Cannabis and Labor Team Up to Help Clear Criminal Records

While Catalyst is most typically associated with the heat on their shelves, this week they’re teaming up with UFCW 324 and the Orange County Labor Federation to help people expunge their criminal records.

As UFCW so effectively put it, “Expungement means getting criminal records changed to reflect the current status of the law, while reclassification in this context refers to changing a prior criminal conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor under the updated laws.”

There are a ton of things in life where a past felony will hold you back. Over the last decade, we as a society have taken a closer look at how we treat nonviolent offenders and those caught up in the victimless crimes involving marijuana that led so many to prison, where many still sit. The clinic will give these people the best shot possible to be the most productive members of society they can be.

We’ve generally been excited with the pot Catalyst has had since way before their rebrand of the chain’s original locations. Seeing them add to that through the owner’s positive stance on equity programs and now joining forces with local labor to help people live a better quality of life without the weight of a conviction is great. It only adds to the loud jars that get us in there in the first place.

“We are really proud to have any role in cleaning up people’s records so they can move on with their lives. We wanted to make sure this wasn’t just limited to cannabis but also petty crimes,” Elliot Lewis, Founder of Catalyst Cannabis Co, told L.A. Weekly. “We believe people should be able to rebuild their lives and these types of small infractions act as roadblocks that have such a big impact on people that are trying to do better for themselves.”

While some dispensaries keep their charitable efforts low key – and we aren’t hating on it – another part of using your dispensary is to empower activism like the kind that got cannabis legalized in the first. You can’t help organize if people don’t know you’re involved, so kudos to the Catalyst team on that.

The two-part expungement clinic at the UFCW Auditorium in Buena Park will specifically help those with criminal records impacted by Propositions 47 and 64. Many felonies we reclassified down to misdemeanors between the two votes.

The types of felonies eligible for possible relief include:

  • Simple drug possession
  • Petty theft under $950
  • Shoplifting under $950
  • Writing a bad check under $950
  • Forgery under $950
  • Possession of marijuana or concentrates marijuana
  • Possession with intent to sell marijuana
  • Sale or transport of marijuana

Those looking to get help will need to make two trips to the union hall. Live scans will take place on Thursday night and Saturday morning for two-hour sessions. Over the next month, lawyers helping with the efforts will schedule 30 to 60-minute consultations with the attorneys.

After that, it goes to the courts. Even before the pandemic, the process could take months. But regardless of the final timeline, the clinic is a critical first step to making it happen.

To get the ball rolling on clearing your record you can go to bit.ly/registerrecordchange.

UFCW noted they are definitely looking for volunteers to help process and review paperwork, do follow-up calls and reminders, and help with legal review if they are a qualified attorney. There will be plenty of other things to help with too. Register to volunteer at bit.ly/recordchangevol.

Catalyst also participated today in Latina Empowerment Day Long Beach, hosted by Hispanas Organized for Political Equality to speak on the impact of COVID-19 and how to make a positive change in your community.

They also had a very successful holiday season where they partnered with local organizations throughout Southern California. They donated $10,000 worth of toys and gift cards to 14 different toy drives across Fresno, Ventura, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino.

And again, the weed is dope too. We’re hyped on all of it.

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