Drug legalization advocates claim that prisons are overflowing with people convicted for only simple possession of marijuana. This claim is aggressively pushed by groups seeking to relax or abolish marijuana laws. A more accurate view is that the vast majority of inmates in prison for marijuana have been found guilty of more than simple possession. They were convicted for drug trafficking, or for marijuana possession along with other offenses. Many of those in prison for marijuana entered a guilty plea to a marijuana charge to avoid a more serious charge. In the US, just 1.6 percent of the state inmate population were held for offenses involving only marijuana, and less than one percent of all state prisoners (0.7 percent) were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge. An even smaller fraction of state prisoners were first time offenders (0.3 percent). The numbers on the US federal prisons are similar. In 2001, the overwhelming majority of offenders sentenced for marijuana crimes were convicted for trafficking and only 63 served time for simple possession. [FN1]
One of Parents Opposed to Pot’s biggest fans in Facebook is an ex-convict who now shares his story. Eddie Martinez was a marijuana smoker at a very young age, which led to his joining a gang, dealing drugs and being in and out of prison for many years.
Eddie tells his story today, in hopes of changing the minds of young people who think marijuana is cool. He also wants to encourage parents as they work to set a good example and teach their children the pitfalls of getting swept up in today’s pro-drug culture. His marijuana testimony is powerful and persuasive against going down the drug road. Fortunately, he turned his life around.
For those who are casting a vote this year on the marijuana issue, we urge you to consider the impact on the poor, and communities of color. This immigrant’s story is an example of how drugs derail the American dream, leading to unthinkable outcomes after the drugs are introduced into his life.
This YouTube video podcast contains a slide show of Eddie’s personal photos.
If you have a testimony to share about how drugs have hurt you or your child, we encourage you to contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to publish your story anonymously. In this case, Eddie was willing to use his full name.
Marijuana businesses are incorporating with slick marketing campaigns. Businesses run by MBAs, like Privateer Holdings, go forward, without a word from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FDA, the Treasury Department, or any other governmental agency that is constitutionally mandated to uphold federal laws. It could be only a short time before big tobacco companies get into the market, too.
We’re being misled by Ethan Nadelmann, Keith Stroup, Mason Tvert and others who, along with their billionaire benefactors and a complicit media, have turned a dangerous psychotropic drug into a cause célèbre. The marijuana industry pretends that the US government is to blame for the greedy violent wars between drug cartels, and that legions of people are in jail for drug possession alone.
Some state governments and/or voters have surrendered to the drug culture because they’ve been misled.
When Drug Wars Occur
Drug wars happen when growers and cartels compete to have the strongest, most potent strains of marijuana. Drug wars go out of control when gangs and cartels fight for greater share of the obscene profits. Competition for the stronger, “better” strains of marijuana — meaning high-THC — is a reason that marijuana is so much stronger today, quicker to cause psychosis and quicker to get our children hooked on it and other drugs.
We can see the violence that comes with the competition in the drug trade in the book and movie, Savages of 2012, with Benicio del Toro. An earlier movie Blow, in which Johnny Depp played notorious drug dealer George Jung, tries to illicit sympathy for the criminal who was instrumental in bringing the Columbian cocaine trade to the USA. It is clear that greed and adventure motivated Jung, without concern about the harmful consequences to others.
Marijuana plants have undergone a huge genetic alteration over the last 20 years to get a higher THC content. American cannabis plants have been interbred with the plants native to central Asia, where it is believed that the high THC content protected the plants from the sun. THC is the ingredient in marijuana which produces a high, now often as high as 20%, compared to an average around 1-3% in the 1970s.
Marijuana advocates who say “drug wars don’t work,” play into current anti-government sentiments. They say those who don’t agree with marijuana must be taking money from the drug-making companies, the police unions, alcohol industry, the prison or prison guard industry. Otherwise, how could anyone not believe in their psychotropic drug that has been manipulated — to become stronger and to work medical miracles, as they claim? Now it’s revealed that the alcohol industry doesn’t care, and big pharmaceuticals aren’t fight it. In their twisted logic, marijuana financiers say the US has created cartel violence in Mexico. Violence of course has many causes including poverty.
The drug policy – violence theory also demonstrates a poor understanding of the nature of humanity. Gangs and cartels are money-making paths that bring profits quickly. Anyone can be lured into the profit motive without fully thinking of the harm, particularly when a person is young and risky behaviors make it seem exciting. There is a certain “high” that comes from evading the law.
Criminal businesses will be always be attractive to both the rich and the poor. Some cartel leaders are well-educated and even rich. If it were only about income inequality, many would get out of the drug trade sooner. We need to foster opportunities for the poor, so they don’t see drug dealing as the only route out of poverty. Regardless of circumstances, the dealers, gangs and cartels are hungry for power. They wouldn’t lose power over people, if pot became legal! They would branch out to other crimes such as human trafficking, and to stronger drugs.
Anyone who believe drug wars totally failed should explain: Why don’t we hear about Medillín Cartel any longer? We should be happy that cocaine and crack are less prevalent in the US.