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Expungement

  • by NORML October 17, 2018

    Today, Canada becomes the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of cannabis. The new law marks the culmination of an effort led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised in 2015, shortly after taking office, to legalize and regulate the marijuana market.

    Further, the new law will include expungements of all possession criminal charges of less than 30 grams.

    Trudeau was not always in favor of legalization. In fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML Canada advocates Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs in 2012. They presented Trudeau with pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today as prime minister.

    According to the Toronto Star:

    Coulter told Trudeau flatly that decriminalization would not keep gangs and organized crime out of the marijuana business. “Al Capone would have loved it if alcohol had only been decriminalized,” she said — a line she often used when talking to politicians.

    “I saw the light go on in his eyes,” Coulter said. “He was seeing this as a politician, realizing ‘I can sell this,’ ” she recalled.

    Speaking with the Huffington Post in 2013, Trudeau acknowledged that he reversed his position after speaking with NORML members admitting their “line of argument did a long way towards convincing me.” Their conversation persuaded Trudeau that legalizing marijuana use for adults would be the best way for the government to regulate sales, provide consumer safety, and keep it out of the hands of kids.

    The Act, Bill C-45, permits those age 18 and older to legally possess (up to 30 grams) and grow cannabis (up to four plants of any size per household). Individual provinces possess the authority to enact additional regulations with respect to distribution, such as raising the legal age limit to purchase cannabis or by restricting home grow operations.

    The Act also federally licenses commercial producers of cannabis and certain cannabis-infused products, while permitting provinces to regulate retail sales in public (government operated) and private stores, subject to local rules. Online cannabis sales will also be permitted in certain provinces.

    While fewer than 200 total retailers are anticipated to be operational on day one of the new law, additional facilities are anticipated to be operational in the near future. Cannabis-infused edible products are anticipated to be regulated and available at retail stores early next summer. The new social use regulations do not amend Canada’s existing medical marijuana access laws, which have been in place since 2001.

    In anticipation of the law change, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency published a memorandum in September affirming that those Canadians either involved or invested in the legal cannabis industry may be barred admission into the United States. The agency later updated their policy directive on October 9, 2018, acknowledging: “A Canadian citizen working in … the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the US for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    But what about America? We still have a long way to go to achieve the kind of freedom Canadians are celebrating today.

    NORML is hard at work making sure Americans have the information they need when they head to the polls on November 6 to elect the most pro-reform candidates in history with our Smoke the Vote voter guide to legalizing marijuana. We’re arming advocates around the country with the persuasive arguments and undisputed facts necessary to have conversations like the one that changed Trudeau’s mind. We aren’t stopping until responsible marijuana consumers are no longer subject to arrest anywhere in America. We need your help to make this goal a reality.

    Make a pledge today of $25, $50 or $100 to make sure NORML has the resources to legalize marijuana in the US!

    Together, we can legalize marijuana in America, end the arrest of responsible consumers, and make sure there is access to safe, quality products at affordable prices. Together, we’ll keep fighting for our freedom.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 15, 2018
    New York,  A coalition of over 20 organizations working at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity, and reparative justice, will join local and community groups across the country for the inaugural National Expungement Week (N.E.W.) October 20-27, 2018. Conceived to aid those disenfranchised by the war on drugs, N.E.W. will offer free clinics to help to remove, seal, or reclassify eligible convictions from criminal records.

    N.E.W. events will be held in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Haven, Philadelphia, Prince George’s County, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Organizers will also provide attendees with a varied (depending upon location) range of supportive services including employment resources, voter engagement, health screenings, and more. The N.E.W. website also provides a link to an online toolkit so that interested parties can host their own record change events.

    In recent months, District Attorneys in a number of cities – such as New YorkSan FranciscoSan Diego, and Seattle  have moved to automate the process of expunging past marijuana convictions.

    For more information, visit https://www.offtherecord.us/ 
  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML October 9, 2018

    A listening session was held Thursday evening in Rochester, New York to get feedback about what the community wants to see in the legislation currently being drafted to legalize cannabis for adult use in NY. See the full list of listening sessions happening state-wide here.

    The legislation being drafted is set to pass next April with the budget, and there were many issues from both sides brought up during the session. Overall, the consensus in the room seemed in line with the polling of the state; most people in the room were in favor of legalizing for adult use, while a considerable amount of people are still opposed to the topic due to a mere lack of education.

    Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, the Rochester, NY chapter of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws, shown in this interview, testified during the session to advocate that restorative justice be on the forefront of the legislation, including: sealing of records and resentencing for low-level marijuana possession related offenses, developing a diverse and inclusive industry with priority licensing that promotes small business growth, and community reinvestment grants.

    The police chief shown in the interview also testified during the session, on behalf of the Monroe County Association Chiefs of Police, in which they indicated their opposition to legalizing cannabis for adult use because “we don’t need another drug on the street.”

    The work group drafting the legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October at the email address listed below. In your email, make sure to include the following before your testimony:

    Session Location: Rochester

    Organization: As applicable and/or Roc NORML

    Your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email

    Send emails to rmls@health.ny.gov with the subject line “NYS Regulated Marijuana Listening Session Comment”, or  click here to fill out your contact information and send testimony instantly.

    Roc NORML will also be holding their October Monthly Meeting at which a summary of the session will be provided and volunteers will be available to help the community submit their own testimonies. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details coming soon, or click here to sign up for Roc NORML’s mailing list.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 1, 2018

    Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation, Assembly Bill 1793, facilitating the review and expungement of hundreds of thousands of past marijuana convictions.

    The new law requires “the Department of Justice, before July 1, 2019, to review the records in the state summary criminal history information database and to identify past convictions that are potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation pursuant to AUMA (the Adult Use Marijuana Act).” Prosecutors would have up to a year to either vacate the conviction or to reduce it from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    An estimated half-million Californians are eligible for relief under the law. “Long after paying their debt to society, people shouldn’t continue to face the collateral consequences, like being denied a job or housing, because they have an outdated conviction on their records,” the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, said.

    Other states – including Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island – have enacted similar expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization.

    Governor Brown also took action on several other marijuana-related bills. Specifically, he vetoed Senate Bill 1127, which permitted certain students to access medicinal cannabis products on school grounds, and Assembly Bill 1996, which authorized the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research to cultivate marijuana for clinical trial research. The Governor also vetoed Senate Bill 829, which prohibited cultivation taxes from being imposed on medicinal cannabis designated for donation to indigent patients, and signed into law Senate Bill 1294, which allocates grant funding to assist minority-owned businesses in the cannabis industry.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director September 26, 2018

    Last week, I did something that I had never done before: I traveled to North Dakota.

    This summer, the grassroots group LegalizeND successfully collected enough petition signatures to place a statewide marijuana legalization initiative (Measure 3) on this November’s general election. If enacted in November, North Dakota would become the tenth state — and by far the most politically conservative one — to legalize the adult use of marijuana in the United States.

    And as if I need to tell you, that would be a game-changer in our country.

    Measure 3 has a sort of beauty in its simplicity. Thirty days after passage, it removes the criminal and civil penalties for adults over the age of 21 to possess, privately consume, and privately cultivate personal possession of marijuana. Unlike initiatives in other states, that often possessed robust and sometimes overly-complicated and exclusionary regulatory schemes for the licensing of commercial marijuana market, Measure 3 focuses on the individual consumer — not commercial businesses. In short, it halts new arrests and expunges past convictions. It’s that simple.

    If lawmakers in the future wish to enact specific regulations licensing and taxing the marijuana market, that decision will be up to them.

    But can Measure 3 win this November? I went to North Dakota to see for myself.

    The fundamentals are strong. In 2016, voters passed a medical cannabis regulatory program with 64% of the vote. But then the legislature gutted the law, rewrote the rules, and ultimately ignored the patients who still today bear the black mark of being criminals in the eyes of the state. And voters in North Dakota are, to say the least, very upset.

    This bodes well in the event of Measure 3’s passage, as pressure would ramp up on the lawmakers to swiftly implement a pro-consumer set of rules to compensate for the new legal status of cannabis.

    According to the polling by the campaign earlier this year, a plurality of voters favor the measure. In my time in North Dakota, I spoke with numerous supporters — going to door-to-door with campaign volunteers — and appeared on several media outlets to discuss the initiative. As we like to say at NORML, “The more we’re talking about ending prohibition, the more we’re winning.”

    Here is just some of the media hits that NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri and I participated in while supporting our friends at LegalizeND and their quest to end criminalization in North Dakota.

    National marijuana reform leaders visit ND to offer support: 

    The message to North Dakotans from one of the nation’s most well-known marijuana reform organizations is fairly simple as voters consider a ballot measure to approve recreational marijuana this fall: They want to protect the personal freedom of responsible adults to smoke it without a negative effect on public safety.

    The executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Erik Altieri, and federal political director, Justin Strekal, were in the state for a three-day visit starting Friday, Sept. 21, to discuss the issue through the media, hold a fundraiser, train volunteers supporting the measure and to “support our friends.”

     Read more: Grand Folks Herald, Bismarck Tribune, Inforum, Jamestown Sun, Dickinson Press

     

    Washington D.C. advocacy group in North Dakota in support of recreational marijuana: 

    A Washington DC advocacy group has arrived in North Dakota to support the Measure 3 campaign.

    Measure 3 would legalize marijuana for adult use and cultivation. Erik Altieri is executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He says NORML has a 50 year history and they’ve worked in several states that have already legalized marijuana for recreational use. Altieri says North Dakota is 5th in the nation for per capita incarcerations related to marijuana, and this measure would help keep otherwise law abiding citizens out of jail. He says much like campaigns they’ve worked on in other states, here they will educating the public about recreational marijuana.

    Political director Justin Strekal says the legislation would be beneficial to veterans. He says 22 percent of veterans report using cannabis to treat ailments, but if they do it in North Dakota they are considered to be criminals.

    Read more: Prairie Public (NPR)

     

    Washington nonprofit pushes for legal recreational marijuana in North Dakota: 

    Supporters of legal recreational marijuana in North Dakota are getting backers from Washington.

    The director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is asking North Dakota voters to say yes to Measure 3 this November.

    Read/Watch: WDAY

     

    Volunteers Advocate for “Yes” Vote on Measure 3, Which Would Legalize Marijuana:

    When you head to the polls, you’ll see something on the ballot called Measure 3. It will legalize marijuana in the state of North Dakota, and advocates say that would help many families.

    Read/Watch: KVRR-TV

     

    NORML and Measure 3 in ND:

    Source: POVnow CBS-KX4 / West Dakota FOX

     

    GET INVOLVED: You can follow LegalizeND on Facebook, visit their website at http://legalizend.com/ and click here to support their work.

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