OAKLAND, Calif., April 8, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia have some form of marijuana legislation and/or decriminalization, with 13 states pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. According to a Pew poll released last month, 75% of Americans believe marijuana legalization is inevitable. And yet, over 20 million Americans—disproportionally minorities—have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965. Some of them are still in prison or on probation, but most have already served their criminal sentences. Steve DeAngelo, founder and executive director of Harborside Health Center, is one. In an Op Ed piece posted on March 28 by The Huffington Post entitled, "War On Cannabis is Winding Down: It's Time to Build Bridges," Steve describes his conviction in 2001 for possession of marijuana—its more recent negative ramifications in Boston media, and the need for change in criminal marijuana prohibition.
At the time of his arrest in Maryland, Steve was in possession of a medical cannabis recommendation written by a licensed doctor in California. He since went on to found Harborside Health Center, the nation's gold standard for legally compliant cannabis distribution in Oakland and San Jose, Calif. But Steve's 13-year-old offense has caused some dissension recently in Massachusetts, undermining his decades of experience and threatening to derail his ability to provide safe access to patients. As cannabis legislation takes hold across the country, what happens to those convicted of non-violent cannabis charges?
As Steve writes:
"The exclusion of these millions of well-qualified people from employment, professional licensing and educational benefits will inevitably hurt society as a whole. What should society do when it recognizes it has been enforcing an unjust law, and what should happen to people who have been convicted for violating that law? Should they continue to be punished with denial of voting rights, employment, business opportunities, and other civil rights and privileges?"
Now that a majority of Americans live in states that have reformed cannabis laws, writes Steve, "the only smart and decent thing to do is to fully restore the civil rights, privileges -- and reputations -- of those convicted during the years of prohibition. With the war on cannabis winding down, it's time to build bridges of unity, not walls of separation."
About Harborside Health Center:
Founded by national cannabis leader, Steve DeAngelo, in 2006, Harborside Health Center is the nation's largest, not-for-profit, model medical cannabis dispensary. The San Jose and Oakland medicinal cannabis collective offers its 130,000 registered patients free holistic healing services, lab-tested medicine and education. Harborside was featured on the Discovery Channel miniseries, "Weed Wars," in December 2011, on the premiere episode of CNN's "Inside Man," hosted by Morgan Spurlock in June 2013, and in Fortune Magazine's cover story, "Yes We Cannabis," in April 2013. DeAngelo also co-founded the nation's first cannabis-testing facility, Steep Hill Labs, and the country's first cannabis investment firm, The Arc View Investment Group.
"Out of the shadows and into the light" epitomizes DeAngelo's mission to enlighten the public on the many medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant and actively works to empower the country to change its image of medical marijuana.
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Source:Harborside Health Center