While Ex-Elected Officials Invest in Cannabis, I Remain in Prison for Selling It

In 1995, my life was dangerously shifting on shaking floor. The monkey on my again was consuming extra medication than ordinary: extra crack, extra weed, extra booze, extra tablets. Fairly quickly I used to be in unsurmountable debt; greater than I may afford. Then got here the irrational resolution — those you are inclined to make when using excessive and in want of extra gasoline — to make an additional buck.

A so-called buddy and I obtained some cocaine from a drug vendor to promote to a different so-called buddy, solely to be taught that upon the supply of the cocaine, each so called-friends would disappear, by no means to be seen once more. A arrange? Unlikely. A part of the drug recreation? Greater than certainly.

With no cent to pay again the drug vendor who offered the cocaine on consignment, the $240,000 drug debt quickly turned the primary factor to pay again by any means essential; that’s, if I wasn’t keen to lose my life and the lives of my household.

Primarily based on the coercive suggestion of the cocaine vendor, I agreed to make journeys with marijuana smugglers from the U.S. and Mexican border to Houston, Texas, to pay again the drug debt. “In any case, it’s solely weed,” I rationalized, blindly unaware that the “struggle on medication” was at its peak, and all it will take was for one among my crime companions to snitch on me and I might be down for the depend. Gone for good. For regardless of the quantity, a federal conspiracy to distribute marijuana comes with a price ticket of much more than what you cut price for.

I finally transported marijuana bundles from the border to Houston and bought them to the very best bidder, effectively into 1996, till the drug debt was settled with the cocaine vendor. Then I went on my means, nonetheless feeding the monkey, however now with much less frequency, pondering all the things can be all proper.

Not so.

Over time, the marijuana smugglers have been arrested one after the other and began singing to avoid wasting their very own conceal. My title was thrown into the combination, and a Drug Enforcement Company (DEA) warrant was issued for my arrest.

That spring morning of Could 27, 1998, got here like a nasty nightmare (one which’s nonetheless troubling me to this present day). I used to be residing in a two-bedroom condo with my spouse Sara, who was three months pregnant, and my 3-year-old son, making an attempt to carry onto a job promoting automobiles whereas nonetheless wrestling with drug dependancy. The whole lot appeared like a standard day on my solution to work, save for the pounding headache and the slight nausea from heavy ingesting the night time earlier than. As quickly as I stepped onto the again of the parking zone of the condo complicated, I used to be surrounded by the Texas Gulf Coast Process Power, Houston cops and DEA brokers, dressed with bulletproof vests, aiming AR-15s and 12-gauge shotguns, hysterically ordering, “Get down motherfucker! I’ll blow your head off!” whereas a helicopter hovered excessive within the sky. The whole lot felt like a slow-motion image. Like a dream. However as quickly as my physique hit the asphalt with a knee crushing my again and a gloved hand holding my face down towards the pavement, actuality set in. This wasn’t a film. This wasn’t a dream.

“Are you Edwin Rubus? Inform me your title?!” A number of officers yelled at me. “Test his pockets and forearm.” I heard an officer say over to my proper. After I used to be searched, one other agent stated, “Yeah, we acquired ’em. It’s him.” I used to be handcuffed and thrown into the again of a Houston police cruiser. I used to be pushed to the entrance of the condo Sara and I have been renting. Greater than 15 legislation enforcement officers brusquely entered my condo, ransacking it from prime to backside, from tip to tail, trying to find unlawful substances and weapons.

After an hour, one of many officers got here out of the condo, shaking his head, saying, “No weapons, no cash, no dope … bummer!” whereas my spouse and my son silently stood there traumatized by the surprising flip of occasions. “He’s being arrested for conspiracy to distribute marijuana,” the DEA agent in cost knowledgeable them. My spouse was as baffled as me as to what these expenses meant.

A day later, I stood in entrance of a Justice of the Peace choose. He once more knowledgeable me of the fees, however with extra particulars. “You’re being charged with the promoting and distribution of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. You can be held with out bond till you resolve to plead responsible or proceed to trial.”

After the arraignment courtroom proceedings, my court-appointed lawyer stated, “All of your expenses stem from the testimony of your crime companions. They’re vehemently cooperating with the federal government and the DEA for a diminished sentence. If I have been you, I’d play ball and begin snitching, or issues will look grim for you.” I didn’t reply. “Give it some thought,” he concluded, sitting there with a lazy smile throughout his face as if he was having a pleasant dialog with one among his buddies at completely satisfied hour — besides I used to be shackled and fettered to a metallic chair inside a jail cell.

And identical to it occurs within the films, ignorance of the legislation acquired the higher of me. I refused to snitch and play ball. As an alternative, I proceeded to trial firmly believing I’d prevail — since “no cash” “no weapons” and “no dope” have been discovered on me. However little did I do know {that a} conspiracy cost can simply be established by the testimony of two or three people below rumour foundation to acquire a conviction. Little did I do know that my crime companions had extrapolated the quantities of marijuana we had smuggled from the border to Houston, and if I have been discovered responsible, the sentencing choose may sentence me as much as life in jail primarily based on these inflated numbers.

Within the climax of issues, greater than a handful of parrots testified towards me, every repeating what the opposite had stated, as all of them had been housed collectively near a 12 months in jail and coached by the DEA and the Assistant United States Legal professional earlier than trial. After being discovered responsible, the choose sentenced me to a de facto life sentence of 40 years (which means I’d must serve 34 years of my life behind jail bars). “For placing us via the difficulties of trial and for him not taking part in ball,” I overheard the prosecutor whisper to my court-appointed lawyer proper after the ultimate courtroom proceedings. Shackled and chained, I used to be swiftly led out of the courtroom by U.S. Marshalls, taken down a service elevator, right into a ready van, on my solution to federal jail.

Proper after coming into one of the crucial violent prisons in the USA, melancholy set in. I used to be being ripped away from my household for many years on finish for a nonviolent marijuana crime, largely because of my irrational selections. Each time I’d name house, one among my sons would at all times ask, “Dada, Dada, once you come house?” This at all times pained me to the core. “Quickly, son, quickly,” I’d at all times reply, realizing full effectively “quickly” meant an undetermined size of time.

My first jail go to was coronary heart wrenching. Keanu, my 3-year-old, couldn’t sit nonetheless. He stored tugging on my shirt, making an attempt to tug me away from the visiting desk and pointing towards the entrance door. “Dada, go house. Dada, go house,” he pled. When our go to was over, he wouldn’t let go of me. He began crying uncontrollably. The jail guards needed to intervene. After quite a lot of comforting makes an attempt, he lastly calmed down.

Over time, the emotional turmoil and the eager for my household lastly took its toll. Seeing no means out, I attempted to take my very own life, one thing I now remorse. On the time, although, it appeared like the one solution to escape my emotional ache was to finish all of it. By God’s grace it didn’t occur. I used to be finally placed on suicide watch and acquired psychiatric counseling. In time, I discovered to just accept the destiny that I wasn’t going wherever; that I’d must endure no matter got here my means within the years to return. Not lengthy after, in 2001, I used to be identified with a life-threatening sickness. On the verge of dying, and near cashing within the verify, God’s grace once more intervened. I didn’t perish. However I used to be nonetheless left with a handicap of solely with the ability to stroll quick distances for months. After which, two years later, the worst information hit the deck. Sara unexpectedly left me. She took the kids, finally remarried, and moved on. I don’t blame her. A spouse isn’t anticipated to serve out 40 years alongside her husband whereas he’s in jail, patiently ready for him to return house.

The previous 24 years of my incarceration haven’t been simple. Each day I get up surrounded by 12-foot chain-link fences, topped with looping strands of razor wire, inside a jail cell adorned with a metallic bunk, a paper-thin mattress, a burlap sack like blanket, a pale plastic mirror, a rusted wash basin and bathroom, and a molded plastic-chair on its final leg. The partitions pale white. The door opaque blue. There are occasions once I really feel unspeakable loneliness, anger and frustration over my unjust, dismal state of affairs. That is generally amplified by the endless orders of my captors telling me when to get up, when to fall asleep, when to make use of the telephone and e-mail, what books to learn and never learn, and even when to hope.

If I’m to see the sunshine of day, hashish legal guidelines want to alter. Because it stands now, 65 p.c of the U.S. inhabitants approves of hashish consumption; 37 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia enable medical use of marijuana and 19 states enable it for leisure use; and only in the near past Missouri, Arkansas, and North and South Dakota submitted a poll to legalize marijuana. This development will proceed till all the nation has in some kind or style legalized marijuana.

Then there’s the revenue margins of this newfound hashish trade. The billions of {dollars} it presently generates needs to be greater than sufficient to say, “Let the ‘pot individuals’ out of jail, we’re making a killing out right here.” Sadly, nobody takes this to coronary heart. Even ex-Home Speaker John Boehner, who throughout his political time period was adamantly against hashish legalization, has now gotten on the board of multistate hashish firm Acreage Holdings, and is extra targeted on making a buck than advocating for the hashish prisoner.

And whereas President Joe Biden pardoned 6,500 individuals for easy possession, and pardoned six extra earlier than 2022 got here to a detailed, he needn’t neglect about us — those in confinement. Those who’re serving harsh sentences below repressive, outdated, racist hashish legal guidelines that now not serve any goal for our society; legal guidelines that are inclined to ostracize and oppress minorities; legal guidelines that must be repealed and accomplished away with as soon as and for all, vomiting out the poison of carceral oppression which has beforehand led to a useless finish, below the title of “legislation and order.”

Below this premise, Biden can simply use his govt energy and launch all of the hashish prisoners from federal jail, fulfilling the guarantees he made throughout his presidential marketing campaign in 2020. However then once more, presidential guarantees are sometimes clothed below the mantle of presumed intentions: Promise the voters redress and simply decision on particular points then renege on such guarantees as soon as energy has been acquired.

At this level, with out clemency from President Biden, my palms shall stay shackled for an additional 10 years, till 2033. By then, I’ll have served 34 years in federal jail for a nonviolent marijuana crime. My mother and father will most certainly be useless by then. My sons will of their mid-thirties. A great distance from once I left them again in 1998, when one was 5, the opposite three, and the third was not but born.

The one phantasm of reprieve left for me now lies within the dim hope of religion that somebody would keep in mind me; that somebody would communicate on my behalf; that somebody would assist set me free. However then as soon as once more, that phantasm is simply an phantasm — below a slogan I as soon as heard, “Ninety p.c of individuals don’t care about your state of affairs, and the opposite ten, effectively, they’re simply glad it occurred to you.”

Reality be instructed, I’ll seemingly proceed residing my days in federal jail, enduring the unfair sentence I’ve acquired for promoting marijuana, till I’ve fulfilled the judicial decree from my sentencing choose: “I need him to serve each single day of these 40 years in a maximum-security jail … till he learns to not promote marijuana to the American individuals.”

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