While it may seem unbelievable given the groundswell of support for legal cannabis in the United States over recent years, there are still individuals serving life sentences in prison just for dealing pot. As states like California and cities such as Seattle move to wipe criminal records of convictions for cannabis in the era of legal marijuana, U.S. federal law remains woefully stuck in the past — incarcerating otherwise law-abiding citizens for activities now considered legitimate business in 30 states and the nation’s capital.
In the third episode of MERRY JANE’s new docuseries Prisoners of Prohibition, they examine the far-reaching effects of marijuana laws on incarcerated individuals, their families, and their wider communities. Children of incarcerated parents are three times more likely to suffer from depression, and twice as likely to experience learning disabilities and anxiety than the average child. Yet despite a wave of state-level cannabis legalization sweeping the country, parents and their children continue to be separated over a plant that’s increasingly accepted by the general public. The socially devastating consequences of unjust imprisonment reverberate long beyond those prosecuted for marijuana, illustrating why it’s high time to finally dismantle the pot-to-prison pipeline.
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