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Mr. Angelos Goes to Washington
The man in the arena takes his fight for criminal justice reform to DC
Earlier this year we shared the story of Weldon Angelos, who was sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in federal prison in 2003 without the possibility of early release.
His crime? Selling $300 of cannabis on three separate occasions.
In 2016, after a long effort to secure his freedom by an array of government officials, celebrities, advocates, business leaders and media outlets, Mr. Angelos was released from prison after serving 13 years.
Thirteen years. For a first-time, non-violent, cannabis-related offense.
Weldon has since committed his life to ending The War on Drugs / mass incarceration as thousands of people remain in federal and state prisons across the country for non-violent cannabis-related offenses.
^ the same ‘offenses’ driving the emerging multibillion dollar U.S cannabis industry
“I don’t know if the #HOPEAct emerges as the key to #SAFEBanking… but I reckon that if we want to be on the right side of the market, we might as well situate ourselves on the right side of history, as well.”
Fast-forward to last Wednesday, when I joined Weldon, Jeff Schultz and several members of the Verano team (←been super-supportive of these efforts) to spend the day in DC with thought-leaders / stakeholders / law professors to dig a bit deeper.
While I’ve monitored the legislative happenings around cannabis for some time, this was my first time on the Hill and the content / cast / staffers did not disappoint.
Now, I understand that you’re likely reading this looking for insight on the potential pathways for federal legislation—context: here and here— after Sen Majority Leader Chuck Schumer finally unveiled his comprehensive reform bill last Thursday.
Several prominent analysts / industry stakeholders responded by amplifying thoughts that we’ve been focused on for some time: this effort was more about politics than passable comprehensive policy and this release would effectively serve as the pivot.
Aaron Grey at AGP summed up that sentiment when he said, “This now allows Senator Schumer to move past the CAOA to more piecemeal reform that has bipartisan support.”
So that seems to be the emerging wisdom: CAOA is DOA and we may or may not get SAFE banking via the NDAA or in the lame duck session.
Much ado about nothing, right? We’ll believe it when we see it, yeah?
I mean, nobody trusts Schumer anymore; they all say he’s virtue signaling…
And seriously! Fool me seven times and shame on you TODD for even writing this…
Maybe; because tucked into our forward probability spectrum is the possibility that Senate leadership could cobble together low hanging fruit with bipartisan support—banking, research, veterans, small businesses (SBA), The Hope Act—and attempt to pass it prior to the midterms.
[would put much-needed points on the board for the Dems while also checking several GOP boxes; this, post-midterm federal clemencies (campaign promise) + several odds and ends will likely be the Full Monty until the next presidential cycle, save SCOTUS]
But that’s not really why I’m taking the time to write this—I just wanted to paint the picture so you understand what’s at stake as our friend Weldon heads back to DC…
…to testify at tomorrow’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level. Which, you know, is sort of a big deal…
Weldon isn’t doing this for the money; he’s doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
He’s doing it because the people locked away can’t afford to do it for themselves.
He’s doing it because it needs to get done and it needs to get done now.
Because if we want to be on the right side of the market, we might as well be on the right side of history, as well.
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