Drug Law

Life in Prison for Growing Marijuana?

| by NORML

At a time of heightened national security post-911, a near-depression economy and state government budgets bleeding red coast to coast, what is the moral and economic imperative that compels some in law enforcement to seek lifetime sentences for small-time cannabis growers?

Again, cannabis consumers and activists should never shrink back from prohibitionist (and some in the media) arguments that “no one gets arrested for cannabis in the US (it’s practically legal!)” when over 755,000 cannabis consumers are busted annually for simple possession (94,000 others were charged with cultivation, distribution or conspiracy therein).

Even more so when there are outrageous claims made that ‘no goes to jail or prison for pot’.

Unfortunately for a Jackson Mississippi man named Ronald Sekul, he can attest to how wrong these false claims are as he stares down a lifetime sentence for cultivating 51 cannabis plants.

Man could get life in pot bust, Jackson resident was growing 51 plants, officials say

A 33-year-old Jackson man accused of growing marijuana in his apartment could get up to life in prison if convicted.

In the case of Ronald Christopher Sekul, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics intends to ask prosecutors to apply a law called the “kingpin” statute, MBN Director Marshall Fisher said.

The statute can be applied to Sekul’s case because he allegedly had a drug operation for longer than 12 consecutive months and had more than 10 pounds of marijuana, Fisher said.

Sekul was arrested Wednesday for allegedly growing 4-foot marijuana plants in the back bedroom of the fourplex he lives in at 1510 Myrtle St., according to MBN.

He is out of jail on $50,000 bond.

Read the entire article here.

Think about, life in prison for cultivating one of the most popular agricultural products in America–arguably the number one commercially cultivated commodity in the country. Think about the annual expense incurred by the taxpayers of Mississippi for the incarceration of Mr. Sekul: $22,000-30,000 a year; think about the total cost to the taxpayers if Mr. Sekul spends 10 years in prison (approx. $275,000), 20 years (approx. $600,000) or 30 years (approx. $1 million).

Rather than tax and actually control cannabis like more dangerous and addictive government-sanctioned drugs like tobacco and alcohol products, is it not remarkable beyond words that the state and federal governments still engages both massive number of annual cannabis-related arrests and the incarceration annually nationwide of an estimated 45,000-65,000 cannabis-only offenders, while still not achieving any of the stated goals of prohibition (view a comprehensive NORML report analyzing cannabis arrests in the US here, read page 45 to see where none of the government’s stated goals are achieved).

Feds Are The Ones Still Stirring Pot With Taxpayers’ Money

However, there is a potential policy silver-lining to buttress the expense to the taxpayers and tragedy of what our society is trying to do Mr. Sekul and that is that President Obama’s new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, can stop these kinds of foolish and expensive incarcerations for cannabis by de-funding the federal grants provided to local law enforcement and their ‘multi-jursidictional anti-drug task forces’, like JET, the Jackson Enforcement Team, which boasts of Mr. Sekul’s arrest.

How many fewer Americans would be arrested annually if the federal government didn’t fund local arrests?

Exactly how many taxpayer dollars could be saved if the expense and trouble of local cannabis arrests were not subsidized by the feds?