Many Americans have had an epiphany in recent years: perhaps prosecuting people for consuming marijuana isn’t the sensible thing to do. After all, why should our tax dollars be spent prosecuting and incarcerating people who aren’t actually harming anyone (except maybe themselves?). Shifting public opinions have resulted in the amount of marijuana-related pro bono work skyrocketing across the country.
An anonymous junior associate working for Hale Monico said, “Unless you’re living under a rock, you already know that African Americans and Caucasians use cannabis at about the same rate in the United States, but that the justice system targets African Americans at a disproportionate and unbalanced rate. It’s not about doing wrong. It’s about systemic racism. We can’t ignore it any longer.”
Even in states where marijuana has been legalized, people are still getting arrested for marijuana-related crimes. And residents are sick of it.
Colorado House Bill 1090 would change existing marijuana laws to streamline the process for sealing marijuana convictions on a criminal record and increase the amount of marijuana that state residents can legally carry on their person from one ounce to two ounces.
Colorado Representative Alex Valdez said, “We’re really looking for folks who had kind of a one-time hiccup … allowing those folks to get on with life.”
A man named Steve DeAngelo started the Last Prisoner Project in 2019 in order to provide resources to those who had been incarcerated for using marijuana. The organization includes advocates for reform and a number of pro bono lawyers who agree. Partner Jim Belushi said, “There’s no better hustler in the world that Steve DeAngelo. Man, he’s just relentless, and it’s beautiful to watch.”
According to Belushi, the project’s achievements have never been greater. They still need more investments of course, and he acknowledged that most of the legal work done on behalf of the group is pro bono.
Belushi said, “And it would be great if people in the [cannabis] industry hire those that get out [of jail]. He added, “Cannabis is not a gateway to drugs. It’s a pathway to healing.”
Belushi agreed that change was happening all across the country. He said, “This is a very exciting time in the cannabis world. People have seen changes in others [who partake in cannabis]. Tumors are shrinking, seizures are stopping, people are sleeping and people are getting better. It’s interesting because, no matter if you’re conservative or liberal or old or young, everybody knows someone that has suffered deeply.”
Not sure that you agree with the legalization of cannabis? Here’s an interesting TED Talk that might shed more light on the subject — especially on the fact that we have not actually legalized marijuana at all.