Although this incident occurred outside of the Bay Area and California in general, I felt compelled to provide a link due to what I feel is an unspoken, and often harsh reality in the marijuana legalization movement.
With talk of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, decreasing penalties for possession and use, what happens to the hundreds of thousands of those who have already fell victim to harsh drug sentences and are now separated from family and familiarity? What happens to those non-violent offenders who are now ineligible to vote in many states, unable to find decent employment due to their having to state prior convictions on applications or ineligible for any type of loan to secure housing? What happens to these individuals while others profit from marijuana, and in some ways, are immune to the consequences of being poor and marginalized?
Take the case of Bernard Noble, a 49-year-old father of seven. Noble is serving more than 13 years in Jackson Parish Correctional Center in Jonesboro Lousiana after being caught possessing a little over two joints worth of weed in 2010.
Noble has a total of seven convictions. All non-violent, all drug charges. Four are misdemeanors, but three are felonies. The state used the tried and true tactic of instating de-facto slavery by using two of the felony charges — 1991 and 2003 convictions for possession of small amounts of cocaine and marijuana — in their branding of Noble as a “habitual offender” under Louisiana law. Now they’ve got him. No chance for parole. No rehabilitation. Nothing but click it and forget it.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.