Brooklyn Offers Expedited Expungement Sessions This Week

New York’s efforts to legalize cannabis are moving about as slowly as its deteriorating subway system that’s been in a state of emergency since 2017. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is making strides with decriminalization, however, offering two free expedited community-based sessions this week to expunge previous convictions for low-level cannabis offenses.

As part of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s overall Justice 2020 criminal justice reform program, NYPD has stopped arresting people for smoking weed and Gonzalez is no longer prosecuting minor possession and public smoking cases. There are, of course, exceptions and pertain to those “who pose a threat to public safety (e.g. driving with burning marijuana); create a genuine nuisance (e.g. smoking on public transportation or in a schoolyard where children are exposed to smoke); or are involved in violent criminal activity (i.e. ‘drivers of crime’).” Since adopting the policy change, possession cases dropped by a staggering 98.5 percent from 349 in Jan. to only five as of Oct. 2018.

Simply decriminalizing doesn’t help the predominantly minority communities that have been long been targeted for these minor offenses, which is why Brooklyn will join initiatives, like the recent National Expungement Week in October and state proposal HB 2367 in Illinois, to overturn previous marijuana offenses.

Under the new program that rolled out Sept. 1, anyone with a past conviction for a misdemeanor cannabis possession can meet with a defense attorney to assist with counsel and paperwork to file a motion to erase their record. The penal laws for marijuana possession that qualify for expungement are: PL 221.15, PL 221.10, and PL 221.05. In turn, the District Attorney’s Office will consent to the motions and ask a judge to vacate records. The DA or judge reserves the right to reject the motion if it pertains to prior convictions for certain violent felonies or sexual assault, however. But, there’s no need to show up to court.

Working with local legal advocacy groups, such as: the Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, Brooklyn Law School, and the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University School of Law; the efforts being made in Brooklyn represent the first of its kind in New York State. These initiatives are designed to serve as a model for future policies across the remaining four boroughs and other counties.

In a push to expedite the masses affected by former policies that can impact anything from employment to immigration status, the District Attorney’s Office will hold free sessions today from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Office of Assembly Member Tremaine Wright (1360 Fulton Street, Room 417) BedStuy and Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at SUNY Downstate Medical Center (450 Clarkson Avenue) in Flatbush. The only requirement is arriving in person with a form of identification (bringing any additional paperwork about your past conviction always helps, too). For those that can’t make this week’s sessions, there are plans to host additional events throughout 2019.

Session information:

  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Office of Assembly Member Tremaine Wright, 1360 Fulton Street, Room 417 in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
  • Saturday, December 15, 2018, 10 a.m. – 12 noon at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue in Flatbush.

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Surgeon General Blames Lack of Marijuana Research on Schedule 1 Status

At a national summit on police efforts to address the United States’ opioid epidemic, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams spoke about the need for further scientific and medical research on cannabis. In response to a question about the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Adams called for a review of the way the government schedules different medications, including marijuana. The CSA lists cannabis as a Schedule I substance, a classification reserved for drugs deemed the most dangerous, with no accepted medical use and high abuse potential. The extraordinary difficulty and cost scientists and doctors face if they try to study cannabis is a major consequence of that classification. In the U.S., no drug is both as common yet as under-researched as marijuana. And Surgeon General Adams blames the lack of research on the plant’s Schedule I status.

U.S. Surgeon General Renews Support for Rescheduling Medical Cannabis

Last Thursday’s statements at the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative conference in Massachusetts weren’t the first time Surgeon General Jerome Adams has spoken favorably about reclassifying medical cannabis. In a public speech last December at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ annual conference, Adams said he felt medical marijuana “should be like any other drug.”

During the speech, Adams went on to call for allowing the FDA to vet and study medical cannabis. Last December, the FDA had not yet approved the cannabis-derived epilepsy medication Epidiolex. But it had approved cannabidiol oil and other CBD derivatives. The FDA has also authorized a handful of studies, including one investigating the use of cannabis to treat PTSD in veterans.

Adams’ comments last week echo his speech from a year ago. As Surgeon General, he still doesn’t condone adult, “recreational” cannabis use. And he remains adamantly opposed to smoking cannabis, even for medical reasons. Nevertheless, Adams is committed to basing policy decisions on science, not the threadbare prejudices that have hampered federal drug reform for decades. Throughout his career, for example, Adams has supported a number of evidence-based harm reduction approaches to a range of public health issues, from opioids to HIV/AIDS. However, Adams remains skeptical about cannabis’ potential as an opioid exit drug or opioid replacement.

Surgeon General Needs to Apply Pressure to Justice Department on Rescheduling MMJ

Adams’ position on medical cannabis stands in sharp contrast to that of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And with Sessions out of office, there’s an opportunity for the Surgeon General to put some pressure on the Justice Department regarding rescheduling medical cannabis. He’d have the support of members of Congress, where a bi-partisan consensus on the need for amending the CSA continues gaining momentum. It would be possible to create a separate research designation for cannabis, opening up avenues to research that have remained blocked by federal prohibition.

“Just as we need to look at criminal justice laws, rules and regulations, we need to look at health laws, rules and regulations, and that includes the scheduling system,” Adams said. Then again, advocates have a strong case that the time for looking is over and what’s needed now is concrete action.

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Legalization In Rhode Island May Be On The Horizon

Could Rhode Island be the next New England state to legalize marijuana? It’s a possibility that seems more likely than ever, given the latest moves toward legalization that have happened in the region. Massachusetts, Rhode Island’s next door neighbor, just opened its first two recreational dispensaries last month, and Vermont became the ninth state to legalize marijuana last July.

Rhode Island has had a medical cannabis program in place since 2006, but bills to legalize marijuana haven’t gained much traction in the state’s General Assembly. However, public sentiment and the changing landscape surrounding legalization — especially in nearby states —  could prove to be the combination that ultimately gets legalization off the ground.

According to the Providence Journal, some lawmakers are advocating for a proactive approach to legalization. “Even if you’re against recreational cannabis and you feel there are social costs to it, you’re going to be dealing with those issues within your own borders, regardless, and without any of the revenue you could be raising,” Scott Slater, a Rhode Island Democratic state representative, told the publication. “You might as well regulate it and tax it and put some of that money toward prevention.”

The reality is that legal marijuana will be readily available to Rhode Island residents who can easily make the trek to Massachusetts, which seems to be swaying the state’s leadership more toward legalization than ever before. The Providence Journal reports that Gov. Gina Raimondo “remains open to legalization,” so long as there are regulations to keep marijuana away from children. Rhode Island’s House Speaker, Nicholas Mattiello, and Senate President, Dominick J. Ruggerio, have expressed similar sentiments.

But that doesn’t mean legalization in the state will come without facing any opposition. Kevin A. Sabet, president of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told the Providence Journal that the state is “definitely a priority” for the organization next year. “If anything, the stakes have gotten higher in terms of the effects of legalization around the country,” he said.

Without a doubt, many eyes will be on Rhode Island’s General Assembly, which is set to convene for the upcoming legislative session next month.

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GWAR’s Debut Album Reaches #24 on Agoraphobic News’ Article “Top Metal Albums of 1988”

Over at Agoraphobic News, they posted a brand new article, with their personalized list of the “Top 35 Metal Albums of 1988.” Some on the list are a few obvious selections, such as the classic Metallica breakthrough release …And Justice for All, along with some oddities such as the identity crisis of Pantera‘s Power Metal. Among the 35 is our very own pals of GWAR, with their full-length debut album Hell-O placing in at #24.

Michael Bishop/Blothar/Beefcake the Almighty is the only remaining member from that original lineup currently still in the band (he was the bassist, before going on a hiatus twice, and returning as the lead vocalist in 2014). GWAR is currently embarking on a small tour running through the end of December, and released their last album in 2017 called The Blood of Gods.

You can read the full article HERE and this is what Agoraphobic News had to say about Hell-O:

And the legend was born! This is the very first album of thrash metal veterans, Gwar! You just have to give these guys credit for what they did with their over-the-top costumes and performances! With their humorous , sophisticated satirical attitude and punky/crossover approach, Gwar will make you mosh with a smile! They have surely changed the face of thrash and metal forever! Oderus Orungus may be dead, but his legacy will outlive us all!

from Faygoluvers

MBK – “Four”

Find ALL digital streaming/purchase links here:

Purchase a hard copy for $12.99 here:

  1. Money for Nothin’
  2. Gunshots ft. Brotha Lynch Hung & Kxng Crooked
  3. Smiling Faces
  4. TrainWreck
  5. Psycho Steve Records (Skit)
  6. Mind of a Psycho
  7. Pigs
  8. Out of this World ft. RITTZ
  9. Flicker OF A STAR
  10. own problems
  11. IBGFU ft. jelly roll  & lil wyte
  12. AGNES(Skit)
  13. Put it on your Grandma
  14. From HELL
  15. FOUR (cypher)


from Faygoluvers