It’s a story that has been played out all over America for decades without much big media coverage. One where draconian laws reward those who invest in the industrial prison complex that lobbies for no parole and 3 strikes equals life sentences while destroying innocent lives with haunting memories and psychosis.
Picture this: one minute you’re a 19 year old college student out on a rare sunny Nov. day in Milwaukee, WI out to buy a 1/4 oz of marijuana from a guy who you don’t really know all that well, which is what happens when you can’t buy your choice of leisure at a corner store like tobacco or alcohol. Before you know it the police have you pegged as a major grass dealer worthy of having 4 guns drawn at you while piss is dripping down your leg. 20 years later with no other arrest or any legal trouble whatsoever to speak of you still find it mandatory to explain yourself.
This is what happened to Anna Sweet and it could of easily happened to me or anyone else who used marijuana yesterday, today, and until things change dares to toke up tomorrow.
Flash: Anna take me back to the day you were arrested where were you and what happened?
Anna: I was arrested on the UW- Milwaukee campus in 1991 by The University Police . They used undercover cops posing as students to find students dealing out of the dorms. In the dorms as a person you have fewer rights and they can tap your phone and search your room without any reason. Unfortunately I got caught up in all this mess because the person’s dorm phone was tapped both the dealers supplier and I were recorded arranging a good time to meet. The minute I arrived I noticed the police watching me. I went about my business and left. After 2 blocks I was pulled over. They thought they had the supply person. That’s when things got really fucked up.
There were squad cars at my side and behind me. I was told to get out of the car so naturally I went to unbuckle my seat belt. The cops overreacted and assumed I was pulling out a gun . Shit cherries were popping off , cops were drawing guns, and yelling “hands out of car”. They then pulled me out shoving me on the concrete and cuffing me with guns cocked to fire. The car and I were searched and less then 7 grams of marijuana were found I was crying, shaking and really damn freaked out.
Flash: I like to think I am as tough as the next guy but I don’t blame you. Having guns drawn on you and being slammed to the ground, roughed up, and completely controlled because of a few grams of marijuana doesn’t sound like fun. It is also pretty amazing to me that a public college would spend their precious resources tracking and hunting marijuana users. Makes more sense to me to use marijuana as a fund raiser rather than a fund raider.
Anna: At the cop shop they figured out they got the wrong person and that they overreacted. They really just seemed to want to process me and get on with who they really were trying to catch but hell I pleaded guilty and now have a misdemeanor on my record forever. Charge : Possession of a Controlled Sub. Sch. 1 drug.
Flash: Tell me how having a misdemeanor record for a tiny amount of weed has affected you as far as trying to get a job or looking for a place to live.
Anna: From that day forward I have to report this on any application for housing or work which can be a reason to not rent or hire me. One misdemeanor one face forever. I don’t know if I have ever been passed over for employment but employers always have a “special meeting” with me to size me up in regards to this damn thing.
Flash: Have you ever been arrested or in any trouble with the law since?
Flash: Mentally how do find your drug arrest has caused you harm?
Anna: It did effect my confidence for a good 10 years, now its just annoying/frustrating since I feel it has nothing to do with me as a employee. Mentally it took over 10 years to get over it and I have since been treated for panic attacks and anxiety disorders.
Thanks Anna for sharing your story. Hopefully the time is fast approaching where one can be free to inhale without repercussions.
Remember folks become more tolerant or build more prisons.