[A letter from a Broome
County, New York jail, 1996]
It looks curiously like
any sleep-away camp, but without a clue as to the season,
year or even the country. Its 2 AM, and the overhead
light fixtures have been turned off for the past three
hours. Everyone is asleep in their bunks but me.
Unusually bright night
lights cast an eerie yellow outline of 22 single beds
around the perimeter of a conspicuously barren room.
There are no decorations on the walls, no night stands,
no curtains on the eight plastic windows that obviously
never open, and no clock. A few beds have pictures taped
to headboards showing children and memories from different
The camp fantasy has quickly
faded to the sinister reality. If I unhitch my usual
thinking process and let the emanation of this unnatural
conglomerate of women impinge on my consciousness, I
can actually feel an overwhelming and grossly inappropriate
emotion of sheer indifference.
They say human beings
will adjust to nearly any situation, accepting even
the most uncomfortable conditions. The women here have
surely done just that. They live in limbo, wondering
when their time to rejoin life on the outside will come.
Most of them are without financial resources, which
automatically relegates them to sitting in jail
often for nearly a year even though they have
never been convicted of anything.
Once incarcerated, the
injustice and inhumanity of the system becomes obvious.
Sanity is maintained by an assumed apathy and quiet
resignation. But I am acutely aware that this outward
display of acceptance is just a defense mechanism against
the rage that seethes in other woman inmates
as I feel it too.
I understand for the first
time what an unjust and cruel society we have conceived
and why so many deprived people are driven to violence.
I can taste the fear of having no freedom. I feel the
fury of an unfamiliar anger which leads to images of
revenge. But, miraculously, I am also experiencing all
this from a distance.
I am in the meditative
zone of being high. Here in jail, alone and remembering
the sacred effect of the Marijuana Spirit, I am one
with that vibration. I am in awe of the realization
that, over years and years of experience with being
high by the grace of Holy Hemp, I have learned how to
uncouple from the conditioning without benefit of the
embodied sativa. The Grace of the Spirit within the
cannabis plant has been imparted to me just by meditation!
Ironically, the magnificence
of this hallowed experience is the reason why I am in
jail, and why my husband sat in jail before me, not
to mention the hundreds of thousands of peace-loving
Americans who are presently incarcerated. Those of us
who are the casualties in the front lines of the marijuana
witch hunt are, of course, the best versed in all the
depraved reasons our militaristic government is waging
this criminal war on innocent citizens. Our numbers
sadly keep growing as our commitment to the inalienable,
natural right to medicate ourselves, pursue our own
methods toward enjoyment, and worship the Divinity in
the best way we can imagine, grows ever stronger, gathering
more and more people from all walks of life and all
disciplines of science. Our prisons are inadequate to
house what has become the most populated prison society
in the developed world because our laws define
natural actions as crimes. The political system that
upholds this foolhardy, cruel, unjustifiable policy
is bolstered by the drive for profit.
The prison industry is
booming, the police-state tactics are escalating, lawyers
and judges are inundated with work as our inner cities
are starving, our corporate giants are downsizing to
maintain their profit margins, the medical profession
is closing ranks around the pharmaceutical synthetics
even as the death toll in side effects reaches horrendous
proportions all while one natural plant could
ease the pain and suffering of so many sick and dying
people, help save our dangerously diminishing forests
from further exploitation, feed the billions of hungry
and unfortunate people around the globe, and cleanse
the toxins from the air we breath and certainly
increase the breathing capacity of us all.