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Collateral Consequences

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 7, 2019

    For the first time since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, which legalized marijuana for adults 21 and up, NAACP Denver has joined forces with Amanda C. Phillips, state director of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, and other thought leaders to host “The Color of Cannabis.” Organizers of the event hope to educate community leaders and other stakeholders about the lack of diversity and need for social equity within the marijuana industry.

    “The most important thing I want to iterate is the cannabis industry is expanding at leaps and bounds, and more states are coming online across the country,” said Phillips. “This is a pivotal moment in time where the conversation should include communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. There should be opportunities for all of us to participate in this growing industry.”

    Support the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act Today

    Other panelists include: Bia Campbell, Public Affairs Program Administrator, Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy, Rosalie Flores, Social Equity and Justice Reform Advocate and Cannabis Marketing Specialist, Sarah Woodson, Social Equity Advocate and CEO, Kush and Canvasses. Panelists will explore the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana-related conviction, which can lead to a lifetime of discrimination when it comes to employment and basic services like housing assistance and student loans

    What: The Color of Cannabis

    When: Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 11am-1pm MDT

    Where: New Hope Baptist Church, 3701 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205

    As the failed policies of marijuana prohibition continue to disproportionately impact communities of color, we must take the necessary steps to address the damage caused by the criminalization of marijuana. That’s why NORML and Minorities for Medical Marijuana proudly support the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. 

    If passed by Congress, the MORE Act will remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to set their own policies free from federal interference. The bill would also create a Trust Fund to assist state and local governments in expunging criminal records and setting up regulatory structures for marijuana’s lawful production and distribution.

     The Trust Fund would have three functions:

    1. A fund administrated by a newly created Office of Cannabis Justice to issue grants to communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs for the development of expungement processes, employment programs, reentry guidance, youth resources and more. The Office of Cannabis would be one of the Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. This provision is modeled on the Marijuana Justice Act, by Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (CA).
    2. A fund administered by the Small Business Administration to encourage socially and economically disadvantaged people to enter the cannabis industry, similar to legislation introduced by Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (NY).
    3. A fund administered by the Small Business Administration to create equitable licensing programs in states and local governments that benefit communities most impacted by the prohibition.

    It’s time to end the broken and discriminatory policies of marijuana prohibition. Click here to send a message to your representatives in support of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 2, 2019

     

    Following a recent trend in Congress to address the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana-related conviction, Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Ocasio-Cortez have introduced the Fair Chance at Housing Act. If passed by Congress, the bill would make it easier for people with criminal records to receive federal housing assistance by prohibiting the use of suspicionless drug and alcohol testing, banning discriminatory “1-strike” and “no-fault” policies and more.

    “As our country continues working toward much-needed reform of our criminal justice system, I am proud to work with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to ensure formerly incarcerated individuals and their families have access to safe and affordable housing as they transition back into their community,” said Senator Harris. “By requiring a higher standard of evidence and a more holistic review process, we are taking a significant step toward giving Americans a fair chance to succeed.”

    Currently, marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance can prevent honest and hardworking individuals from securing housing assistance and other basic services. As a result, property management companies are employing discriminatory policies that deny responsible marijuana consumers access to subsidized housing and other assistance. 

    “I am proud to join Senator Harris in introducing the Fair Chance at Housing Act. This legislation is one of many steps that need to be taken to repair our broken criminal justice system,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez. “The denial of basic necessities to formerly incarcerated people does not make our communities safer. Denying housing to those that have been formerly incarcerated increases recidivism. Today we are taking a step to make our communities safer.”

    While this effort falls short of ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level, it does address the very policies that contribute to a lifetime of social and economic challenges for responsible marijuana consumers. It’s time to end the broken and discriminatory policies of marijuana prohibition. Ensuring a fair chance at housing assistance is a step in the right direction.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director July 30, 2019

    Working to reform marijuana laws

    In an attempt to address one of several collateral consequences associated with a marijuana-related charge, Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) has introduced the Second Chance for Students Act. If passed by Congress, the bill will allow students convicted of simple marijuana possession to maintain access to financial aid for six months while they complete an approved drug rehabilitation program.

    “One mistake shouldn’t mean the end of a student’s education,” Congressman Foster said. “For many students, financial aid can mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out. This legislation would ensure that students stay in school while they complete the required rehabilitation program. No student should have their future determined by one bad choice.”

    Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) have signed on as cosponsors.

    “Currently, students who are convicted of possessing marijuana risk losing their federal aid, no matter the quantity,” Congresswoman Moore said. “Losing financial aid can be devastating and often determines whether one can remain in school. This policy harms students of color, who are often targeted for low-level offenses like marijuana possession. It’s why I am thrilled to support this bill because a marijuana conviction shouldn’t jeopardize a students’ future or access to educational opportunity.”

    Regardless of efforts to ease criminal penalties for marijuana possession in more than 60 municipalities around the country, and legalizing and regulating adult-use marijuana in 11 states, marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance continues to prevent honest and hardworking individuals from securing gainful employment, housing, access to student loans and other basic services. It’s time to end the broken and discriminatory policies of marijuana prohibition. Passage of the Second Chance for Students Act is a step in the right direction.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and become a member today!