Marijuana Amnesty Project
Tens of thousands of Philadelphians are saddled with criminal records from the failed war on drugs, which has disproportionately targeted low-income Black and brown communities across Pennsylvania, and especially in Philadelphia. While medical marijuana was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2016, recreational adult-use cannabis remains criminalized, with data from the Pennsylvania State Police indicating that 55 Pennsylvanians were arrested every day in 2020 for marijuana possession.
Launched in October of 2021, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity’s Marijuana Amnesty Project has four main goals:
- Identify and support as many people from Philadelphia with existing marijuana-related convictions as possible through the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons’ Expedited Review Program for Non-Violent Marijuana-Specific Convictions;
- Partner with local community organizations and the Philadelphia CannaBusiness Association to provide expungement and record clearing services during cannabis-related community events;
- Educate the public and legislators alike on the harms of criminal records stemming from cannabis prohibition and the need for systemic solutions, such as automatic, retroactive, mass expungements and/or amnesty; and
- Ensure that any future decriminalization or recreational adult-use legalization that happens in our state includes automatic forgiveness for the tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians living with marijuana convictions.
1 Goldstein, C. “Pennsylvania: Police Arrested 20,200 Adults for Marijuana Possession During Pandemic.” NORML. https://norml.org/blog/2021/03/18/pennsylvania-police-arrested-20200-adults-for-marijuana-possession-during-pandemic/.