A warning to Canada from inside the “Tough On Crime” US prison system

In lieu of the imminent passage of Bill C-10, the crime bill with mandatory minimums for all drug offenses involving manufacture and distribution – which the Harper Conservatives are set to pass in the Canadian Parliament – it is reflective to consider how the US criminal justice system has gotten completely out of control with these mandatory minimum sentences.

Once mandatory minimums are put in any criminal justice regime, they almost never get repealed despite the disastrous effect on the public safety, the treasuries of the state and federal government, and the cruelty that punishes victims and their families.

“Disastrous effect on the public safety?” you might well ask. That’s because as risk goes up in the drug trade, so do prices. Since most people involved in the drug trade have no comparable market value for their limited or non-existent skills, the more the prices rise and demand increases, the more tempted millions of men and women – particularly blacks, Latinos, poor whites, natives – are to get into the drug trade.

Mandatory minimums of 10, 20, 25 years or even life imprisonment are no deterrent at all when the alternative in our material world is a life of minimal financial incentives from legal activity.

You might say, if my proposal is legalization to eliminate this paradox, why not legalize murder, or rape, or robbery. On the surface, uninvestigated, this seems an attractive rejoinder. But once a rapist, or murderer, or bank robber is captured and taken out of circulation, no one competes to replace the murderer or rapist or robber. The commitment of crime has been halted.

But in the drug markets, where forty million Americans are active consumers in the illegal drug market, when one dealer or manufacturer or grower is taken out of the market by imprisonment, dozens of their customers are now looking for a new supplier. The removal of one or several suppliers creates an opportunity for others to profit. Thus we see turf wars, gang disputes, or, if there is no overt violence, new persons entering the marketplace to feed the insatiable appetite of Americans (and Canadians) for these illegal but in-demand substances.

So for every person put in Yazoo Prison for drugs – and that’s by far and away most of them – one or more persons immediately moved into the lucrative drug market to profit by feeding that existing demand.

In this way, prohibition manufactures crime by making criminals out of people who wouldn’t be dealing in drugs unless these substances were prohibited from distribution in traditional retail methods. In my ‘Drug Abuse Awareness’ class here at Yazoo, I asked the question, “Would any of us, convicts or guards, be here if all drugs and substances were sold in licensed stores?” The answer is obvious. None of these inmates would be selling illegal drugs if those drugs were sold legally in stores, pharmacies, or any business similar to those that sell alcohol, tobacco, sugar, fatty foods, coffee, prescription drugs, etc.

Every year, tens of thousands of teenagers enter the illegal drug business, usually by buying a substance (typically marijuana) and reselling it to their close friends; their profit in these early stages simply pays for their share of the substance bought and used. But imagine the immediately corrupting effect when one person in a peer group becomes a “dealer”, and is seen soon after with expensive clothing, the latest electronics, a fine car, sexy women, and plenty of money to flash around.

It is easy to imagine the invidious effect this has on all the other teenagers who can see this rapid financial enrichment, making it very challenging for the teenager with a minimum wage job at McDonalds to maintain a work ethic in the face of such contrast. In fact, that is reasonably impossible for most young people, particular those with no job or very limited prospects.

But if these drugs were regulated and manufactured under controlled circumstances in the usual economy of scale, they would go from being lucrative and profitable illegal drugs to being mundane and no more profitable than lettuce or tomatoes, or liquor, or Viagra, or any such mass-produced commodity. There would be no young people selling drugs on the street or to their friends. None.

Consider the impact on children and families of the convicted prisoner caused by the kinds of sentences that Americans routinely receive in the grotesquerie called the US criminal justice system. In my drug abuse awareness class we were told that 70% of all children of convicts will themselves be in prison eventually. Well, whose fault is that? Broken homes manufactured by the War on Drugs produces a prison population in perpetuity. Whom is that designed to help, and whom does it destroy?

It costs, in the US, about $50,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner; in Canada, it’s $100,000 (male) and $190,000 (female). But the US has 2,500,000 prisoners at any one time, and 7 million more on supervised release, house arrest, bail, probation, parole – all very expensive, unwieldy extensions of the prison punishment complex.

The net effect of an infinitely expanding prison population is the draining of the treasuries of the municipalities, states and federal government, for absolutely no benefit to the taxpayer. The prisoners themselves have no money, and their families lose a breadwinner, and often go on welfare as a consequence. The families are usually decimated financially by legal fees and loss of the income earner(s). The children are permanently affected. The families can rarely afford to visit, or can’t at all – in many cases, they won’t even see their loved one again in their lifetime!

Bill C-10, introduced by the Canadian Conservative government, provides mandatory minimum jail sentences of six months for six marijuana plants (nine months if you’re renting the property), to 18 months for making extracts like hash or cookies, two to three years for cocaine offenses, 10 years for a second offense, up to 14 years for marijuana offenses, and longer for other substances. It is draconian in its punishments for Canada.

Here, however is a short resume of ten fellow inmates, all but one who live in my unit here at Yazoo Medium. This is how mandatory minimums become medieval and outrageous crimes against humanity, all under the guise of fighting crime. I have provided their proper name and inmate registration number so you can confirm these sentences as I have stated them at the Bureau of Prison website, www.bop.gov, so you know I am not exaggerating or misstating the facts.

1) Christopher Norman, 24635034: sentenced to 21 years, 10 months (262 months) for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms of cocaine. Sentenced July 2000, Release date: 2019. Black American.

2) Jacob Esquibel, 40652018: 21 years, 3 months (255 months) for ‘Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine’. Inside since 2001, release date: 2021. First time offender as an adult. Mexican/Native American.

3) Travis Rogers, 21111045: 252 months (21 years), inside since 2010, release date: 2029. Conspiracy to distribute 500+ grams of methamphetamine. One previous state conviction. White.

4) Antonio Andrews, 15054040: Convicted of being a felon in possession of firearms, sentenced to 48 years, sentenced in 2010, release date: 2053. Current age 34, release at age 77. Andrews makes a point of saying no one was harmed, nor were guns used in any way. Black.

5) Cedric Jones, 29464-077: “Conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine.” Received “mandatory life sentence” in 1995 at age 24. Now 40 years old. No drugs were ever found on his person nor was any amount specified in his indictment. Because of two previous convictions, he received LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE. No release date. Black.

6) Nathan Carter, 14989076: “Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine”. Sentenced in 1998. Because of two previous drug convictions, was declared a career criminal, and given a life sentence. Received LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE. No release date. Black.

7) Bryan Jones, 01156748: “Conspiracy to Distribute Crack Cocaine”. Sentenced to LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, PLUS 5 years (!) in 1999 for having a gun in his possession at the time of arrest. First offense. Age 27 when incarcerated, 39 now. No release date.

8) Billy Wheelock, 60161080: Sentenced to “LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE” in Waco, Texas in 1993 for 99.64 grams of crack cocaine. In jail 19 years, 48 years of age.

9) Curtis Bell, 09304002: “Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine”, Life without parole. In jail since 1993. 10 of the 19 people indicted received sentences of Life Without Parole, including a mother of 22 children, Mary Morrow. A book was written that included information about Curtis Bell, called “Drug Conspiracy: We only Want the Blacks” by Richard ‘Squirrel’ Thomas. The title is taken from testimony by a government informant who testified against 30 black men, only 15 he had actually met. When the informant said he has information about a white man selling drugs at a club, a police agent said, “With all due respect, Derrick, we only want the niggers.”

I have included only a few of the people I live with; all have over 20-year sentences, all for non-violent offenses. There are several convicts here who are serving 10 years for marijuana, including Fred, whose family visited here once with Jodie (she paid for their hotel for driving her here to Yazoo City from Jackson, to and from the prison, and back to Jackson). Fred has three wonderful children, a wife, and a mother who misses him greatly; all are under great duress not having Fred home. He and his brother received 10 years each (mandatory minimum) for interstate transportation of marijuana.

My cellmate Wally received 15 months for receiving 2.5 pounds (a little over a kilogram) of marijuana in the mail from Oregon. Once it’s interstate, it’s a federal offense and penalties are very harsh. One of my correspondents, Linda, lives in Bakersfield in California and has a son, Corey, in Taft camp serving the last few years of an 11.5-year sentence for distribution of marijuana. Taft camp is a private prison in the California desert that I was originally designated to go to. Linda describes the many challenges Corey has encountered trying to get through his time there. After he goes through the RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Program), he will be released late next year.

The US prison system, both the state and federal, is stuffed with hundreds of thousands of inmates serving outrageous, cruel, expensive, and pointlessly long sentences. Their offenses are manufactured by government policy – the policy of prohibition.

In Canada, the cruel mandatory minimums for cannabis and drugs soon coming into law will be augmented by the on-going appointment of Conservative judges to the courts. This situation will produce much longer and harsher sentences, fill the jails, increase the debt, expand police powers, reduce the safety and freedom of the citizens, escalate the drug war, raise drug prices, increase the lucrative nature of the drug trade, and drain the taxpayers.

The only people who will benefit are politicians, police, and gangsters.

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.



  1. Anonymous on

    It’s disturbing to see that so many people are sitting in prison wasting my tax money. The legalization, decrimination, and taxation of cannibis would solve our economic crisis. We would not only be saving money, we would be making money. And we all know we gotta find some way to repay China. I say if an individual wants to ruin his life with drugs LET HIM! It’s none of our business what another person does. We cannot control others only ourselves. Cannibis is not hurting anyone, except for the millions of families of the people who have been incarcerated. No one has ever died from smoking, no one has every had a seizure or anything. Happy, hungry, sleepy. These pharmaceutical drugs KILL millions of people every day. Take this pill you’ll feel better but you might commit suicide as a side effect. Im sorry but there is no way in hell im going to take something that has a 1 in 10000 chance of killing me. I’m a believer in the awesome medicine that cannibis provides. I suffer from chronic headaches, gastrointestinal issues, scoliosis, asthma, and knee pain. I don’t want to live my life paying the pharmaceutical companies thousands of dollars for dangerous drugs. I don’t want to take 10 perscriptions, when all I need is 1, cannibis. That does not mean that im some sort of pot head who smokes all day every day. You would never know that I smoke. I am a strong christian woman with strong opinions. I moderate everything I do. If you eat too much you will get fat. If you smoke too much you will be lethargic. Careful moderation is the key to life.

  2. unindoctrinated on

    Well written and very realistic article.The only way to get peoples attention,and actually affect change is to focus on the fact that they,themselves can change the system.
    I’ve smoked in the closet too long,and am coming out with a bang.I am committed to doing everything in my power to change prohibition policies on marijuana.
    Keep your chin up!There are millions like me,and we can all wake up to the harsh realities of this flawed system,and actually get off our asses and do something.Think positive.Things are happening,and we will change the way things are.

  3. JimmyP on

    You say,
    “Prisons were designed to discipline criminals for their crimes and reform them to return back into society to live productive lives.”

    And I agree with that in many ways, but they are also there to suppress dissent and bottle up those who have turned to crime for lack of opportunity in a world their governments were instrumental in creating. Look no further than COINTELPRO and the Black Panthers for a good example. Or the drug war for that matter.

    It is well known that as poverty increases so does crime. This may sound crazy but when you deny people opportunity with the introduction of huge foreign corporations against which they are unable to compete for financial reasons, offshore the jobs they once had with domestic corporations, put them in debt slavery from the day they are born with a banking system which is only a way for the private ‘Fed’ to directly bleed the populace, destroy their natural habitat with commercial toxins, rob them of their houses with criminal mortgage derivatives fraud which was rewarded rather than punished, outlaw the growing and/or use of natural foods and medicines in many cases, and fill them full of toxic largely untested chemicals often referred to as ‘anti-depressants’ and other ‘miracle cures’ while filling their bellies with bullshit and unhealthy but highly profitable genetically modified/chemically altered foods – crime (un)naturally increases.

    So I think Marc is right about decriminalizing pot or even cocaine – which was legally used for long periods in both the States and Europe without creating any kind of crime whatsoever. Criminalizing it creates millions of relatively innocent criminals. It also romanticizes it in the minds of the young which makes it all the more difficult to educate against.

    One more advantage of decriminalizing it could be that if a person could grow pot for free in their back yard, it might make them less likely to fork over actual money for harder drugs. And if they grew it organically they would know what they were getting. And… well, we all know there are lots of other good reasons related to gangs, violence and theft. People who like pot are going to smoke it, so why burden the rest of society with the expense of passing judgment on them? They should be penalized for operating equipment under the influence though, just as drunk drivers are. Either that or make it illegal for pedestrians to walk on streets or sidewalks any time after Happy Hour.

    On the downside the drug market in North America alone is worth hundreds of billions which would disappear overnight and which helps to prop up many economies which are otherwise not competitive due to globalization and the growing monopolies of companies like Monsanto. It would be interesting to see which directions society would choose if it gave up the drug culture and the religion culture and the hugely destructive corporate/conspicuous consumer/globalist culture.

    So are you okay with that? Decriminalize pot and criminalize huge ‘robber baron’ corporations and corrupt governments which are really taking a dump on the whole planet.

  4. Anonymous on

    You mistake honest opinion for insult
    pal, your Keystone cops are doomed if you are that suckie
    what am I doing? NOT full of myself as a cop wanna be
    imagining invisible stoners listen to me about Govt Policy Changes..

    Prohibition, valid or not, is winning – wake up Officer Towlie

  5. Steve Finlay on

    We do the same as everyone else who knows that C-10 has to be reversed: We keep making the arguments, presenting the facts, and changing public opinion. There’s definitely a big subgroup of voters out there who won’t listen to arguments against prohibition unless the person talking is or was a law enforcer. It isn’t logical, but it is how some of them are.

    Quit making incomprehensible complaints about what other people are doing. What are YOU doing? People in this forum want as many ideas as possible. Our goal is to change the mess, and that does not happen by accident or by insult.

  6. James Wallace on

    Hello, i wrote to a while back offering my services.

    I would like to undertake a site to collect names and give info, on the pros of medical legalization. Please, help me, or lead me to someone who can assist me in doing this. I am a serious person I do have Cancer, this may not help me, but, maybe it will help others.

    I am truly stuck between a hard place and a rock. I see a pain specialist, who keeps me messed up, too messed up, i want my last yeas(s) to be productive. The thing is i have to take a urine test , therefore, i cannot
    smoke cannabis.

    Please, help me to get the knowledge to start a site geared to starting Georgia on its way to medical legalization, or i will have to move away from my children and my wife’s family, to a state that has current medical legalization. Please.

    If there is anything i can do to lesson you an your load at Cannabis Culture, pleas, just assign me any detail, i write in Perl , cgi, some PHP and JavaScript. I use Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop. And have many other web capabilities.

    James Wallace
    aka Niteowl

  7. Anonymous on

    so what will your pop cops do after Bill C 10 kicks in ? issue statements of objection from your headquarters on mars?
    as long as you imagine voters will only listen to your badge jockey arguments
    you come off as ` full of yourselves `
    and it takes LEAP five years after the fact and you`re still preaching –
    consider that having achieved maximum irrelevance

  8. Steve Finlay on

    Unless you actually like the mandatory minimum sentences in Bill C-10 (which requires a remarkable amount of ignorance), it is fairly obvious that Bill C-10 increases the relevance of LEAP. In order to reverse this bill, it is critical to change the minds of voters. And LEAP comes in handy for this, because there are a lot of voters who are virtually incapable of hearing any argument against prohibition unless it comes from a cop or a former cop. So LEAP will be a valuable force for building pressure over the next five years to reverse this stupid law.

    Calling LEAP speakers “full of themselves” is also proof of ignorance. I’ve met them, talked with them and worked with them, and I have seen clearly that “full of themselves” is exactly what they are not.

  9. Son of Sam Walton on

    Not being able to change the system from the inside: Is that why it’s still illegal for blacks to vote . . . is that why it’s still illegal for women to vote . . . is that why more children in America under the age of 10 work in dangerous factories . . . is that why the only eligible voters are white landowners . . . the best way to change the system would be for a million stoners to strap bombs to their chests shouting: “420” before they blowup . . . but potheads are known for being extremely peaceful, even though similar actions are the only reason why America is still in the Middle East. Time and patience will conquer the DOJ’s stance . . . educating the status quo on the whole cause and effect of drug prohibition (like its known variable of increasing illegal immigration by well over 3 million because of the 1961 U.N. Single Convention) . . . Its hard to see how the ‘war on drugs’ makes people suffer far worse than Marc or his cellies could ever suffer . . . letting citizens know that there are humans who’ll never get a choice between being a genocide/civil war victim and not one –simply because drugs are illegal and is placed on a global market where money exists . . . letting people know that victims of the war on drugs are people who do not do drugs and whose family or friends don’t do drugs –like the 2009 Guinn-Bissau Presidential assassination because of drugs or the estimated 3% (30,000) of the Rwandans who died because drugs are illegal in Europe and Asia and Africa due to what drug money can buy killers.

  10. Anonymous on

    why are you creating baseless fiction here dave ?
    and why did you omit DRUG ADDICTION from
    your made up list of your pals the cops
    stress points? is that because you claim that one for yourself
    get a grip dave save your gossipy conspiracy
    projections for youtube where the other cannawimps
    will whine along with you. You spend way too much time with boy men
    and it shows

  11. Dave on

    Hey Anonymous, you can’t change the system from within. Many have tried and failed; that’s why there are high rates of alcohol, suicide and family abuse within the police population. Imagine you go in wanting to change the world to suite your image and all you end up doing is imputing license plate numbers into computers or on the other hand harassing and hurting good people on the internet! No thanks!

  12. Anonymous on

    Where were you when Charlie Manson wanted parole ?
    you could have got him community service with that
    brilliant attitude of selective amnesia
    Marcs co accused pals drove to the DEA building on their own initiatve in the USA with their lawyers and sang their guts out for hours and hours..they betrayed him to save their own asses .. Marc couldn’t do anything about it, he fried and they walked
    if thats ‘ honor ” the entire OverGrow the Government movement is in serious trouble and Bill C 10 will just finish it all off. This place is one big heat score and the bloggers are either delusional stoners or police agents trolling for suckers.

  13. Bud Grinder on

    Marc is paying dearly… in the coin of humiliation, degradation and abuse at the hands of a conspiracy of merciless, ignorant, mercenary government thugs for the so-called “crime” of promoting the use of hemp to cure many of the planet’s ills.

    As for his pleading guilty, the American so-called “justice” system is set up and operated by the thugs precisely to elicit guilty pleas from accused persons. How they do that is by presenting alternatives to pleading guilty, all of which are magnitudes worse than the sentence for the guilty plea. In Marc’s case, other people were set free from prosecution/persecution in exchange for the plea. Marc did an honourable thing… which would be normal for him.

  14. Anonymous on

    speak to Mr Emery about that one,. he plead guilty is all charges and is living on your taxes which is a CRIME OF FRAUD IF HE WASN;T GUILTY. He’s gonna end up costing the US taxpayers a quarter million bucks to feed and cage and he is def never gonna rehabilitate.. he appealed to be sent home to Canada so his own people would have to pay closer to a half million for room and board , but was refused. If hes not guilty you are still paying for his guitar lessons and laundry… he’ll never pay it off working in the prison library at 10 cents an hour either.


  15. Son of Sam Walton on

    I doubt this is rambling . . . maybe one considers a science book or math book rambling . . . I don’t consider cause and effect facts to be ramblings and rambling is more in line with opinions . . . opinions are more in line with: ‘The Doors’ are the best band and a fact is more in line with 15% of all the cops could be pro-legalization cops, which would make firing them difficult -while making it easier for that number to climb to 16% and 17% and so on . . . don’t forget the briefings one gets before you enter into war: “Disobey all orders that make you question your humanity” . . . there is a huge difference between shooting a child who’ll blow up a school with his vest and raping a woman who’s husband was making bombs . . . this is what the military attempts to install in all . . . I cannot speak for the Black OPS and SF and the SEALS. I’m under the impression that smoking pot would make one a stoner . . . I don’t smoke pot –I don’t eat it or drink it or vaporize it either, so I’m confused on the subjective use of the word ‘stoner’. If I don’t smoke then I can infiltrate the system with having the kind of job that requires a clean piss –a clean piss that will pay the typical $60-80grand found in my line of work –a line of work that has its hands in all American/global industry and an industry that one day could pump millions of gallons of hempoline and not oil through pipes . . . certain jobs allow one to have a better vantage point into society –the more money you make the more one’s taxes contribute to society and the more one contributes, the bigger the voice and the better hidden one will be –just like hiding in the ranks of the police or the military etc . . . one doesn’t have to make a lasting career in these, just service and duty to one’s community lasting a few years to ten . . . leave your mark and make a difference –infiltrate and dilute . . . it wouldn’t be hard if a bunch of jailors were ‘pro-legalization’ thus making drug offenders stays better –diluting the mindset of ‘Can’t do the time –don’t do the crime’ . . . get enough jailors to be ‘pro-legalization’ then it could be very plausible, probable and possible to say ‘no’ to guarding a drug offender or saying ‘no’ to a prosecution or a sentencing or an arrest . . . Here is a fact: in 1961, The DOJ outlawed several million Mexican hemp jobs . . . it was illegal to not grow opium in Afghanistan during the late 80’s if you lived on a farm or out in the fields . . . all of the above examples of facts have consequences, such has increased immigration for the U.S. and created the setup for a 9/11 in the U.S. . . . all of which has cost the U.S. unnecessary billions –billions setting up areas of a recession . . . maybe spending $2billion a week on fighting drug money terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t a part of our drug enforcement bill of sales –a steep financial cost creating a bigger cause of our recession. The War on Drugs allows people like Marc to go to Jail . . . the War on Drugs allows a man to lose his job because of downsizing or job outsourcing –outsourcing the DEA does (and sets up examples for) in contempt to the ruling of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act when they let China usher in our hemp and not American farmers . . . gasoline costing more because of the war on drugs, thus driving up the price for other goods . . . plastic coming from petrol and not from hemp, thus driving up the cost of gasoline and plastics because of gasoline being used as a fuel and not as a plastic . . . because we all have to pay for Mr. Emery’s illegal incarceration, that is taxes not stimulating education and healthcare –taxes not stimulating a ‘new business’ to open up –which means Marc’s incarceration bill will cost someone their job and cause someone to be underemployed (or have less education or not have a doctor) and then those folks will have less money to stimulate the economy and then there are fewer programs and fewer jobs from lack of spending . . . it’s a snowball cause and effect . . . the War on Drugs in Americas is like a beast gnawing off its leg to eat the food right next to it –thinking it needed to gnaw its leg off to escape an imaginary trap . . . we’ve been slowly bleeding out . . . put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out . . . put a frog in a pot of room temp water and he’ll stay –subtly increase the heat and he’ll boil to death . . . this is the WAR on DRUGS . . . starving millions of people so a few can be arrested for using -so hemp won’t saturate our markets, thus creating jobs and more food and more fuel to run a modern world in -the war on drugs is 100% about drilling for oil -oil that won’t grow back and thus never to be used by future generations, while increasing pollution -oil that the earth migh have to have for some biological cause and effect -similar to the cuase and effect of fracturing natural gas increases earthquake activity. Cause and Effect -cause and effect -cause and effect -cause and effect . . .

  16. Anonymous on

    you got it bad

  17. Son of Sam Walton on

    So Mr Son of Sam. are you dropping off your resume this week to become a cop and change the justice system from within ?

    I didn’t think so

    I already served my country in the WAR on DRUGS in Baghdad. If you know your record doesn’t look posh –then why try. In some instances, you can maintain a military career with a drug arrest, given it was small . . . they don’t always track it down, but the DOJ has every record.

    Maybe anonymous you should learn how to read –I said while our records are still ‘clean’. Let me guess, you decided it behooves you to get a job in the private sector, instead of going out and making this place better –your own way. I’m not so selfish as to go to college and get a job without doing countless hours for Habitat 4 Humanity and the American Red Cross (the non-blood and money donating operations –but physical help). For some of us, its too late . . . let me guess, because you’ve never attempted to define gravity, you’ll jump off the Empire State Building to see if you won’t fall –am I right? I already know gravity exists and therefore will not apply to the police force because of my record. There are plenty of under 18yr old weed smokers who haven’t been arrested yet and they could join the force. Hegel: Thesis plus Antithesis equals synthesis . . . one can be a cop while being a cop and without being a cop simultaneously . . . in private, you can refuse drug arrests, while driving with a buddy cop, you might have to forego your rights to resist anti-justice. Why don’t you go and get an education and learn some real world and quit being a victim . . . yes, you might get a bullet in the head, but it will be worth it if you tried to make a difference. Education is 100% free for most who apply and very few have to work for it . . . only those who are legally and physically ineligible to become soldiers or cops etc must work to pay for college. I made a difference in the war and have learned from it and war taught me that America spends $383 million a day to keep drugs illegal, given we can prove drugs are illegal and sold illegally and therefore financed 9/11 and 9/11 created a War on Terror, thus meaning America spends $383 a day on prohibition. I would love to be a cop and make a difference . . . only the ignorant fear being ‘brainwashed’ and if that’s so, then those ignorant are useless and are problems to be dealt with. The Real World needs good men and women to stand up against evil and if they don’t, then they become evil by letting evil prevail. If I had a dollar for every time I wrote to my politicians in the U.S. and Canada and to various newspapers since the year 2010, I’d have well over a hundred dollars –maybe $200, but I lost count . . . I ain’t no Canadian, but I’ve done written to many a Canadian politician . . . did you know there is a difference between 870,000 citizens corresponding to politicians and 8.7 million? During the Great Depression, you could shoot two squirrels (or die of starvation) with but one bullet –by using a bit of corn feed and letting one of them cross the paths of the other one –shot and you get two . . . this happened all the time when you were required to bring back four animals with but four bullets –especially in places where the Dust Bowl made eating your veggies impossible. Anonymous, you’ve got to use logic and common sense and quit being a victim . . . don’t be scared to get arrested or killed for doing what is right. You can kill two squirrels with one shot . . . why don’t you attempt to travel to a third world nation to see how it is . . . why not get shot at by some guns bought with drug money . . . did you know that things costing money requires money for purchase? I have nothing to hide and am sad I represent the known given variable of those who actually attempt to make a difference, while most get lost in TV, sports and doing their own thing –worrying about ‘Survivor’ and not Africans surviving with hemp seed . . . some of us have more power than little ol’ me and they don’t use it . . . some of us have access to a major famous website like CC and attempt to make the world a better place . . . I just have examples I’ve learned from HELL. Quit smoking pot –pass a drug test and go and become Citizens doing citizen duties, such as cops, military, firefighters etc –dilute the system . . . I’ve already done more than most and have not quit the fight . . . you cannot run away from the absolute horror of the War on Drugs embedded in Iraq or Mexico when you see it for yourself and I will scream out ‘Excelsior’ from my mountain . . . I don’t like seeing the mess from this high up and have opted to do something about it . . . I cannot become a cop for it is illegal for me to become one, but not every pot smoker has been arrested . . . quit college –become a cop and then go to college or something along those lines.

  18. Anonymous on

    So Mr Son of Sam. are you dropping off your resume this week to become a cop and change the justice system from within ?

    I didn’t think so

  19. Bud Grinder on

    No way! They’ll tell you to do things that no decent, right-thinking human being could do to their fellow human beings. When you’re found to be unable to thug to their satisfaction they’ll can your ass if you haven’t already quit in disgust.

    The only animals who could survive in that environment are those primitive throwbacks among us who are devoid of the common and usual morals, principles, scruples and ethics the rest of us posses. They’re a special kind of psychos.

  20. Son of Sam Walton on

    Become a cop and dilute the system . . . urge other to become cops and dilute the system.

  21. Anonymous on

    what exactly do you do Steve if you`re not a uniform warmer `
    and you missed `full of themselves `- that`s very important
    especially since C-10 made you all redundant old fucks overnight

    proudly serving the stoner community after decades of persecuting us

    don`t forget the Christmas party for washed up cops is next week
    drink up, loser

  22. John J. Pecchio on

    Prisons were designed to discipline criminals for their crimes and reform them to return back into society to live productive lives.
    For over a century of reforming criminals lawmakers and prison bureaucrats continue to ignore the right discipline that will reduce repeat felons and Illegal Immigrants from committing most of the crimes in the United States.


    This article will inform the mind and startle the soul. Federal and State Prisons have deteriorated to their worst condition in the history of these institutions? They have changed from being run with dignity and strong security into a hellish nightmare where corruption is the norm. With the loss of positive leadership in our prisons came the increase of prisoner’s power, primarily caused by their ability to hide behind highly-defended “Civil Rights”, which has now taken precedence above all else. These rights allowed them to live without fear of strong retribution for their actions, thereby leading to a breakdown in inmate behavior and resulting in riots, fights, and physical and verbal abuse of prison workers.

    In the early 1970s, when prisons started failing to reform criminals, a lack of administrative and prisoner developed. After many decades experimenting with several reform systems, lawmakers and prison bureaucrats still have a failing prison system, and have turned prison reform into just a name to keep the tax-dollars flowing into these institutions. There is no turning back the clock to what prison were intended for as long as these institutions continue to be so contaminated with flaws, imbedded with unthinking, unknowing or corrupted officials and political bureaucrats. The fear in prison staff is so devastating because they are forced to move daily between freedom and captivity, while walking a delicate line between administrative politics and the threat of inmate violence.

    For years I survived many altercations with my superiors and dangerous inmates in a maximum-security prison. I finally reached my 25th year and was ready to retire. Prison security was now at the lowest point in prison history. And it all started years ago, when security leaders kept getting directives from Central Office’s to downplay misbehavior reports because they were backlogged with frivolous lawsuits and grievances from inmates, claiming, that their rights were being violated and correctional officers were using excessive use of force to control prison security.

    In general, prisoners are now in control and manipulating the system. What I always feared would happen did happen. One morning in my shop I was brutally beaten by a 275 pound muscular prisoner. He was a cold-blooded serial killer serving two life terms for killing several people. Weeks before I was attack, I wrote several misbehavior reports to my boss and security heads that read; “Please remove this inmate from my shop because I could not control his behavior and he’s a threat to security.” All those reports were ignored and the inmate continued being hypocritical and dominating.

    During the time I was writing those misbehavior reports, the inmate was setting me up. He threatened me in a letter to the Deputy Superintendent of Security who responded the same day in a return letter saying, “I will take care of it” but he never did. Nor was I warned of the inmates intentions to harm me. As a result of administrators lack of security, deceiving and cynical responses; I was almost beaten to death and would have never seen my loved ones again. Prison bureaucrats are a master of covering up their blunders when involving prison staff. In my case, they put me on accidental state disability for the rest of my life.

    For therapeutic reasons, I begin writing about working in dangerous prisons and why our justice system is failing in our society.

    My first book {Hell Behind Prison Walls} is my autobiography of working 25-years in a Maximum-Security Prison for the New York State Department of Corrections.

    My second book, {The Devil’s Den of Prison and Justice} describes various crime stories in and out of prisons, why our Justice System and their courtrooms, have become a playground for criminal’s rights.


    John J. Pecchio

  23. Anonymous on

    This makes me sick with rage. Sick at our broken electoral system for letting the conservatives into power, sick of my country being hijacked by right-wing tyrants, sick of of sitting around and doing nothing. I want action, I want to destroy these people and there laws and their influence.

    What actions can those who feel like I do take?

  24. Steve Finlay on

    Some readers might be unsure about what Anonymous means by “stoner security guards”. In order to clarify the meaning of this phrase, here is some information about a few of the stoner security guards who are LEAP board members and/or LEAP speakers:

    Vince Cain: former chief superintendent in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Chief Coroner of British Columbia from 1988 to 1996.

    Gustavo de Greiff: former Attorney General of Colombia.

    Norm Stamper: former Chief of Police of Seattle.

    Neill Franklin: former Commander in the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement, Maryland State Police.

    Eric Sterling: Counsel to the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1989.

    Hans van Duijn: President of the Netherlands Police Union from 1993 to 2008.

    Richard van Wickler: current Superintendent of Corrections, Cheshire County, New Hampshire.

    Especially because I am a “civilian” LEAP member (no law enforcement experience), I feel truly fortunate to be able to work with this group of “stoner security guards”.

  25. Anonymous on

    he knows way too much about the secret world than mere mortals should

  26. Son of Sam Walton on

    Funny how this ‘anonymous’ person is making fun of the 9/11 victims . . . folks who were sentenced to Death because drugs are illegal and therefore sold illegally and therefore were the terrorists financial backbone –that is according to everything you read from the CIA, DEA, U.N. and War College and many famous newspaper and news magazine articles. Regardless of why Marc decided to sell seeds –his actions were attempting to keep U.S. troops out Iraq and the STAN –his actions attempted to have the cause and effect of stopping the hundreds of thousands of people who die from drugs –people who never touched a drug in their life . . . some drug overdoses come from IED’s, bullets, knives, airplanes crashing onto American soil, bombs on Spanish and British trains . . . bombs in the Olympics and in India –dead hostages in a Russian Opera house . . . wars, genocides –awkward that the same kind of money made legally also resembles money made illegally –funny how money will buy bread or cars and death and war and hijackings etc. Maybe Anonymous is also a Muslim Terrorist and a cop –since cops allow drugs to be kept illegal and therefore profited by terrorists in Europe/Africa/Asia . . . Since the War on Terror requires drugs to be illegal to be maintained –Jihad would be nothing without the help of the Badge and boys in Blue suits –something Americans and Canadians and Russians and Aussies and Europeans know all too well. Maybe Anonymous is also a Sex Offender since some drug dealers have the kind of money and power that forces little children to get down on their little knees to do dirty little deeds –as seen in Thailand and Houston and Mexico and London and Africa and well, everywhere where money and people coexist.

  27. Anonymous on

    you won`t wake up and smell the coffee, even Marc did- maybe a bit late but he did,
    now its your turn Barbie– it`s time to change drum circles farther away from the sewer grate

  28. Dave on

    You pretty much have to be a bully to be a dedicated cop. That’s why not many stoners are dedicated cops. You’re a bully anonymous and that’s why everyone figures you’re a cop. Is that true of you?

  29. Bud Grinder on

    Yea, but the politicians, the judges, the lawyers, the cops, the jail guards, the whole prison-industrial complex makes out like crazy financially. That’s the whole reason for that system to exist and be perpetuated. It doesn’t mater to the ignorant, mercenary thugs that decent people’s lives are being destroyed by their evil greed.

    Now Pastor Harper, here in Canada, is embarking on a similar program for the same reasons except Harper’s reasons are enhanced by his and his co-conspirator’s religious delusions. They think by inflicting more severe punishments they’ll win brownie points with the Creator and His son when the Armageddon comes and the good Christians are transported to Heaven in the Rapture.

  30. Anonymous on

    LEAP is just a bunch of stoner security guards full of themselves – and talk tough but its all just talk and nobody listens to your tired old rap about how things should be, you completely missed how things actually are
    hows that for funny Officer Dibble?

  31. Al1957 on

    Excellent article. It should be required reading for all the PINHEADS that support it

  32. Dave on

    The US war on drugs is the new Jim Crow, check it out!

  33. emlee_p on

    Here in Philadelphia there was a woman arrested over the summer for imprisoning four disabled adults in a filthy basement, where they were forced to use a bucket for a toilet and have sex with each other so their imprisoner could collect welfare for their children and steal their government assistance checks in the meantime. She was even declared their “guardian” and her list of other victims is endless. In the early eighties she was let out of prison after only EIGHT years because she locked a man in her closet at home and starved him to death. She was accused of beating her siblings and children with AC cords and unspeakable things. THAT is who belongs in prison for life without parole.

  34. Dave on

    Well that makes sense as to why Harper and Co. shut down those prison farms. Canadian Prisoners will soon be working for The Carlyle Group!

  35. Guitarod on

    I still believe that the cannabis prohibition laws were invented as a means of controlling Blacks and Hispanics. This article confirms what I have known all along. Not much has changed since then except that the white man has adopted some of the black man’s traits, including cannabis use and music. Blues had a baby which they named Rock n Roll.
    White lawmakers even persecuted many of of the old jazz greats for smoking the evil drug.
    They now worship many of them for their musical genius.

  36. Steve Finlay on

    Maybe you are trying to be funny, Anonymous? If so, you should probably get your sense of humour reinstalled.

    Yes, Marc sounds like a cop – like a LEAP member, in fact. We have been saying this about mandatory minimums every chance we get. Marc’s article is one of the best and most complete analyses of the situation I have ever read.

  37. Anonymous on

    Hydro tracks your power useage, cops see you shopping at a hydroponic store, your landlord smells weed wafting out of your bedroom.. but who the hell knbows your baking cupcakes ? whiner sissy, stand back = bill C 10 won;t ruin your kitchen.
    Its for major growers and dealers. But we might as well admit OVERGROW THE GOVERNMENT is pretty much over. Marc will be stepping out into a world where everything he fought for has turned to shit. Probably his headshop will be shut down;; nothing but T shirts and posters, everything else gone

  38. Eco on

    Great article, Marc. By far one of the best I have read on mandatory minimum sentences in the USA, and I have read a lot.

  39. Anonymous on

    its time for a north American strike.no weed, no work…see how fast that gets the little piggies squealing.” see the world you have built it with shoulder of iron, see the world it is not yours say the stealer of Zion….
    we don’t need no gang boss…we need to equalize…prove me wrong.
    Joe Strummer.

  40. Anonymous on

    It’s astounding injustice that black americans have been set up in the system to waste away in prisons. However, this is nothing new to any of us; people who read your articles believe the laws are wrong. Thank you for your continued efforts to clearly and articulately examine this horrendous war. Only the politicians,police and gangsters stand in the way of changing the laws.

  41. Anonymous on

    By the way things are going, we may end up in such a situation. It’s frustrating to know that the cupcakes I’m making for Christmas would land me more jail time than growing the stuff would.

  42. Anonymous on

    saying this because its true you are discouragiung your people on the outside
    “weed” rather hear about your guitar and suntan than this doom crap
    just because your a goldfish in a tank doesn’t mean the rest of us will end up that way

  43. Sasha P. on

    Greeting Marc. Very well-thought out article, thanks for a good read about the sad reality of our corrupt penal systems. All my best wishes and good thoughts to you! Keep up the good work.

  44. Roberta Scarlett on

    The benefits to manufacturing criminals include, very cheap labor, no longer do you have to outsource cheap foriegn labour. Corporate owned private prisons will be work camps. Probably MUCH cheaper than outsourcing. Bill C-10 in Canada will also allow growth in the government sector. The timing is perfect too, crime is about to rise with the failing economy. This will cause more normally law abiding society contributing people to turn to other ways of making money. Usually its production, distribution and selling drugs.
    Likely in the beginning of your drug dealing career the money comes in, you accumulate a few assets, then you get busted usually at some point in your career where your drug profits will be siezed along with your bank accounts, cash. The longer they wait to bust you the sweeter the deal gets too. And after you did all the work, the police department just made a whole wack of cash from all your hard earned drug dealing. After they take your stuff they throw you in a jail, built with your tax dollars where you will then work for a large corporation.

    As life becomes harder to afford, we will be taxed to death, ultimately to build prisons for ourselves to one day live and work in.

    That’s the Harper dream.

    Harper: I have a dream……it’s to build more prisons and get cheaper labor for mega cap corps and to get you suckers to pay for it…..

    Harper also knows damned well that prohibition perpetuates crime, thats the objective. Cannabis alone is worth billions to our economy its a misconception is that the money is going to criminal organizations, that’s just what they tell you, it goes to our police department when they eventually and INEVITABLY bust you and absorb your revenue from your drug sales.

    Consider how much of that money is laundered, how much of that value is not accounted for. Any significant amount of money made must be laundered, seriously misrepresenting actual value. It’s MUCH MUCH more than we think it is.

    Harper does have a dream, but he also has a re occurring nightmare, it’s about legal drugs and shrinking goverments…it’s very scary.

    Prohibited cannabis is worth billions, prohibition is an extremely effective tool for controlling supply, and boosting value. Regulation wouldn’t do that, relaxed laws mean lower value. No prohibition would make it worthless, in otherwords billions + of value would go POOF! Tell me why the Harper government or any government in these tough economic times do that? And to settle for measly tax dollars instead of the whole sha bang. Ending prohibition would disolve more than half of the justice system if not more, that’s serious government shrinkage, not to mention the shrinkage of the health care, social servics more indirectly.

    The government needs you to need them to create solutions for the problems they manufacture for you.

    Marc, thank you for sacrificing your freedom and time with your family and friends in effort to gain freedom for the entire Cannabis Culture, and also bieng a positive influence and inspiration to your fellow inmates, it must really be an experience doing time with someone like you.

    See you soon!

  45. Anonymous on

    brilliant writing and knowledge. all of it true.

  46. DonDig on

    This tells the story better than anything I’ve ever read about it actually, and I’ve read a lot.
    Every person deserves respect even if you disagree with or dislike their actions, and this clearly points out that the sentencing structure here in the States is not in line with that. The time should match the crime.
    How people, nominally intelligent people, running this country, have come up with this, and even worse, maintain such sentencing, defiles humanity. Somehow they’ve decided they can nullify the worth of a man, (only in their own minds, of course), trying to find a way to kill him, or at least kill his spirit.
    Beyond all that, like you said, it simply doesn’t work. The last time I spent a lot of money on something (US has spent a trillion dollars on the War on Drugs so far) I expected it to work at least most of the time.
    What’s that Einstein quote about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
    Forty plus years on, I guess our leaders haven’t lost faith that someday, one day, it will eventually work. That’s just not happening!
    Fortunately, very fortunately for us all, you’re not in their particular situation: Keep the faith!