Happy Weedsday, everyone!
One of the issues that is near and dear to my heart as a cannabis activist is seeing so many states legalize the plant. It’s amazing to see legalization sweep the country and help so many people who have not had access to the benefits that cannabis offers. However, while all this goodness is happening, there are still so many that are paying the price in prison and jails all over the United States for having even small amounts in their possession.
In this issue, I want to tell you about a man named Antonio Bascaro.
You may have heard of Antonio Bascaro. He is the man who has served the longest-known U.S. jail sentence for a cannabis conviction. After a long, hard fight and lots of time wasted, he has finally been released on May 1, 2019 and reunited with his family.
Bascaro, who is now 84 years of age, served 39 years on a 60-year sentence in prison for participating in a criminal organization that smuggled more than 600,000 pounds of Colombian cannabis into the United States.
Bascaro is a former Naval pilot, recruited by the CIA in 1961 to train in Guatemala to overthrow Fidel Castro who had taken power in January of 1959. He participated in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and relocated to Nicaragua for the attack, but the invasion failed before Bascaro’s plane could leave the ground.
More than 100 soldiers were killed and another 1,200 were sent to prison as a result of that invasion.
“At that moment, I was ready to fly anything that had a motor or wings to help out my comrades abandoned on that secluded beach without escape routes,” Bascaro said.
Bascaro then became involved in this smuggling operation in 1977. Florida was the spot back then for importing drugs and cannabis into the country. That’s where Antonio met the boss and the singular owner involved in the conspiracy.
“After a tasty meal and some drinks, he challenged me to join him,” Bascaro said.
Bascaro said he accepted the challenge and enjoyed the feeling of excitement, that he had not felt it in years, but ultimately was convicted of conspiracy to import and distribute cannabis in 1980 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.
At the time of his conviction, Bascaro had no prior criminal record.
Thirty-nine years in prison over a plant that causes no harm? That is crazy.
Fast forward to today. Bascaro is as free as he can get here in the United States, though paid the price with a huge chunk of life for this plant.
We know much more about cannabis now than we did back then, and I think its safe to say that most people partake in cannabis to “feel better.” I can’t wrap my head around why, in the United States, it’s not OK to want to just feel better. Cannabis has never been a contributing factor in any death, yet we regularly lock away people for massive amounts of time — sometimes even for life — over it.
I am as happy as a bird with a happy tune that Bascaro is finally free from prison. He beat the hurdles of immigration, as well. When he was released from prison, he was facing deportation back to Cuba. Thankfully, as of June 11 he has been given the green light to stay in the United States with his family.
To learn more about incredible story, log on to Facebook.com/FreeaCubanHero.