[Editor's note: Along with signing the below White House petition encouraging the president to grant clemency to these federal prisoners with life sentences for cannabis-only related offenses, please take a moment to do something even more important and write letters of support to the clemency petition to both the President (1600 Pennsylvania, NW, Washington, DC, 20500-0004) and the Office of Pardon Attorney (1425 New York Ave., NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20530) asking for immediate commutation of these prisoners' sentences.
Additionally, please mention each man by name: John Knock, Paul Free, William Dekle, Larry Duke and Charles Cundiff.]
Cannabis Prohibition is ending in America (and likely soon around the world too). It is not going to end without prolonged legal, political and regulatory battles. This is well known and anticipated by reformers.
Social justice movements take decades to build up credibility, social impetus and political saliency. There are, necessarily, many angles by which cannabis prohibition laws can be assaulted: legislation, binding voter initiatives and impact litigation.Recently, the law office of Michael Kennedy (the principle behind Trans High Corporation, publishers of High Times Magazine; lifetime member of NORML Legal member) filed an historic legal petition with the federal government seeking clemency for five elderly prisoners serving lifetime sentences for cannabis-only related crimes. In the many hundreds of debates and discussions I’ve had with law enforcement officials and elected policymakers about the need to replace cannabis prohibition laws with logical alternatives, I’m vexed to no end when they make the ridiculous claim: ‘no one gets arrested for marijuana anymore and certainly no one is incarcerated for the stuff!’
To wit, 1) there are over 750,000 annual cannabis arrests (90% for possession-only) that generate many tens of thousands of cannabis-only offenders sent to jail or prison, and 2) these five men are serving lifetime sentences, for a product that is no longer contraband in two states, decriminalized in fourteen states and eighteen states (and the District of Columbia) now have medical cannabis laws (with six states allowing commercial retail access to the herb with a physician’s recommendation).
This federal petition to release these men back to their loving families and to get off the tax roll is born out of the non-profit organization called Life For Pot (where the groups is tracking at least twenty prisoners serving life sentences for cannabis-only related offenses), the heart felt project of volunteer Beth Curtis.
Mr. Obama indicated to ABC News that ‘he has bigger fish to fry’ when asked about what if anything the feds are going to regarding Colorado and Washington voters recently approving cannabis legalization measures. Whether the president is going to expend any political capital at all in actually advancing cannabis law reforms in his last four years remains to be seen, but, the man should act post haste, giving a nod to the new legal era America has entered regarding cannabis prohibition, on this well researched and written petition by granting clemency to these former and now elderly pot cultivators and smugglers.
We can all help place greater public focus and attention on this federal petition by letting the White House know that President Obama should ‘do the right thing’ and pardon these lifetime prisoners for growing and supplying cannabis to a willing and wonting population of cannabis consumers while unpopular (and largely unenforceable) prohibition laws were still in place.
Seattle, WA: Event organizers are expecting to break attendance records this weekend for the 21st annual Seattle Hempfest, taking place this Friday through Sunday at Myrtle Edwards Park along the downtown Seattle waterfront.
Hempfest has drawn crowds in excesses of 250,000 people over the three day ‘protestival’.
One of the main focuses of this year Hempfest is Washington’s legalization voter initiative, Initiative 502. Washington is one of three states where voters this fall will have the opportunity to substantively reform their state’s personal use cannabis laws. Oregon and Colorado voters also have limited marijuana legalization measures appearing on their statewide ballots this fall.
Over 60 musical acts and over one hundred speakers — including NORML Founder Keith Stroup, I-502 sponsor, NORML Advisory Board member and travel expert Rick Steves, numerous NORML board members and chapter coordinators, members of Seattle’s City Council, former law enforcement officials and dozens of cannabis law reform activists will participate in the event from numerous stages and at the ‘Hemposium’ educational tent.
A list of speakers is found here.
A complete line-up of this year’s scheduled events, musicians, and speakers is available online at: http://www.hempfest.org/.
If you’re not able to attend this weekend’s HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup in Los Angeles, here at The NORML Network we’ve got the next best thing. Tune in Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 7pm Pacific Time at http://live.norml.org for all the panels, presentations, interviews, and floor tours from LA Center Studios.
We’ll also be presenting our “It’s 4:20 Somewhere” raffles. At every 4:20 in America – Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, Alaska, and Hawaii Time – we’ll be raffling off a prize package of NORML buttons, stickers, pins, books, DVDs, t-shirts, and backpacks for those in attendance. (That’s 1:20pm – 6:20pm Pacific.) For those of you watching online, follow our NORML Network Twitter feed @NORMLNet for your chance to win, too.
Today @ 1:30 PM (eastern) the NORML and High Times-sponsored Silver Tour, hosted by America’s longest serving cannabis prisoner Robert Platshorn, is live from Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Topic of the day: Teaching senior citizens about the safety, utility, effectiveness, cost savings and politics of medical cannabis.
Featured speakers include Irvin Rosenfeld (one of the five federal medical cannabis patients who receive 300 pre-rolled ‘joints’ monthly from a special and closed-to-the-public medical cannabis research project) and former NORML board member and longtime cannabis medical researcher Mary Lynn Mathre, RN (from Patients Out of Time) and NORML Legal Committee member attorney Michael Minardi.