Life In Prison For 51 Cannabis Plants?

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director November 15, 2009

    At a time of heightened national security post-911, a near-depression economy and state government budgets bleeding red coast to coast, what is the moral and economic imperative that compels some in law enforcement to seek lifetime sentences for small-time cannabis growers?

    Again, cannabis consumers and activists should never shrink back from prohibitionist (and some in the media) arguments that “no one gets arrested for cannabis in the US (it’s practically legal!)” when over 755,000 cannabis consumers are busted annually for simple possession (94,000 others were charged with cultivation, distribution or conspiracy therein).

    Even more so when there are outrageous claims made that ‘no goes to jail or prison for pot’.

    Unfortunately for a Jackson Mississippi man named Ronald Sekul, he can attest to how wrong these false claims are as he stares down a lifetime sentence for cultivating 51 cannabis plants.

    Man could get life in pot bust, Jackson resident was growing 51 plants, officials say
    A 33-year-old Jackson man accused of growing marijuana in his apartment could get up to life in prison if convicted.

    In the case of Ronald Christopher Sekul, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics intends to ask prosecutors to apply a law called the “kingpin” statute, MBN Director Marshall Fisher said.

    The statute can be applied to Sekul’s case because he allegedly had a drug operation for longer than 12 consecutive months and had more than 10 pounds of marijuana, Fisher said.

    Sekul was arrested Wednesday for allegedly growing 4-foot marijuana plants in the back bedroom of the fourplex he lives in at 1510 Myrtle St., according to MBN.

    He is out of jail on $50,000 bond.

    Read the entire article here.

    Think about, life in prison for cultivating one of the most popular agricultural products in America–arguably the number one commercially cultivated commodity in the country. Think about the annual expense incurred by the taxpayers of Mississippi for the incarceration of Mr. Sekul: $22,000-30,000 a year; think about the total cost to the taxpayers if Mr. Sekul spends 10 years in prison (approx. $275,000), 20 years (approx. $600,000) or 30 years (approx. $1 million).

    Rather than tax and actually control cannabis like more dangerous and addictive government-sanctioned drugs like tobacco and alcohol products, is it not remarkable beyond words that the state and federal governments still engages both massive number of annual cannabis-related arrests and the incarceration annually nationwide of an estimated 45,000-65,000 cannabis-only offenders, while still not achieving any of the stated goals of prohibition (view a comprehensive NORML report analyzing cannabis arrests in the US here, read page 45 to see where none of the government’s stated goals are achieved).

    Feds Are The Ones Still Stirring Pot With Taxpayers’ Money

    However, there is a potential policy silver-lining to buttress the expense to the taxpayers and tragedy of what our society is trying to do Mr. Sekul and that is that President Obama’s new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, can stop these kinds of foolish and expensive incarcerations for cannabis by de-funding the federal grants provided to local law enforcement and their ‘multi-jursidictional anti-drug task forces’, like JET, the Jackson Enforcement Team, which boasts of Mr. Sekul’s arrest.

    How many fewer Americans would be arrested annually if the federal government didn’t fund local arrests?

    Exactly how many taxpayer dollars could be saved if the expense and trouble of local cannabis arrests were not subsidized by the feds?

    161 responses to “Life In Prison For 51 Cannabis Plants?”

    1. C says:

      This story makes me sick. People grow more than that legally in my state. Michigan. This mitten has a grip on it’s marijuana laws.

    2. Mark Anthony says:

      I’m all for cannabis reform, but 51 plants in a 4 plex is over the top. I can see having a few plants for your own use, but this guy is a dealer. a bad example, he should be going to jail.

      Know your limit people, 51 plants is way over!!

      [Editor’s note: The idea that you support the government putting a person in jail, for life, for 51 plants, is truly reprehensible. And you claim you support reform? Really? NO human should go to jail for cultivating cannabis, whether it is one plant or a thousand. Are grape, apple, barley, hops, potato farmers limited to 50 plants via a government policy? Of course not, and neither should cannabis cultivators in a free market-oriented democracy.

      BTW, in some states with medical cannabis laws, a patient or their caregiver can grow collectively far more than 50 plants…and that does not make them ‘dealers’.]

    3. David says:

      This makes me sick to my stomach. We’re putting people away for life for a GODDAMN PLANT THAT HURTS NOBODY!!!


      I’m sick and fucking tired of prisons making millions off of the incarceration of other HUMAN BEINGS!! NON-VIOLENT HUMANS AT THAT! PEOPLE WITH LIVES!

    4. Don says:

      I bet the Cartel`s in Mexico are cheering about this, Bust the Local Grower and support Imports and criminal gangs, That local Grower was cutting into Cartel Profits.
      The Fed`s are addicted to the Cash confiscations and seizures generated by drug busts along with the bribes and “Profit Sharing” from Illegal traffic along our boarders, Not to mention the “Power Trip” most of these people are on, How many Boarder Agents have been busted already? There is still too much money to be gained by these agencies keeping things status-Quo, I agree, Cut all the Anti-Drug Funding, Especially for Cannabis and Free all the “Political Prisoners” of Cannabis Prohibition, Legalize and Remove the profit from the Black Market.

    5. GovernmentAtWork says:

      Ladies and gentle give your government a hand. BOY THEY SURE DID HANDLE THIS SITUATION WITH SOME COMMON SENSE. Remember now, we live in the land of the police state, not the land of the free. Don’t get those mixed up!!


    6. Stergis says:

      Life in prison for growing Marijuana is ridiculus.

    7. RP2012 says:

      i wonder what George Washington would do if masked gun toting government agents came to steal his crops?

    8. samson says:

      LIFE in prison……for NOT hurting any one??? For pursueing happiness in the “privacy” of his own home??
      I gotta say….I’m blushing…..CUZ I’M FRIGGIN’ EMBARASSED TO BE AN American right about now.

    9. Jeff says:


    10. Anonymous says:

      First of all he didn’t get a life sentence and if he did the rest of the U.S. would be in an outrage over this kind of sentence so i doubt if he will . The one and only time i was down South and I’m from Cali i couldn’t get into a nightclub because i had blue jeans and a T shirt on . I’ll never go back there . This is one backward part of the USA .I know of a nightclub here that is the opposite as there . If you wear a suit and tie you can’t get into a lot of places here . It’s the opposite .