Activists in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania are using old newspaper boxes to distribute pardon applications for cannabis convictions, according to National Public Radio-affiliate WHYY. The effort is led by Montco NORML, the county chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and TerraVida Victims of the War on Drugs (VOWD), the non-profit arm of the medical cannabis dispensary chain.
To date, the activists have distributed the pardon application to more than 800 people. They have installed two newspaper boxes with applications – one in front of the county courthouse in Norristown, and another in front of the Lansdale Public Library.
In an interview with WHYY, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who supports cannabis law reforms in the state, called the application distribution scheme “fantastic.”
“We already have an expedited marijuana pardon protocol in place, where if it meets a couple key criteria they automatically advance through. But what we’re also looking into is the constitutionality of doing that on a macro basis. … If you’ve got a stupid weed conviction on your record, you’ve got to get it off. It’s crazy not to. There’s never a better time and, we have an expedited process for that.” – Fetterman, to WHYY
Geoff Smith, the director of Montco NORML, said that advocates fill the bins “every single week” and they are “almost empty every week.” He added that the boxes are free and readily available.
Cathie Cashman, head of TerraVida VOWD, called the newspaper bins “a great win” for the organization.
“We really can’t lose the idea that there is this whole social justice piece and this whole social equity piece that we need to continually keep in front of us, because this isn’t just a venture capitalist game here,” Cashman said in the report. “This isn’t just for people to get richer off of. We have to remember that there’s this social justice aspect that it is our responsibility as owners and operators in the state to support and push forward.”
Organizers said they ultimately plan to put similar boxes throughout the state. The next bin is expected to be installed this week at SEPTA’s Ambler Train Station.
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