Don't Just Legalize Marijuana Free Prior Offenders
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Don't Just Legalize Marijuana Free Prior Offenders
Posted by CN Staff on January 16, 2014 at 09:31:31 PT
By Matthew Fleischer
Source: Los Angeles Times
USA -- With pot now legally for sale in Colorado, and Washington state gearing up to follow suit, marijuana legalization activists across the country are pushing hard to replicate these political successes in other states. Voters in Massachusetts could ratify legalized marijuana as early as 2016.This is undoubtedly a sign of progress. Our nation has capriciously squandered far too many precious national resources combating a green weed that makes people feel good.
As welcome as a more widespread regulated marijuana industry would be, however, one thing that no one seems to be considering is what to do with those already convicted of marijuana crimes. It’s estimated that 750,000 people are arrested every year on marijuana-related charges and up to 40,000 are currently in prison for marijuana crimes. When Colorado legalized marijuana via its 2012 ballot initiative, it made no stipulation about the fate of those already convicted of marijuana crimes. If you were sitting in prison for selling pot, you’re still there. If you were ever convicted of a felony marijuana charge, it’s still on your record — and your prospects of getting a decent job are likely still daunting.The decision by activists not to include leniency for previous offenders in the Colorado marijuana ballot initiative (even if it would have been good policy) made perfect political sense. It’s far easier to sell voters on the financial benefits of creating a lucrative new marijuana industry than it is to persuade them to open up the prison gates and set convicts free.In most of the world, however, no such political calculus is required.According to a 2012 report by the Human Rights and Criminal Sentencing Reform Project for the University of San Francisco School of Law, the United States is one of only 22 countries that doesn’t guarantee what’s called “retroactive ameliorative relief” in sentencing. Which means that when a law such as one legalizing marijuana is passed in America, those already convicted of marijuana crimes don’t automatically have their sentences relaxed. This puts us in the company of such bastions of social justice as Pakistan, Oman and South Sudan.If Germany were to legalize marijuana, on the other hand, those convicted of weed crimes would see their sentences commuted, according to the USF report.With 55% of Americans supporting marijuana legalization, the tea leaves aren’t exactly difficult to read: Legalized marijuana in America is a matter of when, not if.But if we’ve wised up to the fact that marijuana prohibition is either immoral, wasteful or both, then we also need to recognize the moral and financial imperative to ease the punishments on those already convicted. Because America does not guarantee retroactive ameliorative relief in sentencing, this won’t happen without a fight.As more and more states attempt to amend their harsh marijuana laws, the issue of what to do with the previously convicted needs to be addressed by advocates and policymakers. As support for legalizing marijuana soars, surely the majority of us can agree that wasting the criminal justice system’s time and money by continuing to penalize those convicted under the old, misguided drug laws is equally bad policy.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:   Matthew FleischerPublished: January 16, 2014Copyright: 2014 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by afterburner on March 25, 2014 at 09:06:44 PT
Retroactive Reversal
Colorado approves retroactive reversal of marijuana convictions.
 Published time: March 24, 2014 18:58. 
 Edited time: March 25, 2014 14:23
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Comment #7 posted by John Tyler on January 17, 2014 at 13:54:03 PT
amnesty for all plus a little extra
We have been saying free the cannabis prisoners here for some time. I am glad it is catching on in the media. Clean their record also, so they can get jobs, and professional licenses, and student loans, etc. and do away with all of those petty ex-cannabis prisoner restrictions that make their life unnecessarily difficult.  I will go even farther, pay them back for all of their court cost, legal fees, and other arrest related expenses, and pay them a daily fee (as yet to be determined) from the day of their arrest to the day of their release. That way when they get released they will have some resources to restart their life.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on January 16, 2014 at 13:35:07 PT
Florida Medical Marijuana Supporters Claim Victory
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Comment #5 posted by gloovins on January 16, 2014 at 12:51:38 PT
Never thought I'd say it but the LA Times sure has, ahh, I'll say, evolved. What a joke rag. Their writers are so vapid and banal, they really are. Do they really wonder why their media is dying? It's so obvious....
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on January 16, 2014 at 12:37:26 PT
Ok kids, all together now!
Cannabis is good,Prohibition is bad.END OF DISCUSSION.c/c William Bennett
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Comment #3 posted by HempWorld on January 16, 2014 at 11:28:50 PT
It's Over!
The Cannabis Tea Party!Acceleration towards the upside...
Legalize it, end race purification!
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on January 16, 2014 at 11:17:47 PT
amnesty for all
good reminder that we are in the very early stages of Repeal.  Much work remains to be done. No one is talking about setting the cannabis prisoners free because the govt. is already scheming how to continue arresting lots of bootleggers, under-agers, tax-dodgers, etc. to fill those prison cells! They don't want to release anyone from the prison system.You can see from the hundreds of pages of laws and Stalinist regulatory systems being set up that the government has no intention whatsoever of slowing the MJ criminal justice industry. Even in Colorado the price is currently $400 per ounce and more, and the state is already changing the rules to stop medical caregivers from growing more than 3 plants. Oh yes, the war on the terrible, evil, cannabis bootlegger is just starting up.
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Comment #1 posted by Universer on January 16, 2014 at 10:03:28 PT
We're still (I'm sorry to say, for myself) a ways off from being able to comfortably broach this subject, but a few years hence, when (in all likelihood and hopefulness) the Correction of Cannabis Prohibition is nationwide or nearly nationwide -- and, correspondingly, worldwide or virtually worldwide -- methinks we must then fight to expunge or seal the criminal records of those who've committed small-time non-crimes. For goodness sake.Why? Because: Prohibition is wrong now, and now we all know it. Thing is, it was wrong then, too. Time to right those wrongs.
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