What Happens to Pot Prisoners Now That it’s Legal?

marijuana-arrests-map-united-states

IMAGE SOURCE: Washington Post

By Cheri Roberts

What will happen with the inmates in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. when their newly passed recreational marijuana laws go into effect next year, essentially making many of their crimes obsolete?

Federal statistics show, about 94 million Americans — 40 percent of the U.S. population age 12 or older — admits having used cannabis at some point in their lives. United States jails and prison systems are bursting with pot prisoners costing the country more than $1 billion a year. According to the latest figures reported by the FBI, more than 42% of drug arrests are for marijuana related crimes. Cannabis advocacy group, NORML, has a state by state list of these crimes available on their website.

marijuana-jail-pot-crimes-new-pot-laws

IMAGE SOURCE: hemp.org

If they follow suit with Colorado and Washington State, law enforcement will slowly stop ticketing and charging for marijuana offences that fall within the new laws. By time the new laws do kick-in later in 2015, few petty pot prisoners will still be incarcerated. Those that are will probably be released unless they were distributing, growing or possessing amounts of product outside of the new individual limits.

This is definitely something to keep our eyes on because new laws do not negate the relevancy of an old law once someone has been charged, arraigned and sentenced. These crimes were still legitimate crimes at the time and each state or District will have to determine how they will handle the coming situation. Will there be some sort of amnesty?

It is hard to imagine any system holding prisoner someone who’s crime is no longer a crime, but in this land of Orwelian ways anything can happen, especially in light of the fact marijuana use and possession is still a Federal crime and the “drug” is still classified as a Schedule-1 “drug” along side of Heroin and LSD.

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