Marc Emery: Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Marijuana Will Not Work

It won’t work

The new mandatory minimum sentences will do the opposite of what Stephen Harper says is the intention (Worries Grow Over Stiffer Drug Sentences – Nov. 13).

In the U.S., where I am incarcerated for five years for selling seeds from my desk in Vancouver, hundreds of prisoners have been sentenced to 20 years to life without parole for drugs. A man in my unit was sentenced to life without parole for 99 grams of crack cocaine. It’s costing U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars to imprison him for 40 to 60 years. Yet, others will fight over the area where he used to sell crack.

No amount of imprisonment or penalties stops the drug trade. The U.S. has more than 3,200 gangs; many countries in South and Central America and West Africa are destabilized by cartels that drug wars and prohibition create.

The new harsher mandatory minimum sentences for as few as six marijuana plants are part of legislation called the Safe Streets and Communities Act. The real answer to drug use and safe streets is transparency – acknowledging the human reality that people want drugs, that a just society makes these available in regulated, taxed and controlled circumstances without letting organized crime fulfill this inevitable human desire. Prohibition is a wretched formula for destroying societies and hurting all the citizens in them.

Marc Emery, 40252086, Yazoo Federal Prison, Yazoo City, Miss.

– Letter to the editor from the Globe and Mail.