Right now there are two ways recreational is on the way to the state of Ohio 5 years after medical marijuana was approved in the state.
While multi-state cannabis corporations funded by investors around the world rake in billions of dollars, Jonathan Wall, age 25 years old faces a 15-year prison sentence for marijuana distribution.
“Jonathan Wall is sitting in a federal supermax in Maryland for selling cannabis, something that corporations are doing right now across the country,” criminal defense attorney Jason Flores-Williams, Wall’s legal counsel, argues. “You can buy weed and donuts in Washington D.C., but 45 minutes away in Baltimore, my client is locked in a cage.”
Flores-Williams continues, “People can’t believe it. “
Yes, it would be unbelievable if the United States criminal legal system weren’t such a stunning example of inhumanity and hypocrisy.
Now that the venture capitalist class can turn a profit being legal drug dealers, the so-called War on Drugs can no longer be disguised as a moral battle for the soul of society—as draconian policies would have us believe. Working-class and cash poor people are still being disproportionately targeted and arrested on marijuana-related charges, and many formerly incarcerated people are prohibited from participating in the nation’s fastest growing industry .
There can be no denying that the drug war is nothing more than a systemic tool of oppression weaponized by a police state pretending to believe in fairness, equity, and justice. As Human Rights Watch found in its 2009 report, Decades of Disparity: Drug Arrests and Race in the United States , “The human as well as social, economic and political toll is as incalculable as it is unjust.”
As of May 18, 2021, 36 states and 4 territories allow for the medical use of cannabis products , while 17 states, two territories and D.C. have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults. The U.S. cannabis industry is now worth an estimated $61 billion; and in 2020, the nation’s cannabis sales “hit a record $17.5 billion, a 46% increase from 2019,” Forbes reports. In alignment with those numbers, support for legal marijuana is at an all- time high of 68%. Still, even with the passage of legislation such as California’s Prop 64, the War on Drugs continues.
“Cannabis legalization is working in numerous states across the country, generating jobs and billions in revenue,” says Flores-Williams, who is also an author and political activist, says. “So, why are we still using resources to prosecute it?” Flores-Williams, who is also an author and political activist, says. “So, why are we still using resources to prosecute it?“
In a joint statement regarding comprehensive cannabis reform legislation in the 117th Congress, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in part:
“As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.”
One of those people is Jonathan Wall.
“Jonathan Wall is being prosecuted for the same activity that thousands, if not millions of people, are engaged in across the country, so this is an equal protection violation under the 14th amendment,” Flores-Williams says. “It would almost be a joke, if it weren’t so heartbreaking.”
Jonathan Wall will go to trial in the U.S District Court of Maryland in May 2022
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
As legalization spreads across the United States, Denver remains squarely in focus. More than ever, the city is looked at to provide guidance on how it effectively implemented and continues to manage the first-of-its-kind sales and commercialization of voter-approved retail marijuana.
Through a far-reaching, collaborative approach, Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy, housed in Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, supports and coordinates the work of dozens of city employees. The city’s dedicated team of experts manage a complex and ever-changing regulatory and licensing process. This work includes legislation to create, improve and clarify ordinances, management of education and health initiatives, social equity, coordination of enforcement efforts, and allocation of enough resources – all in concert with the industry and the community.
In 2020, Denver marked the seventh year of retail sales of marijuana and the seventh year of the Office of Marijuana Policy’s operation. Industry growth continues with more than 1,100 business licenses operating out of nearly 500 locations.
More recently, Denver has developed a multi-pronged approach to remove barriers and implement changes so there is more equitable access to Denver’s marijuana industry and Denver can achieve the full promise of legalization.
Denver continues its collaborative approach to marijuana management, remaining nimble and flexible to keep pace with the sustained growth of sales and innovation in the marijuana industry, while remaining in constant communication with the industry and residents to ensure balance among many competing interests.