The People vs. Marijuana

Cannabis prisoner Luke Scarmazzo speaks from solitary confinement.


The People vs. Marijuana

By Luke Scarmazzo | CannabisNow

Cannabis prisoner Luke Scarmazzo speaks from solitary confinement.

Some of you may be familiar with my story, for those of you who aren’t, I am serving 22 years in federal prison for running a state-compliant marijuana dispensary. In the federal system, with good behavior, I must serve 19 years of it.

Although we have made significant progress with state-level marijuana law reform, there’s still much to be done. For starters, we must fight for changes at the federal level and demand that every man and woman serving draconian prison terms for marijuana be sent home. These are the men and women that stood up for many of the rights we take for granted today.

It’s absolutely absurd that in a time when you can legally buy marijuana from a store a mile outside the prison gates, that we still have Americans serving life for pot. It is a stain on the fabric of justice and a sin on the national conscience.

I have been in prison for nearly 10 years now, the last six months I have spent in solitary confinement. For unspoken reasons, I have actually spent the majority of the last few years in solitary. I know the public justifications the prison administration gives for my placement, but they simply aren’t true. The truth is I am a living symbol of the gross injustice of a flawed system. Many of the guards have even discreetly acknowledged this to me. It is easier to conceal the problem than confront the issue.

It is Saturday morning as I wrote this and I should be watching my daughter, Jasmine, play soccer on a sun-soaked field, helping my father replace old weathered fence, or laughing with neighbors around a smoking barbeque pit. Instead, I am waiting for a guard to bring my breakfast grits through a metal slot in my door. That’s how I get all of my meals in this concrete box, through that thin metal slot. The Texas inmates call it a bean shoot.

I haven’t been outside in a long time and sometimes these walls can feel like they’re closing in on me. I’d have to say this is the lowest form of human existence. If that slow doesn’t open up and food isn’t pushed in, it would only be a matter of weeks before I died. It is shameful, really, we don’t even treat animals this way. It is inhumane and unworthy of a civilized nation.

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