July 1, 2009 – Imagine this: Somebody you know, all of a sudden, goes to jail. Federal prison. Your friend, family member, neighbor, or colleague, whoever it is, is not the sort you’d think of as a criminal. They are educated. They work in a professional job. They areblack_inmates_talking_to_clergy active in do-gooder work (like food activism). And their crime? Marijuana. Years ago they dated somebody who sold pot, so now they must do time in the federal pen. Seriously think about this – how would you feel if that happened to somebody in your life? Maybe it already has.

In jail, they are treated as if they aren’t even human. The food is unimaginable. Depending on the circumstances, they might be locked in a cell without any other human contact for most of the day. Their phone calls with family and friends are severely limited. Of course, there’s no internet access. They might not even get privacy while they go to the bathroom. And if they are in pain? Too bad. There’s a bureaucratic procedure to go through to see a doctor, even if you just need a simple ibuprofen.

This is the country we live in. Alcohol, tobacco, and pot are all deemed “gateway drugs” yet only one of them results in jail time. And the jail time is so dehumanizing that if a person didn’t have issues going in, they will certainly have issues when they come out. Often people who have other problems (such as anxiety) use marijuana to self-medicate instead of dealing with their pain in a more constructive way (like seeking therapy). Imagine how a 6-month or 1-year prison term would affect such a person. That anxiety problem would be compounded, not healed.

So this is the basis for my interest in marijuana and my strong advocacy for its decriminalization, if not legalization. And that’s why I am interested in a new book This is Your Country on Drugs by Ryan Grim. I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know what to expect, but I certainly think America’s drug policy and so-called War on Drugs needs a lot of discussion (followed by a lot of reform). You can read an excerpt of the book here.
by: Jill Richardson. Source.

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