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While it may seem unbelievable given the groundswell of support for legal cannabis over recent years, there are still individuals serving life sentences in prison just for dealing pot. As states like California and cities such as Seattle move to wipe criminal records of convictions for cannabis in the era of legal marijuana, U.S. federal law remains woefully stuck in the past — incarcerating otherwise law-abiding citizens for activities now considered legitimate business in 30 states and the nation’s capital.
With a conservative Congress occupying Capitol Hill, and longtime legalization opponent Jeff Sessions heading the Department of Justice, now is the time to shed light on just how damaging — and incomprehensible — the federal prohibition on cannabis is to individuals and American society at large. MERRY JANE’s new docuseries Prisoners of Prohibition takes an up-close look at the personal stories of those caught up in the U.S. criminal justice system for cannabis-related “crimes.” Numerous persons continue to be prosecuted and imprisoned under federal laws prohibiting marijuana use or distribution, despite a new wave of state-level reform around the plant, and public opinion more in favor of cannabis legalization than ever before.
Prisoners of Prohibition examines the far-reaching effects of these laws on incarcerated individuals, their families, and their wider communities; the reasons why federal reform has been so difficult to achieve; and the systemic incentives presented to law enforcement officials, federal prosecutors, and judges which drive biased and severe punishments for acts that most Americans don’t even consider to be criminal.
Check out the entire four-part series below, and then learn what you can do to help end the federal war on weed once and for all:
Part I - "A Living Death"
Part II - "Targeted"
Part III - "Family Tree"
Part IV - "Red, Blue, and Green"
So, now that you’ve watched every episode (right?), perhaps you’re wondering how you can join the fight for cannabis justice. The individuals featured throughout Prisoners of Prohibition — some of which are currently due to serve life in prison over marijuana — need your help in convincing the White House to grant them clemency, as well as getting Congress to do the right thing and finally legalize cannabis nationwide. Join the movement and put your John Hancock on the petitions listed below:
Urge Congress to pass the Marijuana Justice Act, which would end the federal prohibition on pot, allow individuals across the country to clear their records of cannabis charges, while cutting law enforcement funding for states with racially disproportionate marijuana arrests.
Tell President Trump to commute the sentence of Craig Cesal, who is serving a life sentence without parole for his alleged involvement in cannabis trafficking, so he can receive proper medical care for his diabetes and be reunited with his family.
Call for the freedom of John Knock, a nonviolent first-time marijuana offender serving life without parole.
Demand clemency for Ferrell Damon Scott, who despite being considered by President Obama for a commutation of his sentence was ultimately denied a chance for a fresh start.
Call on the White House to release Crystal Munoz, a mother of two serving 20 years in prison for marijuana distribution, despite no drugs being found in her possession.
Sign the petition for the release of Noah Kleinman, another nonviolent cannabis offender being separated from his children for participating in medical marijuana dispensaries.
For even more ways to help, we highly encourage you to visit the website of CAN-DO, a nonprofit advocating for clemency for all non-violent drug offenders. It’s time for all of us to stand up for our rights!