Monday, April 23, 2018
States reforming marijuana laws should be particularly concerned with remedying the past inequities and burdens of mass criminalization. State marijuana reforms should not only offer robust retroactive ameliorative relief opportunities for prior marijuana offenses, but also dedicate resources generated by marijuana reform to create and fund new institutions to assess and serve the needs of a broad array of offenders looking to remedy the collateral consequences of prior involvement in the criminal justice system. So far, California stands out among reform states for coupling repeal of marijuana prohibition with robust efforts to enable and ensure the erasure of past marijuana convictions. In addition to encouraging marijuana reform states to follow California’s lead in enacting broad ameliorative legislation, this essay urges policy makers and reform advocates to see the value of linking and leveraging the commitments and spirit of modern marijuana reform and expungement movements.
Part II begins with a brief review of the history of marijuana prohibition giving particular attention to social and racial dynamics integral to prohibition, its enforcement and now its reform. Part III turns to recent reform activities focused on mitigating the punitive collateral consequences of a criminal conviction with a focus on the (mostly limited) efforts of marijuana reform states to foster the erasure of marijuana convictions. Part IV sketches a novel proposal for connecting modern marijuana reform and expungement movements. This part suggest a new criminal justice institution, a Commission on Justice Restoration, to be funded by the taxes, fees and other revenues generated by marijuana reforms and to be tasked with proactively working on policies and practices designed to minimize and ameliorate undue collateral consequences for people with criminal convictions.
Cross-posted at Sentencing Law & Policy