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Lucas, now 29, has been denied housing, financial aid, and job opportunities in the 12 years since his arrest for possession of 70 grams of marijuana in Illinois when he was 17 years old. He was charged as an adult, convicted of a class 3 felony and incarcerated for several months.
But now that Illinois just became the 11th state in the nation to regulate marijuana for adult-use, Lucas may be free from these collateral consequences haunting him for years. Should people continue to suffer collateral consequences of their marijuana conviction after states pass laws to regulate adult-use?
“I was an opioid addict until I listened to friends who suggested cannabis to help me stop destroying my health. Cannabis planted a seed in me and helped me follow a path to a healthy lifestyle.” Trenice, age 29, is an inspiring DJ, who goes by the handle, TriggaTre. In 2017, there were 1,985 overdose deaths involving opioids in Maryland - twice the rate of the national average. Thankfully, Trenice, age 29, was not in that number because there were 0 overdose deaths caused by cannabis in Maryland…ever...or anywhere.
Jessica, 47, a mother of two, and foster mom to 8 children over the years, has led her life with a sense of helping others. She felt a responsibility to help other registered cannabis patients like herself make cannabis medicine into more therapeutic forms from the high priced raw cannabis dispensaries sold, legally allowed in Delaware if both parties are patients. But, when she was misled by an undercover officer who claimed she was suicidal from PTSD, Jessica was compelled to help her. Her sense of helping others this time cost her the price of her freedom.
Dolores, 63, a registered nurse, and her husband, Gene, were jailed while awaiting trial for possession of marijuana. She was treating his severe illnesses with cannabis she was growing. Gene suffered a heart attack in jail and his death was contributed by the jail not providing adequate medical treatment in the 7 days the couple spent behind bars.
photo credit: Chris Smith
Harry served 10 years in prison because of a marijuana conviction. Police were tipped off by an informant who happened to be a minor aged 17 1/2. No violence was involved. Harry's cell mate served less time for shooting a man multiple times. Should sentences for marijuana be longer than violent crimes?
Tyrone and his family have been denied both public and private housing because of marijuana charges. They will soon be evicted from their current home due to unsafe conditions, but rental agencies will not accept his application because of his charges even though he has satisfied all sentence requirements.
You might think a state like Nevada with both legal adult marijuana consumption and a medical cannabis program would not need law reform. Think again! Jeff, a Navy veteran and a registered medical cannabis patient, passed all the roadside sobriety tests. Police testified in court he was not impaired. Still he was charged with DUI and Child Endangerment because it's still illegal to have ANY THC in your blood when driving in Nevada, where marijuana is LEGAL. It's been proven that THC metabolite testing tying it to intoxication is not based on science. Medical cannabis patients continue to have THC detected in their blood for weeks after stopping consumption and well past any intoxication effects.
Brooke wanted to help his father who has bladder cancer with medical cannabis.
"I was sitting on the side of the road in handcuffs, my father's medicine was on the hood of the patrol car," he says.
Brooke endured Virginia's First Offender's Program. He wrote about this humiliating experience in great detail in a letter to his friend. Read it here.
Child Protective Services took Edward's children away from him because of policy regardless that there was no sign of abuse or neglect. "Being away from my children at that time shattered me..."
Photo credit: Melissa Mesko
Joe and Ryanna live on tribal land of the Walker River Native American Reservation. Joe is part of the tribe, but Ryanna is not. She is a registered medical cannabis patient. Tribal laws at the time still made it illegal for tribal members to possess cannabis even though Nevada allows both adult use and has a medical cannabis program. In a vindictive move, law enforcement charged Joe with the plants Ryanna was growing to treat her Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Joe was charged at age 19 with a small amount of marijuana and despite being told it would not affect his future, he was denied employment multiple times. Sadly, Joe was fighting Colon Cancer and lost his battle on May 8, 2019. Studies show Colon Cancer could be helped by medical cannabis treatment. However, Virginia does not allow safe access to cannabis. Virginia is working on a medical cannabis program and efforts to get records like Joe's to be eligible for expungement...But, not soon enough for Joe!
Photo credit: Foster-Gray Photography
Michael is a permanently disabled U.S. Navy veteran who needs medical cannabis for chronic issues after his kidney transplant. He has been denied college loans and employment from a cannabis conviction while trying to obtain safe medical cannabis.