Former Speaker of the House, John Boehner Hotboxing It With Weed Investors

So if weed is mainstream now, when will our criminal justice system get the memo? If third in line to the presidency is hosting investment seminars when will those incarcerated for possession of Marijuana have their sentences commuted?

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), between 2001 and 2010 of the 8.2 million Marijuana arrests, 88% were simply for possession. Not only is this a waste of taxpayer dollars, but also incredibly destructive to communities color. The usage of Weed is about the same between Whites and Blacks, but the Black community is “nearly four times more likely to be arrested for Marijuana possession”, according to the ACLU.

What does this mean? Systemic racism is prevalent in our justice system, and for those that become a victim of our Nation’s broken system, many risk losing their employment, public benefits, and face jail time. 44+ states and the District of Columbia have passed some form of marijuana legalization. But there are billion dollar obstacles standing in the way of progress.

Two major barriers exist that hinder reform of our criminal justice system, and Marijuana Decriminalization. First, the private prison industry, they are a multi-billion dollar industry, with immense lobbying power. Their lobbying efforts can be found in state legislatures and the US Congress, demanding more funding, and the loosening of regulations. The ACLU states it perfectly, “Private prison companies essentially admit that their business model depends on locking up more and more people”. These companies are working hard to ensure provisions such as bed quotas are mandated, which fuels mass incarceration by requiring federal and local government to “supply” a certain amount of inmates or suffer a fine. The United States represents 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25% of the incarcerated population of the world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for-profit companies are responsible for approximately 7 percent of state prisoners and 18 percent of federal prisoners.

According to the Justice Policy Institute, “Arizona leads all other states in deals crafted for the private prison industry by guaranteeing 90 to 100 percent of prison beds will be filled in all six state-level private prison facilities.” Arizona Taxpayers are spending nearly 170 million dollars every year on Private Prisons. To create 1000 private prison beds it costs AZ about 18 million dollars, and nearly 30 million dollars just to maintain and operate those beds. This is a lucrative business with no signs of letting up, and its fair to expect that the 13% of Arizona inmates that are incarcerated in private cages will substantially go up in the years to come. For the Private Prison industry, there is no incentive to decriminalize Marijuana, and reform our criminal justice system. Doing so will reduce the amount of Americans incarcerated, and reduce the recidivism rate which hurts their bottom line.

The second barrier is the big pharmaceutical companies fighting the legalization of Marijuana. There is no question that the United States is currently experiencing an opioid epidemic that is killing many Americans. In states with some form of Marijuana legalization, the abuse of painkillers and overdose are lower. Simply giving Americans an alternative option will result in many choosing Weed over opioids. This reality is hurting the bottom line of Big Pharma, and for decades they have been at the forefront of lobbying against the legalization of Marijuana. Their disinformation campaigns have been in the form of funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization.

There is little incentive for Pharmaceuticals to allow the federal government to legalize. Marijuana legalization is destabilizing private prisons and Big Pharma. Hundreds of Billions of dollars in prescription drug revenue will be lost as a result of reform. Bottom line this is about the BOTTOM LINE of two private industries that are making a killing off the American people in one way or another. Whether its exploiting communities of color by locking them up at disproportionate levels or opioid companies fighting pro-marijuana laws, both are raking in billions of dollars at our expense. Both are targetting vulnerable communities. Both are profiting from two epidemics (Mass Incarceration & Opioid Crisis). If we want to see the decriminalization of Marijuana, that will result in commuting the sentencing of millions of Americans who are predominantly of color, we need reform. Our nation’s laws need to pushe back against Private Prisons and Pharmaceuticals who are more interested in their bottom line than in the health of Americans.

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