On Wednesday, NORML hosted a “Faces of Marijuana Prohibition” panel at the House Cannon Office Building to put a spotlight on how the federal ban on pot use had affected “the lives of everyday Americans.”
Shanita Penny, 35, of Denver, told of getting charged with possession of marijuana while driving in Virginia in 2011.
“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong or that I’m a horrible person,” she said. “But to have to go through the court system and everything else, it does do something to you internally. It changes who you are.”
Adrian Matthews said it “really changed my life” when he watched police officers smash through the door of his mother’s home.
“If you’ve ever had a door kicked in, it’s scary. It’s extremely scary,” he said.
Melanie Matthews said she had to work hard to overcome the shame of getting stopped by police when she and a friend drove home from a neighborhood park.
“What began as a late-night walk in the park ended in humiliation, tears and several thousand dollars,” she said. “Emotionally and spiritually, I felt like I was a bad person.”
Wes Philip said he had landed nicely, now working as a consultant after losing his five-year job with the federal government when he flunked a drug test. He called himself a “pretty good bureaucrat” but said he had to give up his federal badge and was escorted out of the building — just for smoking pot in Washington, D.C., where voters had already decided to make it legal.
“My story is not a tragedy – I’m doing well – but it’s a ridiculous story,” he said. “It’s nonsensical to think that the government was willing to lose one of their best employees over an issue so small, over something that is legal in the area where it happened.”