So I’ve been writing about marijuana. Recently, it came to my attention that a 40-year-old Pittsburgh man named Daniel Muessig — a former criminal defense lawyer and freestyle rapper — was, in all likelihood, headed to prison for five years for selling large quantities of weed. This is, of course, exactly what publicly-traded companies like Canopy Growth and Green Thumb Industries do in states where marijuana is legal. Legal cannabis is a $30.6bn business in the US. But for some reason–namely, the stubbornly prohibitionist mentality of Washington politicians, up to and including President Biden–people’s lives are being ruined for selling pot. Still.
Yesterday I told Daniel’s story in Reason, a libertarian magazine that I’ve read and admired for years. Here’s a link. Reason has long crusaded for an end to the drug war, and for other causes that matter to me — free speech, gay rights, open borders (or at least massively more immigration), abortion rights, religious freedom and, broadly speaking, far less government intervention in the economy. I’m probably one of the few writers who has contributed to the socialist newspaper In These Times, Fortune, The Guardian and Reason, but there you have it.
Today I posted a story about Daniel’s case, marijuana reform and the Biden administration to Medium. Here’s the link. Daniel is not your typical drug dealer. He’s Jewish and college-educated with no criminal record. Of the 1,118 people sentenced in federal courts for marijuana trafficking in FY2020, some 62 percent were Hispanic and 18 percent were black, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Since reading The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander’s fantastic book about mass incarceration, I’ve believed that ending the drug war is one of the most important things we can do to promote racial justice in America.
Marijuana is the perfect place to start. On that score, the Biden administration has utterly failed. He’s broken his campaign promises around an issue that is a political winner. People like Corey Booker and Chuck Schumer get this. So far, Biden does not. I hope you’ll take a look at these stories and speak up for legalizing marijuana.