‘Free the Homies’: Some People Are Still Doing Time Over a Victimless Crime
June 20, 2022 08:00 am ET
Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Do you have a homie who’s been arrested over cannabis? Are you the homie? Has that homie been a close friend or family member? “Free the Homies” is a joint art project between Washington-based cannabis company Solstice and Seattle-based artist Teddy “Stat” Phillips that aims to spread awareness about unjust cannabis-related incarceration in the U.S. and raise funds for the Last Prisoner Project (LPP).
Recreational, or adult-use, cannabis is legal in 18 states across America, and medical cannabis is legal in 37. Only a handful of states are still clinging to the unjust cannabis prohibition of the past, which started in 1937 and has destroyed America since. Its very existence has torn apart the fabric of countless families and cost an untold number of people their lives.
All too often, police officers would say they smelled cannabis—whether they did or not—as an excuse to detain and search citizens. Sometimes they would find some weed, sometimes they would plant it, and sometimes they would just emotionally rattle innocent citizens for fun. If you’re a cannabis consumer, chances are you’re very familiar with the not-so-safe feeling of seeing an officer in your rear-view mirror or outside your property.
Free the Homies With the LPP
Sadly, even as the legal cannabis industry continues to reach new heights, some people are still doing time behind bars for cannabis-related charges. According to the LPP, there are more than 40,000 cannabis prisoners in the United States. Its website says:
“The Last Prisoner Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to cannabis criminal justice reform. LPP was founded in 2019 out of the belief that if anyone is able to profit and build wealth in the legal cannabis industry, those individuals must also work to release and rebuild the lives of those who have suffered from cannabis criminalization.”
The LPP’s mission is: “Through intervention, advocacy, and awareness campaigns the Last Prisoner Project works to redress the past and continuing harms of these unjust laws and policies.”
In a joint collaboration, Phillips and Solstice worked together to come up with two designs showcasing the Free the Homies initiative; sales from the project will go to LPP to help free prisoners doing time for victimless cannabis crimes. One of the designs is inspired by a card I carry in my purse: a Monopoly get-out-of-jail-free card. I’ve tried this card—it does not work in real life but makes for a good laugh. The other design supports Allen Russell, who is serving life for cannabis possession in the state of Mississippi.
Building Back Communities
Systematically, people of color have been disproportionately arrested and incarcerated over cannabis. Many of these people have been pushed out of an industry they not only supported but, in essence, helped to build. It is estimated that less than 2% of legal cannabis businesses are owned by people of color.
Cannabis prohibition is wrong. Those who support it are either ill-informed or narrow-minded. According to the U.S. federal government, cannabis is a Schedule I drug with no accepted medicinal value and a high addiction rate. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic continues to destroy families all over the world. The FDA has also approved a few cannabis-based pharmaceutical drugs. Yet the federal government still supports arresting and incarcerating people over cannabis.
Legalizing cannabis could help not only America but the world in so many ways. First and foremost, cannabis could play a pivotal role in endless industrial and agricultural aspects. Let us not even start to mention the potential medicinal aspects of cannabis. It was estimated in 2017 that if cannabis were legal in every state in America, it would save over a billion dollars annually on Medicaid.
Cannabis legalization is already showing that places with legal access to cannabis are seeing a drop in dependency on pharmaceutical prescriptions. Cannabis is helping patients fight cancer, control seizure disorders, fight chronic pain, and so much more. Yet the federal government still denies the American people the freedom to consume cannabis, citing it as a dangerous drug.
Choose Your Representatives Wisely
Cannabis isn’t the problem; American politicians are the problem. For too long, elected representatives have ignored the people’s will. Let these archaic representatives know their time and days in office are numbered. They will not be getting re-elected, and organizations are being formed to look into their actions and time in office in depth. Support cannabis legalization and decriminalization for our nation, or we will gladly accept your resignation.
To our current representatives: End cannabis prohibition today. Release all Americans incarcerated over cannabis charges. You can’t undo the harm you’ve done, but you can begin to make it right. Or you can continue to hide behind archaic laws and outdated cannabis policy until we come for you. When we come for you, our numbers will be many, our votes will be loud, and in the end, you’ll no longer be a representative of our country. It’s time for political representatives to start representing the people instead of private agendas. End federal cannabis prohibition and free the homies!
If you happen to be in the Seattle area and would like to get your hands on some of the Free the Homies artwork, you can find it in a handful of Seattle dispensaries, including The Reef and Have a Heart.
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