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Illinois is Going to Erase Marijuana Convictions From 770,000 Criminal Records

If you’ve ever been arrested for marijuana in Illinois, you can now breathe a sigh of relief.

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Illinois Erasing Marijuana Convictions
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(TMU) — On Tuesday Illinois became the 11th state in the U.S. to make cannabis legal for recreational use, but the state’s new legalization bill will also grant relief to about 770,000 residents of the state with marijuana-related offenses on their criminal records.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will come into effect in 2020, has been hailed for not only ending cannabis prohibition but for also including broad criminal justice reforms that seek to undo the damage done against those who have run afoul of the state’s prohibitionist policies.

The 610-page act allows anyone with convictions of up to 30 grams of cannabis to automatically receive clemency and have their pot convictions expunged from their criminal records. Anyone convicted of larger amounts ranging from 30 to 500 grams would have the ability to petition the court to have the charges lifted.

Expungement is the process whereby a judge seals a criminal record from view, or ‘erases’ it in the eyes of the law. Records with past convictions pulled up in criminal background checks can often bar people from accessing housing or jobs, placing them in a position of de facto second-class citizenship.

The bill also allow for those with cannabis convictions to be given expedited access to business licenses and access to loans, capital, and protection from fees that are often used to place barriers to entry for smaller businesses. And $12 million will be allocated to startup business in the cannabis industry as well as funding for job training programs related to the Illinois cannabis industry.

The state’s Department of Agriculture will also create programs to assist the entry of people into the legal cannabis industry, with priority given to low-income students and communities who were previously targeted by anti-drug laws.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker successfully campaigned last year on a platform that included strong support for legalizing recreational cannabis, arguing that an end to prohibitionist laws would be an economic boon to the state, generating $800 million to $1 billion of revenue per year, reports the Associated Press.

Pritzker has also blasted the harm caused by the war on drugs, especially in terms of its negative impact on communities of color.

While signing the legislation, Pritzker said:

“The war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities.

Law enforcement across the nation has spent billions of dollars to enforce the criminalization of cannabis, yet its consumption remains widespread.”

Cannabis has been subject to prohibitionist laws since 1937, when the plant largely demonized and associated with Mexican immigrants amid rising racist and nativist attitudes supported by federal and local authorities and media outlets. During the 1970s, marijuana was depicted by authorities as a drug serving no medicinal purpose that was simply abused by delinquents seeking to get high.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of U.S. residents, including 74 percent of millennials, favor an end to the prohibition of cannabis.

During the signing ceremony, Pritzker cited a 2010 statistic from the ACLU noting that while black people comprise 15 percent of the state population, they disproportionately account for 60 percent of cannabis-possession arrests.

2018 report by the Drug Policy Alliance found that, even in states where marijuana had been legalized, people of color still faced a far greater rate of arrests on charges of marijuana possession than did their white counterparts.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use, and over 34 states have since done the same. With Illinois’ passage of the new law, it joins ten other states along with Washington, D.C. that have freed the herb almost entirely for recreational purposes. 18 states have also decriminalized the plant, which still remains illegal under federal law.

Illinois joins Washington as the latest state offering clemency to marijuana offenders, with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signing a law granting those with cannabis convictions to vacate their sentences in the state.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Good News

Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces

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Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.

And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.

The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.

The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.

At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.

When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.

Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.

The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.

The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.

“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.

“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.

His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.

Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.

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Animals

Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber

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An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.

In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.

“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”

As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.

Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.

“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.

Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.

So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.

“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”

As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.

Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.

“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”

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Animals

Binx the Cat, Who Survived Florida Condo Collapse, Found and Reunited With Family

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Amid the tragedy of last month’s collapse of a South Florida condo building, there was a tiny bit of good news when a cat named Binx, who lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside building, was found safe and returned to his family.

“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a Friday press conference, reports NPR.

Levine Cava explained that a volunteer who feeds street cats in the area recognized the cat near the building before bringing him to an animal shelter, where it was then identified.

Gina Nicole Vlasek, the co-founder of the The Kitty Campus rescue group, posted on Facebook that a black cat had been found near the rubble of the group before it was brought to the shelter on Thursday night.

“We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way,” Vlasek said.

“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” she continued. “Today was one of the most amazing days.. one of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”

The mayor said that animal control workers are continuing to work to recover any pets that may have survived the horrible collapse.

The 12-story Surfside condo collapsed on June 24. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead, with 61 additional residents remaining unaccounted for.

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