Should prisoners serving time for marijuana-related crimes be released?
via AP

Should prisoners serving time for marijuana-related crimes be released?

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As marijuana is increasingly decriminalized, social justice advocates are asking why people convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses are still in jail. The United States is one of just 22 nations that does not give "retroactive ameliorative relief," or relaxation of sentences, for those convicted of an offense that is later decriminalized. Hardliners like Attorney General Jeff Sessions oppose cannabis legalization, milder sentencing and pardons for pot users and sellers. Should weed prisoners be freed?

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#PardonWeedUsers
#CriminalsDeserveJail

In 2016, 653,249 people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses—89 percent of whom were arrested for possession. That's more than half a million people, yet a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. So some Americans are profiting immensely from businesses built through the legalization of cannabis while others—disproportionately people of color—languish in jail for smoking pot. Critics say the system makes no sense and is wildly unjust.

Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would not only legalize marijuana but also expunge past marijuana-related convictions and "penalize states with racially-disparate arrest or incarceration rates for marijuana-related crimes." According to the Washington Post:

[Booker's bill] would withhold some criminal justice funding from states that haven't legalized marijuana if they exhibit racially disproportionate arrest or incarceration rates. In effect, this would apply to each state in which marijuana is not currently legal: A 2013 ACLU report found that nationwide, blacks were nearly four times as likely to be arrested on marijuana charges as whites, despite similar rates of use of the drug.

Though the majority of Americans want to see cannabis legalized, there is still a percentage of our citizenry that is vehemently opposed to pot. They say it's dangerous, acts as a gateway drug to other more serious addictions, and should be criminalized and penalized. 

But others say if people knowingly broke the law and were convicted of a crime, they need to serve their time.

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