Ka-ching!

patients4medicalmarijuana editors

Any day in Federal Court when sentences for drug offenses are handed out, there is that sweet sound of the cash register, “Ka-ching!”

Simple marijuana possession cases represent about a quarter of the people now being held in the most populated prison system on planet Earth.   These people and their families are the only victims of the “crimes of cannabis.” [1]

Only those who profit from the warehousing of their fellow men can hear that ring.  Innocent people who have discovered that the humble cannabis plant relieves physical and mental problems are victims of a misguided and oppressive system; and taxpayers pay out big-time when “Ka-ching” rings out. [2]

The loved ones of those who are imprisoned are left to grieve, to be deprived of their family members’ talents and contributions to their social fabric, perhaps to be subjected to feelings of shame, and to carry for generations resentment and distrust of a government which upholds illogical, hypocritical and racist policies that punish the weak and provide negative outcomes to society at large.

Lady Justice and her double-edged sword, which represents the power of Reason and Justice, should guide all courts of law.  Without Her guidance, Justice devolves into cold-hearted vindictiveness.  Without Reason, in these types of cases, we are condemned to misrepresentation of the science of cannabis and the subsequent marginalization of those who use it for relief and those who champion its proven usefulness.

It is time to return to the voice of the Warren Court, characterized by Justice Warren’s question to a federal prosecutor who urged the court to follow the law and affirm a conviction, “I understand it’s the law, but is it fair?

[1.] “From Florida cell, Black rails against incarceration rates” – Lee-Anne Goodman – Canadian Press, Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2009 09:17

“The U.S. has a higher proportion of its population incarcerated than any other country in the world for which reliable statistics are available. Of the estimated one million drug arrests a year, approximately 25 per cent of them involve simple marijuana possession charges.” Incarceration Nation The US is the World’s Leading Jailer by Michael I. Niman, Buffalo Beat January 4th, 2000 The war on drugs, if successful at nothing else, was extremely prolific in filling cells. Drug arrests tripled from 1980 to 1997 with almost 80% of these people being arrested for simple possession. The number of people in state prisons for drug offenses increased eleven-fold from 1980 to 1996. Mandatory sentencing laws stripped judges of their ability to exercise judicial discretion, thus increasing the likelihood that a drug law offender would wind up in jail by almost 450% from 1980 to 1992.


[2.]
The U.S. prison system has enormous economic costs associated with prison construction and operation, productivity losses, and wage effects. In 2006, states spent an estimated $2 billion on prison construction, three times the amount they were spending fifteen years earlier. The combined expenditures of local governments, state governments, and the federal government for law enforcement and corrections total over $200 billion annually. In addition to these costs, the incarceration rate has significant costs associated with the productivity of both prisoners and ex-offenders. The economic output of prisoners is mostly lost to society while they are imprisoned. Negative productivity effects continue after release. This wage penalty grows with time, as previous imprisonment can reduce the wage growth of young men by some 30 percent.

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