Dying in jail for possession of weed…

Can you imagine getting a death sentence for possession of weed? Well that is exactly what happened to a young man from Washington State named Michael Saffioti (22), who was arrested for possession of cannabis. He missed a court date, and like a good citizen, turned himself into the authorities. He died in police custody  less than 24 hours later because the jailers refused to believe that he was having a severe reaction to the oatmeal he was served. This young man lost his life because of our draconian laws on weed and because of a prison industrial complex that is evil and overwhelmed. This is a tragedy that could have been avoided, and simply never should have happened.

But these tragedies happen all of the time. It is disgusting. People get arrested for weed everyday and get shoved into a prison system that is built for violent offenders and crimes of moral turpitude. Yet we allow our friends and neighbors to be railroaded into this dangerous system for something as benign and trivial as weed. Why?

Our society is collapsing from these policies and we have become numb to the issue. But this kid in Snohomish County, WA is not just another criminal who got what he deserved. He is a kid that smoked marijuana because it made him feel better. He did not deserve to be put in a cage for his use of marijuana. Here is what his mother said about the tragedy from a story on Toke of the Town:

“Ultimately, he found and thought he was better functioning using marijuana,” said his mother, Rose Saffioti, who is a nurse.

But Michael didn’t have a doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis medicinally, which left him vulnerable to prosecution. His marijuana use led to several encounters with law enforcement. After the most recent incident, he and his mother went to the police station, carrying his medical history, after he had missed a court date.

“I wanted Michael held accountable for his legal issues and I insisted on it,” his mother said. “But I didn’t want him to die.”

Michael started having trouble breathing after eating the oatmeal that was served to him in jail. According to other inmates, he begged for help.

The guards accused him of faking it, and allowed him to die in horrible pain. The autopsy found his allergic reaction to milk products contributed to his death.

“I know there’s a period where he knew he was going to die,” his mother said. “And he trusted me. Everything was supposed to bet set up, that he’d be taken care of.”

“He was scared,” she said, reports The Associated Press. “I said, ‘You are doing the right thing. They are going to take care of you.’ He said, ‘I have a bad feeling that they are not going to take me seriously.’ ”

“You can’t get help. You can’t call 911,” said Anne Bremner, an attorney representing the Saffioti family. “You’re at their complete mercy. When the jail’s the one that gives you something that’s going to kill you — that they know is going to kill you — they, at a minimum, have to rescue you. And they didn’t.”

Nothing she can say will bring back her son. As a father of two kids I cannot even imagine the lost and angry feelings that must be overcoming this family. It is unacceptable and a clear sign that this war on our own citizens MUST STOP.

This is the challenge for all of the parents who oppose cannabis legalization based on the idea that they do not want their precious children smoking weed. The fact is that weed is more available to kids as an illegal substance. When they get it easily and are caught with it, your precious child becomes a criminal at the mercy of a corrupt and vile system that profits off putting them in a cage with other dangerous criminals. If you want to save your kids then vote yes to legalize weed and raise them to make better choices if you think weed is such a bad thing. But do not vote to continue the mass incarceration of our own people. Do not allow for the prison industrial complex swallow up your babies because they like weed.

We are better than this as a society. People need to be outraged. We can no longer afford, financially or morally, to put good people in cages for weed. it is not working. My heart goes out to these folks, and all of the folks who have lost their loved ones to this insane policy of imprisoning people for safe, enjoyable, and helpful plants.