While movements all over the country have begun a groundswell of support for reparative actions targeting justice-impacted communities, Michigan has led the charge to take that work to the next level, thanks to the work of organizations like the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild. "We started this five years ago, with a Mayoral Proclamation from Rosalynn Bliss in Grand Rapids, Michigan and have watched that moment turn into a catalyst for so much impact and systemic change. In 2019, we struggled to help people due to the harsh and rigid eligibility criteria but we learned what we needed to be advocating for. In 2020, we just wanted to push through the noise around the pandemic to remind Michiganders that if the marijuana industry was essential, so was justice for people harmed by the War on Drugs. We weren't trying to make headlines, we were trying to create a big enough moment to call for policy changed and we were overwhelmed with joy when it happened." -Founder/Executive Director, Denavvia Mojet.
Over the last five years, the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild's expungement program has popped open its tents and unpacked totes alongside a legion of pro-bono attorneys, notaries, felon-friendly employers, and wraparound resource providers that they facilitate coming together, all across the state--from Benton Harbor, Michigan (in the deep Southwest border of the state) to Detroit and Flint with famous Eastsiders like "White Boy Rick" and Michael Thompson. The work has made the organization a well-known staple in the communities and in the cannabis industry. Taking charitable corporate donations and spending them in hoods all over helping people have the criminal records removed has helped the organization transcend the charity space and proudly preside as arbiters of justice--granting people the second chance, and clean slate, that they desperately need and with money and knowledge eliminated as a factor, typically deserve. This Governor's Proclamation acknowledging the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild for it's work will be available at the 2023 Michigan Expungement Week fairs, where all are welcome to enjoy free legal resources, food trucks, music, resource tables, raffle prizes, childcare and more.
Read the full proclamation below:
WHEREAS, the week of September 17 - 23 is a large-scale movement to ensure that the 77 million Americans with convictions are aware of their options and have access to services; and,
WHEREAS, historic, bipartisan state laws went into effect this year in Michigan to automatically seal all or part of the conviction records of more than 1 million Michiganders; and,
WHEREAS, Michiganders in every region of the state have hosted Expungement Week celebrations, and fairs, and made resources available to scores of residents, thanks to the support of organizations such as Safe & Just Michigan, Project Clean Slate, The Black and Brown Cannabis Guild and Legal Aid, Miller Canfield, Michigan Association of United Ways, 211 Michigan, and the Detroit Justice Center; and,
WHEREAS, recent efforts by the office of Attorney General Dana Nessel, the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Department of Corrections, and the State Court Administrative Office to roll out a process to automatically expunge certain convictions without an application, per the bipartisan Clean Slate legislation that was enacted in 2020, has had a direct impact on over 1 million Michiganders; and,
WHEREAS, as of September 2023, under the new automatic set-asides process, 887,545 individuals have had at least one conviction set aside automatically, with a total of 1,353,237 convictions and 277,337 individuals have a clean slate having no record to disseminate; and,
WHEREAS, sealing these records will create life-changing housing and employment opportunities for our neighbors who served their time and paid their debt to society, while significantly increasing the talent pool available to Michigan's business community as we seek to grow our economy and hire more workers; and,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim September 17 – 23, 2023 as Expungement Week in Michigan.