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Fair Trials Calls for Global Justice for Victims of the War on Drugs

Fair Trials, an international non-profit non-governmental organization that advocates for the right of a fair trial, and against discrimination in justice systems, is calling upon the cannabis industry to take action. They want to begin addressing the harm caused by cannabis prohibition—on a global basis—by working to free those jailed for cannabis possession and use.

Legalization of cannabis may soon be possible in many more countries around the world. Too many are still in jail or suffering directly as a result of the war on cannabis.

“The injustice of cannabis prohibition has resulted in millions of people worldwide serving time in prison or being saddled with a cannabis conviction, which brings with it a lifetime of harmful consequences, ranging from education and employment opportunities to immigration status and parental rights,” said Fair Trials Global CEO Norman L. Reimer. 

“These harmful effects of prohibition not only impact the individuals charged, but also their families and communities. These harmful effects are felt most strongly in communities of color and minorities. Just legalizing marijuana does not guarantee justice. Together, we must address the ongoing harms of past prohibition and leave no cannabis prisoner behind,” he said.

The campaign will be modeled on the American Cannabis Justice Initiative—a joint effort between the industry and volunteer lawyers.

Unreformed Justice Systems Have a Terrible Effect

The ACLU claims that half of American drug arrests for 2010 involved cannabis. Between 2001 and 2010, 8.2 millions cannabis arrests were made. 88% of these arrested for simple possession. These numbers are down dramatically according to NORML, but hundreds of thousands of Americans are still arrested for cannabis possession in states that have legalized it.

This problem isn’t limited to the U.S.

Even in Europe, which has a far more lenient policy towards all drug use and cannabis in particular, people still go to jail for the “crime” of both possession and home cultivation (even for medical use). In Germany, for example, cannabis is the number one “illicit” drug of choice and, of course, also accounts for the vast number of arrests. In Spain, the organizer of the club movement, Albert Tió, was prosecuted with jail time for his role in the same. However, here, like other places in the world, even the threat of prison does not deter users—and according to those who study the issue, it is not likely to in the future. Finland is still the E.U. This is the state where there are currently most prisoners for illegal use.

Outside of the E.U., there are places where cannabis “crimes” are punished more harshly, including with life sentences or even the death penalty. Of these, most are in the “east” and Asia. In fact, Thailand just released 4,200 cannabis-related prisoners from prison. This was in conjunction with the federal liberalization policy. In other countries, reform has not happened yet—starting with China. In recent years, Singapore and Malaysia were both in news for sendingencing possession of CBD oil-related crimes to death. In the United Arab Emirates last year, a British soccer coach was given a 25-year sentence for possession of CBD oil.

Although the War on Drugs might be coming to an end, it is not ending. But its terrible legacy still creates a dark overhang that shadows far too many people’s lives.

Norman L. Reimer is the contact person for more details about this project. or Ivan J. Dominguez at