As you may have noticed already with this blog I am strongly and decidedly against the War on Drugs. I’ve been a former chapter president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, worked with the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access and more. I was a regional director for the Proposition 19 campaign to legalize cannabis in California, which came 4% away from passing in 2010 and paved the way for 2012’s victories in Colorado and Washington. Before you begin thinking, “this guy is a drug legalizing radical,” recognize that I am not alone, I am part of the marijuana majority.
I feel that the war on drugs is one of the most important proxy battles we can fight for freedom. While there are numerous battlefields, I feel that the war on drugs, and the Prison Industrial Complex it feeds, is one of the most insidious evils perpetuated by my government, making it my battle to win. Though not my only battle.
Now, if there is only thing I like about as much as I love cannabis it is tea. I have always loved it, green, white, black, oolong, sencha, rooibos, chai, loose leaf, bagged – tea is tea and it is a wonderful thing. I do not personally know Oshan Anand, though many of my friends do. I only found out about his amazing tea house and all the work he has done for Bay Area tea culture after he was sent to prison for intent to distribute MDMA and psychedelic mushrooms; both charges he plead not guilty to and is appealing. If you weren’t aware, court isn’t cheap and running a tea house is not normally how one gets rich. Oshan needs our help if he is going to get his appeal and get out before his 12.5 year mandatory minimum sentence.
If you are like me and part of a growing majority of Americans who feels that the drug war is criminally wrong please take after my example and donate to Oshan’s defense. This young man is not a criminal, we don’t have prison’s to lock up non-violent teahouse owners; prison is for hardened criminals like murders and rapists. If you can’t donate, Oshan is able to take letters; please write Oshan and help return the sense of community to his life that has been stolen from him by the state.
While this post has focused solely on Oshan Anand, someone who to the naked eye is “a white guy,” the vast majority of those incarcerated for drug crimes are under 25, male, and black or latino. The arrest disparity is so bad it has been rightfully called The New Jim Crow and led to the creation of Orange is the New Black, who’s title is a subtle shout out to all the inmates in orange working as slave labor for Walmart.
As a last comment, while I referred to Oshan as a “white guy,” I loathe that term. I used it because he, like me, passes as white to the naked eye and thus will get pigeon-holed as ‘an awful white male oppressor’ by strangers who can’t be bothered to learn who he/I really are. That whole logic of, “you’re X/Y/Z you won’t understand” is a way to keep people down and divided, while ignoring a myriad of diversity. Diversity, like how Oshan and I are Buddhists; or how I am white and genderqueer. One can assume by Oshan Anand’s name there is something non-white there, like my own smattering of Cherokee. There is more to diversity than skin-color, but when you are talking about prison it is ignorant of the facts to ignore race.
Please, donate to Oshan’s defense, help him and every non-violent drug offender get their Constitutionally guaranteed freedom.