Medical cannabis dispensaries in Minnesota are partnering with volunteer attorneys from St. Paul’s Mitchell Hamline School of Law to host expungement clinics to help people clear their records of nonviolent cannabis charges, the Star-Tribune reports. The first clinic was held over the weekend at downtown Minneapolis’ Green Goods.
Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted Friday in support of the effort.
“We need to continue pressing for legalization and expungement under State law. Until then, efforts like these are laying important groundwork.”—Frey via Twitter
In May, the Democratically-led state House approved a cannabis legalization bill but the effort was blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. It was the first time a broad cannabis legalization bill had been considered on either chamber of the state Legislature.
The reforms are supported by Gov. Tim Walz (D) who said in 2019 that he had directed all relevant state agencies to “put all of the building blocks in place” for legalization that would allow the state to implement the rules and regulations “the minute” the Legislature approved the reforms. Minnesota decriminalized cannabis possession in 1976, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which also found that Black people in the state are 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people—the eighth-worst state in the nation of racial disparities in cannabis arrests.
In Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located, Black people are seven times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people, according to the ACLU report.
Nationally, a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than a white person.
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