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The View from Here: A Prisoner’s Post-Election Reflections

The shillouhette of a man stands in an abandoned prison, which he was just released from.
Photo by Luca Rossato

Joint Opinions

The View from Here: A Prisoner’s Post-Election Reflections

After the November midterm elections, some people may have had hangovers from late night victory celebrations while others may have slept in, exhausted from all of the hard work that goes into churning the wheels of our great democratic process. As someone in the United States penitentiary for distributing medical marijuana, I was inspired by the results. They were hopeful and momentous. The American people spoke to Washington loudly. Their unified voices shouted that they do not support this senseless and propaganda-driven war against marijuana. They resounded that our citizens should not have to fear that their freedom will be taken away for possession or consumption of marijuana. They spoke with their votes.

The Republican-led congress is now faced with a few conundrums. Do they support an issue that falls squarely within their ideology of less spending, a smaller government and state’s rights or do they squander this opportunity by holding onto the old guard mentality of continuing the War on Drugs? That old mindset has resulted in the catastrophic failure of our justice system.

With an egregious stroke of irony but on equally practical terms, members of Congress could potentially pass pedestrians on their way to the office whom can legally consume cannabis, while theoretically, later that afternoon be scheduled to vote on a marijuana bill that could send a citizen in the next state to prison for decades. Does that sound like the home of the free? Contradictions like this cannot exist within the framework of the greatest democracy in the world. It is a Shakespearian tragedy. The United States of America has a glaring stain upon her flag. However, it is one that can be cleansed.

There are now 26 states, districts, and territories in our country that have legalized medical marijuana, including four states that have completely legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. The message to congress and the executive branch could not be conveyed in more definitive terms. The time has arrived to end this illogical, unscientific and reprehensible assault on our basic rights. The truth has become obvious and the American public sees it.

I have given almost a decade of my life behind these razor-wire fences for something the people do not consider criminal. Is this not a government of the people? I want to be able to share a hug with my daughter at her next birthday party. Ricardo Montes wants to pick up his children from school this spring. Chris Williams wants to help decorate the Christmas tree with his family. Eddy Lepp wants to walk the tall grasses of his land in Northern California as a free man. Weldon Angelos wants to be at his son’s upcoming graduation. So many other marijuana prisoners desire freedom from these cages and wish to be reunited with their families and communities. None of our citizens should have to struggle through these tragic situations again. Enough is enough. We have a right to be free. Free to choose, free to live, and free to pursue happiness. A great man once called these truths self-evident. There is only one direction to move in: the direction of justice and righteousness. I hope our elected officials seize this moment in history and truly act as leaders of the people.

Do you know someone that’s been incarcerated due to cannabis? Share your experience below.

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