|Michael Lapihuska: Photo by Ron Crumpton|
By Ron Crumpton
Michael Lapihuska is facing a sentence that could be as much as 10 to 20 years, not for rape, burglary or murder, but for the possession of a single joints worth of marijuana.
Michael suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and has used cannabis for many years to combat the symptoms of his illness, but after suffering past arrests for possession, he moved to California. There a doctor recommended he take marijuana for his disorder, and he became a legal patient in that states medical marijuana program.
On December 15, 2009, Michael was hitchhiking back to Alabama from California to see his family for Christmas when he was stopped, searched – for apparently for no reason – and arrested for possession of one gram of marijuana by the Anniston Police Department.
This has to make any rational person ask themselves at least some of the following questions:
First, why are we still arresting people for possessing a substance that has been found to be less harmful than alcohol, tobacco or acetaminophen?
Second, Michael is a legal patient in California’s medical marijuana program, why would Alabama wish to intercede in an agreement between the state of California, a doctor and a patient?
Third, even if it is against the law, what is the point of sentencing the perpetrator of a victimless crime to such an exaggerated sentence?
Fourth, do you want to pay your part of at least $200,000 in taxes, so that the state of Alabama can house a prisoner for the possession of one joint?
Fifth, why would anyone want to put a patient, not a criminal, in jail for taking his medicine?
I could ask questions like this all day long, and the one thing that they have in common is that to do any of it, does not make a bit of sense.
During the escalation of the war on drugs in the 1990s, the United States Justice Department promoted the war on drugs as an effort to take down the drug lords, but 80percent of the increase in arrests were for marijuana possession.
If you are convicted of possession of marijuana, your chances of serving prison time is four percent greater than someone convicted of trafficking marijuana – Marijuana users sentenced to jail or prison time is 31percent, traffickers 27 percent.
The crazy war is not living up to the billing. We have spent millions upon millions of dollars in South America eradicating coca, but there is more cocaine in America than ever. We eradicate marijuana grown in the U.S., which just means more marijuana coming from Mexico and more money making it into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
Even if marijuana was every bit the dangerous substance they would have you believe, it still could not do 10 percent of the damage that prohibition has done to America.
So, you have Michael. He is a man already suffering from PSTD, and due to the possession of one joint, this man has been under extreme mental stress wondering if he is going to be spending the next 20 years of his life in prison.
It is amazing that our government is willing to trample the constitutional rights of its citizens and inflict such harm on society in order to protect the fiscal interests of the oil, pharmaceutical, chemical and timber companies.
It seems that our politicians are more concerned with campaign contributions and maintaining the status quo than they are to justice or the fair treatment of Americans.
Michael Lapihuska is not a criminal, quite the contrary. He is a 37 year-old man with a likable personality, a pleasant quality and is quite literally willing to give you the shirt off his back. This is not prosecution, it is persecution, and there comes a time when people of good conscious cannot sit idly by and allow their government to persecute their fellow citizens.
If we are not willing to stand up and fight for people like Michael, who will be willing to stand up and fight for us?