Prison state blues

As I write this editorial, many of my friends and loved ones in the cannabis community are in jail, or facing the likelihood of going there.
Marc Emery, publisher of this fine magazine, founder of the BC Marijuana Party, and my friend of over a decade, is currently serving a 92 day sentence for passing a single joint in Saskatoon.

Loretta Nall, Pot-TV anchor and president of the US Marijuana Party, is appealing her conviction for possession of 0.87 grams of pot seized during a 2002 raid on her home.

And Renee Boje, a sweet and gentle woman who is clearly no harm to anyone, is awaiting a decision on her fate from Canada’s Justice Minister. Boje is currently living in Vancouver with her Canadian husband Chris Bennett (Pot-TV station manager) and their two-year-old Canadian-born son, Shiva. Boje is fighting the US Government’s efforts to extradite her to an American federal prison where she faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life, solely for her minor involvement with a state approved medical cannabis garden. A decision in her case is expected early next year, and it seems likely that Canada will buckle to US pressure and send her back to the US.

American prisons are rife with rape, abuse and torture of prisoners, and have been condemned as inhumane by Amnesty International and the United Nations. This is all even more true for incarcerated women. The thought of this gentle and devoted mother being separated from her family for a decade, just because of medical pot, angers and sickens me.

What’s worse is that these kinds of injustices are not confined merely to those I personally know. At this moment, there are more marijuana prisoners in North America, and across the globe, than ever before in history. Despite many years of activism and struggling for our freedom, the war on marijuana is stronger, better funded and more vicious than ever. More of our brothers and sisters are in prison, their lives and families shattered, solely because of their love for a forbidden plant.

So is there any reason for hope at all? It is hard sometimes to find reasons for optimism given these dire circumstances. And yet, I still believe there is good reason for us to hope for a better future. In the dying days of alcohol prohibition, more saloons and speakeasies were raided than ever before. Up until the day that prohibition was repealed, police and judges continued their vindictive raids, persecution and imprisonment.

The drug war will not fade away; it will build to a climax before it finally breaks. You can make a difference. Your letters, rallies, protests and encouragement will be what finally ends this prohibition nightmare. Never underestimate your power as an individual to make positive change.

Together we can end the war!

Dana Larsen,
Editor, Cannabis Culture

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