Repeatedly defraud financial institutions and the government? Get 47 months in prison.
Illegally possess marijuana in a prohibition state? That’s a 12-year sentence, pal.
A lot of people, including U.S. senators, are picking up on this ludicrous sentencing disparity on full display in a case involving Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The former lobbyist was convicted of over a dozen financial fraud charges. While prosecutors recommended that he serve roughly 20 years, a judge decided on Thursday that was too harsh a sentence.
The decision immediately inspired a slew of tweets, with many giving examples of cases where non-violent cannabis offenses have put people in prison for much longer. One post, about the aforementioned 12-year sentence for simple possession, already has more than 10,000 retweets.
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) March 8, 2019
But it’s not just activists who are taking note of the criminal justice imbalance. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Angus King (I-ME) have also raised the issue.
People are sometimes sent to prison for longer than 47 months for non violent marijuana offenses.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) March 8, 2019
Warren tweeted about Fate Winslow, who is facing a life sentence for distributing $20 worth of marijuana.
Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, commits bank and tax fraud and gets 47 months. A homeless man, Fate Winslow, helped sell $20 of pot and got life in prison. The words above the Supreme Court say "Equal Justice Under Law"—when will we start acting like it?
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 8, 2019
Harris, who, like Warren, is currently seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, compared Manafort’s prison term to marijuana sentencing in a campaign stop in South Carolina.
.@KamalaHarris tears into the Manafort sentence, talking about the inequity of a man being sentence to 12 years for marijuana crime vs Manafort's white collar sentence. HUGE applause in this South Carolina BBQ spot. "Everyone should be treated equally under the law," says Harris
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) March 8, 2019
“We’re going to be flooded with stories in the next 24 hours about people with relatively minor offenses, selling an ounce of marijuana or stealing quarters from a laundry room with equivalent or greater sentences,” King told CNN on Friday.
.@SenAngusKing calls the Manafort sentence "astonishing."
"We’re going to be flooded with stories of people selling … an ounce of marijuana or stealing quarters from a laundry room with an equivalent or greater sentence." https://t.co/7ugXYVqHOL pic.twitter.com/amHyw1uIEm
— New Day (@NewDay) March 8, 2019
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) also chimed in.
-$55 million in bank and tax fraud.
-given 47 months.
Fate Vincent Winslow:
-sold $20 of marijuana.
-given LIFE IN PRISON.
Marijuana charges regularly net longer sentences than Manafort—we need #MarijuanaJustice to fix our broken system. https://t.co/q64uRKTWSP
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) March 8, 2019
So did Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
The failed war on drugs has devastated communities of color.
So-called law and order policies have unnecessarily wrecked millions of lives.
But a degenerate criminal like Paul Manafort gets a judicial slap on the wrist?
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) March 9, 2019
Elsewhere on Twitter, there was no shortage of outrage over the apparent judicial disconnect between sentences for white collar crimes and cannabis. Comedian and director Zack Bornstein joked that even his 4-year-old recognized the injustice.
OMG my 4-year-old just put down her Legos and said, “There are people serving longer sentences for marijuana possession than Manafort for helping dictators set up torture programs and committing high treason against the United States”
— Zack Bornstein (@ZackBornstein) March 8, 2019
Here are some more examples, in case the message hasn’t sunk in yet.
Paul Manafort committed fraud and got 47 months of prison.
Fate Vincent Winslow sold $20 of marijuana to a stranger and received a life sentence.
Our legal system is fucked up
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) March 8, 2019
Oh I see, Manafort can commit massive tax fraud, launder Ukrainian oligarch money, violate a plea deal & give polling data to the Russians for cash, and do 47 months. But if I sold a few ounces of marijuana in Florida I get 5 years. Got it. #equaljustice #nojustice #Whitecollar
— Randi Rhodes (@RandiRhodes) March 8, 2019
Patrick Beadle, a father & traveling musician, is spending 8 years in a Mississippi prison for possessing medical marijuana he legally got in Oregon.
Judge Ellis gave Paul Manafort—tried for 18 crimes including money laundering, tax fraud & bank fraud—just 4 years. pic.twitter.com/DPuMhA0BGG
— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) March 8, 2019
Lucky thing Manafort wasn’t found with a marijuana cigarette, been born black, or didn’t live “a blameless life” of representing dictators and the worst dregs of society. Otherwise he would have died in prison rather than taking a few years off in minimum security.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) March 8, 2019
Paul Manafort gets 4 years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering, bank fraud, tax fraud, and basically being a traitor to our country.
Corvain Cooper gets life in prison at age 34 for a non-violent marijuana conviction.
🖕White privilege. pic.twitter.com/an5DzCe9cU
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 8, 2019
As Manafort is sentenced to just 4 years in prison, a reminder that a black man in Mississippi was sentenced to 8 years in prison for possession of marijuana purchased legally in another state. https://t.co/2YwkQG5mki via @aclu
— Miranda Yaver (@mirandayaver) March 8, 2019
TWO JUSTICE SYSTEMS IN AMERICA:
Black men go to prison for 20 years for marijuana.
Manafort, convicted of 8 felonies, stole MILLIONS from America and only gets 47 months in prison.
— Red™️ (@Redpainter1) March 8, 2019
So a woman who mistakenly voted when she shouldn’t have will do more time than Paul Manafort. And there are people doing much more time for being in possession of drugs. Have a blessed night.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) March 8, 2019
— Tim Hitt (@lavitaminguy) March 8, 2019
Weed smokers are doing longer time than Manafort, for crimes directly against the very democracy of the United States.
— Kevin Baron (@DefenseBaron) March 8, 2019
I got grounded for 47 months for talking-back to my mom once. + I got a chancla thrown at me, which I dodged, so it grazed my ear. My mom’s tougher than that lame Judge Ellis.
Man, if Manafort was black or brown and was caught selling an ounce of pot, he’d be in jail for life.🤷🏻♀️
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) March 8, 2019
Paul Manafort is a traitor who went on a white-collar crime spree but only got 47 months prison time in a country that hands out life sentences to people for a few dime bags of weed.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) March 8, 2019
Manafort committed fraud and got 47 months.
In 2015, The Daily Beast highlighted a man named Fate Vincent Winslow sold $20 of weed to a stranger and got life. https://t.co/Wu70gUHOHk
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 8, 2019
You probably get the idea by now, but you can sift through dozens more here.
Photo courtesy of Disney.
NFL Says ‘Hype’ Over CBD Isn’t Backed By Science
An expert panel created by the National Football League (NFL) and its players union is downplaying the potential benefits of CBD for players, stating that while the cannabis compound shows promise in the treatment of some forms of pain, the science doesn’t currently live up to the “hype.”
Following a fact-finding forum on alternatives to opioid painkillers, which involved conversations with CBD manufacturers, the Pain Management Committee for the NFL and the NFL Payers Association (NFLPA) noted on Tuesday that there’s strong interest in CBD and medical marijuana more broadly. But the panel didn’t seem convinced that the non-intoxicating ingredient would benefit players.
“CBD is a promising compound, but the level of its use in the United States outpaces the level of research at this point,” the committee wrote in a white paper for players. “Most of the hype about CBD is based upon results from animal studies.”
“Clinical trials in large numbers of people are usually needed before millions of Americans use a medication for serious medical problems,” the group said. “There are two small clinical studies that suggest that CBD may be effective for treating a kind of pain called neuropathic pain that involves a burning feeling usually in a person’s feet.”
The paper also said that because CBD products are largely unregulated, it’s hard to determine whether they are properly labeled, and there’s the potential for such products to contain THC, which could result in a positive drug test for players.
Additionally, “there may be drug-drug interactions caused by CBD or players may opt for CBD as a medical treatment in lieu of treatments with more scientific evidence supporting them,” the NFL and NFLPA committee said in another white paper intended for league medical staff.
The body also raised doubts about clinical studies into Food and Drug Administration-approved medications composed of synthetic cannabinoids that are used in the treatment of chronic and neuropathic pain, arguing that those investigations relied on small sample sizes and limited follow-ups that call into question their therapeutic value.
“Of course, cannabis remains a banned substance under the NFL Policy for Substances of Abuse,” the committee concluded. “In addition, the potential problems associated with cannabis, from acute impairment of driving, addiction, and exacerbation of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, make it a substance to approach with extreme caution.”
A fact-finding forum the panel held on Tuesday wasn’t aimed at amending league policy directly, but rather it was meant to be “an educational and scientific exercise” that “does not impact the jointly administered Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse,” the groups said in a joint statement to NFL.com.
That said, negotiations are ongoing between the league and players union, and there’s pressure on NFL to adopt a more permissive policy when it comes to marijuana, especially as more states opt to legalize it for medical or recreational purposes.
After the MLB announced last year that it is removing cannabis from its list of banned substances for baseball players, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and star quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots both said they were expecting the league to follow suit and change its marijuana policy.
Image element courtesy of Marco Verch.
Sarah Silverman Calls Out Dave Chappelle For Not Sharing His Marijuana
Dave Chappelle is a marijuana bogart, Sarah Silverman revealed at an award ceremony honoring the fellow comedian.
In a clip from the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor gala that was posted on Sunday, Silverman talked about her long friendship with Chappelle and went on to share an anecdote about how he once visited her and smoked an entire joint himself without sharing.
“We were together in Vancouver and he came over to smoke a joint. And that’s exactly what he did,” she said. “He came over and he smoked a joint—the whole thing. Like by himself, while pontificating about everything that’s wrong with the world.”
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the world: a lack of sharing,” she joked. “I think it’s puff, puff, pass—not puff, puff, puff, puff.”
This was at least the second time that Chappelle’s affinity for mind-altering substances came up during the prestigious awards ceremony that was taped in October and is being aired on PBS on Tuesday. Another fellow comedian, Aziz Ansari, came on stage and joked about a psychedelic experience he had with Chappelle the day before he was announced as the prize’s recipient.
In that bit, Ansari said Chappelle asked him if he wanted to take psilocybin mushrooms together. While Ansari initially said he wanted to take it easy and relax, Chappelle persuaded him that eating the psychedelic fungi would be a more memorable experience to mark the occasion.
“I said, ‘Dave you’ve got a point, let’s eat those mushrooms—to Twain,'” Ansari said.
Another person with a drug story about Chappelle is podcaster Joe Rogan, who recently talked about the comedian going to a private screening of Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and eating magic mushrooms that he got from a fan. Rogan didn’t partake, but he said Chappelle gifted him an unlabeled bag of cannabis edibles.
Both psilocybin and marijuana have regularly been featured in Chappelle’s comedy routines. In 1998, for example, he joked about a time he took mushrooms (also from a stranger) and started hallucinating during a haircut.
Beyond comedy, Chappelle has also advocated for marijuana reform on a serious basis. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who ran for governor of Maryland in 2018 on a pro-legalization platform, said Chappelle was the person who first put the idea of cannabis reform in his head.
Photo courtesy of YouTube/Kennedy Center.
Dave Chappelle And Aziz Ansari Took Magic Mushrooms To Celebrate Comedy Award
When comedian Dave Chappelle wins a prestigious award, he opts for psychedelics over champagne to celebrate, fellow comedian Aziz Ansari said
In a clip from the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor gala that was posted online this week, Ansari shared an anecdote about the night before it was announced Chappelle was the award’s recipient.
While Ansari wanted to get some rest after the two comedians finished their sets at an Austin, Texas show, Chappelle proposed that they take psilocybin mushrooms instead.
“Dave said, ‘what kind of night are you trying to have tonight, Aziz?'”
“I said, ‘I’m probably going to take it easy, we went hard yesterday and we’ve got shows tomorrow.'”
“He said, ‘well you want to eat these psychedelic mushrooms I got? They’re supposed to be amazing.'”
Unconvinced, Ansari said he might “just take it easy and get some rest for tomorrow,” but his partner wasn’t deterred.
“He said, ‘well, Aziz, no one knows this, but tomorrow they’re going to announce that I am the winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.’
“And he said, ‘what are you going to tell your kids 20 years from now, Aziz? Are you going to tell them, I was there the day Dave Chappelle found out he won the Mark Twain award and we ate mushrooms together and we had the night of our lives? Or are you going to tell them you got some sleep?'”
Ansari, who described the back-and-forth at the award ceremony, which was taped in October, acquiesced: “I said, ‘Dave you’ve got a point, let’s eat those mushrooms—to Twain.'”
It’s unclear if the psilocybin mushrooms the pair shared are the same ones that Chappelle apparently got from a stranger ahead of a private screening of Once Upon a Time In Hollywood—another recent psilocybin anecdote about the comedian that was shared by podcaster Joe Rogan.
While Rogan didn’t partake in the psychedelic fungus, he said Chappelle did gift him a bag of unlabeled marijuana edibles.
Chappelle has joked about his marijuana and magic mushrooms experience in several of his comedy routines—including a 1998 bit where he also talked about taking shrooms he got from a stranger and then hallucinating during a haircut.
But the comedian has also seriously advocated for cannabis policy reform. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who ran for governor of Maryland in 2018 on a pro-legalization platform, credited Chappelle for first putting the idea of marijuana reform in his head.
PBS is set to air a special on Chappelle’s Twain prize on Tuesday.