Today marks a momentous day- one not worthy of celebration, but certainly remembrance. Exactly fifty years ago today, President Nixon declared drugs “Public Enemy #1,” effectively beginning the Drug War. This campaign’s vastly increased penalties, enforcement, and incarceration for drug offenders have devastated individuals, families, and communities, both in our country and around the world. Despite the failures of these policies and their ruinous impact on so many lives, the Drug Policy Alliance estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives today. It is clear that fundamental reforms are needed in order to create ethical, equitable drug policies- and that much work is to be done to right the wrongs of the past.
Today, Kiva is proud to put the spotlight on a nonprofit organization that is doing this necessary work- and share that we have doubled down on our support for them and become an official Advocate for their cause. The Last Prisoner Project was founded in 2019 out of the belief that no one should remain incarcerated for cannabis offenses. It unites a team of cannabis industry leaders, criminal and social justice advocates, policy and education experts, and leaders in social justice and drug policy reform to work to end this fundamental injustice.
There are an estimated 40,000 individuals currently imprisoned for cannabis. It is intrinsically wrong for this industry to flourish while so many continue to suffer from cannabis criminalization. It is well documented that the War on Drugs disproportionately impacts people of color. And as we shared in our most recent blog post, according to the Prison Policy Initiative in March 2021, “.... Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people are overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice system.” This is an intersectional issue that targets our most disadvantaged and discriminated-against populations- and it’s not going away without all hands on deck. We are incredibly proud to support the Last Prisoner Project, which uses intervention, advocacy, and awareness campaigns in its mission to free every last prisoner of the unjust drug war.
Their impact in the last two years has been profound. They have implemented direct services in three states, engaged in legislative advocacy, and become a leading voice for both immediate decarceration efforts, and safety measures for incarcerated communities. Their compassionate release program matches individuals with pro bono attorneys, and they lead efforts in Washington, D.C. to ensure that any federal legislation legalizing cannabis also includes provisions for restorative justice. Last Prisoner Project is truly standing on the front lines of reform. We invite you to learn about the many ways you can join us in taking action with them, and together, rectifying the wrongs of the past so that we can create an equitable future for us all.