French Morning magazine special report on marijuana in America:
Life in prison for pot?
If Prop. 64 passes, that could change
By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS / STAFF WRITER
One million people convicted of marijuana-related misdemeanors and felonies could petition to have their records changed or cleared, the nonprofit organization estimates. That would give them wider access to jobs, housing and other services that are currently out of reach.
“The criminal code changes are so profound that, even if I didn’t like other things in the initiative, I would vote for it just for that,” said Chris Conrad, a longtime marijuana activist who’s backing Prop. 64 even as many friends in the medical cannabis community remain divided over the measure.
But law enforcement could no longer use the smell of marijuana, or the presence of paraphernalia, as a basis for broader searches.
Conrad, who has served as an expert witness in some 2,500 marijuana-related cases, said removing weed as probable cause will eliminate a common point of contact with police that often escalates into something more serious.
“Out of all the court cases I have been involved with, probably 50 percent start off with cops saying they smell marijuana,” he said.
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“There is a combination of 100 plus molecules in marijuana that have this medical effect depending on how they interact with each other and the human body,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people think is so great about cannabis.”