The CEO of BudTrader.com, Brad McLaughlin, wrote an open letter this week to Donald Trump, AG William Barr, Governor Gavin Newsom, Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and various other governmental authorities and entities. Originally published in Santa Monica Daily Press (republished here with express and enthusiastic permission), the letter is a call to action for criminal justice reform and racial justice. Here’s the letter in its entirety:
Dear President Trump,
CC: AG William Barr CC: Gov. Gavin Newsom CC: AG Xavier Becerra
CC: Senator Kamala Harris CC: Senator Cory Booker CC: Rep. Matt Gaetz
CC: Federal Bureau of Prisons CC: Department of Justice
CC: California Department of Corrections
George Floyd, a father and a member of the cannabis community was killed, at the hands of disgraced and dishonored Minneapolis police officers, who violated an oath to serve and protect their community by killing an unarmed man. I have been using the time since George Floyd’s death to reflect on the root causes of systemic racism in the United States and possible changes. As leaders we can no longer stand idly by and allow for such racism to exist in the greatest country, in the most advanced civilization in the history of the world. We are better than this as a society and we must take action and the time to take action is now.
According to the Pew Research Center 40% of all US law enforcement drug arrests in 2018 were for cannabis. 92% of those arrests were for simple cannabis possession and 8% were for growing or transporting cannabis. According to a study by the ACLU, members of the black community and white community use cannabis at about the same rate, but black people are four times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis possession. In Minnesota, where George Floyd was killed, black people were arrested at rate of 8.5 times higher than white people for cannabis possession.
Being arrested for cannabis possession can mean loss of financial aid for education, loss of job, loss of public benefits and loss of access to government programs. It can cost $2000 to $20,000 on average to defend a cannabis possession case. Incarceration over cannabis can make it harder to find a job and reduces the rate of wage growth by 30% over the course of a person’s lifetime.
Police spent $3.6 billion annually enforcing cannabis possession laws which resulted in 820,000 arrests in 2019. Police spent $4,390 per arrest between 2001 and 2010, or $73,170 per felony conviction of a marijuana related crime. To put that in perspective, it costs $77,560 per cannabis conviction. It would be cheaper to send someone convicted of a cannabis possession crime to UCLA to receive a world class education ($34,620 annually).
According to a 2019 Pew Research Poll 91% of Americans support medical or recreational cannabis legalization, recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states for adults over the age of 21 and is legal for medical use in 33 states (including the recreational states). According to the law, cannabis use is legal in one form or another in 33 of the 50 states. Yet members of the cannabis community were arrested 820,000 times last year.
A WebMD/Medscape survey of the attitudes of general physicians and nurses in North America and Europe similarly found that 71 percent believe that cannabis possesses therapeutic efficacy. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in 2017 acknowledged that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” that cannabis and its organic constituents “are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and other conditions. The American Nurses Association, states: “Marijuana (cannabis) … has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms in a variety of conditions.”
In 1970 cannabis was officially outlawed for any use by the controlled substances act. 50 years later Mayors, Governors and Medical Doctors proclaimed it to be an essential business and an essential item. Cannabis is now an Essential Part of American Life. American citizens should no longer be arrested for cannabis possession as it has been deemed “essential” by our healthcare professionals and our honored elected officials.
Now that cannabis is legal in 33 states including Washington DC (in one form or another) has a 91% approval rating among American adults, 71% approval rating from doctors in North America and Europe and has been deemed “Essential” during a worldwide crisis of biblical proportions the cannabis community would like to humbly and respectfully request that:
- All law enforcement agencies cease making cannabis possession related arrests immediately.
- All inmates incarcerated for non-violent cannabis crimes be released as soon as possible from local, state and federal custody. This could be done by President Trump via Executive Order/Executive Pardon and by Gov. Gavin Newsom through Governors Clemency for inmates incarcerated by the state of California (who has more incarcerated inmates than any other place in the world).
- Americans arrested for non-cannabis related drug possession charges be offered drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration. I would like to suggest redirecting the $3.6 billion annually spent enforcing cannabis possession laws to be used on drug treatment for those convicted of none cannabis drug possession offenses.
Laws change, law enforcement officers are expected to change and enforce the new laws of our lands. We can no longer allow members of the cannabis community and the African American community to be unfairly targeted and arrested 820,000 times a year for cannabis possession. A crime that quite frankly shouldn’t exist anymore and unfairly targets members of the black cannabis community.
As great leaders you are expected to do what is right. This is the will of 91% of your constituents and change is not only necessary but is essential and this would be a great first step in the right direction in the fight against systemic racism.
Member of the Cannabis Community
Citizen of the United States of America
Compassionate Human Being from Planet Earth