“Over 20% of States in our great Nation have now moved to legalization of recreational Cannabis. Most, if not all, of those States have presented and implemented avenues for expunction of criminal records for previous convictions of now legal quantities of cannabis and cannabis products.
As a Criminal Defense Attorney, I routinely see the devastating results of arrest and conviction on folks we would normally consider upstanding citizens of our State.
Granted, there are more progressive counties all over the State (not just metropolitan areas) that have developed and implemented operating procedures and protocol that achieve results close to those sought by proponents of decriminalization and legalization. But there are also many areas that are misinformed, undereducated, or a mixture of both.
For those unaware of our current laws and scheduling please see the following hypothetical:
1) John Is a law abiding, God fearing, husband, father, in his mid 30s, and with two children under 10 years old. John has a solid career as a CPA, and he is building up his business. John goes to Colorado on a camping trip, try’s some candy infused with THC and really likes the result in a controlled environment. He feels more relaxed for a few hours, and goes on about life. Now, John decides to buy a package of 10 Cannabis candies to bring back home to have for some time down the road. Keep in mind, those 10 candies have about 10 mg of THC in each piece, equivalent to one or two doses for most people.
On John’s way home, he is pulled over in Texas, because his license plate light went out on his vehicle, and he was unaware of such. The Officer asks where John is coming from. Being honest, John says a camping trip in Colorado. The Officer asks if John brought back anything illegal, and to go ahead and disclose that information to make the process easier. John comes clean, and is subsequently arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance. Most THC Candy packages will have 70 – 100 gram weights.
Now John has been charged with a second degree felony Possession of Controlled Substance over 4 grams, and less than 200 grams. That range of punishment is 2-20 years in Prison and up to a $10,000 fine! Those Cannabis edibles were treated weight wise and punishment wise the same way as Cocaine or Methamphetamines. Seems a bit excessive and scheduled incorrectly, right?
Most people know, I myself was arrested 16 years ago for a Class B Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana under 2 ounces (I think it was a few grams, and I remember it wasn’t of great quality), while I was an 18 year old Freshman at Texas A&M. I was told by the disciplinary board that I could go to a rehabilitation program for my “marijuana addiction” and stay in College Station, or I could gracefully leave. I clearly said adios, and headed to Lubbock on my newly started year and a half probation with the State of Texas. All went well and I successfully completed a deferred probation to avoid a Conviction. However, I encountered multiple hurdles in the work force and educational world based on my meager yet visible arrest record. After probation, I went on to graduate from Texas Tech with Honors, then on to Law School, another graduation, passing the Bar and now almost 8 years of practicing law.
I was lucky to have family and a few friends that helped me through that tough time and reminded me I had potential and was not just some loser doomed for a life of crime. Many people from my generation and before were not so lucky.
I greatly look forward to seeing history in the making as laws change and new industries and jobs are created. I also encourage you to learn more about our State’s current laws regarding Cannabis. Furthermore, look at where we are going in the Hemp industry now that Gov. Abbott has signed off on legalization!
As for Illinois, so many records that will be expunged! Those are life changing moments for many people in that state. Way to move forward Illinois.”