125 Groups Urge Congressional Action On The MORE Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Drug Policy Alliance, and 123 other national and state organizations today called on House Leadership to swiftly advance the bipartisan Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884) to the House floor when Congress returns in September. The MORE Act, the most comprehensive marijuana justice legislation to be considered in Congress, is needed now more than ever to alleviate economic hardship caused by COVID-19 and meet the calls for justice reform echoing all across America.

“In November 2019, the House Judiciary Committee made history when it advanced the MORE Act, becoming the first congressional body to vote favorably for a marijuana de-scheduling bill. Since that time, the circumstances of 2020 have made the failed War on Drugs even more untenable and amplified the voices of those demanding transformation in our criminal legal system. In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national dialogue on unjust law enforcement practices, marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the War on Drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before. The MORE Act remains the most effective and equitable way forward,” the groups said in the letter.

The MORE Act, a sweeping marijuana measure that addresses criminal justice reform, racial justice, and equity, would:

  • Remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policy, expanding research opportunities, and broadening access to medical marijuana to underserved populations such as veterans.
  • Emphasize reparative justice, establishing social equity programs that acknowledge those who have been most impacted under criminalization by building community infrastructure and diversifying the regulated marijuana marketplace.
  • Provide for the expungement and re-sentencing of marijuana offenses.
  • Prevent the government from denying an individual federal benefits, student financial aid, or security clearances needed to obtain government jobs because of marijuana use.
  • Protect non-citizens from immigration consequences due to marijuana activity, including non-citizens working in state-legal marijuana marketplaces.

The MORE Act is supported by the Marijuana Justice Coalition as well 125 national and state organizations.

The signatories and letter are available here.

House Approves Blumenauer Amendment To Protect Cannabis Programs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  As national support for federal marijuana legalization continues to climb, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved important legislation to protect state, territory, and tribal cannabis programs from federal interference.

The amendment, introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), was approved 254–163 and would ensure legal cannabis programs in Oregon and dozens of other states, territories, and tribal lands are protected from Department of Justice intervention.

“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls,” Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed war on drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”

“For far too long, our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in our discriminatory past and have continued inflicting harm on communities of color. As the public’s views toward cannabis have evolved, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies follow suit and move toward restorative justice,” Lee said. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Reps. Blumenauer, McClintock, and Holmes Norton on this crucial amendment to protect the progress states, tribes, and territories have made toward ending the discriminatory war on drugs.”

A copy of the amendment approved Thursday by the House can be found here.

And here’s a video of Blumenauer speaking in support of the amendment today on the House floor.

U.S. House Of Representatives Approves Cannabis Banking Reform In Larger COVID-19 Relief Package

Lawmakers voted 208-199 (23 not voting) in favor of coronavirus “HEROES” relief package

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: On Friday evening (5/15/20) lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives passed additional coronavirus relief legislation to provide continued economic and government support to the country. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act includes the language of the SAFE Banking Act, which would prevent federal financial regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, cannabis businesses across the country have been deemed essential and continue to operate. However, many of these businesses still lack access to the same financial services that are granted to every other industry in the United States. Because it is possible that coronavirus can be transmitted on currency — placing private industry and government workers at risk when handling large amounts of cash — allowing the cannabis industry to access banking services is now more crucial than ever. This policy change would also ensure that small and minority-owned businesses can access the financial assistance designed for them in many state programs.

The HEROES Act, which includes provisions to allow banks and financial institutions to provide services to the cannabis industry without fear of criminal prosecution, will now head to the Senate for consideration. In September 2019, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the SAFE Banking Act, but the legislation has since stalled in the Senate.

Statement from Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“I’m encouraged that the House recognizes the urgency of this issue and has taken this strong and necessary position. We thank Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Rep. Ed Perlmutter for their leadership on the issue.

“Continuing to exclude the cannabis industry from accessing basic and essential financial services during this time will result in more harm than good. Not only will it make the country’s economic recovery that much harder, but the provisions intended to help minority-owned businesses would continue to be absent within the industry.”

Statement from Don Murphy, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“In light of the public health and public safety benefits of this specific change in policy, the Senate has good reason to pass this language into law. This is a change in policy that the banks are asking for even more than the cannabis companies. We urge the Senate Banking Committee to adopt the SAFE Banking provisions to ensure financial institutions can provide basic banking services to businesses that are compliant with state law.”

Read more

iCAN: Israel-Cannabis CEO Saul Kaye Comments on New Israeli Cannabis Initiatives

ISRAEL: Kupat Holim Meuhedet, Israel’s third largest health maintenance organization (HMO), announced yesterday that it was opening an internal cannabis unit using a digitalized system that will allow for significantly faster medical cannabis approval for patients in need.

In the framework of the new independent unit, the family doctor will transfer the request of the Meuhedet patient with a recommendation to the unit within the fund, which will approve the request. The process will shorten the generally long wait that typifies the unit of the Ministry of Health.  As a result, other health funds are considering the possibility of setting up similar units.

“We congratulate Meuchedet on their forward-thinking attitude to cannabis medicine and breaking the barriers that currently exist in Israel for patient access. For too long the HMOs have been complacent in the long and complicated process of obtaining medical cannabis in Israel. I hope to see the next news that they are covering the cost of cannabis for reimbursement as part of the medical system in Israel.  Meuchedet is the most supportive Israeli health fund. They have the most doctors who understand the importance of medical cannabis treatment and have the knowledge to prescribe it,” said iCAN: Israel-Cannabis CEO Saul Kaye.

In addition, also yesterday, Israeli news organizations reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will support a bill tabled by Likud MK Sharren Haskel that would, in effect, legalize cannabis by allowing all Israelis to grow one cannabis plant for personal consumption.  Dealing cannabis would remain illegal.

“No one should be criminalized for growing a cannabis plant and using the leaves as they see fit.  This is an important step in the process of decriminalizing cannabis in Israel and I hope this legislation passes soon after the Knesset is back from its summer recess. I have worked closely with MK Haskel on all of her cannabis initiatives and wish her well in the upcoming elections as Israel’s true cannabis voice in the Government,” said Kaye.

MJNews Analysis: In New Hampshire It’s Live Free…Or Not

By Roger Tilton 

Now that the New Hampshire State Senate Judiciary Committee has “re-referred” the legal reefer bill to next year’s session, we wonder if Reefer Madness prohibitionists will continue to prevail until the Great Bay Oyster Reef Restoration is complete. What? That would be until Halloween in 2021, more than two years away.

The five-year reef-refresh began in 2016. You know what else happened in 2016? (Besides that.) Neighboring states Maine and Massachusetts legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older to enjoy. Last month, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission reported sales statewide reached the $100 million mark since retail stores opened last November. And at a 17% state-tax rate, and a 3% local tax, that cannabis revenue starts to add up. Legalization proponents often cite tax revenue as a main argument to end the war on marijuana. I’ll add another main argument: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California. In the laboratory of the states, marijuana is a winner.

Here in New Hampshire, the state is taking a turn for the worse. Remember that slogan, the one plagiarized from a letter that Revolutionary War hero General John Stark wrote in 1809: “Live free or die. Death is not the greatest of evils.” The state adopted “Live Free or Die” as the state motto in 1945. Then in 2018, the State Division of Travel and Tourism shortened it to “Live Free.” Check out their website.

New Hampshire likes to boast about being “first in the nation (#fitn).” Maybe for presidential primary elections, but not much else, especially cannabis. And it would seem such a natural fit: ‘first in the nation’ and ‘live free or die’ cries out for legal weed! Five years ago, I ran for state senate on a platform of “let’s be third-in-the-nation!” Voters and established politicians were not quite ready to be third. The state, however, has made some progress, allowing medical sales in 2013 and decriminalizing in 2017.

Roger Tilton talks to MJNews

New Hampshire’s problem with weed comes down to this: old people don’t like it. Polls in New Hampshire show residents approve adult-use legalization by a 3-1 margin. However, without citizens’ initiative laws allowing us to make or change laws through ballot measures, which is how most adult-use legal states became that way, New Hampshire doesn’t stand a chance—for a while. The legislature skews older, and old people (born prior to 1954) are the only segment of our population still opposed to legalization. Then there’s the governor problem. That would be Chris Sununu, born in 1974, and clueless. Had the state senate not “re-referred” the reefer-legalization bill, and had it made it out of the full senate—the state house already passed it—our boy-gov Chris vowed to veto. Why? I’d call it “Orange Syndrome.” Chris, who has visited the White House and the Orange One there at least ten times (at last count). And like the Orange One, our boy-gov is resistant to learning and to science.

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As a West Coast transplant to NH in 2003, I have watched for 16 years now how patrician and provincial most politicians act. Slow to change, oblivious to what’s going on in this country, especially “out west.” Yes, progress moves from West to East in this country. New Hampshire will get there—eventually—probably on the coattails of the removal of cannabis as a Schedule One Narcotic from the Controlled Substances Act. And it would be so New Hampshire: not first in the nation, not live free or die, just follow the federal government—like the minimum wage. Yes, New Hampshire does not have a minimum wage law, meaning New Hampshire employers would pay as little as they could, like a-dollar-an-hour, but they have to pay at leas $7.25 an hour, thanks to the federal minimum wage laws. And that pretty much sums up New Hampshire.

And that Great Bay Oyster Reef restoration that I noted earlier, The Nature Conservancy is spearheading the effort, not the state of New Hampshire.

 

Representative Tulsi Gabbard To Lead Landmark Bipartisan Marijuana Reform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), along with Rep. Don Young (AK-AL), NORML, and other supporters, will hold a press conference introducing two bipartisan marijuana bills.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019 would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list and allow states the freedom to regulate marijuana as they choose, without federal interference.

The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019 would study the effects of state legalized medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana programs from a variety of perspectives, including state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice, and employment.

Details:

Day-of Contact: Lauren McIlvaine: (202) 713-6040

Thursday, March 7, 2019:

Who:

  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
  • Rep. Don Young (AK-AL)
  • Erik Altieri, Executive Director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

When: 11:00 AM ET

Where: House Triangle, U.S. Capitol

 

LA Black & Brown Leaders Condemn ‘Power Play’ Undermining Social Equity & Community Reinvestment In New Cannabis Licensing

Community Leaders Claim Rushed Move Undermines Original Criminal Justice & Community Reinvestment Intent of LA’s Cannabis Licensing Policy

CALIFORNIA:  A broad cross section of community leaders spoke in front of the Los Angeles City Council Chambers on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, strongly condemning efforts to rush Phase 3 of the cannabis licensing process in the City as one that cripples progress on social equity, criminal justice, and community reinvestment in communities of color. Citing the original intent of the landmark policy as one that would ensure social equity and community reinvestment by affirmatively supporting the training, preparation and incubation of community owned businesses and create a level playing field, leaders rejected the rush to move Phase 3 as an effort to undermine the progressive policy. Of top most concern is that after two years of discussions, and issuing over 1,000 licenses in the City of LA, there is still no funded Social Equity Program. The leaders discussed the need for the City to do more to protect first time applicants from the predatory business practices and large exclusion of key communities that abounded in Phase 2.

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The group specifically called on the three members of the Rules Committee, Council President Herb Wesson, President Pro Tempore Nury Martinez, and Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who voted to advance the new recommendations, to uphold their commitment to the broader community and delay Phase 3. As it stands, today’s Rules Committee vote on the new recommendations will go to a rushed vote by the full City Council this Friday, which if passed, would instruct the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to move the policy forward for final passage next week. While last week the City was considering a merit based process for Phase 3 after technical assistance and business support is issued, today they were railroading a proposal to immediately begin Phase 3 licensing on a first come first serve basis. Also of concern is language that allows for a back door buy out after 3 years, essentially allowing social equity applicants to serve as “strawmen” for the investors.

In addition to concerns about the specific policies in the approved Recommendations, stakeholders expressed confusion about the sudden rush on the timing. Just two weeks ago, the Department of Cannabis Regulation held a stakeholder meeting on the future of social equity in LA, where Director Cat Packer and Council Members Wesson and Harris-Dawson each addressed the group and invited stakeholders to help them craft Phase 3 in a way that would truly advance the social equity aims. Most of the stakeholders who rushed to City Hall at 8:30 in the morning Tuesday, with less than 12 hours notice, have not finished offering advice and proposals for Phase 3. After waiting years, even decades, for cannabis licensing, why this last minute rush?

Community leaders in the regional cannabis community spoke categorically on the matter issuing the following statements:

  • Bo Money, Executive Director of the National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA), said: “This is not the time to rush a process through that undermines the intent of creating an equitable and fair industry. This is a major move that will further ensure that licenses are are primarily awarded to the wealthy investors and lobbying groups.”
  • Felicia Carbajal, Smart Pharm Research Group said: “To maintain the integrity of the spirit of the social equity ordinance, the City must immediately engage in impactful education and outreach to impacted communities, and address community reinvestment and corporate social responsibility.”
  •  Cheryll Branch, Green Believers said: “This move only benefits one group of well funded corporate interests and makes it extremely difficult for small black owned shops to compete for licensing.”
  •  Arturo Carmona, ImpreMedia said:“Rushing the licensing process without building out social equity programming all but ensures Latino exclusion in this critically important new market for the city. Despite being the largest population in the City, Latinos are facing numerous barriers to gain inroads in the industry, one that offers great promise for job and wealth generation in our communities.”
  • Freeway Ricky Ross, former kingpin and NDICA- National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance Board Member said:  “As a South L.A native and someone who was severely impacted by on the war on drugs, I am very disturbed by this farce that the city of LA is calling a Social Equity Plan. This is pure disrespect and a slap in the face to our communities of POC and “REAL social equity applicants that are now being blocked by our City Council from an opportunity we have been waiting years for. It is time for our communities stand up and fight! We have been sold out too many times and THIS will be the LAST time!

Stakeholders plan to spend the rest of the week visiting council offices in an effort to defeat Friday’s vote.

 

Booker, Lee, Khanna Introduce Landmark Marijuana Justice Bill

Social justice bill would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, expunge records, and reinvest in communities most impacted by War on Drugs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), today reintroduced their landmark bill to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.

In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“The War on Drugs has not been a war on drugs, it’s been a war on people, and disproportionately people of color and low-income individuals,” said Booker. “The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of this unfair, unjust, and failed policy by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and making it legal at the federal level.”

“But it’s not enough to simply decriminalize marijuana. We must also repair the damage caused by reinvesting in those communities that have been most harmed by the War on Drugs. And we must expunge the records of those who have served their time. The end we seek is not just legalization, it’s justice.”

“The War on Drugs has destroyed lives, and no one continues to be hurt more than people of color and low-income communities,” said Wyden. “There is a desperate need not only to correct course by ending the failed federal prohibition of marijuana, but to right these wrongs and ensure equal justice for those who have been disproportionately impacted.”

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies, especially in communities of color and low-income communities,” said Gillibrand. “Currently, just one minor possession conviction can take away a lifetime of opportunities for jobs, education, and housing, tear families apart, and make people more vulnerable to serving time in jail down the road. It is shameful that my son would likely be treated very differently from one of his Black or Latino peers if he was caught with marijuana, and legalizing marijuana is an issue of morality and social justice. I’m proud to work with Senator Booker on this legislation to help fix decades of injustice caused by our nation’s failed drug policies.”

“As I said during my 2016 campaign, hundreds of thousands of people are arrested for possession of marijuana every single year,” said Sanders. “Many of those people, disproportionately people of color, have seen their lives negatively impacted because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That has got to change. We must end the absurd situation of marijuana being listed as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin. It is time to decriminalize marijuana, expunge past marijuana convictions and end the failed war on drugs.”

“Marijuana laws in this country have not been applied equally, and as a result we have criminalized marijuana use in a way that has led to the disproportionate incarceration of young men of color. It’s time to change that,” said Harris. “Legalizing marijuana is the smart thing to do and the right thing to do in order to advance justice and equality for every American.”

“Marijuana should be legalized, and we should wipe clean the records of those unjustly jailed for minor marijuana crimes. By outlawing marijuana, the federal government puts communities of color, small businesses, public health and safety at risk.” said Warren.

“This long-overdue change will help bring our marijuana laws into the 21st century. It’s past time we bring fairness and relief to communities that our criminal justice system has too often left behind.” said Bennet.

“Communities of color and low-income communities have been devastated by the War on Drugs,” said Lee. “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I’m proud to sponsor legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, address the disproportionate impact of prohibition on people of color by expunging criminal convictions, and promote equitable participation in the legal marijuana industry by investing in the communities hardest hit by the failed War on Drugs.”

“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by misguided marijuana policy for far too long,” said Khanna. “Rep. Lee, Sen. Booker, and I are proud to introduce this important legislation and deliver justice for so many Americans.”

The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color. Beyond removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances – making it legal at the federal level – the bill would also automatically expunge the convictions of those who have served federal time for marijuana use and possession offenses, and it would reinvest in the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs through a community fund. This community reinvestment fund could be used for projects such as job training programs, re-entry services, and community centers.

The bill would also incentivize states through the use of federal funds to change their marijuana laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income individuals and/or people of color.

By going further than simply rescheduling marijuana with expungement and community reinvestment, Booker, Lee, and Khanna’s bill is the most far-reaching marijuana legislation ever to be introduced in Congress.

The bill is retroactive and would apply to those already serving time behind bars for marijuana-related offenses, providing for a judge’s review of marijuana sentences.

Full text of the bill is here.

Background on Booker’s leadership on issues of marijuana and criminal justice:

Booker has seen the effects of our broken marijuana laws first-hand, dating back to his time as a tenant lawyer, City Council member, and Mayor of Newark, where he created the city’s first office of prisoner re-entry to help formerly incarcerated individuals re-integrate into their communities.

In the Senate, Booker was an outspoken critic of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ effort to revive the failed War on Drugs. Most recently, he pressed Trump’s newest pick for Attorney General, William Barr, on his stance on marijuana legalization and the Cole memo, winning a commitment from Barr to leave alone states that have already legalized marijuana.

In addition to the Marijuana Justice Act, Booker is the co-author of the bipartisan CARERS Act, which would allow patients to access medical marijuana in states where it’s legal without fear of federal prosecution, and the bipartisan REDEEM Act, which would allow nonviolent drug offenders to petition a court to seal and expunge their drug offenses, while automatically sealing, and in some cases expunging, the nonviolent records of juveniles. These reforms would reduce a major barrier that formerly incarcerated individuals face when attempting to rejoin society. He is also a cosponsor of the Fair Chance Act, which prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment. Earlier this month, the Fair Chance Act passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Delaware Attorney General Calls For Expanding Use Of Civil Penalties For Marijuana Violations

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DELAWARE: Delaware prosecutors will no longer be encouraged to pursue criminal charges against those who possess marijuana for personal use, according to guidelines issued last week by the state’s new Attorney General, Kathleen Jennings.

In a February 15th memorandum, Jennings called for sweeping changes to help prioritize resources toward the prosecution of violent criminal offenders and away from non-violent defendants. These changes include encouraging prosecutors and “police agencies to expand the use of civil citations [for] marijuana possession in lieu of criminal arrest.”

News radio station WHYY reports that the decriminalization policy will apply to possession cases involving up to 175 grams of cannabis.

Under state law, the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis is a civil violation. By contrast, offenses involving the possession of marijuana in greater amounts (between one ounce and six ounces) are classified as criminal misdemeanors — punishable by up to three months in jail and a criminal record.

The Attorney General’s actions to cease criminally prosecuting minor marijuana possession offenses are similar to steps recently taken by municipal law enforcement officials in other states, including BaltimoreSt. Louis, and Philadelphia.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500, or visit Delaware NORML.

Governor Evers Announces Proposal to Reform Wisconsin’s Marijuana Laws

WISCONSIN:  Governor Tony Evers today announced that his budget will include proposals to legalize medical marijuana, decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, establish an expungement procedure for individuals who have completed their sentence or probation for possession, and align Wisconsin’s laws on cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, with federal standards.

The governor believes it is time for Wisconsin to join more than 30 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. Last year, nearly one million voters in 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin voted to approve non-binding referenda asking if marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use. These referenda all passed by significant majorities.Under the governor’s proposal, a physician, or a practitioner under the direction of a physician, can recommend the use of medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms related to medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, severe nausea, and seizures.

The governor will also align Wisconsin’s laws on cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, with federal standards. CBD oil is made from marijuana and can be used to treat seizures in children. Currently, Wisconsin law requires families to possess CBD oil only with yearly certification by a physician. The governor believes that families and individuals should be able to obtain this treatment without additional barriers.

“As a cancer survivor, I know the side effects of a major illness can make everyday tasks a challenge. People shouldn’t be treated as criminals for accessing a desperately-needed medication that can alleviate their suffering,” Gov. Evers said. “Wisconsinites overwhelmingly agree that this is a critically important issue. But it’s not just about access to health care, it’s about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity.”

Reforming Wisconsin’s marijuana laws to align with the people’s support for medical marijuana is an important part of the governor’s plan. But so, too, is addressing the social and racial justice aspect of marijuana use. Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate in the country for Black men, and drug-related crimes account for as many as 75-85 percent of all inmates in our prisons.

That is why the governor will also decriminalize possession, manufacturing or distribution of marijuana for amounts of 25 grams or less. This language would also prevent localities from establishing their own ordinances or penalties for possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana. The governor’s plan will also establish an expungement procedure for individuals convicted of possessing, manufacturing or distributing less than 25 grams of marijuana who have completed their sentence or probation.

“Too many people, often persons of color, spend time in our criminal justice system just for possessing small amounts of marijuana. That doesn’t make our communities stronger or safer,” Evers said. “This shouldn’t be a Republican issue or Democratic issue, and I look forward to working on both sides of the aisle to pass this proposal in my budget.”