While laws governing the use and sale of marijuana are loosening, families are still torn apart by America's War on Drugs.
Parents 4 Pot is a national organization with more than 50 chapters providing support, networking, and relief to families with members who have been incarcerated due to cannabis use or involvement in the industry. They also assist families who've had to move to legal states in order to access medical cannabis.
Jill Osborn is the Family Outreach Director for the Massachusetts branch of Parents 4 Pot, which celebrated its third anniversary Nov. 11.
"Our entire mission is to support families that are harmed by prohibition," Osborn tells Civilized. "The most dangerous thing about this plant is how it's ripping families apart."
"On a local level, we offer resources, connect them to supportive doctors, networking, housing, and connecting with other families who are experiencing the same thing."
While it's difficult to keep track, Osborn estimates they've helped hundreds of families.
Many families comply with state laws, but are still jailed
Several of the families they're helping this year were complying with state laws, but were still arrested on federal charges. Some, like Luke Scarmazzo, are serving lengthy terms behind bars. Scarmazzo was sentenced to over two decades for providing medical cannabis to patients in California, separating him from his daughter Jasmine. P4P is currently gathering donations for Jasmine's Amazon Wish List here.
P4P is funded by donations from cannabis related businesses like Skunk, Ladybud, and various local dispensaries, as well as individual supporters. Still, according to Osborn, there's "always more demand than supply."
Even more challenging is "carrying the weight of all the stories," Osborn says. "I connect every day with people who are in desperate positions."
"But probably most rewarding is getting the letters: thank-you notes from little girls for their Barbie dream house or their bikes. We can't give them the one thing they want, which is to have their mom home, but we can make them smile."
Parents for Pot is in the midst of its 2015 Parents 4 Pot POW and Cannabis Community Holiday Drive. To read personal stories from families, donate, and shop their store, visit their site.