Dec 272013
 December 27, 2013

marijuana arrest prison drug drugsBy Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

If there is another human being who has publicly debated more in favor of cannabis law reform, or, spoken to more legal victims of America’s cannabis laws than me, I want to meet and thank them. From these hundreds of debates and thousands of personal encounters with my fellow cannabis consumers busted for ganja, one single phrase that I constantly hear from those who still support cannabis prohibition that instantly pushes my button is: No one gets busted for pot anymore in America…It’s practically legal.

Thankfully, because of the non-stop work from a cast of thousands of citizen-activists, going back over forty years, the latter is somewhat true for about one-third of America’s population. However the former is a bald face lie that must be confronted every time it is uttered by the proponents of pot prohibition.

Even in states where cannabis is supposed to be decriminalized, where states have passed laws making cannabis a ‘minor civil offense’, an encounter with law enforcement regarding one’s cannabis possession or use can have expensive, life-altering and devastating negative effects on a person’s life.

Kudos to BuzzFeed for producing a very well done video profile of a beloved public school teacher in New York City named Alberto Willmore, who, save for this video, would be yet another faceless victim of New York City’s expensive and reckless enforcement of what should be a minor civil offense, like a parking ticket or citation for spitting on the sidewalk. Instead of simply issuing Mr. Willmore a civil fine for possessing a small amount of cannabis, New York City continues to disrespect state laws governing cannabis possession by arresting, detaining, prosecuting and forcing Mr. Willmore to lose his dream job as an art teacher for what law enforcement deem a ‘serious crime’, when the legislature does not-even more so when almost 60% of the US public support legalizing cannabis sales.

NORML has been advocating for almost twenty years in New York City for the city to return to it’s historic cannabis possession arrest rate of under 1,000 per year, down dramatically from the now nearly 40,000 cannabis possession arrests annually in New York City, which exploded under mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.

Next time you hear a law enforcement representative, opinion maker or politician declare that ‘nobody gets busted for pot any more’, remind them of one of America’s nearly 700,000 annual cannabis arrests: Alberto Willmore.

With the recent release by incoming mayor Bill de Blasio’s family of a video from his daughter talking about her use of cannabis, and incoming police commissioner William Bratton’s long experience in effective policing, NORML hopes that 2014 will finally be the year that New York City ceases being the hotbed for cannabis arrests in America and relents on destroying the lives of it’s otherwise productive and appreciated citizens-like Alberto Willmore-who happen to choose to consume cannabis in their home.

Source: NORML - make a donation

About Johnny Green

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.
  • I’m for MJ

    This is so wrong on so many levels there are worse crimes out there marijuana isn’t a crime it’s time to advance only the ignorant uninformed people are causing the problem if you really look at addiction it’s starts with sugar not marijuana I wish people would wisen up

  • Sarijuana

    AMEN! I hear people say this all the time, and have to stifle my rage. Besides the arrests, there are also the people who lose their jobs because they use medical cannabis legally. I need to go. I’m getting sick thinking about it, and my rage is rising.

  • Ras Ible

    I did 12 consecutive years in prison for MMJ, and have been out almost two years now. For me, the end of prohibition has the same sensation and emotion, as those of the civil rights movement. There will be dancing in the streets, when the Feds finally acknowledge defeat.

    • 2buds4me

      Big picture – what effect did this have on your family, friends and your personal life.

      • Ras Ible

        In a nutshell, I’m more appreciative of things; my family stood beside me, with exception of my daughter for the ex-wife turned her against me, because I couldn’t afford to pay child support while in prison. I am a fulltime MMJ activist now. I live for the cause.

        • Michele From Ohio

          All the best to you. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • 2buds4me

    700,000 a year is 1,917 a day, 80 per hr. 14,000 per state per year. Each one of those 700,000 were not undergoing this ordeal alone – they have families. It is devastating when your loved one, spouse, child, parent is arrested. You may go through weeks or months of emotional turmoil till a trial, jail and or prison. Years of probation and mandatory drug testing and harassment, loss of friends, jobs, stigma.

    • Frank Healey

      That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Shame on the judges who ordered that. What is wrong with this country?

  • http://www.vtweedorganicgrow.x10.mx/ VT Weed Organic Grow

    I got a felony this year even tho I was in the registry with a valid marijuana pass in my state. they held photos on my cell phone over my head and threatened me with 15 years in prison if I went to trial. Couldn’t afford a real lawyer because I’m disabled. Time for change that’s why I made this face book page since these photos are what they used against me. now I’m telling the world that these laws are ridiculous and need reform.