Pubdate: Thu, 15 Oct 2015
Source: Portland Mercury (OR)
Column: Cannabuzz: The Week in Cannabis
Copyright: 2015 The Portland Mercury
Author: Josh Jardine


LAST WEEK, there was some surprising but welcome news: 6,000 
non-violent "drug offenders" will be released from federal prison 
starting October 30. (Of those, one-third are not US citizens; their 
deportation hearings will begin immediately.) And that's just a drop 
in the prison mop bucket, as more than 2.3 million people are 
currently incarcerated in the US. An additional 40,000 prisoners 
could be eligible for release over the next five years.

I could write 10,000 words on how our drug sentencing system is 
wrong, racist, and a national disgrace. And, yes, that would be both 
a ton of fun to read and assuredly change things for the 
better-because I'm certain that officials from the US Justice 
Department read this column faithfully.

Instead, I'm going to tell you about a group doing something that 
will change things for the better, and it's free. If you've ever been 
arrested and charged for weed, take note.

A state law passed earlier this year permits certain convictions for 
marijuana to be wiped from your record. That's the "permanent 
record"-i.e., your criminal record, which can impact your ability to 
get student loans, a job, or even housing. Up 'til now, it's been 
pretty fucked-up that getting caught holding a few ounces of bud 
could screw up all aspects of your life for decades.

You can now have these convictions removed through a process that 
sounds painful and invasive, but isn't: expungement. And the Oregon 
Cannabis Association (OCA) is going to help past "offenders" do just 
that at Expungement Day on Thursday, November 5. The OCA is headed up 
by Amy Margolis (disclaimer: my lawyer and friend), who says, "Oregon 
is taking obsolete marijuana offenses off the books. They shouldn't 
remain on people's records, either. The OCA feels strongly that 
people's access to this critical service should not be limited by 
ability to pay for legal representation."

While the new law makes it easier to expunge certain offenses, you 
still need to navigate the legal process. The OCA will provide 
attorneys who can complete the paperwork at no charge. You'll be 
responsible for filing fees, and the conviction must have occurred in 
Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington Counties. Space is limited, so 
interested participants need to RSVP at the website below ASAP. The 
event will be held at a location in North Portland, chosen by the 
group to illustrate how cannabis prohibition has disproportionately 
affected communities of color.

"Having a record can bar a person from participating in Oregon's new 
legal cannabis industry," Margolis says. "We want to be sure there is 
a level playing field when recreational retail licensing starts in 
January." To RSVP, visit for more information and to 
see if you qualify.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom