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An Open Letter to the Biden-Harris Administration

Madame Vice President, your legacy as a prosecutor includes thousands of lives fractured by the war on drugs.

The Biden-Harris Administration,

It is with the deepest respect that I share these thoughts, with great regard for the difficulties faced in leading our beloved country. Upon being elected, the global community exhaled in relief when you were elected to lead the United States, but your Administration continues to perpetuate the war on drugs, which has become a war on the American way of life.

It is time to acknowledge that the foundation of the war on drugs is racist, predatory, and not fitting with the American ideals we project around the globe. It is also evident that the laws and law enforcement regulating drugs are more dangerous than the drugs themselves. Americans deserve their constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness, and this includes the right to consume Cannabis.

In the last six months we have seen New York and New Mexico legalize Cannabis by legislative action, and the voters of New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana joined a total of 33 states whose voters all approve of an American’s right to use Cannabis. Your response to overwhelmingly positive polling for legalization has been to fire White House staff members who admitted to using Cannabis. This is direct proof that your policies and beliefs do not reflect the will of the people.

We are calling on your Administration to take action and follow through on your campaign promises, and to correct the hypocritical legacy of the war on drugs that both the President and Vice President helped shape and enforce. We know your history and we are looking for you both to evolve with Americans, for America. 

Madame Vice President, your legacy as a prosecutor includes thousands of lives fractured by the war on drugs. President Biden, as a senator you helped craft the language of the war on drugs that has led to the militarization of police, private and for-profit prisons, and decades of lives ruined by drug policies – vowing in 1989 to hold “every drug user accountable,” adding that there aren’t “enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, not enough prosecutors to convict them, not enough judges to sentence them, and not enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.”

Mr. President, you recently stated that gun violence in the U.S. is shameful and that we need to limit legal gun ownership – but said nothing about the average of three lives taken daily by police shootings since the murder of George Floyd. I personally find your lack of action on police accountability, the continuation of the war on drugs, and giving police reasons to arrest and kill innocent people in minor possession of drugs, to be shameful – which predominantly affects people of color and impoverished communities.

What is mind-boggling is how can you have the vision to pull troops out of Afghanistan to end our country’s longest war, while continuing to wage a domestic campaign of terror featuring no-knock raids and mandatory minimum sentences for simple drug possession? Like the people of Afghanistan who are left worse off than when we began our needless war of aggression 20 years ago, today Americans are worse off on the battlefield called Main Street – where innocent victims are killed, arrested and robbed through asset forfeiture by a militarized police force with less oversight than that for our armed forces overseas.

Please, let’s end police violence, gang violence and cartel violence. This comes by removing criminal penalties for minor drug possession, and redirecting funds from law enforcement and the criminal justice system towards social support, mental and addiction health care – making direct investments into communities affected by the war on drugs.

When a person chooses to use Cannabis or other drugs, they choose their pathway to happiness – and criminalizing their decision is what creates criminals. It justifies the cartels, the violence, and even the corruption that drives both the criminal organizations and the criminal justice system. Let’s repeat an earlier mantra: Americans deserve their constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness, and this includes the right to consume Cannabis and other substances in the safety of their own homes.

Sincerely,

Wesley Abney
Founder, Leaf Magazines

Photos by @JoshuaBoulet

About Wes Abney

Wes Abney is the founder and CEO of the Leaf Nation brand family, which began in 2010 as Northwest Leaf magazine. Recognized as the first Cannabis publication in the region, Northwest Leaf defined and developed the medical and recreational Cannabis communities in Washington with free publications focused on quality content and truthful journalism. The model’s success has led to Oregon Leaf in 2014, Alaska Leaf in 2016, Maryland Leaf in 2019, California Leaf in Spring of 2020, and Northeast Leaf in Fall of 2020. Wes’s writing and publishing background began with his college newspaper, The Ebbtide, which included a love for multimedia and creating content on many platforms. The nickname “Bearded Lorax” came after years of publishing millions of free magazines, using his voice to speak for a plant and those that benefit from it. Wes is an activist not only for Cannabis but for alternative medicine treatments, ending the drug war and freeing prisoners who have been wrongfully incarcerated for non-violent crimes. His passion for reaching people with written and spoken words led to the concept of Leaf Life Podcast in partnership with Mike Ricker, which began development in 2018 and launched in January 2019. With the combined passions of Cannabis and a love for broadcasting, the creation of Leaf Life was a natural progression for Leaf Nation as it spread roots across the United States. With over 100 shows recorded, and printing over 100,000 monthly copies, Leaf Nation has become the world’s largest Cannabis media company, while still celebrating the humble roots and truthful journalism that the model was founded upon. Beyond leading a team of 40+ passionate Cannabis creatives, Wes is the father to two beautiful daughters and two furry cats. He lives in Seattle, drinks coffee, and enjoys Cannabis daily, and hopes to eventually transition from a successful Cannabis journalist to a classic coffee shop author as the Leaf continues to grow in the coming decades. In true Lorax fashion, he enjoys hikes in the forest, communing with nature, and reminding people that “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

This article was originally published in the issue of all Leaf Magazines.

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