Manhattan D.A. Announces New Policy To Reduce Impact Of Cannabis Possession Arrests

The Uncle Cliffy team fully supports cannabis reform efforts in New York State. This is true at the state level, as well as at the local level. Cliff Robinson was born and raised in New York State, as were other members of the Uncle Cliffy team, and they witnessed first hand the harms of cannabis prohibition in New York. In some of the team members’ situations, including Cliff Robinson’s, they were the victims of the failed cannabis prohibition policies of New York. Encouraging cannabis reform news was announced out of New York this week at the local level (Manhattan). It’s a great step in the right direction that will hopefully lead to further reforms. Below is more information about the news via the Drug Policy Alliance:

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. announced a shift in his office’s policy for New Yorkers arrested for low level marijuana possession. This policy change was created in an effort to reduce the number of New Yorkers, mostly young people of color, who face lasting collateral consequences as the result of a marijuana possession arrest and conviction.

The new policy expands the use of a pre-existing judicial tool, the Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD). The ACD has previously been offered following a person’s first arrest for low-level marijuana possession. If granted an ACD, an individual would not have to plea to a criminal misdemeanor or violation charge. However, the ACD would appear as a pending case on a person’s criminal record for a year and would only be dismissed and sealed should that person not get re-arrested in that year.

“Until the legislature makes progress on marijuana, we are making these ACDs as short as practicable in order to reduce these harmful collateral consequences,” Vance said. “No one should be denied a home or a college education for something as trivial as pot possession.”

The new policy will reduce some of the impact that marijuana prohibition enforcement has on New Yorkers by reducing the amount of time that a person has to retain the ACD on their criminal record and by allowing people who have been arrested for a second time for marijuana possession to also be granted ACDs. Under the new policy, people arrested for marijuana possession can receive an ACD for three months for the first offense (instead of 12 months) and an ACD for six months for the second offense.

“We applaud the District Attorney’s recognition of problematic and harmful marijuana possession enforcement, and the collateral consequences that result, as a significant issue. Yet this policy shift is a band-aid solution to a bullet wound. The NYPD continues to use marijuana prohibition as a justification for massive violations of civil and human rights. As we work toward ending marijuana prohibition, it is imperative that other District Attorneys across the city and state recognize the human toll that marijuana law enforcement has collected and do more to stop the bleeding. If there are District Attorneys who agree with the majority of New Yorkers that marijuana should be made legal, they can and should also decline to prosecute all low-level marijuana possession arrests,” said Chris Alexander, Policy Coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Marijuana prohibition enforcement has been, and remains, a priority for the NYPD, who have arrested over 800,000 New Yorkers for low-level marijuana possession over the last 20 years and 17,000 New Yorkers in 2016 alone. Manhattan had more arrests than any other county in New York City in 2016.

“We commend the Manhattan District Attorney for this change. As this City’s primary public defender we see the obstacles that arrest and prosecution for marijuana cause our clients, who exclusively come from communities of color,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “But to fully address the problem, NYPD must end its overzealous and discriminatory enforcement of marijuana possession on communities of color and Albany must take legislative action. While we wait for that, the other three DAs should follow Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

Many of these arrests were the product of unconstitutional stops and searches of overwhelmingly young people of color. Some of these individuals were granted ACDs on their first arrest, but continued racially-biased policing practices, as evidenced by persistent racial disparities, will likely impact the overall success of this adjudicative policy shift. Previous policy changes by the NYPD and the current Mayoral Administration have resulted in a small reduction in arrests but did nothing to curb the racial disparities present in those arrested for marijuana possession.

The District Attorney also announced that his office would be launching a new diversion program in 2018 for individuals given Desk Appearance Tickets (DATs), in lieu of an arrest, when found to be in possession of illicit substances by law enforcement. A low-level drug possession arrest and conviction can result in the loss of access to housing, licensing, employment and educational opportunities, and a person’s status and ability to stay in the country should they not be a citizen. Entrance into the Manhattan Hope program for people given a DAT will result in the DA declining to prosecute the charges against them and will thus alleviate many of these potential collateral consequences.

“The District Attorney’s promise to decline to prosecute New Yorkers for low level drug possession is a very positive step. What is most important moving forward is ensuring that all New Yorkers who could benefit from diversion programs are given the opportunity to do so regardless of their arrest record. If the District Attorney is serious about helping to end these collateral consequences then he should consider expanding the eligibility for the diversion program from those receiving DATs to any New Yorker who is charged with possessing small amounts of drugs,” said Alyssa Aguilera, Co-Executive Director at VOCAL-NY.

“Low-level drug possession remains the lion’s share of all drug related arrests in this country and state. These arrests are the product of legislators and decision makers failing to address head on what is, and has always been, a public health issue. The Manhattan Hope diversion program is a good start for the DA but it is also time for the New York State Legislature to take a new approach by putting science based research and compassion first and decriminalize drug use and possession.” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director at the Drug Policy Alliance.

connecticut coalition to regulate marijuana

Cannabis Regulation Needs To Be Included In Connecticut’s Budget

Earlier this year Clifford Robinson joined a coalition that is seeking to end cannabis prohibition in Connecticut. Having played at the University of Connecticut from 1985-1989, Cliff has always had a special place in his heart for the state of Connecticut. During his college experience Cliff saw the harms of Connecticut cannabis prohibition firsthand, and has always advocated for a more sensible approach to cannabis policy in the state.

Lawmakers in Connecticut are currently in the midst of crafting the state’s next budget, which provides for an opportunity for cannabis legalization and regulation to be included in it. That is something that the Uncle Cliffy team absolutely supports, and is encouraging others to support too. Below is an action alert from the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana which is leading the legalization effort in the state. If you are a Connecticut resident, please participate in the action alert and encourage others to do the same:

As fall approaches, Connecticut lawmakers are still struggling to reach a budget compromise. In May, both House and Senate Democrats released a budget proposal that included the regulating and taxing of marijuana, acknowledging that regulating marijuana like alcohol is a necessary part of a responsible budget solution. However, subsequent House Democratic budgets omitted marijuana legalization. Currently, cities and towns across Connecticut are facing devastating cuts that will result in widespread property tax increases for most residents. Taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol could avert local property tax increases and bring new revenue to the table.

Call your representatives, and let him or her know you want marijuana regulation included in the budget! Our action page makes it fast and easy — providing the lawmaker’s phone number and name, in addition to talking points.

Or, if you aren’t able to make a call, write your lawmakers a quick letter.

Let your lawmakers know 63% of Connecticut residents support legalization, not just because it will generate needed tax revenue, but also because regulation would have public health and safety benefits.

Elected officials are facing many tough choices during the budget debate. It is vital they hear from constituents who support marijuana regulation as the right choice for Connecticut.

Please take a few minutes to write or call your legislator, and share our posts on Facebook and Twitter to encourage your friends to make calls, too.


Sam Tracy
CT Coalition to Regulate Marijuana

Uncle Cliffy Commends The Michigan Cannabis Legalization Effort

Clifford Robinson played for the Detroit Pistons from 2001 to 2003. Michigan has always been one of Cliff’s favorite places, with Cliff having lived in Michigan well after his playing days there were over. Michigan is an amazing state, but unfortunately has been living under cannabis prohibition for quite some time now. As is the case everywhere that cannabis prohibition exists, cannabis prohibition has failed in the state of Michigan.

Cannabis arrests make up almost 1 out of every 10 arrests in Michigan, with African Americans being four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis compared to Caucasians. The court costs of enforcing cannabis prohibition in Michigan on people that are caught with a personal amount (excludes arrests for large scale trafficking, large possession, incarceration, etc.) is a staggering $64,000,000 annually. These are some of the many reasons that cannabis needs to be legalized in Michigan.

Fortunately there is an effort underway to end cannabis prohibition in Michigan in 2018, and the campaign is picking up momentum. Yesterday the campaign announced that it would cross the 200,000 signature mark this week, putting the campaign over halfway towards their signature goal. The Uncle Cliffy team would like to commend the Michigan legalization campaign on its hard work, and we look forward to supporting the campaign as we move towards Election Day 2018. Below is a press release about the campaign’s milestone achievement. Go get ’em Michigan!

Whoa, we’re halfway there

Actually, we’re more than halfway there. This week, we will pass the 200,000-signature mark – meaning we’re well on our way to reaching our goal of collecting 366,000 signatures. 252,523 of these signatures need to be validated to get on the ballot in 2018 and end cannabis prohibition once and for all!

With your help, we can keep printing and distributing petitions throughout the summer and continue paying for professional signature collectors to ensure the job gets done.

And if our proposal to end marijuana prohibition is approved by voters, Michigan would become a national leader in cannabis reform by:

  • allowing personal possession, cultivation and use of cannabis for adults 21 and older;
  • legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp;
  • licensing cannabis businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport and sell marijuana;
  • protecting consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail cannabis; and
  • taxing cannabis at retail levels with a 10 percent excise tax and six percent sales tax, which will support K-12 public schools, roads and local governments.

We’re livin’ on a prayer – and in the immortal words of Bon Jovi, “Take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear!” Will you take our hand and ensure we have the resources we need to reach our goal by donating $25, $50 or $100 today?

Source: Michigan legalization campaign

kyle turley marijuana cannabis nfl

Retired NFL Player Endorses Missouri Medical Cannabis Campaign

My name is Kyle Turley, and medical cannabis saved my life. I played eight seasons in the NFL and two seasons each with both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Saint Louis Rams. I have since moved to California, where I have safe, legal access to the medicine I need.

But Missouri remains a special place to me, and I know patients there deserve the same medical options I now enjoy. That is why I am writing you today in support of the New Approach Missouri medical cannabis initiative.

I was first given opioid painkillers in 1996 while still in college at San Diego State. In the NFL, narcotics were given out like candy to keep players like me on the field despite significant injuries, and I soon found myself hooked.

The pills numbed the pain, but they did nothing for the psychological problems brought on by repeated head trauma. In fact, the pharmaceuticals made it worse! I started experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety, and anger that I could not control. In 2009, my wife found me attempting to jump out of a three story window.

For years I struggled to find a way to control both my pain and neurological problems. Cannabis was what worked for me. It allowed me to live without both pain and the painkillers and start feeling positive about life again.

I began to research more about the science and policy of medical cannabis. For instance, I learned that states with medical cannabis laws experience a dramatic decline in opioid overdose deaths and that the federal government holds a patent on a cananbinoid that can be used as a neuro-protectant. Eventually, it all led me to found the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, which provides a space for football players who want to see cannabis recognized as a viable alternative to painkillers and psychiatric pharmaceuticals by both the government and the NFL.

And I know that there are tens of thousands of patients in Missouri right now, who are either unable to access medical cannabis or are treated as criminals for doing so. That is wrong, and the New Approach Missouri initiative will correct that injustice.

I hope you will join me in supporting this campaign by doing one or more of the following:

I know from my years playing football that no matter how good an idea or plan is, it won’t work unless everyone comes together as a team and plays their part. But regardless of what particular role you play, I hope you will join the team that brings medical cannabis to Missouri by signingvolunteering, and contributing today!


Kyle Turley

Source: New Approach Missouri press release

Senator Cory Booker Should Endorse Legalization In New Jersey

Cliff Robinson played for the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) from 2005 to 2007. During his time in New Jersey Cliff saw firsthand the harms of cannabis prohibition in the state, which is why he has joined the effort to bring legalization to New Jersey. Prohibition does not work. That is true in professional sports leagues as well as in society, and cannabis prohibition in New Jersey is no exception.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has been a champion for cannabis reform in Congress, and introduced a bill this week which would punish states that have cannabis laws in place that disproportionately impact minority communities. This is a bill that the Uncle Cliffy team endorses, and we encourage Uncle Cliffy fans to contact their Senators and urge them to support Mr. Booker’s bill.

We do feel that it is necessary to highlight, as veteran cannabis activist Tom Angell pointed out on Twitter, that Cory Booker’s own state of New Jersey would be penalized under the bill that Mr. Booker has introduced. So far Senator Booker has refrained from explicitly endorsing legalization in his state, which the Uncle Cliffy team feels is something that should change. Cliff Robinson and the Uncle Cliffy team would like to publicly urge Senator Booker to join the effort to end cannabis prohibition in New Jersey. Such a move would fall in line with Senator Booker’s views on reform at the federal level, and would provide a boost to the New Jersey legalization effort.

Cliff Robinson and the Uncle Cliffy team would like to thank Senator Booker for his ongoing efforts, and specifically his introduction of the ‘Marijuana Justice Act of 2017’ into Congress. More information about the bill can be found below, courtesy of a press release from the Minority Cannabis Business Association:

Minority Cannabis Business Association Endorses Booker’s ‘Marijuana Justice Act’

The ‘Marijuana Justice Act’ will reinvest $500 million in communities most impacted by the war on drugs by divesting in prisons and outdated law enforcement practices.

The bill ends the federal prohibition on marijuana, makes it easier to expunge past criminal charges, and stops deportations based solely on marijuana charges.

Washington, D.C – August 1, 2018 – The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) announced its endorsement and full support for the ‘Marijuana Justice Act’, legislation introduced today by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) that would end federal marijuana prohibition and reinvest in the communities most devastated by the war on drugs.

“This bill recognizes the consequences of the targeted war on drugs and outlines a plan to move our country forward by divesting in prisons and reinvesting in job training, reentry programs, legal clinics, public libraries and more.” Said Jesce Horton, cofounder and chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. “We’re excited to support and endorse the “Marijuana Justice Act” and hope to keep seeing legislation like this at the state and local levels.”

“Ceasing the travesty that is the drug war, especially the disparate impact it has had on communities of color, has long needed a leader within our federal government to say enough is enough.” says Kayvan Khalatbari, Minority Cannabis Business Association Policy Chair and founder of Denver Relief Consulting. “I applaud Senator Booker for his determination in not just ending the war on drugs, but ensuring meaningful reinvestment in the lives and communities that have been decimated in its wake.”

“Ending federal marijuana prohibition would bring the law in line with the opinion of the growing majority of Americans who want states to be able to enact their own marijuana laws without harassment by the DEA.” said attorney Shaleen Title, a founding board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and founder of THC Staffing Group.

The Marijuana Justice Act would do the following:

Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, ending federal prohibition of marijuana
Cut federal funding for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state disproportionately arrests and/or incarcerates low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses
Allow entities to sue states that disproportionately arrest and/or incarcerate low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses
Prevent deportations of individuals for marijuana offenses
Provide for a process of expungement for marijuana offenses at the federal level
Provide for a process of resentencing for marijuana offenses at the federal level
Create a “Community Reinvestment Fund” of $500m to invest in communities most impacted by the war on drugs, for programs such as job training, reentry, community centers, and more. Part of the funding will come from the aforementioned cuts to state law enforcement and prison construction.

In October of 2016 members of the Minority Cannabis Business Association held their first ever Policy Summit to draft a statewide model bill that would help guide lawmakers, advocates, and business owners in their pursuit to build a more racially just and equitable cannabis industry. You can find more information about MCBA’s model legislation on our website

About the Minority Cannabis Business Association

Founded in 2015, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) is the first 501(c)(6) not for profit business league created to serve the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs, workers, and patients/consumers. The MCBA represents more than 700 minority owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and patients from across the United States. Its 12-member board of directors is comprised of a diverse group of medical and legal professionals, cannabis industry veterans, and social advocates from across the U.S. You can find more information about us at

Oregon Quarterly Cannabis Caucus Uncle Cliffy

Join The Uncle Cliffy Team At The Oregon Quarterly Cannabis Caucus

The Uncle Cliffy team, along with Cliff ‘Uncle Cliffy’ Robinson himself, will be attending the Oregon Quarterly Cannabis Caucus tomorrow night. The event is going to be held in Portland, Oregon, and is hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association, which has been fighting for the cannabis industry since 2010. Below is more information about the event, via the event’s Facebook event listing. We hope to see you there:

Join local members and supporters for NCIA’s third Oregon Quarterly Cannabis Caucus of 2017!

This event will educate, connect, and inspire you and your team, with a state and federal policy briefing as well as meaningful networking opportunities with regional and national industry leaders. Light hors d’oeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages and a cash bar will be provided.

Guest Speaker:
Jesse Sweet, Administrative Policy & Process Director
Oregon Liquor Control Commission

Supporting Sponsor(s):
The Arcview Group

Media Partner:
Stoner Magazine

Be sure to register ahead of time at the tickets link above.
Free for NCIA Members
$50 for Non-Members

Wondering how your company can engage with the cannabis industry’s top decision-makers? Contact us at to learn more about supporting your industry’s political voice and highlighting your brand at NCIA’s Quarterly Cannabis Caucuses!

NCIA’s Quarterly #CannabisCaucus events are held in the cannabis industry’s 8 most active regions during the first month of each new quarter. To learn more about the event series, visit NCIA’s Quarterly Cannabis Caucus page under the Events tab.

When: Tuesday July 18, 2017 at 6:30 PM – 9 PM

Where: Ecotrust 721 NW 9th Ave, Ste 200, Portland, Oregon 97209

cannabis cultural association

New Jersey Event: Latinx Y Cannabis: Informando La Comunidad

The Uncle Cliffy team is passionate about cannabis activism, both inside and outside of the sports world. Cliff Robinson and the Uncle Cliffy team work closely with activists around the country to help free the plant, and to help end the stigma that surrounds the cannabis plant and those that use it.

A big push is underway to end cannabis prohibition in New Jersey. With Chris Christie on his way out, now is the time to start building the foundation for a successful 2018 victory. Cliff Robinson played basketball for the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) and was suspended for cannabis use while playing for the team. Cliff knows first hand that prohibition in New Jersey has failed, and that it’s time for a more sensible approach.

An organization that is doing tremendous work to help achieve the goal of ending cannabis prohibition in New Jersey is the Cannabis Cultural Association (CCA). CCA is hosting an event later this month that everyone should attend if they are able. Below is more information via the event’s Facebook event page:

Please join the Cannabis Cultural Association (CCA) as we host “Latinx en Cannabis: Informando la comunidad”

Marijuana is a word with roots in the persecution of Latinx in America. Yet, so few events or groups give space for that community. Because, all cultures use cannabis, we’ve done just that. For the first ever, we’ve put together an event in 100% Spanish and will be free for all those wishing to attend. The community will hear from various top industry leaders, medical professionals, activists and patient testimonials on how Cannabis is changing in America and overseas. In 2016, the majority of people arrested for Cannabis offenses were of Latinx descent, and while we make up a large percentage of the jail population, we are being left out and behind in the fastest growing industry in America. Communities have been lied to for the last century about Cannabis and have been made taboo. Today, we begin to change this perception and activate with the Latinx voice in Cannabis in the US and beyond!

Event Agenda:

2:00 pm Networking and light refreshments

2:15 pm Opening remarks “Porque estamos aqui” Nelson Guerrero CCA

2:30 pm Medical Panel “Doctors in Cannabis”: Local recommending doctors discussing, the trials and tribulations of the cannabis program and treating patients with cannabis.

3:15 pm Cannabis Testimonial Panel “Canna Stories”: First-hand accounts of positive cannabis experiences from families and patients

4:00 pm Entrepreneurship Panel “The highs and lows of Cannabis entrepreneurship” Discussions on the opportunities and the pitfalls of cannabis entrepreneurship

4:45 pm Knowing your rights Panel “Being safe with Cannabis and Immigration”: the legal do’s and don’t comes to Cannabis and your rights particularly when it comes to immigration

5:30 pm Activate the Community Panel “Get involved!”: Get active locally, learn about what you can do to help change our canna laws and move towards social justice reform

6:15 pm Closing remarks

7:00 pm Event Ends

When: Saturday, July 22 at 2 PM – 7 PM EDT

Where: Sheraton Lincoln 500 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken, New Jersey 07086

Get tickets at this link here