On July 20, 2022, The Academy for Justice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University—in conjunction with the Justice Roundtable, the National Cannabis Roundtable, and the Weldon Project’s MISSION [GREEN]—hosted an in-person, invite-only symposium to discuss clemency policy and criminal justice reform within the current landscape of U.S. cannabis law. Speakers at the event included former H.H.S. Secretary and current NCR honorary co-chair Kathleen Sebelius, former Deputy Attorney General and NCR advisory board member James Cole, U.S. Pardon Attorney Elizabeth Oyer, members of Congress from both parties, directly-impacted advocates, and other experts on cannabis policy and criminal justice reform.
Throughout the event, speakers held panels on cannabis justice, public safety, and legislative proposals in the 118th congress. Participants also heard perspectives from advocates who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system and federal cannabis prohibition. Former Deputy Attorney General of the United States James Cole was honored in a tribute video from Jason Hernandez, who was granted clemency by President Barack Obama in 2013 in large part due to James Coles’ efforts. The “Jim Cole Memo” was published in 2013 and developed a new set of guidelines and priorities for federal prosecutors operating in states which had legalized the medical or other adult use of cannabis. As many of you know, this memo helped pave the way for cannabis reform throughout the country.
The Academy for Justice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in conjunction with the Justice Roundtable, the National Cannabis Roundtable, the Weldon Project, and Mission Green is hosting an in-person, invite-only symposium at the Rayburn House Office Building in the U.S. Capitol Complex to discuss clemency policy and criminal justice reform within the current landscape of U.S. marijuana law The daylong event on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, features U.S. Pardon Attorney Elizabeth Oyer, former H.H.S. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole (author of the “Cole Memo”), leading criminal justice experts, and a bipartisan group of Congressional champions for reform capped off with a closing reception on the evening of July 20th.
Symposium sessions focus on the federal law, policy, and politics of marijuana and criminal justice reform with the morning sessions discussing models for clemency and expungement and the afternoon sessions considering bipartisan legislative proposals for marijuana-related justice reform.
Troy A. Carter, Sr., U.S. Representative, Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District
David Joyce, U.S. Representative, Ohio’s 14th Congressional District Co-Chair, Congressional Cannabis Caucus
Erik Luna Amelia D. Lewis Professor of Constitutional Criminal Law and Founder & Faculty Director of the Academy for Justice, Arizona State University
Former senior policy makers in the federal government shed light on the current climate, the prevailing status quo, and various considerations that advocates should understand to change minds and ultimately to change policy.
James M. Cole, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and Partner & Global Co-Lead of White Collar Practice with Sidley Austin
Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, and former Governor of Kansas
This session presents a model for presidential clemency as a vehicle for corrective justice and reform. The panel also considers a draft proposal for congressional expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses. Feedback from symposium participants will be incorporated into the analysis and recommendations included in a final symposium report.
Weldon Angelos President of The Weldon Project, Co-founder of MISSION [GREEN], Music Producer, and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate
Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law and Professor of Law, and Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; author of the casebook “Marijuana Law and Policy”
James M. Cole former Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and Partner & Global Co-Lead of White Collar Practice, Sidley Austin
Erik Luna Amelia D. Lewis Professor of Constitutional Criminal Law and Founder & Faculty Director of the Academy for Justice, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Mark Osler, Robert & Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law and Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas; Member, The Justice Roundtable; former Assistant U.S. Attorney
This session involves small-group discussions moderated by leading criminal justice scholars, with the goal of gleaning insights from the morning’s events. Key issues for exploration include the eligibility predicates for clemency and expungement, the definition of violence in the marijuana context, various concerns for public safety and the mitigation of risks, and the value and limits of presidential and congressional action at the twilight of marijuana prohibition.
Albert W. Alschuler, Julius Kreeger Professor Emeritus of Law and Criminology, University of Chicago Law School
Valena Beety, Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Academy for Justice, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Gabriel J. Chin, Edward L. Barrett Chair in Law and Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Law, University of California, Davis
Stephen Galoob, Chapman Professor of Law, University of Tulsa College of Law
David A. Harris, Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair and Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Sam Kamin, Chauncey G. Wilson Memorial Research Chair and Professor of Law, University of Denver College of Law
Alex Kreit, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Addiction Law & Policy, Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law
Ben McJunkin, Assistant Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Academy for Justice, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Pamela R. Metzger, Professor of Law and Director of the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center, Southern Methodist University
Robert A. Mikos, LaRoche Family Chair in Law and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School; author of the casebook “Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority”
Jennifer Oliva, Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of Law
Christopher Slobogin, Milton Underwood Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
The luncheon features U.S. Pardon Attorney Elizabeth Oyer with a Q&A session moderated by Prof. Mark Osler.
Elizabeth Oyer, U.S. Pardon Attorney and former Federal Public Defender Clemency Symposium
This session takes up various legislative proposals on marijuana policy with implications for justice reform and public safety.
Mark Holden Board Chairman, Americans for Prosperity; Sr. Vice President Stand Together; and former Sr. Vice President, Koch Industries
John Hudak, Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Management and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institute
Marc Levin Chief Policy Counsel, Council on Criminal Justice
Clark Neily, Sr. Vice President of Legal Studies, Cato Institute
Nkechi Taifa, Convener Emeritus, The Justice Roundtable; Founder and Principal of The Taifa Group, LLC
Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Representative, Oregon’s 3 rd Congressional District Co-founder and Co-chair, Congressional Cannabis Caucus
This session features prominent advocates whose personal experiences in the criminal justice system can help guide reform efforts and give voice to those impacted by the system.
Weldon Angelos President of The Weldon Project, Co-founder of MISSION [GREEN} Music Producer, and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate
Amy Ralston Povah, Founder, CAN-DO Clemency
Cynthia W. Roseberry, Co-convener, The Justice Roundtable; Deputy Director, ACLU Justice Division, American Civil Liberties Union
Kemba Smith, Co-convener, The Justice Roundtable; former Member, Virginia Parole Board and Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission
Time permitting, this final session provides a recap of the day’s events and considers next steps in federal justice reform as the nation transitions from the criminal prohibition of marijuana to its regulation for the public good.
NCR supports the ongoing efforts to employ the federal clemency process to correct lingering injustices and to ensure a more efficient and fair system. Click HERE for details on NCR’s Cannabis Clemency Initiative proposed to the Biden Administration to help those still incarcerated in federal prison for cannabis offenses.
NCR co-lead an in-person, invite-only Symposium on Capital Hill with lawmakers and leading experts on criminal law and policy to discuss clemency policy and criminal justice reform within the current landscape of U.S. cannabis law. Click HERE for details on the Symposium Agenda.
NCR, The Weldon Project and Oklahoma Appleseed collaborated on the preparation and filing of multiple clemency petitions, as well as filing of additional legal and advocacy memorandum for individuals currently incarcerated because of cannabis convictions.