“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” -Gandhi
Patricia Spottedcrow, a mother and first time offender from Oklahoma, was originally sentenced to 12 years behind bars for selling $30 worth of marijuana. For months, the NORML Women’s Alliance, and other organizations have been bringing attention to one of the most egregious cases of the war on drugs in recent history. After several outreach campaigns to local law enforcement and elected officials, and especially a strong grassroots effort spearheading my outraged mothers and reformers alike, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have recommended early parole for Spottedcrow. While this is a small victory in the battle against marijuana prohibition, it is significant in showing that grassroots efforts trult can make a significant difference in the lives of those adversely impacted by the government’s war on drugs.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Grassroots support may evolve into early parole for a Kingfisher mother who was handed a strict prison sentence for a first-time offense of selling $31 worth of marijuana.
After her story was published in the Tulsa World’s series on Women in Prison in 2011, a groundswell of support emerged. In October, a Kingfisher County judge reduced her sentence by four years.
Spottedcrow’s advocates expressed concern for possible racial bias, disparate sentences for drug crimes, Oklahoma’s No. 1 female incarceration rate per capita and the effects on children growing up with incarcerated parents.
Because children were in Spottedcrow’s home when she was arrested, a charge of possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor was added. Her mother, Delita Starr, was also charged with the crime but was given a 30-year suspended sentence so she could care for Spottedcrow’s four children while their mother was incarcerated.
Board member Marc Dreyer, senior pastor at Tulsa’s Memorial Baptist Church, was instrumental in getting Spottedcrow’s case early consideration.
He said he requested to meet Spottedcrow while visiting Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft a few months ago, after reading about her case in the Tulsa World.
“Based on quantity of drugs involved and the desperation of her situation at the time, it was my view that she ought to have consideration by the board for parole, as there were some extenuating circumstances,” Dreyer said. He requested that her case be moved to the board’s April hearing.
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The NORML Women’s Alliance would like to thank everyone who took the time to make their voice heard against this injustice. Together, we will prevail. Support the NORML Women’s Alliance with a donation by clicking the link below:
At 8am on the morning of September 29, 2011, the Butte Interagency Narcotic Task Force (BINTF) forced entry into the home of Daisy Bram and her husband Jayme Walsh. Law enforcement officers arrested the couple and working jointly with Child Protective Services, seized their children — including their 3-week-old suckling newborn, Zeus, who was violently ripped from his mother’s arms. He and his 15-month-old brother, Thor, were snatched and placed in a stranger’s home. Neither of these nursing babies had ever been away from their parents.
Three weeks prior, on September 7, 2011, after a summer of watching sheriff’s helicopters fly over the area, two Butte County Sheriff’s deputies trespassed onto a clearly marked private road, maneuvered around a locked/gated driveway, and onto the property of Daisy and Jayme’s remote home on a mountain in Concow, California. They were there for a “compliance check”.
[A “compliance check” is a convenient excuse created by local county law enforcement used solely for the purpose of unlawfully obtaining access to private homes to investigate legal medicinal cannabis gardens for potential arrest and prosecution.]
During this “compliance check” police assured Daisy’s husband that “…everything looks okay… good luck with the baby.” The necessary and appropriate valid medical paperwork was and is in order.
The couple has since been charged with eight class A felonies, six relating to cannabis and two charges of child abuse). After a preliminary hearing, at which Jayme Walsh represented himself and Bram, they had the good fortune of retaining attorneys Michael Levinsohn and Jen Reeder. The child related charges, and one cannabis related charge were dismissed, leaving five remaining criminal cannabis charges. One of the most disturbing factors in this nightmare is that there has never been any attempt by prosecutors to verify the validity of their status as qualified patients in the state of California. Both Walsh and Bram have legal state-recognized recommendations for medical marijuana.
UPDATE [3/13/12] – Butte County Assistant District Attorney, Jeff Greeson, re-filed felony child abuse and misdemeanor child endangerment charges, against Daisy Bram (www.freemybabies.org). Daisy and her husband Jayme Walsh are medical cannabis patients in Butte County. Their 3 week old and 15 month-old children were taken and held by Butte County CPS for more than four months, following the parents arrest for cannabis.
Tamara Lujan, NORML Women’s Alliance Community Leader for Butte County issued the following statement:
“Considering the felony and misdemeanor charges were dropped, and are now being re-filed after public outcry and the filing for a Grand Jury Investigation, we can come to no other conclusion except this is a retaliatory measure, from the Butte County DA’s office.”
The outrage over this incident has driven several local residents to come forward with similar complaints regarding the misconduct of the BINTF and Child Services Division of Butte County (which leads all of California’s large counties in the percentage rate of permanent removal of children from parents). As a result, the NORML Women’s Alliance has filed an official request for an investigation by the Grand Jury in Butte County (including a financial audit). On Friday March 9th, the NWA, along with Butte County residents, put forward a complaint to the Grand Jury of Butte requesting an investigation into the County Children Services Division for the agency’s perceived and widespread misconduct. The findings in the people’s request include numerous testimonials from directly affected persons, submitted herein via the GRAND JURY COMPLAINT FORMS, which specify various and detailed claims of CSD misdeeds.
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“We thank the Grand Jury for its time, consideration and diligence in pursing our request. Only when government agencies have proper oversight can we as a community rest assured that corruption, abuse and other misdeeds are kept in check and deterred. Together We the People of Butte County and the Grand Jury can make these necessary strides of investigation and oversight to ensure all Butte families are truly served well, and are safe and secure at home.” – Tamara Lujan (NWA Butte County Community Leader)
[Fact: Drugs are pervasive in our society and, one way or another, adolescents will be exposed to mind-altering substances.]
It is an unmistakable reality that a significant number of high school students will try marijuana. According to the recent 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, nearly 40 percent of all high school seniors admit to having smoked marijuana in the past year – a percentage that has held relatively stable since the study’s inception over 35 years ago.
Some want to use this fact as a justification to deny any opportunity to rationally discuss marijuana, its use, and its risks with children in an open and honest manner. They think that saying anything about marijuana other than encouraging its total abstinence is condoning its use. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When society teaches sex education, are we suggesting that all the teenagers go out and engage in sexual intercourse? No. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that the best way to reduce the negative effects associated with sex (unwanted pregnancy, STD’s, etc) is through honest, objective information that allow people to understand their options and provides them with the tools they need to make informed decisions.
When we talk to teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving, are we condoning alcohol use among minors? No, of course not. It is, however, a reality that many adolescents will a) likely consume alcohol as seniors in high school and b) have access to a car. Yes, we encourage students not to drink. But, we urge them specifically not to drink and drive.
We can all agree that teens should not smoke pot, or be using any mind-altering substances. Those are important, developmental years. Still, teens should be educated regarding how smoking marijuana can affect their body’s development specifically, how to reduce any harms associated with its use, and to distinguish between use and abuse. There should be honest, truthful drug education.
As Kristen Gwynne states in her AlterNet article, “Give young people accurate information, and they will use it to make better decisions that result in less harm to themselves, because teens, like everybody else, do not actually want to get hurt or become addicts.”
She goes on to say, “Giving students honest information about drugs [will]…increase the odds that they will use drugs safely, and reduce the likelihood of experiencing the [relative] harms associated with [it].”
By contrast, the Drug Czar and federal law advocates for complete prohibition, limited information explaining the real effects of marijuana and condemning any opportunity, as Gwynne states, to provide “education that helps teens understand their health options, and ways of reducing the harm of drugs.” When it comes to our children, like everything else we teach in school for development and behavioral growth, drug education should be based in reality, not a denial of it.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “If a state expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
NORML’s youtube channel, NORMLtv, recently launched a new video series entitled ‘NORML Update,’ which highlights reform efforts by NORML chapters and affiliates.
In the latest installment, the NORML Women’s Alliance Steering Committee convenes in Washington, DC to talk strategy for the coming year. The women met in the shadow of the White House to discuss new and innovative ways to move public opinion towards the legalization of marijuana.
Ordinary women doing extraordinary things brought about the repeal of alcohol prohibition and NORML believes women will provide the final push needed to legalize cannabis. Historically, women support legalization at much lower levels than their male counterparts. It is the mission of the NORML Women’s Alliance to increase this base of support through addressing and vocalizing the concerns of modern, mainstream women.
Coming Up Next on NORMLtv: Executive Director Allen St. Pierre fields user questions on ‘Ask NORML’
NORML women will be descending upon Denver, Colorado next week to hold their first major fundraising event at KushCon II’s three-day lifestyle convention. From Friday, December 17 to Sunday, December 19 the Colorado Convention Center will be buzzing with thousands of medical marijuana experts and enthusiasts in the largest cannabis lifestyle convention of the year, and the NORML Women’s Alliance (NWA) will play a prominent role.
Hydrobotanical Engineering, LLC, the company that owns the GrowBots franchise, has generously donated one of their major products, the GrowBot Garage to the NORML Women’s Alliance to be raffled at KushCon II. Tickets will be sold throughout the weekend at the NORML Women’s Alliance booth inside the Denver Convention Center. If you are in town for KushCon II make sure to stop by the NORML Women’s Alliance booth to show your support and buy your raffle ticket (only $20 a ticket).
Several women of the Alliance’s newly formed steering committee will be in attendance, including Cheryl Shuman, Director of Public Relations and Media for Kush Magazine, KushCon and DailyBuds.com. Other NORML women who will be speaking and performing throughout the event include Nashville singer Greta Gaines, New Jersey NORML head Anne Davis, Esq, Colorado NORML’s Georgia Edson and NWA director Sabrina Fendrick.
The NORML Women’s Alliance fundraising weekend begins with a business-to-business networking event sponsored by the Medical Marijuana Business Alliance and KUSH Magazine on Thursday, December 16th where the elite of the cannabis industry will gather to celebrate the movement and organize product and service giveaways expected to raise thousands of dollars. For more information on the NWA’s involvement with KushCon II, please contact Cheryl Shuman at firstname.lastname@example.org, 818.223.8011 or 818.835.7131.
The NORML Women’s Alliance is a nonpartisan coalition of prominent, educated, successful, geographically diverse, professional women who believe that cannabis prohibition is a self-destructive and hypocritical policy that undermines the American family, sends a mixed and false message to our young people, and destroys the cherished principles of personal liberty.