April 12, 2015

#becausefreedom: The Journey to Legalizing Marijuana in the Midwest.


Jeff Mizansky from Sedalia, Missouri has been in jail for 20 years.

He’s serving a life sentence.

His crime was being in the room while a brick of marijuana was being sold. While it’s true that this wasn’t his first offense (he had two previous plant related crimes) he’s never been convicted or accused of any violent crimes. He is over 60 and in bad health and he is likely to die in prison instead of at home with his children and grandchildren.

That’s right, he’s someone’s grandfather.

Here’s a petition you can sign.

Obviously this situation is bigger than Jeff. Across this nation there are other people in situations just like Jeff. Some places have evolved more common sense approaches to marijuana, but there are still a lot of states like Missouri that need to catch up. 20 years ago when Jeff went to jail, the prospect of legalization probably seemed impossible. Now, thanks to experiments in a few states, it seems like in the next 20 years, it will probably happen. We know (I think we’ve always known) at the very least that marijuana is not dangerous. We know also that it’s been a great benefit to the state of Colorado financially. We can tax the hell out of it and people will buy it.

But, more importantly, so many of our brothers and sisters are in jail for a victimless crime.

Now, states across the nation are following Colorado’s example and trying to legalize. And why shouldn’t they?

It’s been a great boon to Colorado’s economy with no consequences.

My home state, Kansas, is probably not going to legalize marijuana for a long time. But, the state I’m next to, Missouri is very likely to have it on the ballot in 2016.

That’s right, when we’re voting for the next President, voters in Missouri will be able to vote on whether or not the state should legalize Marijuana.

This is going to happen thanks to the tireless work of nonprofit organizations like Show-Me Cannabis and West Missouri Norml.

And it’s exciting.

Not for me or all the people that want to use it for fun. For the people that are in prison for no good reason, like Jeff Mizansky.

I’ve heard people make all sorts of arguments like:

Marijuana can cure cancer


Hemp can make better paper


It’s good for you, like vitamins.

I don’t know if those things aren’t true, but I think bringing up things like that confuses the issue.

Because we should have freedom is reason enough, I think.


We shouldn’t have things taken away, seemingly at random. If something is going to be illegal, it should be because it causes harm to someone.

The onus of proof shouldn’t be on advocates for legalization. It should be the opposite.

We shouldn’t ask ourselves: Why legalize?

We should be asking: Why not?



Marijuana Demystified: 11 Things We All Need to Know About Weed.

Author: Daniel Scharpenburg

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: via the author 

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danielschar Apr 14, 2015 2:48pm

#don't.stop.at.pot is important too, Nayeli.

nayeli rose Apr 12, 2015 4:48pm

Freedom is a good reason for ending the war on drugs, but honestly racism and violence are even better selling points. The choices of the US directly impact the drug related violence in the US Mexico and many other countries. Decriminalization keeps people out of jail, usually non-white people, but it also keeps people alive, and ends the traumatization of the young in true "dug war zones".

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Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City. He’s been practicing Buddhism for nearly 20 years. He teaches at the Open Heart Project Sangha and is a Zen Teacher (Fashi) in the Dharma Winds Zen Order. His main focus is on mindfulness practices rooted in the earliest Zen teachings and compassion practices rooted in the Bodhisattva Tradition. He has taken Bodhisattva Vows and Brahmajala Precepts and he is affiliated with the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun.
Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook