What a time for the cannabis law reform movement! Uruguay voting to become the first country to end cannabis prohibition was a great way to cap off 2013 while the New Year starts with licensed and regulated cannabis commerce in Colorado. Washington State is soon to follow Colorado and a few states are waiting in the wings with legalization measures in 2014 (Oregon & Alaska) while others are poised to make serious runs at 2016, if 2014 plans don’t quite come to fruition (California, Massachusetts & Maine, maybe more). Just as Colorado and Washington have already impacted the debate in other states and will continue to affect the political discourse across the country, Uruguay will have a major influence on the cannabis law reform efforts in neighboring countries and across the globe.
While we understandably celebrate our victories, we need to remember our prisoners of war.
While the major coverage of the day is understandably focused on Colorado demonstrating that regulated cannabis commerce can commence without the sky falling (thus far, anyway), my thoughts continue to drift to Jeff Mizansky and other prisoners of this unjust war. Show-Me Cannabis has done great work spreading the word about Mr. Mizansky, a Missouri man sentenced to die in prison solely for nonviolent marijuana offenses. Jeff has already served over 20 years in prison for cannabis and a major effort is underway to convince Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to offer clemency. Unfortunately, immoral prison sentences are all-to-common due to cannabis prohibition, not to mention disgusting abuses of power and tragic SWAT raids.
I am a big believer in a regulated cannabis market that will create jobs, generate revenue and better prioritize our limited law enforcement priorities to actually focus on violent and serious crime. Regulated commerce is a tremendous victory that can and should help us eventually end the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. However, we must never forget Jeff Mizansky and other nonviolent citizens ripped away from their families due to lengthy prison sentences. Or innocent people forced to undergo invasive searches that could be considered rape. Or innocent people killed in SWAT raids like Kathryn Johnston, John Adams, Jose Guerena and, very tragically, many others. Or nonviolent people, like Rachel Hoffman, coerced into being informants in exchange for leniency from lengthy prison sentences.
I have faith that the cannabis community will do the right thing. That, as we move forward with commerce and capitalism, that we will remember to have compassion for those behind bars and those still living under oppressive laws. Here’s to bigger and better achievements for the cannabis community in 2014 and beyond and to those that we shall never forget.