Sunday, October 19, 2014

Presentation to Cannabis Conference on October 18 at the Trenton State House for Decarcerate the Garden State

The following was the text that was the basis for my presentation at the October 18, 2014 Cannabis Conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Here is a video of the presentation:

First things first – make sure you sign our petition and get your complimentary copy of The NJ Decarcerator today!


We support total legalization.  But we can not have marijuana partying over a marijuana bill in NJ – WHILE OTHERS REMAIN INCARCERATED – IN PRISON – OR FACING CHARGES – OR OWING FINES OR SERVING FOR PAROLE VIOLATIONS – for doing the same!  Legalization must include DECARCERATION – not just for the pot conviction but for all those other charges they stick you with – like resisting, interfering, disorderly – when they wobble charges to get you to plea . . . release from incarceration, expungement of record for such conviction, dropping of pending charges and dismissal of assessed fines.  

Legalization can not impose criminalization for those who engaged in the remaining illegal end of the usage.  There will be many reasons why unofficial marijuana is used in NJ including sharing, access to affordable product, medical access - - that use needs to be decriminalized.

We know that industry is ready to profit from legalization.  Jobs created must be  for all – livable wage full time jobs with benefits  – without discrimination.  The law must be clear that there is no barring of x-felons or other x-convicts from those jobs.  Legalization can not perpetuate the economic caging of the formerly incarcerated.   

WE MUST NOT wait for however long it is takes for NJ to legalize . . . we NEED TO RESIST . . . NOW . . . the continued prosecution . . . the people being arrested TODAY for marijuana around the state . . . THE ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SEVEN MILLION – OR ONE EIGHTH OF A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR . . . THAT NEW JERSEY WASTES ON MARIJUANA LAW ENFORCEMENT – WE MUST DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM on all marijuana law enforcement . . . IMMEDIATE UNCONDITIONAL AMNESTY for all those who are facing charges . . . immediate decarceration of anyone being held in jails without post of bail and anyone incarcerated for marijuana and related charges and release of those who have been returned to incarceration for marijuana related parole violations.  Lets mobilize regularly at the modern day enslavement auction blocks – the county and local courthouses to demand immediate halt to pot arrests and prosecutions.  

Lets talk about crime and criminals – what is criminal and what is not!  The arrest of a person for possession of a marijuana cigarette, for him or he to be grabbed and roughly handled by one or more beefy usually male police officers, to have his hands twisted behind his back, roughly and tightly cuffed – to be pushed into the back seat of the cop car – at that point – already – the crime committed by the cops and the system that deployed them for this purpose far exceeds any harm supposedly caused by the possession of the marijuana cigarette.  Then the arrested is hauled to a filthy bug and germ infested jail, possibly for the night and if they can not post bail for some indefinite time in a county jail. . . at that point the victim could be subject to various forms of assault including sexual assault – by jailers or by other incarcerated.  This treatment and humiliation of the arrested possessor of marijuana – is the crime – not the possession! 

The system is the criminal.  Small time nonviolent offenders fill NJ jails – for the crime of poverty, of drug possession, for traffic warrants and indigence . . . subjected to bad food, assault, psychological torture, often solitary confinement, sexual assault – often by personnel  . . . this is the criminal set up – in NJ and throughout so called free nation – with 6% of the worlds population but 24% of the world’s prisoners – in these Carceral States of America – mass incarceration rout with racism in how the laws are enforced, prosecuted and sentenced – in NJ 66% of the incarcerated under NJ corrections are Black . . . yet the propensity toward crime is equal between Black and white.  We need to be organizing outside the prisons on visiting day – organizing the families and through them the incarcerated themselves into a unified movement for decarceration.

Big crimes get rewarded.  Your factory poisons an water source for hundreds of thousands of people – get a small fine and get a tax abatement to pay for it.  Chemical plant explodes due to your violation of OSHA laws?  No prison.  Frack destroys the aquifers?  Get government subsidies.  Bankrupt the world through fraud, get a bail out.  Get caught laundering billions in funds for murderous Mexican drug cartels . . . the too big to fail – to big to jail HSBC gets a fine – they say corporations are humans but when do the humans running those companies go to prison for being willful participants with the gangs that leave piles of heads all over Mexico?  And NJ is spending $127 million a year tracking down the possessor of marijuana.  NJ is one of 17 states actually increasing marijuana arrests.

We need to legalize!  We need to revolutionize!  We need system challenging action – we need to push legislation and system change simultaneously – that is how we  get results.  Those in power will  respond to demands for legalization . . . and decarceration . . . when they believe they have to save their A Double S’s.  Our movement has to be about more than recreation but about justice.

We can NOT talk legalization WITHOUT talking about the racist way that marijuana laws and all drug laws are enforced.   The war on drugs is a war on Black America – a Black person is 3 times as likely as a Caucasian to be arrested for Marijuana in NJ.  The only way to eliminate racism from the war on drugs is to eliminate the war on drugs.  The lack of meaningful livable wage employment for tens of thousands of adults across the state of NJ results in many seeking compensation in the unofficial economy.  For mere survival – many make bad decisions and engage in illegal acts – and many professions – police, lawyers, judges, corrections, bail bonds, profit from incarcerating 10s of thousands of NJ residents.

The system depends on mass incarceration – particularly of Black, Latino and impoverished – as a means of social control.  The war and drugs was initiated in the 60s and 70s in response to the rebellions and liberation movements that were afoot in that day.  If the system can keep those in the super oppressed communities in fear of the police, in fear of prosecution and incarceration – it can undermine the ability of these communities to unite and organize and build structures to resist the onslaughts on these communities like school privatization, gentrification and real estate speculation, the lack of livable wage jobs and cuts in services that are needed by so many because of failures of the economy.  These communities are treated as if everyone is a criminal.  And their ability to resist the daily depredations is diminished by over-policing for petty crimes and mass incarceration.

The Committee to Decarcerate the Garden State supports todays demand for total legalization.  We believe though and we ask you to join with us – that we need to go further to roll back the mass incarceration that is costing us hundreds of millions and diminishing our community’s abilities to unite and fight for things like – for example – legalization!  There is tremendous opportunity for a unified movement between the marijuana community and those in the communities throughout NJ that are targeted for mass incarceration.

Our Committee has drafted a bill that we call the NJ Decarceration Act that sets bold goals for significant reductions in NJ’s incarcerated population.  We call for the release of non-violent offenders, of the war and drugs and small time petty crimes, economic crimes of survival.  We call for the setting of goals to reduce NJ’s incarcerated population by half over the next 4 years.  Everybody says that we have too many prisoners and we have to end mass incarceration but there is no action plan coming from the politicians who want cred around the issue.

We are currently organzing Tour de Decarcerate and plan major events in 10 of the major cities of NJ – to promote the NJ Decarceration Act and to unify a movement for decarceration.  One date we can announce is November 14 in Newark and we are close to confirming an event in Plainfield NJ.

Like when we did in Newark on the steps of City Hall before a crowd of 200 people, we welcome the participation of the legalize community – bring your signs and banners and your literature.  Convergence and then unity is the blue print for victory.
Decarcerate the Garden State is joined at the hip to the legalize movement.  Make sure you take our paper and you sign our petition today.  

AT this point, Legalizers, Decarcerators . . . please join our voices . . . when I say Decarcerate – you answer me . . . The Garden State . . . are you ready?