Report: Last Prisoner Project Publish 2023 State of Cannabis Justice Award

Here’s the executive summary

A deeper look into the status of cannabis justice policy throughout the nation reveals that cannabis justice policy is rapidly progressing and has situated itselfat the center of policy priorities. 

As of 2023, 23 states have enacted adult-use cannabis legalization, 24 stateshave enacted cannabis-specific record clearance laws, and 10 states haveenacted cannabis-specific resentencing laws. Importantly, these criminal justicepolicies have become commonplace in recent legislation. In fact, since 2018,100% of the 13 states that have legalized cannabis have included recordclearance policies and since 2021, they have all been state-initiated. Whileresentencing policies have been slower to take hold, they are also growing inimportance and have been included in more than half of the legalization billssince 2020. The increasing inclusion of these policies speaks to the importanceof providing relief for individuals harmed by the historically unjust War on Drugs.

Unfortunately, the report also shows that, despite the country’s progress in thebreadth and depth of cannabis justice policy, we are still far behind. While moreand more states are working to include retroactive relief for cannabis relatedoffenses, the policy lags behind in every single state. 

While states such as California, Minnesota, Maryland, and New Mexico havestrong statutory language, they have all fallen behind in actually offering relief toimpacted individuals. In California, the deadline to effectuate record clearancehas passed, yet, over 20,000 individuals are still without relief. In Minnesota, thestructure of a separate review board has caused significant delays, leaving thestate yet to appoint the board despite the instructed start date already passing.In Maryland, it is unknown if the state has begun to enact the criminal justiceprovisions. In New Mexico, the state has faced rollback efforts to limit the impactof retroactive provisions throughout the past two years. 

These implementation struggles make it clear that statutory language is only astart to effective change, and this report only touches the surface in evaluatingthe accessibility of relief. The progress of cannabis justice policy is promising, butan evaluation of their status shows that there is still much to be done.

The full report

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