Connect with us

Culture

Why Should We Care If Pot Offenders Get Released From Prison?

Published

on

Once upon a time, getting busted by the police with a bit of pot in your pocket in Anywhere, USA, was going to set off a chain reaction that, to the unknowing passerby, the unaware, might appear as though somebody was murdered. Officers would have the pothead perp face down on the sidewalk, cuffed up tight, eventually hauling his ass down to the local precinct where the real reaming would begin. That’s where the offender would inevitably be charged for their felonious actions, booked into jail, and stuck inside a cell until going before a judge to answer for their green indiscretions. From there, if convicted — and they surely would be — the offender might find themself carted off to state or federal prison to live out the next several years with the real ruffians of uncivil society. Life as that poor bastard had come to know it was officially over.

Fast forward a few decades, and times have changed. At least to some degree. More than half the United States has some sort of pot law on the books that either allows Americans to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes or gives that right to adults 21 and over. The real upside is that fewer people are getting slammed face down on the pavement and carted off to the pokey for having an appreciation for the herb. All is right in the world. Well, not so fast, maverick!

Prohibition is still alive and well in the so-called Land of the Free. Although there is a political tug of war in Congress with respect to legalizing the leaf at the national level, the federal government still hasn’t budged on bud. Cross Uncle Sam by messing with cannabis — a product that is enjoyed legally by millions of people all over the country — and it could spell serious trouble. Meanwhile, many states are still sticking it to the average stoner, and some of them big time. They are handing down criminal charges for petty possession, drug classes, hefty fines, and even jail time.

It is a little-known fact that tens of thousands of people are still sitting behind bars because of cannabis-related offenses. Jonathan Wall, currently incarcerated at the Chesapeake Detention Facility, a super-maximum jail in Baltimore, Maryland, is one of them. The 27-year-old aspiring cannabis entrepreneur is presently facing 15-years to life for conspiring to traffic pot from California to Maryland. His attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, argues that Uncle Sam’s aggressive pursuit of this young man is nothing short of lunacy. “Our government is locking people in cages for pot while it’s legal to go down to the local strip mall, buy an assault rifle and a fifth of whiskey,” he told High Times. Flores-Williams went on to say: “Corporations around the country are generating billions from the same activity for which my client is facing life in prison.”

Some of the most vocal naysayers of the nug — a title that requires little more than a disconnect from progress and reality — are of the opinion that, despite the herb’s legality in parts of the country, people who are incarcerated for pot must be the dregs of the doob, the scoundrels of a stoned nation: dealers, drug traffickers and violent, weapon-wielding maniacs. Why should they care if any of these people rot in prison? “I don’t want a bunch of saggy-pants thugs in the streets selling weed or anything else to my kids,” Joseph, a 47-year-old factory worker from Lafayette, Indiana, told us. “There are laws in this country for a reason. Some liberal states might not care about addiction and crime, but some of us still do. This country has enough problems.”

There is an apparent communication breakdown between discussing the compassionate release of pot offenders and some slick moves to unleash savage beasts back into productive society. Contrary to what people like Joseph might think, turning loose gun-toting felons who eat young children for breakfast isn’t what’s happening, nor is it the intention of the cannabis movement.

Mariah Daly, a legal fellow at the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), an organization vying for the release of pot offenders nationwide, told High Times that their constituents — the incarcerated men and women they step in to help see the light of day once again — must meet a specific set of criterion to receive the LPP’s assistance. Firstly, the primary offense must be cannabis related. No other illicit substances can be involved in the underlying violation. Next, and perhaps most importantly, the incarcerated individual must be a non-violent offender and not have been convicted of any sex crimes. Nobody is trying to ensure that violent criminals are set free to run amok.

Yes, the people incarcerated for cannabis indeed broke the law. It is important to consider, however, that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

“Many of our constituents were sentenced to life, de facto life, or 20+ years for their cannabis offense,” Daly said. “No other drugs were involved in the underlying offenses and these men have zero history of violence/sex offenses over the course of their lifetime. Even if you disagree regarding whether cannabis offenders should be incarcerated at all (like say, in convictions “more serious than simple possession”), cannabis offenders who have received excessive sentences should be released.”

The majority of the average, run-of-the-mill cannabis advocates we spoke to about it, some of which are in just as much jeopardy of similar legal consequences, wholeheartedly agree. They contend that society should care just as much about releasing non-violent pot offenders as it does crushing statues of the confederates and uncovering backasswards governmental deceptions like the War on Drugs. At the very least, they should show more interest in freeing discarded offenders than Keeping up with the Kardashians and the release of the McRib. Without correcting the errors of the past, some argue, the country doesn’t stand a chance of experiencing real growth. “Freeing cannabis prisoners is a correction long overdue,” one advocate said.

But why should anyone really care if a bunch of pot prisoners ever get out? Aside from it being a crime in and of itself to simply lock people up for going against the grain of laws that we now know were created out of reefer madness, all the while doing it in a manner that ensured no vile acts were committed against their fellow man, we should — every single one of us — appreciate the volatility of freedom. All it takes is one bad day, and a similar fate could be bestowed upon us.

“Everyone should care about restorative justice in this area because cannabis should never have been illegal in the first place, and because it could easily be anyone in the wrong circumstances,” Morgan Fox, political director of the national cannabis advocacy group NORML told High Times.

“Given the lifelong negative effects and collateral consequences of simply having a criminal record, let alone spending time behind bars, it makes no sense to continue to punish people for federal violations for behavior that is no longer illegal,” he added. “Not only do these direct and collateral effects hinder people from becoming productive, independent members of society and harm their families and communities, but the costs associated with punishing them are an unnecessary drain on the taxpayer.”

The toll of this drain is significant.

According to the latest Federal Register’s Annual Determination of Average Cost of Incarceration (COIF), the average annual COIF for a federal inmate in a federal facility in Fiscal Year 2020 was $39,158 ($120.59 per day). The average annual COIF for a federal inmate in a Residential Reentry Center for FY 2020 was $35,663 ($97.44 per day). Considering roughly 40,000 people are still in cages for non-violent pot offenses, the price tag for keeping them is sheer lunacy.

It is worth noting that arrests for federal cannabis crimes have gone down since 2019. There were fewer than 1,000 people slapped with federal pot charges in 2021. Still, hundreds of thousands are arrested for weed every year, most of which (89%) are for simple possession.

Now, state and federal prisons are not full of harmless pot users who have been stripped from their families forever over a measly joint. That much is true. Still, thousands of these low-end offenders continue to be put through the wringers of the criminal justice system every year, taking it on the chin royally even when the likelihood of spending a day in prison is slim to none.

Most first-time pot offenders are tossed into the system and forced to swallow their fair share of probationary requirements — they can’t smoke weed, can’t be around people who do, can’t leave the state, must attend drug and alcohol classes, pay elaborate fines and court costs, submit to random drug testing, etc. Failure to comply with any of these probationary terms, and, well, there’s a jail cell waiting for them. The punishment for pot possession only gets stiffer with subsequent offenses. In some cases, three-strike rules have put non-violent pot offenders like Missouri’s Jeff Mizanskey in prison for life. In fact, Mizanskey, who had his life sentence commuted in late 2015 by then-Governor Jay Nixon after serving more than two decades behind bars for pot possession, would still be a resident of the Jefferson City Correctional Center today if not for the tireless efforts of lawmakers and cannabis advocacy groups fighting for his release.

A heck of a lot of people like Mr. Mizanskey remain in prison for a plant that’s poised to become one of the most prominent economy boosters this country has witnessed since booze. Some of the latest predictions show the national pot market will be worth nearly $40 billion once Uncle Sam admits to losing the drug war and lets the herb go legal. It means millions of new jobs and a substantial economic boost for everyone from contractors to independent businesses.

Furthermore, most reasonable citizens would agree that the US government’s attitude and behavior toward cannabis offenders is wrong. And according to Stephen Post, campaign strategist for the LPP, the issue hits close to home for many American families. “Given that over a third of United States residents have experienced the trauma of having an immediate family member who has been to jail or prison, I think more people already care about this issue than is realized,” he told us.

For those who don’t give two flying squirts about pot offenders, perhaps it is time to consider the moral argument.

“Communities in the United States need to care about the release of those still imprisoned for cannabis if we are ever going to achieve our nation’s democratic ideal that ‘all men are created equal,’” Post added. “The enforcement of cannabis criminalization is one of this nation’s biggest hypocrisies as tens of thousands remain behind bars, while others are privileged to generate millions of dollars.”

Although progress on Capitol Hill has been slow concerning changing the nation’s weed laws, there is a push, one with bipartisan support, to not only legalize the green at the national level but in a way that also allows for the release of those incarcerated for a variety of cannabis offenses. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was just approved by the US House of Representatives and now advances to the Senate for consideration, would allow more states to open cannabis markets to adults 21 and older. It would also ensure that those caught up in the gears of cannabis enforcement over the years are not forgotten. This policy change would come with strict criteria before a pot offender finds a reprieve. 

“The MORE Act explicitly limits the charges that are eligible for expungement or resentencing to non-violent cannabis convictions without ‘kingpin’ enhancements,” Fox asserts. “In cases of resentencing of a person who is currently incarcerated on multiple convictions, only the portions of the sentence directly tied to eligible cannabis convictions would be considered and affected, and a judicial panel would weigh all the factors in a person’s case before making final decisions about whether to shorten their sentence.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the MORE Act will go the distance any time soon. Even if the Senate were to give it the favorable attention it deserves — an improbable move considering the power struggle within the upper chamber — President Biden still isn’t willing to give his full support to the cannabis cause. For now, pot offenders all over the country will continue to sit in prison while others (maybe even you) could join them one day. So, if there is a message that needs to be conveyed, according to Flores-Williams, faith that our lawmakers are looking out for our best interests is an ignorant and dangerous position. The time for asking “why” we’re still jailing pot offenders is over. Americans should demand as much from the actions of their government as they do casual society. Where’s the cancel culture when we really need it? Because keeping otherwise innocent people behind bars for weed is the real cancellable offense.

“Try not to be blindly obedient,” Flores-Williams advises. “The law and justice are different things, and to blindly follow the law without any concern for justice reduces you to a non-citizen. “That said, I don’t know anyone who thinks that someone should be doing life in prison for pot in 2022. Except maybe a DEA agent whose job depends on it.”

The post Why Should We Care If Pot Offenders Get Released From Prison? appeared first on High Times.

Continue Reading

Cannabis

Weedo: The new kicks on the block

Published

on

By

Ever since the inception of 8000Kicks and their introduction of sustainable hemp footwear, inquiries directed to co-founder Bernardo Carreira often humorously inquire about the safety of smoking the brand’s sneakers. Although a jest, the consistent stream of such queries on the brand’s social media channels augured well. Never one to squander a creative opportunity, Carreira seized upon his clientele’s suggestion by partnering with the renowned European seed bank, Royal Queen Seeds (RQS), to birth WEEDO: an exclusive collection of shoes crafted from premium cannabis blooms.

8000Kicks typically harnesses traditional hemp fibers, transforming them into footwear through a multi-stage process encompassing harvesting, retting, carding, and pulping of the source material, culminating in the spinning of yarn, which is then meticulously woven into textiles of superior quality.

WEEDO footwear, however, diverges from convention by incorporating CBD extracted from the cannabis plant. Each shoe is meticulously crafted using up to 500 grams of top-tier CBD sourced from cannabis plants. They are exceedingly sought-after, with only a limited edition of 100 pairs available. Offered exclusively on the RQS and 8000Kicks websites on a first-come, first-served basis, the steep price range of WEEDO footwear (1000-1500€/$1500USD) reflects the substantial cost and labor invested in producing such a distinctive and captivating product.

According to Carreira, the genesis of WEEDO stemmed from a collaborative brainstorming session conducted via email between himself and RQS President Shai Ramsahai, which culminated in a face-to-face meeting at Spain’s annual Spannabis cannabis expo. “We were already entertaining the idea of a collaboration,” Carreira remarks. “Upon our rendezvous at Spannabis, we formalized our intent. Amidst a plethora of unconventional concepts, the notion of a cannabis-infused shoe took root.”

What does the creation of a cannabis-infused shoe entail? Carreira elucidates that the process involves the utilization of an industrial grinder to pulverize cannabis blooms into minute fragments, subsequently hand-stitched onto the shoe with meticulous precision.

In a bid to spotlight sustainable materials, WEEDO footwear integrates cotton alongside hemp for laces, insoles, and interiors. Furthermore, to ensure the shoes align with vegan and eco-friendly standards, these materials are bonded using water-based adhesive. Moreover, their aesthetic and olfactory appeal is noteworthy.

A footwear marvel: A sneaker boasting innate aging capabilities? This further fuels the enthusiasm of sneaker aficionados for the collaboration between Royal Queen Seeds, 8000Kicks, and Nisiseltor Studio.
Visually, the sneakers evoke the impression of having been uniformly coated in freshly ground cannabis—a spectacle that is surreal, chic, and remarkably sustainable.

photo: 8000Kicks

“The most remarkable aspect of these shoes lies in their appearance, texture, and aroma,” Carreira muses. “Even with the shoe before me in my office, I find it difficult to fathom that we’ve actualized a cannabis-infused shoe. Its singularity is what renders it so captivating.”

Augmenting its novelty is the revelation that fortunate possessors of WEEDO footwear will observe a color metamorphosis over time. This phenomenon is straightforward: owing to their composition of authentic cannabis blooms, the shoes are predisposed to transitioning from verdant to earthy tones as the blooms desiccate.

A sneaker endowed with inherent aging properties? This serves as yet another catalyst for the fervor surrounding this special collaboration between Royal Queen Seeds, 8000Kicks, and Nisiseltor Studio. In fact, Carreira reports an influx of over 5000 new registrations subsequent to the public announcement of WEEDO’s impending release. With such fervent interest, could 8000Kicks continue along this trajectory with subsequent releases featuring authentic cannabis?

“It’s quite a formidable endeavor, truth be told,” Carreira acknowledges. “Presently, our focus is on finalizing the pre-sale launch of WEEDO.”

While the CEO of 8000Kicks understandably directs his attention toward the imminent launch of WEEDO, he remains open to the prospect of future fantastical and groundbreaking innovations.

“Our objective is to deliver WEEDO with unparalleled quality, leaving our clientele astounded, but thereafter…the possibilities are boundless,” he asserts. “Consider this: Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma—titans in the industry, yet none have ventured into this realm. Yet, we have—we’ve birthed the world’s inaugural cannabis-infused shoe.”

Remarkable, isn’t it? Ponder on that for a moment.

Continue Reading

Cannabis

High Expectations: A Journey Through the Cannabis Expo in Johannesburg

Exploring the Cannabis Landscape in Johannesburg South Africa

Published

on

By

Embarking on a journey through the vibrant cannabis landscape at the Cannabis Expo in Johannesburg was nothing short of extraordinary. From groundbreaking innovations to the palpable enthusiasm in the air, the event left an indelible mark on every attendee.

The expo showcased a myriad of cutting-edge cannabis products, each a testament to the industry’s relentless pursuit of excellence. From revolutionary cultivation techniques to colorful consumption devices and mouth watering edibles on sale.

Navigating through the bustling crowd, I had the privilege of engaging with industry pioneers. Their insights into the cannabis market’s evolution were not only enlightening but also provided a glimpse into the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.

Amidst the booths and displays, I witnessed the beating heart of Johannesburg’s cannabis community. Passionate advocates, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts gathered to share their experiences, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie.The expo was a melting pot of cultures and perspectives, a true reflection of the diverse tapestry that makes up South Africa’s cannabis community. From traditional rituals to modern practices, the event celebrated the rich heritage woven into the fabric of cannabis culture.

Embarking on a journey through the vibrant cannabis landscape at the Cannabis Expo in Johannesburg was nothing short of extraordinary. From groundbreaking innovations to the palpable enthusiasm in the air, the event left an indelible mark on every attendee.

The expo showcased a myriad of cutting-edge cannabis products, each a testament to the industry’s relentless pursuit of excellence. From revolutionary cultivation techniques to colorful consumption devices and mouth watering edibles on sale.

Navigating through the bustling crowd, I had the privilege of engaging with industry pioneers. Their insights into the cannabis market’s evolution were not only enlightening but also provided a glimpse into the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.

Amidst the booths and displays, I witnessed the beating heart of Johannesburg’s cannabis community. Passionate advocates, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts gathered to share their experiences, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie.The expo was a melting pot of cultures and perspectives, a true reflection of the diverse tapestry that makes up South Africa’s cannabis community. From traditional rituals to modern practices, the event celebrated the rich heritage woven into the fabric of cannabis culture.

As the day unfolded, it became evident that the cannabis community in Johannesburg is not just an industry; it’s a movement. The call to action, echoed through the vibrant atmosphere, resonated with a shared goal — to uplift and support one another. I extend an invitation to join hands in supporting the cannabis movement. Your contribution can pave the way for more events, more innovations, and a future where cannabis is embraced and understood.

In conclusion, attending the Cannabis Expo in Johannesburg was an immersive experience, an odyssey through the present and future of a rapidly evolving industry. From groundbreaking innovations to the heartbeat of a united community, every moment underscored the significance of cannabis in South Africa’s cultural narrative. As we move forward, let’s continue to support and celebrate the boundless potential that lies within the cannabis community.

Continue Reading

Cannabis

Unleashing Creativity: Cannabis and Artistic Inspiration

Cannabis + Creativity doc shares stories of plant-infused artistry

Published

on

By

Cannabis, often synonymous with creativity, has served as a muse for countless artists, musicians, writers, and thinkers throughout the annals of history. This profound connection between cannabis and the arts is brilliantly illuminated in the recently released short documentary, “Cannabis + Creativity,” directed by Elana Frankel, with Kassia Graham serving as the assistant director

Poster by Dan Tashman

In this captivating film, a diverse array of artists representing various creative realms come together to dive deeper into the profound influence of the cannabis plant on their creative processes. The subjects range from accomplished composers and musicians to renowned poets and innovative designers. The documentary delves into both the personal and professional lives of these six visionary artists, offering an intimate glimpse into their unique creative methodologies, all while unravelling the profound impact that cannabis has on their artistic expression.

Within the short timeframe, viewers are treated to firsthand testimonials from each creator, as they generously invite us into their personal relationship with the plant. Whilst providing a window into their creative workflow as impacted by cannabis. Each individual brings their own fresh perspective, coupled with personal anecdotes, sharing stories of entrepreneurial journeys in the cannabis industry, or how they turn to cannabis-infused edibles to help them tap into their creative wellspring, slowing down the world to forge profound connections with their artistry.

Director Elana Frankel eloquently encapsulates the essence of the documentary, stating, “Can cannabis increase creativity? We embarked on a journey of discovery within our documentary, ‘Cannabis + Creativity.’ Through the lens of six individuals hailing from diverse backgrounds and professions, we set out to explore how this remarkable plant supports and fuels their creative lifestyles. They experiment, take risks, break rules, and most importantly, they have fun. In the end, they all share a common tool – cannabis – as a means to express themselves and bring their artistic visions to life.”

The intricate interplay between cannabis and creativity is a subject of enduring fascination. Cannabis documentaries have emerged as an invaluable medium, not only for educating but also entertaining audiences, shedding light on the multifaceted aspects of this versatile plant. So dive into this green frontier and be sure to include “Cannabis + Creativity” on your must-watch list

Continue Reading

Trending