Our next highlight in the ILLICIT Freedoms Campaign is Ronald Kennedy, Jr. In 2017, Ronald was arrested in his home for racketeering and the intent to distribute less than 450g of marijuana. He remembers the day he got arrested, “I looked out the window and saw my house surrounded. I’m wondering what’s going on. Once I realized, they already came in, slammed me on the ground, my mom, my sister and everyone else.”
In 2020, medical marijuana dispensaries in Missouri generated nearly $30 million in state tax revenue. That same year, 10,650 Missourians were arrested for marijuana possession, according to FBI crime data.
In 2017, there were over 20,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Missouri with marijuana convictions accounting for over 53% of all drug convictions in the state.
Ronald found out the details of his case on his first day in court, months after his arrest, and was eventually sentenced to 48 months in prison. His incarceration cost Missouri taxpayers $95,316.67.
As the guards came to take 19-year-old Ronald to prison, he thought, “I’m not ready for prison, not for weed, for marijuana? Really? This is stuff you see everyday: Seeing your family, friends, aunts or whoever, use it for medicine.”
In Missouri, Black people are arrested for marijuana possession at more than double the rate of white people, according to the ACLU. In Clay County, Missouri, this increases to three times the rate. And in Johnson County, Missouri, and Lafayette County, Missouri, Black people are more than 10 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people.
Ronald says in his interview at @strangemusic , which you can listen to through the link in bio, “Me going to prison for marijuana is just something I never imagined. Now, it’s like it’s everywhere.”