Along with recreational and medical marijuana programs going into effect throughout the country, the Americans are beginning to understand the harshness of some laws regarding some Schedule I substances, namely – marijuana. Looking back at the 70-s, when pot was equated to opium, morphine, cocaine and heroin. President Richard Nixon unleashed war on drugs. As a result a new law came into force in 1973, upon singing by New York’s Republican govervor, Nelson Rockefeller. It was mostly aimed at controlling big dealers, but many incarcerated weren’t had clear records, but still, and were classified as nonviolent offenders. Keeping 113,2 grams of ganja or more, suggested long prison sentences (15 years). Passed on from lawmakers to lawmakers, this inherited law multiplied victims of the judicial system. So many lives were ruined and families torn apart. The law was reformed several times. In 1979 weed was excluded from the list. And luckily, in 2009 major changes were implemented to the drug law: eliminated the mandatory minimum sentences; secondly, enabled the judge to send an offender to treatment facilities but not to jail.
Thanks to these reforms 1,697 prisoners applied for early release, so far only 1,630 were released, and 67 are still remaining in jail. Some of them have serious charges, as the officials said on July 16.
Justice and common sense require comprehensive reforms. Relaxing Rockefeller’s law, which considered as the strictest at that time in the U.S., lifted the financial toll from the society and ensured compliance with the state’s policy, that has been approved by its citizens.
Even today the number of people doing time in the U.S. jails is higher than in Spain and Britain. The harsher law is the more crimes there are. Richard Nixon’s was ready to stop drug dealing by all means, The French Connection and Panic in Needle Park films helped to root the idea “everything is going to hell because of the drugs” in minds of the Americans. There was no mercy shown to any suspected, no parole, as Rockefeller once said, and no probation. Interesting, but in the 70-s homicide rate was higher 4 times than now, and declined substantially since 1992 from a rate per 100,000 persons of 9.8 to 4.5 in 2013.
One of the nonviolent drug offenders, a man of 58, is in one of the New York’s prisons. Junior Gumbs was sent to jail in 1994 for cocaine selling and conspiracy. He failed to be resentenced after 2005 changes in the law. Until recently, there no people found to provide information describing him positively to release him. But soon, in September, Gumbs will be set free and sent home – to Dominican Republic.
Compared to that time the society is now far more advanced in that sense and shows a lot of compassion to those in need. Four states with recreational weed available and 15 states with legal medical cannabis. Marijuana researches raising millions of dollars, providing encouraging results. Marijuana products are used nationwide to treat severe diseases to make people happier even if their diagnosis, treat children and alleviate their sufferings caused by different conditions.