We might have come a long way, but regardless of progress on some fronts; there’s still a lot of cannabis persecution going on. One organization is looking to fight the system, and get people out of prison for weed crimes. Read on to learn more about the Last Prisoner Project; how its working to get those incarcerated for weed out of prison; and what you can do to help.
Prison for weed
It used to be that prisons were chock full of weed smokers in the US. Yup, smoking a joint could mean sitting in lockup, and depending on who sent you (state or federal), this could mean years of time lost to life; and a multitude of problems thereafter getting jobs, housing, and a number of other basic life functions. A plant that mainly produces an intense sense of hunger and general well being, was enough to ruin a person’s life.
And it still is. In some parts of the world, you can get the death penalty, sometimes for relatively small amounts. In other parts, you’ll waste away in a prison cell; including in the US. There are way less people in prison now for cannabis, and none in federal prison for simple possession, since Biden pardoned all federal simple possession cases. But several states still hold weed as illegal for everything, and that means people sit in prison over it. In fact, this even happens in some legalized states that did not automatically release current prisoners upon passing legalization measures.
In terms of the recent pardon, it didn’t get anyone out of prison, technically, as no one was in prison for weed crimes federally; and it didn’t help those imprisoned on a state level. It didn’t stop new people from getting arrested, nor did it return the money taken in fines from those arrested previously, or stop new arrestees from having to pay fines. Though there aren’t numbers for exactly how much governments have stolen from simple possession case arrestees, we know it’s a lot; and that that part continues. In most ways, the pardon didn’t help at all.
Luckily, there are some organizations that are truly against the practice of jailing people for such crimes, and which want overall cannabis reform in the legal system. One organization has several programs set up to both push for reform, and to help get people with weed convictions, out of prison. It also provides different forms of assistance to help those hurt in all this; so they can get on with their lives in a productive way.
The Last Prisoner Project
The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) is a nationally run, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization geared toward criminal justice reform for cannabis; under the premise that no one should be in prison for a cannabis crime. The organization was founded in 2019, and consists of experts in drug policy, education, and criminal justice; as well as people who have been impacted by current drug policy.
The statement from the group’s homepage: “Imagine sitting in a cell for years, decades, or even for life, convicted of an activity that is no longer a crime, while thousands of other people build intergenerational wealth doing exactly the same thing. That is the situation that tens of thousands of cannabis prisoners face today in the United States alone, while countless others languish in jails and prisons worldwide. The Last Prisoner Project has one singular mission: to set them free.”
According to the site, in the past two decades, 15.7 million people were arrested for marijuana crimes; although it does not specify how many of them ended up in prison. Many would have been forced to pay fines, but wouldn’t have seen the inside of a cell. Some would be federal arrests, and some by the states. It goes on to give the statistic that $47 billion has been spent by the US government to fight a losing war on drugs.
The Last Prisoner Project works on four levels to effect change. On the policy front; the organization works to support and further legislation for cannabis reform. On the legal front; the group works to get clemency for prisoners on both the federal and state level. To do this, it works with the Cannabis Justice Initiative and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
On the re-entry front; the group focuses on helping those who have been negatively impacted by the system, to rebuild their lives through financial help, and other tools and resources. And finally, on the advocacy front; the group works to raise public knowledge of the situation, and to empower supporters to get involved.
How you can get involved with LPP
Last Prisoner Project is all about getting a community together to fight for reform, and this means you can be a part of it too. The organization encourages this in different ways. Like its How to Take Action program to get prisoners released. This includes writing to governors to push for pardons; a letter writing program to send well wishes to those sitting in prison; petitions to the federal government for law changes; petitions for release; and sharing social media graphics to raise awareness. Check the website for more information if you want to pitch in.
The group also has a Partners for Freedom volunteer program, in which participants can connect with like-minded supporters, work on different projects, and gain an education on the entire matter. Those in this program receive recognition from LPP staff; on the organization’s website, at events, and in other publications.
If you run a cannabis enterprise, you can also get involved through that. There’s the Roll It Up For Justice program, which encourages cannabis operations throughout the US to set up donation programs for shoppers at checkout, to aid in LPP’s work. LPP also has the Budtenders Program, in which budtenders can sign up to be advocates; and receive updates on local events and outreach opportunities.
The LPP partners with many operators in the cannabis field, both big and small. Some of its partners are Dutchie, Pharmacann, Ascend Wellness, Trulieve, Cannacraft, GrowHealthy, and a particular favorite of mine, Evidence. The organization is supported by tons of companies overall within the weed industry, which are also pushing for cannabis reform.
What is Evidence?
How do companies that partner with LPP help the cause? They can do this in different ways, and sometimes its just about raising funds and awareness. As an example of this, here’s a little information on a company that not only works to help, but does so in an extremely creative way; that gets to the very heart of the issue.
Evidence is a company looking to help get people out of prison for weed. According to the company’s site, about 40,000 people currently sit in prison because of weed offenses. As per the site, “As cannabis professionals it’s our duty to work to reverse this injustice.” And they’re doing it in quite an interesting way.
So, how does the company help? It bought a prison; but not to put anyone in it. Instead, this former prison is used to both cultivate weed, and manufacture products; the very things that got so many people incarcerated in the first place. Incidentally, the products it sells, are in none other than police evidence bags. The company donates $1 from each evidence bag sold, to support the Last Prisoner Project.
What exactly does the company sell? Evidence bags come with different goodies. Buyers can purchase a ½ ounce bag, which comes with Vibes rolling papers, along with a Last Prisoner Project matchbook. Or Evidence Prison Shortys, a bottle containing five pre-rolled joints equaling 3.5 grams (an eighth). If you’re not into lighting up, Evidence also provides Evidence Vapes, a one gram THC cartridge, with 90% potency.
As a legal cannabis company, Evidence does not provide a sales platform to buy directly. But it does hook up interested buyers with listings of where they can find the products. Interested buyers should visit the site to see where they can purchase Evidence bags in their area. When buying from a company like Evidence, you are automatically helping; as the donation to LPP is part of the price.
The job of ending prohibition, and getting people out of prison for weed crimes, is a large undertaking. And it can’t be done by a single person. LPP seeks to get people together and combine strength, in an effort to rid the US of cannabis prohibition laws; and to help those who have lost their freedom, time, and rights; because of unnecessary imprisonments. If you’ve got a little time and want to help, get in on it; LPP makes it easy for us all to be fighters in the cause.
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