Washington State recently announced an online portal aimed at facilitating the payment of legal fees for those who were charged with crimes under drug criminalization statutes that were later ruled illegal by the state Supreme Court in 2021. The newly established Blake Refund Bureau website, initiated by the state AOC, is a collaborative effort involving public defenders, courts, advocates, prosecutors, county clerks and other stakeholders.
The site’s primary objective is to provide relief to those impacted by the shortcomings in the state’s drug possession charges penal code. The court determined that the existing statutes may potentially criminalize accidental possession because they do not demand evidence of a person’s knowledge of their involvement in the crime.
As a consequence of this landmark ruling, the state’s law that made marijuana possession illegal was declared invalid. However, subsequently, the state legislature enacted a measure reinstating prohibition with the governor’s consent, making legislative changes to conform with constitutional standards and inflicting less harsh penalties for possession than the prior legislation.
The enacted legislation has set aside a substantial sum of $47 million to enable a comprehensive study and vacation of thousands of records for misdemeanor cannabis possession and felony drug possession. A further $50 million will be set aside to repay qualified people for court-ordered penalties and expenses, sometimes known as legal financial responsibilities.
AOC is preparing a comprehensive public outreach campaign to increase involvement in the relief effort and raise awareness of it. The campaign aims to educate the affected community about their legal options and how to obtain compensation when their convictions are overturned.
In the meantime, a number of other drug-policy reform initiatives have made progress in the state this session. For instance, a bill that Governor Jay Inslee signed into law in May will shield employees from encountering employment discrimination because of their legal use of marijuana throughout the hiring process. Inslee also supported legislation that month allowing for the interstate sale of cannabis, subject to a change in federal law.
He also took action on a bill in May that would have encouraged psilocybin research and established a pilot program to allow therapeutic use of the psychedelic for the treatment of mental illness. A portion of the final legislation, which he claimed no longer matched the original goal of the bill, was partially vetoed by him before he signed it.
As the last vestiges of cannabis prohibition are slowly redressed, many entities such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) are likely to see their sales picking up as more jurisdictions around the country pass enabling laws.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ACTX
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