crimes, including murder, rape and serious assaults. The costs of housing prisoners in states that have legalized recreational marijuana are staggering; ranging from $30,000 to $71,000 per inmate per year.While these same state governments are salivating over the tax revenues from marijuana sales (Colorado alone collected $135 million in taxes in 2015), lessening the burden on our police, courts and prison systems will also save them millions of dollars.While humanitarianism is at the heart of this movement for criminal justice reform, money talks, too.The fact is that medical cannabis legislation was passed because of a social movement that demanded conscience and compassion. Yes, there is concern about whether the Trump Administration will uphold statesí rights in regard to legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, especially with the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. While we hope that the President will recognize that our Constitution empowered states to deal what they thought was the best interest of their citizens, we must recognize that right now, changing federal marijuana law is impractical. Thatís a long-term campaign we will wage, but in the meantime, letís use our political capital and financial resources to make a more immediate impact. We must rely on the same moral compass that enabled medical cannabis to become law to push for fair-mindedness in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.Iím proud to be a member of the cannabis industry, both as a businessman and an activist. When discussing criminal justice reform, itís critical that we remember weíre talking about real people, not members of a cartel or organized crime. This is about a mother or father, son or daughter, grandmother or grandfather who went into the marijuana business at the wrong time. These eight recreational marijuana states have now declared that itís the right time. With their battles for legalization over, itís time to release the nonviolent prisoners-of-war.David Dinenberg is the founder and CEO of KIND Financial, which provides financial technical support for the cannabis industry.The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.Source: Hill, The (US DC)Author: David DinenbergPublished: January 31, 2017Copyright: 2017 The HillContact: dsopp thehill.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on February 06, 2017 at 13:31:34 PT
The GCW! Oregon!
Wow!That's wonderful, and righteous, and unusual!Lol!Wonderful!
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on February 06, 2017 at 06:36:29 PT
Very good news. Way to go Oregon!
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Comment #14 posted by The GCW on February 06, 2017 at 04:16:27 PT
Good news.
Oregon Sets Massive PrecedentóRefuses to Enforce THC Blood Limit for DrivingThe state is leading the way by insisting that science and evidence prevail when it comes to marijuana and DUID.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on February 05, 2017 at 21:39:31 PT
Purple Cushion.
That was good.They are both so droll and gracious. 
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on February 05, 2017 at 20:06:07 PT
Purplecushion! I loved it!
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on February 05, 2017 at 18:56:33 PT
Hemp World
I agree. They have a good show, too.
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Comment #10 posted by HempWorld on February 05, 2017 at 18:37:50 PT
Snoop, Martha...Awesome!
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on February 05, 2017 at 18:35:52 PT
This article...
That is outrageous that there are so many people still locked up for purely marijuana offenses in legal states. What? I thought I'd read where steps were being taken to get them released. Apparently that's only happening in California. This article makes me think that isn't happening.Let the prisoners go!
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 05, 2017 at 18:29:25 PT
I didn't know they have a show together. What channel is Bong Appetit on? I smiled when that commercial came on the Superbowl.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on February 05, 2017 at 18:23:34 PT
That's great, FoM!
I like them together. They actually have a tv cooking show together. You might guess what it's called. Martha and Snoops Potluck Dinner watched it once... but I don't know when it comes on so I can always watch it. That's pretty much how I watch tv. If and when I do. Whenever the mood strikes me and when I find something I like at that time. Right now I'm watching Bong Appetit... which I absolutely love.I love Bong Appetit, but I get sad when I realize that as delightful as it looks, there's not much chance I'll ever get to participate in something like that. *Sad face* But I love to watch it and I am so happy for the people that can enjoy such an experience.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 05, 2017 at 18:03:27 PT
Best Super Bowl Commercial! LOL!
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on February 05, 2017 at 09:05:57 PT
What does The Fox say today?'ll Never Guess Who Wants to See Marijuana Legalized Nationwide
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Comment #4 posted by MSimon on February 04, 2017 at 10:47:00 PT:
Drug Prohibition Amendment
Remind our conservative friends that there is no Drug Prohibition Amendment. Such reminders have an effect on some of them. 
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on February 04, 2017 at 08:56:40 PT
From the President's favorite news site.
This Cutting-Edge Marijuana Bill Could Keep Pot Users From Losing Their Jobs
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on February 04, 2017 at 08:13:40 PT
Checking in on the Philippines.
It's God-awful and getting worse. People's inhumanity to one another, like in the Philippines, always stuns me. It seems unbelievable that this is happening.The people killing other people for consuming or selling substances are the substance of true, real, living, breathing evil.I wish someone could help those they are murdering... before they are murdered! AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE MUST END HIS WAR ON DRUGS Jeff Sessions says "Good" people don't smoke marijuana, Duterte says people who use or sell substances he dislikes are less than human and must be exterminated. How are these vicious people like Duterte and Sessions any different than any murderer that stalks and kills other humans?They aren't.
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on February 02, 2017 at 15:58:46 PT
And reform of the DEA!
Former DEA chief propagandist says the agency knows marijuana is safe Ö but itís the agencyís ďcash cowĒ for more funding: Figure! USA at war with itself!
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