CAO IV. Restorative Justice and Opportunity Programs

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The schedule 1 status of cannabis causes collateral consequences for both individuals and businesses operating in the state-legal cannabis industry. All but 3 states allow at least some use for medical reasons. 18 states and DC have eliminated the prohibition on adult use of cannabis for those +21 years of age. Federal prosecutions for cannabis have decreased. Because CSA federal policy conflicts with authorized state policies, individuals and organizations face adverse immigration outcomes and ineligibility for federal public housing benefits, including loans, grants, and other benefits. Moreover, individuals with federal cannabis convictions face many obstacles because of criminal records associated with cannabis, Such as serving long sentences, struggling to maintain long term employment, or facing housing discrimination. Due to racial bias in arrests and prosecutions, these individuals are disproportionately people of color.

The proposal would seek to address past and present harm done by the war on drugs, while creating opportunity for the future via:

  1. Expunging criminal records and/or resentencing of federal non-violent cannabis convictions.
  2. Encouraging states and localities to do the same.
  3. Bar adverse effects on immigration and access to “federal public benefits.”
  4. Provide grants to fund nonprofits that provide services to those adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  5. Aid state and local efforts to create equitable licensing programs.
  6. Make loans to small businesses in the cannabis industry.
  7. Creation of three grant programs to open opportunities for those harmed by war on drugs:

Community Reinvestment Grant Program will fund nonprofits that provide services to individuals adversely impacted by the War On Drugs, job training, reentry services, and legal aid, etc.

Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program will provide funding to eligible states and localities to make loans to assist small businesses in the cannabis industry owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The Equitable Licensing Grant Program will provide funding to eligible states and localities to implement cannabis licensing programs that minimize barriers for individuals adversely affected by the War On Drugs

States receiving these grants are contingent on creating a process for the automatic expunging of criminal records for cannabis offenses and violations.

Resentencing and Expungement 

Within one year of enactment each federal district shall expunge any arrests and convictions, as well as adjudications of juvenile delinquency, for a non-violent federal cannabis offense. Those with a previous conviction not currently serving a criminal justice sentence can file a motion for expungement. Juvenile records related to a cannabis conviction that are expunged will be sealed.

Any individual serving a criminal justice sentence for a non-violent cannabis offense to obtain a sentencing review hearing. After the sentencing hearing, courts shall expunge each arrest, conviction, or adjudication of juvenile delinquency for a non-violent federal cannabis offense, vacate the existing sentence or disposition of juvenile delinquency, and seal all records relating to a conviction or adjudication that has been. If expunged it will legally be as if the conviction never occurred. 

There will be a federal demographic study of individuals convicted of a federal cannabis offense. 

No Discrimination in Provision of Federal Public Benefits

The possession of cannabis or previous cannabis conviction would no longer be grounds to deny any federal public benefit. Federal agencies could no longer deny security clearance on the same grounds.

A non-citizen could not be denied benefits or protection under immigration laws based on events relating to cannabis.

Veteran Affairs and Indian Health Service would authorize health care workers to provide recommendations and opinions regarding the use of cannabis or drugs containing cannabis.