Hawaii Marijuana Legalization Bill Must Be Strengthened With Provisions To Free Current Prisoners (Op-Ed)
“The creation of a resentencing process will provide a fair pathway to relief for individuals who otherwise will continue to be punished by laws inspired by the failed ‘War on Drugs.’” By Frank Stiefel and Gracie Johnson, Last Prisoner Project Last week, Hawaii Senators approved Senate Bill 669, moving the state one step closer to legalizing adult-use cannabis. Even more encouraging is that the bill now includes provisions that would create a state-initiated record clearance process, a recommendation the Last Prisoner Project put forth earlier this year. While we are thrilled that this bill provides a process to clear cannabis records automatically, it does not go far enough. The bill fails to establish a state-initiated resentencing process, through which individuals still serving cannabis sentences should receive relief. It’s important to note that record clearance is for individuals who have already served their sentence—while resentencing is for individuals still being punished. When a state ends the prohibition of cannabis, it is acknowledging that public interest has turned against the continued criminalization of cannabis. The magnitude of this shift in perception is clear when you step back and examine the national landscape of legalization. Adult-use cannabis is now legal in 21 states, three territories, and D.C.—and with a majority of the state’s residents in favor of legalization, Hawaii is looking to follow those footsteps. However, many people don’t realize that repealing cannabis prohibition doesn’t necessarily lead to the release of those still serving sentences for cannabis-related convictions. True legalization requires the government to also create a state-initiated resentencing process. State-initiated resentencing is a process that requires the courts to reconsider sentences for individuals who may be incarcerated or under supervision for behavior that the state has shifted its approach toward criminalizing. It’s critical that this process be provided to eligible individuals automatically,…
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Source : Hawaii Marijuana Legalization Bill Must Be Strengthened With Provisions To Free Current Prisoners (Op-Ed)
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