5 Ways to show your support for cannabis prisoners

Published Dec 12, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / sakhorn38

Most of the world celebrates the benefits of a legal cannabis industry. Those of us who have been around since before legalization was cool know all too well that many are still suffering from the lingering effects of the war on drugs. Approximately 40 000 people in the US alone are still incarcerated for cannabis-related charges that were non-violent and, in most cases, completely harmless activities, consisting of things like buying or selling small amounts of the substance for personal consumption.

It's a horrible injustice that cannot be justified in any reasonable manner, but there are things that regular people can do to help those who are still trapped within the system to escape and have a real chance at life, be it during the holidays, when we tend to feel the most inspired to give, or at any other time of the year. Cannabis prisoners need our help and support, which is why we wanted to highlight five different ways that you can make a difference right now.

1. Write letters

Cannabis prisoners are generally non-violent, but they aren't afforded any additional luxuries to make their stay more tolerable. Things like human interaction and small acts of kindness through gifts are rare commodities for the incarcerated, but you could help make sure that they know they haven't been forgotten by offering up letters or presents. This can brighten their day and keep their spirits high as they continue to fight for a chance at life.

You could find cannabis prisoners who are local to you and pen them a letter yourself, or team up with organizations that are already set up to facilitate meaningful connections. The Holiday Letter Drive is the highlight of 2020, and it's a perfect choice if you're looking for a cause to support over the holidays, as many who remain incarcerated will have to forgo the opportunity to see their families over the holidays. Something that no innocent person should ever have to go through.

2. Donate

Cannabis prisoners often have very little financial support, which is a significant contributing factor to how long they will ultimately wait before seeing any positive movement in a case. Still, it's also a major concern now that COVID-19 is in the air. Most incarcerated individuals are secured in close quarters without proper hygiene gear or sanitization measures to keep them protected, an unfortunate situation that has already resulted in outbreaks in prisons.

You can almost always donate to cannabis prisoners through your local jail, and it generally doesn't take much more than an inquiry to figure out who to talk to to make this happen. Still, if you cannot track down a worthwhile cause for yourself, then organizations such as The Last Prisoner Project are worth considering. They offer financial help for families and children of incarcerated and connect cannabis prisoners with pro-bono attorneys who can help them win their case.

3. Advocate

It might not feel like instant success, but cannabis prisoners need advocates on their side, now more than ever before, and there are many ways for the average person to help with this. Simply starting conversations and raising awareness about the struggle of the incarcerated is enough to shift the focus of the world to where it needs to be. Shedding light on this injustice can help everyone understand what's going on behind the curtain, but if you want to be even more active, there are ways to do that.

Cannabis advocates can reach out to their local politicians and demand justice for those still wrongly incarcerated. Taking part in or organizing rallies and demonstrations, or if you're looking for inspiration and not sure where to begin, you can use resources like those that are available through the Last Prisoner Project to find all of the most up to date opportunities for cannabis advocacy in your area. You never know what you'll find, but you will always make a difference.

4. The Partners for Freedom Program (or similar opportunities)

This one is a little bit outside of the average person's scope. Still, if you're one of the lucky few to either work in or own a cannabis business, then you can do your part for cannabis prisoners by pairing up with something like the Partners for Freedom Program, administered by LPP. It offers a variety of ways to get involved and engage in the conversation at various levels.

The PFP also assists consumers who would like to donate while offering some fantastic resources for budtenders who would like to become active advocates within their communities. It's an excellent place to start if you want to be part of something bigger, and it can help thousands of incarcerated and newly released individuals who require support on their journey back to normality.

5. Support released individuals

We all want to do something to show our love and support for those who remain behind bars, but it is just as essential that we assist those who are freshly released from the prison system. Many of whom carry the burden of a criminal record, which can weigh them down as they look for the necessities such as a place to live or work. Sometimes financial help is needed, but more often than not, it's a support system that the ex-incarcerated could use the most.

If you have a rental home, you might want to consider partnering with an organization to house cannabis prisoners who require accommodations. If you have connections through a business, be it through ownership or a position of power that could be leveraged to get someone meaningful employment that could help them put their time in prison behind them for good. For these people to succeed, they will require support, and you could be the one to give that to them.

It would be nice if we could all help every cannabis prisoner out there, but as long as we're working towards solutions and a better future, we are doing our part to undo the injustices of the war on drugs.

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