This governor wants to make a big move in the War on Drugs before he leaves office.

Before he leaves office in January, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin wants to do something bold.

He called a meeting with his staff to discuss ideas, and they came up with a plan that will make the lives of thousands of Vermont prisoners and their families better — just in time for the holidays too.

Gov. Peter Shumlin. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.


Gov. Shumlin has decided to let people who are currently in prison for possessing small amounts of marijuana go home as soon as possible.

As part of Shumlin's initiative to introduce a "more sane" drug policy in his state, from now until Christmas, people in Vermont prisons who were convicted of carrying small amounts of marijuana will be able to apply for an official pardon. While the pardons themselves won’t go through until after the holidays, the opportunity to apply is an unexpected and potentially life-changing gift.

In 2013, Vermont passed a decriminalization law that brought the sentence for marijuana possession down to a $200 fine (in most cases) and would no longer result in a criminal record.

"We've got folks who got charged for an ounce or less of marijuana in a different era when we were running a failed war on drugs," the governor told WCAX. "Let's give those folks the opportunity to have a clean record."

Edward Harris, who spent time in jail for a minor drug possession, attends a rally outside Brooklyn Borough Hall. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

"There's some injustice in not having the new rules apply to those who are having their lives held back because of the old rules," Shumlin said.

This is just one more example of the nationwide tipping point we've reached regarding marijuana and the War on Drugs.

28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it in some form — with eight of those legalizations occurring in 2016.

In a November 2016 interview with Bill Maher, President Obama noted that soon, having a federal law banning marijuana would make no sense. "You now have about a fifth of the country that’s operating under one set of laws, and four-fifths in another," the president said. "I think that we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally."

Shumlin meeting with Obama in 2014. Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty Images.

Many cite marijuana's medical benefits or the potential tax profit as reasons enough to legalize the drug, but one of the biggest reasons is the sheer number of people who are in prison because of it.

Hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders go to prison every year. 574,641 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2015 alone, and it costs tens of thousands of dollars a year in taxpayer money to keep them there. Not to mention the fact that a disproportionate number of those prisoners are black and Latino.

In Vermont alone, Governor Shumlin's office is estimating there anywhere from 10,000 to 17,000 people currently serving time for low-level marijuana convictions who would now be eligible to apply for a pardon and go home with a clean record.

That's thousands of families who will be reunited and thousands of people who will be able to get jobs, start over, and not have their lives ruined by drug that is legal in more than half the country.

More
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular