Dear United States Government, including President Obama, the USDOJ, Congress and anyone else who has their hands in the drug war debacle,
Reality is setting in and it is obvious you are coming to grips that you oppressive and violent prohibition on cannabis is ending. It was heartening to hear the US Attorney General Eric Holder discuss sentencing reform and the need to end the policies that have resulted in us jailing 5x the amount of people as the rest of the world. It was also great to read the new memo issued by James Cole stating you would not be interfering with regulated state cannabis programs. Those are both excellent beginnings to what is sure to be a difficult and painful exit from our long history of arresting and jailing people for weed and other small drug infractions.
But now it is time for action. It is time to end this thing for real and move on to more sane and sensible policies for weed. Public sentiment is with you. A recent Gallup poll showed 58% of Americans support legalizing cannabis for adult use. Many more support medical use. So the political cover is there. In comparison, your administration folded on gay marriage, DOMA, and DADT after public support reached about 55%, so this is an even easier transition for you to make.
The reality is it will be difficult work, as we have created quite a mess by imprisoning so many good people for cannabis “crimes.” It is quite the tangled web. But it is necessary and has to be done; so we might as well get right to it.
Here are some valuable strategies that our nation can use to find our way out of this mess:
- Admit we were wrong. This is always the toughest, but most fulfilling step in the process. It is human nature to not want to admit we are wrong and screwed up. But it is also where we as humans can grow and evolve. When we understand and clearly vocalize our mistakes we can then begin the path to making things right. It will be difficult for law enforcement and people who have spent their careers imprisoning people for weed to understand and admit; but it will also be freeing. The good news is most of us pot smokers are good people who are pretty forgiving, and more than anything we just want this to be over. So admitting we made a mistake is the first step in making things right. The sentencing reform and cannabis memos were both great starts. Now a clear, “we screwed up on cannabis prohibition” is in order.
- Quit taking people to jail for weed. This is likely the easiest part of the equation, but it will require clear directives and a change in law enforcement culture. But making a clear effort to end cannabis enforcement is necessary; and the easiest way to accomplish this is to advance global cannabis market and bring the entire industry into a legitimate and up front business landscape. As long as black markets exist for weed anywhere, there will be the temptation for people to commit violations to try and get ahead. Remove the violations and let the free market figure out who can and who cannot compete in the market. Stop making criminals of people for weed and there will be no weed criminals.
- Let people that are in jail for weed (and other petty drug crimes) out immediately. So this is likely the hardest part, as there is certain to be blow-back from law enforcement, prison lobbies, drug addiction groups, and those who believe that releasing people from jail is a bad idea in general. But fear not! Reality is on your side. When you explain that we only have 5% of the world population but have 25% of the world prison population people can see clearly that something is wrong. We can not let those sucking from the nipple of prohibition continue to sucker us into doubling down on bad policies and locking up more and more of our friends and neighbors. We must begin to reign in the incredible bullshit that has become the prison industrial complex, and stop militarizing our local police forces and training them to believe everyone is a criminal because they like weed or do drugs. It is no longer an tenable position. The groundwork has been laid by recent sentencing reform policy statements, but now is the time for action. People in jail for weed need to go home. If there are other circumstances beyond growing, selling, or using weed then we can look those over on a case-by-case basis; but let our brothers and sisters go. The war is over. Release the POWs immediately.
- Pardon people who were imprisoned for weed and expunge their charges from all records. Many great people have fallen victim to the evils of your false prohibition and were charged as criminals for their involvement with weed. These people are actually real heroes who have carried the cause (and the genetics) through the dark days of prohibition. We must issue pardons and make sure they are no longer considered criminals in our society. It costs us nothing to do, but can change the world for folks who have been discriminated against for their criminal convictions. We must make this right and allow these folks their rightful freedom from past “crimes.”
- End the propaganda. For decades the US Government has willfully mislead their own people into thinking weed was dangerous and would make them grow hair in weird places. Part of admitting you are wrong is also to stop being wrong. So you must retract every bullshit statement and report that is based on unfounded research and lies from all US Government websites and communications. You must issue statements that support the truth where cannabis is concerned and end the hysteria you have created through public messaging. We are not saying to promote cannabis use. Just to tell the truth. That “cannabis, while not for everyone, is a relatively safe substance when used responsibly, and that it has several valid medical benefits.” Begin to have an honest dialogue about cannabis. It is necessary to ensure this travesty does not ever happen again.
Those are five very basic starting points to ending this thing once and for all. It is difficult to admit we were wrong for many decades, and that we have mistakenly ruined millions of people’s lives in the process. But it is also part of the healing process and something we must do if we want to make things better for future generations.
People can learn to forgive and can eventually forget some of the wrongs that these policies have done to our society. Make no doubt, the people who have willingly participated in the implementation of a drug war that has imprisoned unfairly poor and minority people at alarming rates are WAR CRIMINALS. There will be no tribunals. People will not go to jail for their involvement. But those who conspired to imprison so many good people for petty drug crimes need to knock it off now before it becomes any more difficult to forget.
People who like weed are good people. You have lost the war on cannabis, and by default the war on drugs. We are a caring and understanding group for the most part. We can get past this. But the time to end it and restore order to our world IS NOW. Not five years from now, or after the next election. NOW!
MIckey Martin- Weed Activist #23,709