The Marijuana Lifer Project’s Cheri Sicard joins Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline’ to explain how some people continue to serve lifetime sentences for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses even as marijuana legalization sweeps the country.
MINNEAPOLIS — Adult recreational use of marijuana is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, and 29 states have embraced some form of medical marijuana legalization.
There’s even a pot plant cultivation competition at the annual Oregon State Fair.
By 2015, legal cannabis had become the fastest-growing industry in the United States, and it’s expected to hit $7.1 billion this year.
Despite this progress, 640,000 people were arrested last year for violating marijuana laws.
And while marijuana-related offenses aren’t punishable by death, some offenders are hit with other penalties with effects that can ripple throughout a lifetime, like the loss of a job or public benefits.
Others, like Farrell Scott, are serving life sentences for violating federal marijuana statutes.
And marijuana laws don’t seem to be enforced equally. The the ACLU reports that black and white Americans use cannabis at roughly the same rate, but arrest rates for black are far higher.
Here to discuss some of the often forgotten victims of the U.S. drug war is Cheri Sicard. She’s the founder and executive director of the Marijuana Lifer Project, a nonprofit organization fighting for an end to the criminalization of marijuana and the release of those imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses.
Learn about millions of Muslims march against ISIS, the Flint water crisis & life in prison for pot on the full episode of the Behind The Headline: