Op-Ed: Why Are We Not Free?

Op-Ed: Why Are We Not Free?
Jacqueline Collins
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Although marijuana is legal now in many states, there are still thousands of prison inmates doing time for marijuana.

Rational self-interest is what inspired the Free the Weed movement, making marijuana legal in over 25 states. When marijuana began to become legal in states like California and Colorado, our country was in a recession; it made sense to make marijuana legal and tax it. The problem is that rational self-interest leaves out the people who are still incarcerated for marijuana.

Dispensary owners make billions of dollars a year from marijuana sales. The federal and state governments make millions of dollars from marijuana taxes. Where is the help for the marijuana inmates?

There are currently 119 federal inmates doing life for marijuana. Richard DeLisi is a federal inmate serving a ninety-year sentence for welding boxes designed to transport marijuana for his boss's company. Where are the people who profit from weed who should be trying to set this man free? Lance Gloor had a legal marijuana dispensary in Washington state that was raided by the federal government and was sentenced to ten years for a legal marijuana operation.

It took nine years to get my father, Thomas Landreth, an Oklahoma inmate, home from a marijuana charge. The only reason the State of Oklahoma released him is because he is dying of cancer.

The social dilemma behind keeping weed prisoners locked up is more than a legal dilemma; it is a moral dilemma. Many people have been on the front line of protests, with people begging for their loved ones to come home.

Empathy is defined as "the ability to vicariously experience the emotions of another person.” Empathy is the only way we will end the dilemma in society that is keeping people locked up for weed while others can purchase marijuana in a store legally. Lawmakers should have to tour each prison in their district frequently, even spend a night there. They should read the endless reports of abuse inflicted on non-violent inmates like marijuana prisoners to gain some empathy.

Eileen Rivers wrote in a recent article in USA Today that the “nation's failed weed war turned many into prisoners and others into moguls.” If sales are legal, our marijuana prisoners should be freed immediately.

Amberly Taylor is a member of Freedom Grow.

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