Coalition Demands Clemency Program for Michigan’s Cannabis Prisoners
Ann Arbor, MI - April 1, 2021 - The Michigan Cannabis Freedom Coalition announced that it will unveil its cannabis clemency initiative at the 50th Annual Hash Bash. The virtual presentation will feature recently released cannabis prisoner and coalition member Michael Thompson, as well as current cannabis prisoners, their families, and advocates demanding Governor Gretchen Whitmer provide amnesty to all cannabis prisoners.
“We know there are hundreds if not thousands of cannabis prisoners in the Michigan Department of Corrections in need of clemency,” says Marshall Clabeaux, Policy Chair with the Michigan Cannabis Freedom Coalition.
While Governor Whitmer and the Michigan legislature have pushed forward certain initiatives to repair the harms of cannabis prohibition, such as newly-enacted clean slate laws, in order to truly undo the devastation wrought by the criminalization of cannabis the state must push forward mechanisms for encompassing a much broader segment of the population–including those still incarcerated–left suffering from these unjust laws and policies. The Cannabis Clemency Initiative advocated by the coalition would effectuate exactly this kind of relief.
“The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and our partners are prepared to launch a major pro bono initiative to provide volunteer counsel for those affected by cannabis prohibition and the resulting over-incarceration. This effort will not only provide invaluable assistance to those in need of advocates, but will also expedite the state’s capacity to consider applications,” said Norman L. Reimer, Executive Director, NACDL.
The clemency initiative provides a clear path forward for justice for those incarcerated over now legal cannabis activities. The initiative offers to:
File clemency petitions for Michigan’s cannabis prisoners;
Provide financial assistance to cannabis prisoners and their families;
Assist prisoners with re-entry once freedom is achieved;
Publicize the stories of cannabis prisoners and advocate for their release; and
Create a file-sharing system with the MDOC to more efficiently facilitate clemency applications.
“Michiganders have made themselves clear on cannabis reform at the ballot box not once, but twice. In doing so they voted to end the unjust and inequitable policies of the past, and it’s long past time for Michigan to empty its prisons of all cannabis offenders” added Sarah Gersten, Executive Director of Last Prisoner Project, an MCFC founding member.
Hash Bash attendees will be encouraged to sign a petition urging Governor Whitmer to cooperate with the MCFC as they work to take this vital step towards ending the era of mass incarceration in MI.
Michigan Cannabis Freedom Coalition