As you may have heard, we recently partnered with Last Prisoner Project as part of our ongoing High Priorities donation initiative. Today, we chat with Mary Bailey, Managing Director at Last Prisoner Project, on what the future of cannabis justice looks like and how we can each do our part to make a difference.
Hi Mary! Let’s jump right into it, is there injustice in the current judicial system towards cannabis crimes?
Last Prisoner Project’s work is inherently interconnected with racial justice. Not only is there a disparity in who is targeted for cannabis arrests, but those disparities continue in sentencing so that communities of color are more likely to be convicted and serve longer prison sentences for nonviolent cannabis offenses. We also know that suspected cannabis possession has been used to justify some of the most egregious examples of police violence and murder of Black Americans.
What is the Last Prisoner Project?
The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) is a coalition of cannabis industry leaders, executives and artists dedicated to bringing restorative justice to the cannabis industry. LPP is dedicated to releasing cannabis prisoners and helping them rebuild their lives. As the United States moves away from the criminalization of cannabis, giving rise to a major new industry, there remains the fundamental injustice inflicted upon those who have suffered criminal convictions and the consequences of those convictions. Through intervention, advocacy and awareness campaigns, the forces behind the Last Prisoner Project will work to redress the past and continuing harms of these unjust laws and policies and are dedicated to making sure that every last victimless cannabis prisoner walks free.
How did you get involved with LPP?
I have been involved with the cannabis industry for most of my adult life. I think that it is an absolute travesty that cannabis is now a booming legal industry yet there are still over 40,000 people incarcerated for a plant medicine that is practically legal in most states and has been deemed an essential business during a global crisis. I have worked with our co-founders to create Last Prisoner Project from the ground up and it has been incredibly inspiring to see the cannabis industry show up to support our efforts.
How can cannabis consumers make a difference?
Cannabis consumers can educate the extended cannabis community about the injustice of there still being over 40,000 people incarcerated for cannabis in America. Some of these people are serving life sentences for cannabis. You can learn about their stories on our website.
How can people get involved with LPP?
You can learn more about our work on our website, and by following us on social media. You can support our work by donating to our organization by texting FREEDOM to 24365 to donate or by visiting our website.
With the upcoming election in November, many states will see adult-use and medical-use cannabis legislation. What should voters be aware of as it relates to the justice system should adult or medical use pass?
As new policy is created to allow adult-use legislation in new states, it is imperative that this new legislation allows for the release of cannabis offenders who are incarcerated. This should be built into the policy, but unfortunately that has not been the case in any of the states that have passed adult use legislation. We must do better. Our organization is creating a new 501C4 arm of our organization so that we can legally do legislative outreach and have a seat at the table to advocate for cannabis prisoners as new policy is developed.
As a final note, are there any pressing cases you’re currently working on?
Yes, unfortunately our worst fears have been realized. Michael Thompson has been hospitalized with COVID-19. At 69 years old and diabetic, we are terrified that Michael will not make it. It is clear that those in power in Michigan do not believe in the humanity of our incarcerated community members but we need you to show them that we value Michael’s life, and that he doesn’t deserve to die in detention.
We would like to ask your audience to PLEASE help Michael by calling the Parole Board and Governor Whitmer to urge them not to return Michael to prison from the hospital. He has already served 25 years for only 3 lbs. of cannabis. Don’t let a nonviolent cannabis sentence become a death sentence for Michael Thompson.
Thank you for joining us Mary, and for all the important work you do at LPP. Please consider reaching out to the people listed below to make your voice heard and prevent cannabis being a death sentence for Michael Thompson.
Michigan Parole Board (517) 373-0270, Governor Whitmer’s office (517) 373-3400, Michael’s MDOC number is 176309.
Email Members of the MI Parole Board: mo[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]