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Just because marijuana is legalized here in Colorado and a few other states doesn’t mean that the drug war doesn’t rage on across the United States. One of the hardest tasks is removing the social stigma of marijuana consumption. Moderate Marijuana consumers (like me) face discrimination in cases of immigration, child custody, housing and employment. The statistics are overwhelming at aclu.org but I’m not going to hit you with statistics in this blog post. Instead I’m going to offer myself, The Pot Scientist, as a case study in hopes of changing few minds and softening the stigma.
I smoke weed the way a moderate drinker drinks beer. I smoke to put a cap at the end of a hard day. I smoke to increase my appetite, I smoke to relax, I smoke to deal with my chronic pain of living (which is none of your business), I smoke to fall asleep, I have been smoking regularly for years and I am not a criminal. Consuming marijuana was a part of my routine when I graduated from college, became an avid reader, got a career job at big pharma as a microbiologist, quality analyst and quality engineer. If marijuana tempered my ambition, I would not have founded my own company, Cannabis Quality Engineering, with a mission to implement safe and hygienic marijuana production practices in this new and growing industry. And I did all of these things despite smoking weed on the regular.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that I was only able to do these things because I was not randomly stopped and searched by the police and didn’t get my life ruined with a felony conviction and a prison term. (whitey!) I don’t know exactly why…but somehow…I just slipped under the radar of the drug war…for some reason…
The worst thing a privileged person can do is deny that they have privilege. I acknowledge the privilege I have and I am outraged by the racial injustice of America’s Drug War. Maybe this is the best thing about marijuana legalization. Recognizing the overall injustice of the War on Drugs. There are people in prison today who are no more Criminals than I am. And it’s wrong. I recognize that it’s wrong and I want to do something about it.
So NSA, please deliver this message to POTUS: Non-violent marijuana possessors should be released from prison and have their marijuana records expunged so they can become contributing members of society. It’s not enough, but it’s the least we could do.
You can smoke and be a good scientist. You can smoke and be a good employee. You can smoke and be a good parent. You can smoke and be a good politician. You can smoke and be a good doctor. You can smoke and be a good lawyer. You can smoke and be a responsible voter or a business owner. If you agree or if your life proves it join the movement with #ImNotaCriminal or feel free to respond to this blog post with your own story. Let’s fight the stigma together, people. We’re here! We get high sometimes! Get used to it!