At the beginning of 2019, the city of Denver rolled out a new initiative entitled the “Turn Over A New Leaf” program. From the city website, the program aims to overturn any low-level cannabis offense committed in Denver. This includes possession of less than 1 ounce of cannabis, and cases involving hemp, paraphernalia, or infused products. Since the 4th of July is upon us and is of course focused on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I thought it would be a good time to talk to this program and why it matters to people.
Failed War on Drugs
It’s no secret that the American public feels as though the so-called “War on Drugs” was a huge failure. With public opinion on cannabis constantly on the rise, it’s clear that times are changing. Additionally, these policies have cost American citizens billions of tax dollars between police resources, court proceedings, and incarceration. And while legalization is an important first step, if we as a country truly want to move on from the War on Drugs, it’s important to also include compassion for those who were victims of a failed era, as well as stop the cash hemorrhage.
It’s also no secret that people of color are disproportionately targeted and charged with these sort of convictions. Now that a legal market is emerging for cannabis, wealthy investors are poised to make millions for doing the same thing that generations of people of color have been locked up for. This is egregious, and must be made up for. The Turn Over a New Leaf program is a good step in the right direction for the city of Denver. While I could list facts all day about how the War on Drugs has disproportionately affected people of color, I’ll leave you with a link to the Drug Policy Alliance’s page on race and the War on Drugs: http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/race-and-drug-war
I really think it’s worth repeating that now that a legal market is emerging, investors are making big bucks for the same thing folks have been locked up decades for. It’s only ethical to allow those convicted to right their past mistakes, and have a chance in the market. Many of these people would be valuable additions to the cannabis industry, but are instead left out because of antiquated laws and minor charges. These people should have their freedom, and should be allowed to participate in the normalization of cannabis we are all now benefiting from.
How to Participate
According to the City of Denver’s website, people who have committed low-level offenses within the city of Denver are eligible. If you are unsure whether you would qualify, the city hosts clinics with volunteer lawyers to help. I’ve also linked the webpage, which will lead you to resources as well as the application. https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-marijuana-information/DenverMarijuanaEquityandSocialJustice/TurnOverANewLeafProgram.html
~written by Melinda Gardner~