Read about the Last Prisoner Project here: Clearly, we are members of the cannabis industry. This is an industry that blew up in record breaking time. With legalization becoming a reality all over the globe, people who formerly worked in the shadows can pursue careers and make an extraordinary amount of money by opening a dispensary or working behind the scenes making CBD/THC products.
A large portion of our generation grew up watching the marijuana revolution, and were far more educated about what the plant really is and what it can do. As someone in their 20’s I am so lucky to have parents that, after years of being told marijuana is a deadly drug, were able to open my mind to cannabis and raise me on knowledge, not fear.
However, this is not the reality for a lot of people. A large portion of the men and women in prison today are there for non-violent marijuana crimes. This statement is widely known and accepted, but when you break it down by the numbers, it is a shocking reality.
In this country, $47 billion dollars are spent annually on the war on drugs.
Over $3 billion of that money is used for marijuana prohibition.
In 2018, the legal marijuana industry made roughly $10.8 billion dollars.
In the same decade, over 15 million people were incarcerated for maijuana offenses.
89% of these arrests were for nothing more than simple possession, with no intent to sell.
Sadly, a lot of these arrests, and the prohibition of cannabis itself, has been based on racial prejudice. During the early 1920’s, the anti-marijuana laws were directed as hispanic and south american immigrants. Then, towards the late ‘20’s, it began to apply to musicians and artists; largely in the african american community.
There are several movies that came out around this time, portraying black people and other musicians as evil people, giving marijuana to pretty white girls and turning them towards a life of crime, eventually going mad due to the effects of the drug (see “Reefer Madness”). Today, we do not actively see the media portraying minorities as evil, drug peddling villains, but it is apparent that we are stuck in that mindset when you look at percentages of marijuana arrests.
Minorities are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana crimes that most white people will walk away from with a ticket at the very worst.
Once arrested, minorities are 5 times more likely to be charged with a felony than white people with the same offense on their record.
The percentage of Black and Latino people arrested for drug charges in the U.S is 46.9%, despite these groups only making up 31.5% of the country’s population.
Most people in the millennial, X, and Z generations have known someone who has been charged with a marijuana crime. This charge is something that can haunt you for the rest of your life. You are turned away from jobs and schools, you are more likely to be hassled by the police once they see a possession charge on your record. It becomes difficult to find a place to live, and just about any large financial decision including but not limited to credit card/loan applications, buying/renting a car, or opening an account at a bank becomes almost impossible.
A lot of people subject to this discrimination become far more likely to offend, and can impact their life to a deadly level. Studies on the Danish population shows that ⅓ of people with a criminal record are reported to have committed suicide or threatened/talked about it. That may seem like a small number, but it equates to roughly 27,000 people. While all of this is extremely upsetting for someone to read and comprehend, it is not entirely a lost cause. Out of the state that unofficially led the cannabis revolution in the states comes a program specifically made for releasing, expunging, and rehabilitating people arrested for non-violent marijuana crimes.
Last Prisoner Project
In Colorado, The Last Prisoner Project has begun a three point process of putting these people back into society and getting them towards living the lives they deserve. It begins with not only releasing, but expunging the record through their Cannabis Clemency Program. Of course, being released is only one part of the solution. With the mark on your record, you are left with several barriers that leave you with little choices for your life. Expunging a record leaves someone with unlimited possibilities.
Next comes a Reentry Program. Through vocational training and consistent counseling, the program trains people to work in the cannabis industry, using their past knowledge and new experiences to build an incredible resume for reentry into employed society in an industry that will not judge them for their past.
Finally, the constant advocating for social justice is worked on by every member of the Last Prisoner Project. Research and scientific studies done on the current ‘war on drugs’ and fighting in court to rewrite the policies for non-violent marijuana crimes.
Cannabis has been recorded as a medicinal plant since around the 3rd millennium BCE. It flourished into something that was used in almost every corner of the world, and until the prohibition in the early 20th century, it was as common as the cold medicine in your cabinet! No one should be subject to years of time in a cage for a plant that is widely available and quickly becoming legal in more states than not.
We support the Last Prisoner Project’s message because those who are in jail over marijuana are all too often forgotten. They deserve a life free of a looming criminal charge and the judgement of being a felon. We encourage any cannabis enthusiast to check out their website. They have petitions that only take a minute to sign, informative articles about the cannabis industry, and all kinds of ways that you can help their cause. Keep on enjoying your cannabis medicine, and root for the re-normalization of using cannabis in your daily life!
Interested? Check out The Last Prisoner Project here.