Decriminalization: Cops Relax On Pot
This is the story about what I learned from my fat-smacking bellyflop into the world of selling dope:
My girlfriend had just given birth to our first daughter and she was off on maternity leave. While the leave was paid, the small amount that we received each week left an enormous gap between available funds and bills due. We were hurting for money. Some days it was a matter of wondering how far we could over draft our bank account before they put a hold on our cards. So we sat down to have a mom and dad talk about what the fuck we were going to do to survive. Should I get a second job? Should we put our daughter in day care and both work fulltime? I playfully nudge my girlfriend, prostitution?
She slaps me. Bad joke.
Then in one of those lightbulb, milestone parenting moments we jointly agreed- we were going to sell weed. There would be no second jobs, or the taking of my daughter away from her mother so that she could resume full-time work. Foraying into the distribution industry was a flexible option with the potential for a lucrative return and we wouldn’t have to sacrifice any more family time on top of that. For us, selling weed was the sensible choice.
A few weeks later this sensible decision delivered me face to face with an undercover law-enforcement officer as I tried to smuggle in 20 grams of pre-rolled doobs into Laneway Music Festival. Fearing the legal shit-storm poised to rain down upon me, I found only one option preferable- standing my ground I acknowledged my awareness over the law I had broken, yet expressed my opinion over the moral question of a law that promotes the use of an organic herb as a criminal action while the venom of sibling death-dealers tobacco and alcohol poison the masses daily with a full government sanction.
Surprisingly, my brazen gambit worked.
Instead of a mandatory minimum sentence the most hardship I faced that day was watching all my weed get confiscated as the officer, while actually agreeing upon the absurdity of the prohibition on cannabis, let me off with, essentially, a warning.
I could have jumped in the air and clicked my heels three times as I walked away from that encounter a free man.
I got lucky, however, if like me you currently live in a state that has not seen any measure of cannabis law reform, when the blue and red lights up behind you, there’s some apprehension. With good reason too- copping a cannabis charge can result in the loss of your job, the loss of your license, the seizure of your children by the state or God forbid that you live Montana where the unlawful possession of any amount of cannabis can result in a lifetime behind bars. Convicted marijuana offenders can also be denied federal financial student aid, welfare, food stamps and may also be removed from public housing.
Seem legit to you?
Considering that between the years 1992 and 2000 almost 5 million Americans had been arrested for marijuana, (that’s more than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington DC combined), there’s a lot of people that should be taking an interest in the percentage of America’s population that are being branded as criminals for the passive resistance found in exercising what should be a civil right.
Does it seem like justice that a small possession offender could serve more time than a violent offender, or a rapist even? In states that still rule against marijuana with rigid totality such outlandish hypothesis is a frightening reality. Using this legislative scope, it’s easy to imagine just how drastically the decriminalization of a disrepute herb can change the lives of millions across the country… each year police detain more Americans on marijuana charges than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter highlighted the problem beautifully during a 1977 address to Congress by stating, “Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.”
Bravo Jimmy, spot on. Decriminalization returns common dignity to the everyday citizen. A father acquiring medicine for his child would no longer have to worry about legal ramifications. A patient would no longer have to feel like a criminal for choosing their own medication. Decriminalization restores basic constitutional rights to each one of us. It returns mothers to motherhood and fathers to fatherhood. It returns the brothers and sisters and unjustly vilified employees who have or may otherwise have been branded as criminals back into ordinary, non-offending citizens with un-impinged liberties.
Albeit, people are beginning to awaken to the flapdoodle idiosyncrasy behind much of the nations official stance on the administration and possession of cannabis. With 58% of the American population currently backing full legalization, 9 states having legalized recreational cannabis, 27 permitting its medicinal application and over 20 states having passed laws that prevent the criminal prosecution of marijuana users, the future is definitely looking brighter.
Back to the opening of my story though- what did I learn from my little misadventure into the world of selling dope? Other than the fact that looking like a massive criminal warranting random searches is ruinously detrimental to my illegal moonlighting aspirations, I learned that even law enforcement officials who are charged with upholding the law may from time to time use the powers of common sense to determine a desperate father trying to make some extra cash apart from a real criminal.
And that gives me hope.
There’s still a lot of legwork to do though. Activists around the nation are staging protests, writing state representatives and signing petitions in an effort to quell the legislative bigotry against cannabis once and for all.
I’d recommend getting involved. Try checking out your local NORML chapter and see what you can do to help. You never know, your efforts might one day help prevent a father trying to make some extra dough from being branded a criminal.
Gotta run for now,