Jun 142011
 June 14, 2011

marijuana negative effectsBy Nadia Jones

We all know that in many states, being caught with varying amounts of marijuana can yield some pretty hefty fines and in many cases, incarceration. So when I read an article published in the New York Times, I wasn’t particularly surprised, but the story is almost unbelievable in its cruelty. Although the article features the story of only one man, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that this story speaks to the experiences of many of the disenfranchised in this country–the poor, the immigrant, the minority.

Jerry Lemaine’s story is remarkable in that he had to face three years of prison for possessing one joint of marijuana. After pleading guilty, because he was not a citizen but rather a legal permanent resident, he was, to atone for his “crimes”, sent to Texas (from New York), and spent years fighting abuse from fellow prisoners at a predominantly Hispanic prison, a problem that had become so grave he was placed in solitary confinement for almost a year. He now faces deportation to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a country he left when he was three. And, may I add, Lemaine was a responsible, productive citizen who attended the Hunter Business School for nursing, aided his mother in a contentious divorce, and, to top it all off, he’s got a brain disorder. This, to me, is one of the most heinous examples of American drug laws gone absolutely insane.

friskWhen Lemaine was much younger he was caught with a negligible amount of marijuana, and, according to immigration law, if caught twice, the crime becomes tantamount to drug trafficking, which is an aggravated felony. Personally, I’ve seen incidents similar to this one on an almost daily basis while growing up. I attended high school in deep south Texas, in the same area where Lemaine was sent to prison. The stories are obviously nothing new, but my high school had a large population of immigrant children, many of whom were involved in gang activity, but just as many who weren’t. However, I noticed that it was always they who were caught for possession-related crimes. While the few wealthy Caucasian students at the school were using their parents’ money to abuse cocaine, it was the Hispanic students, it seemed to me, who were invariably missing on certain days in class, and later we would learn that they were now in alternative school, or in a juvenile detention center.

Perhaps my complaints are naive, and this phenomenon is merely business as usual. Whether or not the draconian marijuana laws in the United States are reconsidered, what must absolutely change is the inconsistency in enforcement. We simply cannot apply laws to some people and not to others. It goes against everything this country stands for.

Author Bio:

Nadia Jones online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5@gmail.com.

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Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • John Clark

    The double standard & double talk applied to cannabis use is sickening. What is alcohol? It’s a drug that’s deadly to the user, it’s addictive & involved in 60% of all violent crimes. What is tobacco? It’s a very deadly drug that uniquely energizes the user while calming them down. This is why tobacco is the most addictive drug & harder for users to stop using than heroin. These two legal drugs combined kill 460,000 Americans yearly in the most excruciating way. Prohibitionists will use these drugs & say people drink & smoke to be sociable. Every smoker & drinker use these drugs to alter their state of mind. Doctors call alcohol the sloppiest drug of all as it effects every part of the mind. 50% of all tobacco smokers will develop cancer even if they stop smoking. Neither of these drugs have a medicinal value. This means these two legal drugs should be strictly banned as Class 1 drugs. Prior to it’s ban in 1937, cannabis extracts of 40% potency were safely & successfully used in 50% of all American medicines to treat over 100 ailments. There was no public demand to ban cannabis. This is why prohibitionists changed it’s known name from cannabis to the alien ‘Marihuana’ in order to conceal what they were going to ban. Cannabis can not kill the user by overdose. Caffeine is more addictive than cannabis (NIDA). Cannabis can be vaporized, eaten, & taken as extracts in order to remove any risks associated with smoking cannabis. Cannabis has the unique medical property of inhibiting cancer & THC can be injected in to gliomas without damaging surrounding brain tissues. Why are extremely lethal & addictive drugs legal to use, while non-lethal & rarely addictive cannabis is a Class 1 drug ranked as dangerous as heroin? Cannabis prohibition was created by racists liars using hysterical distortion to justify it’s ban, & this is the same pattern used to keep cannabis illegal to use today. Florida & Texas are two of the States with the most Draconian laws that, depending on the charges, can mean years in prison. While the same charges in other States may only mean a fine & no criminal record. Prohibition doesn’t work. Legalize cannabis, now.