Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2014
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2014 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Valerie Vande Panne


How Many of Our Brothers and Sisters Will Get Busted for Pot This 
Holiday Season?

I remember a Thanksgiving, nearly 20 years ago. At the time I lived 
in a very low-income neighborhood. Most white people would call it a 
"bad" neighborhood. Back then, it was almost entirely black and 
Hispanic people living there. I loved that neighborhood. It was 
filled with families, good music, and delicious food. The neighbors 
were always friendly to me. Even the drug dealers were nice. They 
sold marijuana back then, nickel and dime bags ($5 or $10 sizes).

I remember there was a disabled man who hung out on the street around 
the corner from me. I'm not sure the name of his disease. I just know 
his legs were skinny and twisted, and he spent his days on crutches. 
He supported himself by selling those nickel and dime bags.

He was always friendly and kind. He worked 12 hours a day, seven days 
a week, rarely taking time off. That Thanksgiving morning, as I 
walked my dog around the block, I saw him out early. It occurred to 
me that he was busy: The neighborhood was stopping by to pick up some 
marijuana before their family Thanksgiving meals. Back then, the 
marijuana was mild and outdoor-grown, filled with seeds. Free of 
judgment, it made me laugh, and amused to see how busy he was.

But then the reality of what was going on hit me like the weight of 
war. When people would leave his spot and turn the corner to walk 
around the block, the police were there to scoop them up off the 
street and put them in a police van. I watched as they did this over 
and over again. Horrified, I didn't know what to do. The van quickly 
filled with men between the ages of 20 and 40, busted with enough 
weed to roll maybe a joint or two. Nothing more. They were being 
taken to jail, and I knew they wouldn't be out until the following 
Monday, when they could see a judge.

This scenario infuriated me. The number of neighborhood families 
destroyed - on Thanksgiving. All those young men who stepped out just 
for a few minutes, with mothers and wives and children and 
grandmothers and aunts waiting for them at home to eat. And they'd 
never show up. The worry the families must've felt, the fear, the 
concern, the not knowing, the waiting to hear word.

The overtime taxpayer dollars were paying the police to do all this 
on a holiday.

Can you imagine? Going through something like that on Thanksgiving 
morning for a little bit of weed?

Perhaps you have.

I'll never forget that Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving now, how many 
families are without their son, their daughter, someone they love, 
because of an unjust war over a weed?

When Thanksgiving was first declared a national holiday, the nation 
was in the midst of the Civil War. Still, though the country was 
hurting, there was much to be thankful for, as there is today. But 
the Civil War ended in less than five years, with approximately 
750,000 casualties. There were nearly 700,000 marijuana arrests in 
2013 alone, and our war on marijuana has been going on for decades. 
Is the pot war even a conflict we as a nation really want to carry on?

How many more Thanksgivings need to pass before we're done 
incarcerating people over a plant?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom