In 1972 , Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), which made marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance. This was despite the fact that The Report of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse had concluded that there was “little proven danger or physical or psychological harm from the use of cannabis.”
Instead of heeding this advice, Congress made marijuana federally illegal on the same level as cocaine, heroin and crack.
Marijuana Is Not a Crime
Since that time, hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested for non-violent marijuana related offenses. A majority of those people arrested were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Most were placed on probation or parole and many, many others had their personal freedom taken from them because they were incarcerated. Millions of dollars had been directly and indirectly paid in fines and costs. Employment opportunities were lost and careers ruined.
The worst part? Marijuana prohibition has disproportionately affected African Americans, mostly men, by more than three times that of non-minorities. Think about that. Not only did it make absolutely no common sense to outlaw marijuana, it overly penalized an entire race of people whom had already been disadvantaged in our criminal justice system and in life.
Quite frankly, marijuana prohibition has been the worst federally public policy decision since slavery.
Famous Examples of Non-violent Marijuana Arrests
John Sinclair was originally from Flint, but soon after made Ann Arbor his home. He was a poet, musician, writer and marijuana user. Like some marijuana users, he sold small amounts to his friends to make his habit more affordable. Possibly for political reasons (he was a founder of the White Panthers), law enforcement repeatedly investigated him using undercover (UC) officers purchasing very small amounts of marijuana. In 1969, for the act of selling two joints to an UC, he was sentenced to prison for 10 years in Michigan. He served over two years before his sentenced was overturned for cruel and unusual punishment.
While this case may have been an extreme, every conviction and sentence to probation, jail or prison for marijuana is constitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
On Nov. 6th, 2018 Michigan became the 10th state in this country to legalize the adult use and possession of marijuana with the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (MRTMA). Thankfully, the Act decriminalized most offenses involving marijuana. What it did not do was expunge prior criminal convictions nor commute the sentences for those convicted of marijuana related offenses.
Despite Being Legal, Michiganders Are Still Incarcerated for Marijuana Offenses
Despite the fact that marijuana is now legal in Michigan, reversing the worst public policy in a century, there are thousands of people currently serving sentences. Every day that goes by to them is like hammer striking the nail that remains lodged in their back. Something has to be done about this immediately. Our legislature does not have the power to commute sentences. Our new Governor has to take action now with her power of commutation.
The day after Gov. Whitmer was elected, she said she intends to use her clemency powers to free the thousands of people who are currently serving sentences for marijuana offenses. She also supported removing prior marijuana related convictions, saying:
“We will start taking a look at that and taking some actions early next year.”
February is almost over and nothing has been done yet. She supported marijuana reform during her campaign. Now is the time to fulfill this promise. Every day that goes by is a slap in the face to those who most recently suffered for the sake of our liberation. They should not be forgotten. This is the will of the people, even those who voted against the MRTMA wanted criminal justice reform. It is the right thing to do and right now is the time to do it.
Attorney Morris has enjoyed a very successful and distinguished career as a trial lawyer providing high quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for 20 years. He is known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he is dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is prepared to take on complex legal issues with success. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.
Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has also graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.
Barton Morris was chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019 and 2020 for DUI/DWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. Barton Morris was also chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 2014-2020 and Barton Morris is the only Lawyer in Michigan designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”