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Naval vet seeks mercy from New Jersey governor over weed fees and cannabis career delays

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Shortly after winning the 2017 New Jersey governor’s race, Governor Phil Murphy promised to sign a bill legalizing cannabis within about 100 days to install it. Ruler of Murphy Finally we were able to sign the bill for weed February 2021, over four years after his pledge for voters.

Expect Green Rush, 16 year old US Navy and Navy veteran Mario Ramos He left New York for Garden State in 2017. “(Gov.) Murphy was shouting it would be legal in 90 days, Ramos recalled on a November 2021 call with Leafly.” “I was working for High Times Magazine on time. I was coordinating the event, [and] I’ll take pictures of new growth rooms.”

While visiting a facility for a story he was writing, Mario becomes part of a local investigation. “I think they were already being watched,” he said.

Mario was there when the authorities raided the facility. He was one of eight individuals arrested after leaving the building. At one point, he faced a life sentence, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Law Enforcement Shield

Mario was the only one among those arrested that night who had a hard time. “I’ve learned the hard way that that county prosecutes black and boon men, (even) 22 times more than any other county in Jersey,” he said of Morris County, where he was arrested.

The numbers are no exaggeration, he says: “I was inside. So I saw it myself.”

“The first sentence they gave me, they tried to say life in prison. Then they took it down. They lowered it to 25. Then from 25 to 15. Lawyers were squabbling. A lot of people, like Last Prisoner Project, came to save them.”

Mario Ramos

Mario survived the drug war as a young man in New York City in the 1980s by immersing himself in various creative elements of hip-hop. The graffiti and break-dance teams protected him from the ferocious drug wars that controlled many cities at the time. “I have participated in more than 50 exhibitions,” he says of his artistic career. “I have been fortunate enough to paint with the best graffiti artists.”

Still, violence, poverty and The social grievances of the drug war It affected him and his fellow survivors, then and now. “I also think (marijuana) saved my life,” he said. “Because there were a lot of other drugs out there in that place.”

Note that many of the men he met in the military from similar backgrounds had been using cannabis for treatment long before they enlisted. “I had PTSD before I joined the military,” Ramos says.

Before and after the service, fellow vets constantly say how much they miss Mary Jane during the service. He remembers Weed’s war stories from his military comrades: “You hear it a lot.” “I’ll go back and smoke. When I get home, I can’t wait to do it… It helps a lot of people. Like I said, it always felt like medicine for me.”


What is the Cannabis Veterans Project?

The problem of stuck weeds in the state park

A letter written by Mario Ramos from prison, posted by his former employer High Times Magazine. In total, he spent 1 year and 48 days behind bars due to his charges. (via High Times)

Mario moved to New Jersey as soon as medicinal and recreational herbs appeared on the legal horizon. He was already running a weed company called i bud where 2011. So how did the Bronx native find himself in the Morris County Jail facing contracts over a plant that was semi-legal?

Morristown, in Morris County, is known for its reputation for policing. In 2020, the only black officer in Hanover leave the department Because of racial harassment. Although cannabis legalization passed with flying colors in statewide elections, many local municipalities did. Ban the legal cannabis trade of setting up shop in their hometown, with the slogan “Not in my backyard”.

In general, the country is known to be economically and ethnically diverse. But Most communities and schools They are severely separated. Mario learned these dynamics the hard way, through the wrath of an oppressive marijuana application in Morris County.

Because I was at High Times Magazine, that county felt like they had found a trophy. I had my California license with me, (so) they said I’d risk flying… You just don’t believe it. I love, thinking every day, that they would let me go. Like, oh, they saw, they made a mistake.”

After he was booked, the true weight of his charges hit him. “I was the only one out there using cannabis. Everyone [inside] I couldn’t believe I was there for weed.” A number of organizations and advocates stepped in to get him released, but he still couldn’t break free from his legal baggage without the word of Governor Murphy.

Now that he’s out, Mario is fighting for those still stuck behind enemy lines. “There are still 40,000 people in prison for cannabis use. And you know what, this can happen to anyone,” he warns.

Awaiting action from the governor

Earlier this month, another prisoner project I sent a message To New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy pleading for clemency for residents like Mario. In the letter, NJ advocates and influencers such as rappers Redman He said it was time to take immediate action on behalf of those still implicated in the state’s penal system.

“I’ve always been eating my own weed and learned how to grow real early,” Mario recalls. “I fell in love High Times Magazine. They taught you how to do it. And I was lucky enough to end up working with them and with everything. And so, yes, it was a great trip there.”

Everything was hijacked overnight, and he continues to pay the cost. “There are people who are making millions of dollars right now. on hemp,” laments Mario. Some state supervisors do not believe his predicament. “But the prosecutor doesn’t see it that way,” he says wistfully. “It’s like another notch on their belt.”

The luckiest part about Mario’s situation is that his support system has been solid throughout the ordeal.

“My family always knew what I was doing,” he says. “They knew I worked for High Times And everything. So when that happened, they were like, “Stop, what happened?” They are in shock. But I was so glad they already knew that.”

Being a warrior has helped his case in court, but two weed-possession tickets in California and Florida in 2010 and 2011 hurt Mario’s case.

“I’ve been under (supervising) at the moment for about 18 months,” he said in November. “They call it Prison Without Walls, (but) I’m glad to be on this show and not behind bars, you know?”


History of cannabis ban in the United States

Mario’s vision for a greener future

Mario is blessed to have the support of his girlfriend Chelsea Butner, another prisoner project, and many other defenders on his journey to freedom. He has four children and plans to continue building a legal empire for cannabis when he is out of state supervision. (Courtesy of Another Prisoner Project)

Although Mario is increasingly getting into the weeds, he wants to start his legal empire with a dispensary. “I’m going to open my own dispensary,” he told Leafly. “They give me the license. They say because of everything that happened to me, I am one of the first people who can give them the license. The license comes with a smoking lounge and you can hook up.” He plans to be a staple in Jersey City, NJ.

“When I was first arrested, my first words to God were what’s going on here?” Now he says, “It was put there (for a reason)”.

He intends to share the fortune: “I will choose the best farmers, and choose the best product for them. Because I am a part of it. And I want to present that to the people so that they can say, ‘Hey, this is mine.'”

President Biden can accelerate the dreams of Mario and many others by bypassing all governors and granting clemency nationwide. The Weldon Group and a group of major influencers called for it to pay for it Campaign Promise To address the difficult issue of federal bans.

But the president and fellow Democrat Governor Murphy are just two of the many left-wing leaders who will have to respond to green voters sooner or later. And while we want to believe that they’ll get it done someday, we won’t be holding our breath for it blue dream For more than a few seconds at a time.

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