Breaking the Paper Shackles: A Path to Healing and Justice

Breaking the Paper Shackles: A Path to Healing and Justice

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In an era where the discourse on cannabis legalization has shifted remarkably, it’s imperative to address the long-standing impact of previous prohibition laws on countless lives. Despite recent progress, including President Biden’s push to reclassify cannabis under federal law, a significant gap remains in rectifying the harms inflicted by past legislation.

This is where Breaking the Paper Shackles—SSDP’s new nationwide expungement program to advance impactful policy reform and help individuals check their records and clear charges to overcome the devastating collateral consequences of a criminal record that can impede access to employment, housing, and education—becomes a beacon of hope and change.

Addressing a Systemic Issue

The draconian legacy of cannabis prohibition has left a deep scar on society, most notably on those who have been convicted of cannabis-related offenses. This burden goes beyond mere legal penalties; it affects essential aspects of life, such as employment, housing, education, and voting rights. The complexity of expungement laws and the lack of awareness about them compound the problem. Many individuals remain unaware of their eligibility for record clearing, let alone the intricacies of the process.

Our Mission: More Than Legal Aid

Breaking the Paper Shackles is not just about providing legal assistance; it’s about breaking a cycle of harm and disenfranchisement. Our approach is twofold: offering direct legal support and education to affected individuals, and advocating for policy reforms that reduce recidivism and promote justice.

Grassroots Power: SSDP’s Strength

Our strength lies in our grassroots network. With over 90 youth-led chapters nationwide, SSDP harnesses the energy and dedication of young activists. This network not only facilitates the legal support process but also fosters a culture of advocacy and reform in criminal justice, fueled by a youthful and passionate demographic.

Our Methodology: Empowering Through Education

We’ve collaborated with legal experts from Blaze Responsibly to create concise, state-specific guides on expungement and record sealing. Additionally, we are partnering with the Vice President’s Office to streamline information about eligibility for relief under the recent cannabis pardons. By building partnerships across the nation, we aim to provide widespread legal representation and tackle accessibility issues, especially in larger or more isolated areas.

Empowering Communities: Training and Coalitions

SSDP is committed to training our chapter leaders and forming grassroots coalitions that combine the efforts of young advocates, legal professionals, and community organizations. This initiative not only aids in the expungement process but also prepares a generation of informed, compassionate leaders who understand the complexities of justice reform.

A Journey Towards Justice and Equity – Expungement Event Details

As SSDP continues to push for impactful change,Breaking the Paper Shackles stands as a testament to our commitment to justice and equity. Through education, legal support, and advocacy, we aim to not only clear records but to transform lives and society as a whole. This is a journey towards healing, justice, and a future where the war on drugs is a thing of the past.

Partnering for Justice

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is launching our Breaking the Paper Shackles project during the 420 Week of Unity.

 We are partnering with Blaze Responsibly, FreedomGrow, Ascend Co-Lab for Social Equity, and Green Thumb Industries, and the National Cannabis Festival to host three expungement clinics over the course of the week at which we will provide state-specific legal guidance to local residents and festival attendees, in addition to a series of fireside chats that will explore the policy, politics, and practical considerations surrounding this crucial issue and explain how you can get your record cleared and what you can do to help make a real positive change in the world. 

Join Us for Breaking the Paper Shackles: Expungement Resource Fairs 

Are you a victim of the War on Drugs? Is a criminal record holding you back from living your best life? Could a legal history you don’t even know about be getting in the way of your success?  Come visit us at the National Cannabis Policy Summit and the National Cannabis Festival to check your legal history and start the process towards freedom—or to learn how you can help us support the tens of thousands of Americans still living under the shadow of prohibition.  

  • April 17 at 10:00 AM – 3:00PM

MLK Library, 901 G St. NW Washington, 4th Floor Conference rooms

  • April 19 at 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM, SSDP booth at National Cannabis Festival
  • April 20 at 11am-4pm, SSDP booth at National Cannabis Festival

Breaking the Paper Shackles: A Series of Fireside Chats – Tens of thousands of victims of War on Drugs around the United States—including many of those who helped build what is now the legal cannabis industry—face ongoing discrimination and seemingly insurmountable obstacles to obtaining education, housing, and employment, blocking their ability to advance their quality of life and leading to a continuous cycle of economic hardship. It’s time for us to re-center justice in the cannabis movement and break these paper shackles once and for all!

Join advocates, activists, and victims of the War on Drugs for a series of fireside chats hosted by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Blaze Responsibly, and Freedom Grow that will explore the policy, politics, and practical considerations surrounding this crucial issue and explain how you can get your record cleared and what you can do to help make a real positive change in the world. 

  • Friday April 19, 2024 – 6:45  to 8:30 pm – National Cannabis Festival, Policy Pavilion 

For more information, please visit SSDP’s website or email