Cannabis & Criminal Justice Reform

As we forge ahead into 2021, it is clear that public perceptions of cannabis are evolving. Most Americans consider the dangers of cannabis to be closer to those for alcohol, rather than more dangerous drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Unfortunately, the laws of our states and our country punish those convicted of cannabis related possession and use in the same way they punish those convicted of harder drugs. Cannabis prohibition and the criminal consequences of it have been proven to disproportionally impact people of color and those with lower socio-economic status.

With evolving public opinion comes the opportunity for change in the way cannabis possession and use are handled by our criminal justice system. There are many groups committed to advocating for cannabis policy reform and fighting for social justice for those who have been unduly impacted by the current laws. In this CLE, several of those individuals will discuss the important work they are doing in this area.

Moderator Jessica Gonzalez will lead a dynamic and knowledgeable panel of experts as they explore the intricacies of this topic. Gonzalez is an attorney specializing in cannabis matters. She is joined by Joseph Bondy, Devaughn Ward, and Ami Kachalia.

Joseph Bondy is a criminal defense and cannabis business attorney. He is also the creator of In the Know 420, a livestream that focuses on cannabis law and policy.

Devaughn Ward serves as senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, a non-profit that advocates for changes to state and national laws regarding cannabis penalties and policies.

Ami Kachalia is a Campaign Strategist for the ACLU. In this role, she helps create advocacy campaigns that address both criminal justice reform and immigrant’s rights.

This Social Equity CLE will focus specifically on criminal justice reform as it relates to cannabis prohibition and its effect on incarceration in the U.S. Panelists will analyze state statutes and regulations relating to expungement, treatment of formerly incarcerated individuals and legacy market participation. This CLE will provide policy recommendations on criminal justice reform in the cannabis industry for states to consider and adopt.