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LIFE SENTENCES: COLLATERAL SANCTIONS
ASSOCIATED WITH MARIJUANA OFFENSES

A report by the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
(Ver. 1, published July 2, 2007)

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Quick Summary:

In addition to the punishment imposed by the judge,  a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana can trigger automatic bars on educational aid, a bar on serving as a foster parent, denial of federal housing assistance, revocation or suspension of occupational licenses, and suspension of oneís driverís license. A felony conviction (for example, growing a marijuana plant) can result in all of these sanctions, and more.

If marijuana offenses are considered less of an affront to civil society than violent crimes such as murder, rape, or kidnapping, or even less of an affront than other drug offenses, our study shows that this consideration is rarely found in any of the collateral sanctions. A person convicted of growing marijuana (a felony in most states) is often subjected to the same, and sometimes greater, collateral sanctions than a person convicted of murder, rape, or robbery

This report examines these sanctions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and ranks the jurisdictions in order or severity. The report's table of contents is below, with links to each section.

Report:
Download Report Narrative [282 kb pdf] (does not include appendices)

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Marijuana Misdemeanors & Felonies
  • Marijuana Crimes & Collateral Sanctions: A Summary of Our Findings
  • Policy Recommendations
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Appendices:

  • Explanatory Note: Scope & Methodology [Downloads 102 kb pdf]
  • Appendix A lists the states according to the severity of their collateral sanctions for marijuana convictions, showing Florida as the most severe, and New Mexico as the least severe.  [Downloads 64 kb pdf]
  • Appendix B lists the states in alphabetical order, noting their overall level of severity, and a further breakdown according to the three categories of Family Life, Professional Life, and Civic Life. [Downloads 66 kb pdf]
  • Appendix C provides a summary of each stateís sanctions in column format according to a misdemeanor conviction versus a felony conviction. This table is a very useful reference for judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys seeking a summary of the collateral sanctions triggered by a misdemeanor or felony marijuana conviction. [Downloads large 3.2 mb pdf]
  • Appendix D, is a detailed explanation of each stateís collateral sanctions, including legal citations. 

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