Blake A-L Boyd on 5th Mar 2024

This article was written for Daily Roller Zine Volume 001 Published in January of 2024.

How often do you find yourself discussing the “Continuing Criminal Enterprise” statute? If not very often, no worries, even the Congress of the United States of America forgets to discuss it effectively. Unfortunately what this means is you may not know, even if you live in a state with a decriminalized/legalized cannabis program you can still be imprisoned for life, or death, federally if your enterprise, or the cannabis enterprise you work for hire to, is believed to have gross receipts equal to or greater than $10M, and is said to be acting outside of the state specified program. Though the Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute carries a minimum of life sentence, the 2018 First Step Act did not address it specifically as a part of its program to deprioritize DOJ spending on cannabis cases. Leaving its effects unchecked. Gaetan Dinelle, BOP register #14494-052, and Rafael Hernandez-Carrillo, BOP register #67485-061 are two individuals represented by the Second Chance Foundation, living life sentences for marijuana only offenses inspite of the multi state (and country) cannabis legalization boom happening outside the prison walls where they sit watching it take place. Gaetan and Rafael wait hoping their widely supported beggings and prayers for commutation of sentence freedom are heard by the only person able to do something, the President of the United States Joe Biden. Though Gaetan and Rafael are imprisoned for the same commodity and with the same offense the way their fate came about is not the same. Historically, all sorts of people who at one point or another possessed no desire for association with criminality have been caught in the crosses of the cannabis situation.

Gaetan was convicted for being a member of an alleged Continuing Criminal Enterprise. He was not the founder or the boss for the scheme, merely a player bringing cannabis from the Akwesasne Indian Reservation region of Canada into the New York state area. On January 14th 2016 he was sentenced to life without possibility for parole. By January of 2016, Washington DC, states of California, Alaska, and Colorado had legalized cannabis, plus Canada had been known to operate a government sponsored cannabis program since the early 2000s. For many years this confusing state of partial social acceptability has existed, and has been said to be reason many are willing to overlook the grave consequences for engaging in the business of cannabis. The sentencing of Rafael brings up concerns of the Continuing Criminal Enterprise charge being used as a “trial tax”. Prior to deciding to exercise his constitutional right to a trial, Mr. Hernandez-Carrillo was charged with distribution of marijuana. This charge carries a minimum sentence of 292 months. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio on November 3, 2010 for his first time non-violent marijuana offense. Rafael helped to manage truckload shipments of cannabis going from Mexico to Ohio. He had not always intended to be in this line of business but due to unforeseen tough financials times of the 2007-08 era this line of work became a reasonable option for survival to him as a Mexican national trying to make the best life possible for his family in the United States of America. Prior to America’s financial collapse he personally would purchase used cars in the US and resell them in Mexico. In 2016 Governor John Kasich signed into law OH House Bill 523 which legalized cannabis recommended by an Ohio-licensed physician certified by the State Medical Board.

On November 7th of 2023 Ohio voters passed a statute that will see legalized recreational use of cannabis effective December 7th 2023. It seems, when the going gets really tough, and social-economic times are worse, individuals faced with the reality of costs of living as an independent pursuing the American promise of liberty and happiness -after exhausting reasonable above the table options may find it necessary to resort to under-the table unfavorable options as a means to survive and persist towards a better life. Gaetan and Rafael were no different. Even though the cannabis trade be the same, facilitated legally or illegally, on a gram to gram basis the return on risk is widely skewed. On one hand you have individuals still imprisoned for life that played a minor role in the “legacy market” that is being used simultaneously to legitimize state licensed enterprises, operating over many state territories, including those very same places where these prisoners currently live out their sentences. Many of these markets were supported by those who find themselves left out of recent public progress, serving sentences while watching their previous occupations highlighted and celebrated on the likes of the most popular media channels accessible to even prisoners. Broader and deeper cannabis resolutions are needed beyond “simple possession” due to the facts of how many cannabis cases proceeded, and the population living with the reality of life for marijuana. Daniel Nunez, BOP registration #21339-017 has been imprisoned since February 7, 2012 for conspiring to distribute marijuana, and laundering the profits. He was convicted in the United Stated District Court for the Southern District of Texas at McAllen on February 6, 2013. His father was murdered while he was only nine years old. Losing his father put the family under great stress and poverty to the point that his mother moved to Mexico, and Daniel was ultimately

sent to live with family members in America that allowed him to be trafficked for crop harvesting labor across the United States for no pay to him. As someone with what was considered low education and skill, a lot of drive, but no sure socio-economic footing -the marijuana trade in Texas became a life changing opportunity to lift himself out of poverty, into self sufficiency, like no other opportunities available to him at the time. After a few transporters were apprehended, and identified Daniel as their boss, he was arrested. At trial Mr. Nunez was held responsible for years of cannabis loads coming to the United States. He plead guilty, and admitted his role. However he did not cooperate with authorities to give up other members of his alleged organization. According to court documents at sentencing the presiding judge stated, “ It’s a surprise to the Court because typically somebody like you could really help yourself. I mean, you could easily take 10 years off your sentence by just doing something more than what you’ve done and actually providing substantial assistance. “ This statement was followed by a reiteration from the judge, “my experience is that the most fruitful way or easiest way to reduce your sentence isn’t through the appellate process. It’s by substantially assisting the Government. And I keep encouraging you every time you’ve been here to do that, and I’m going to just continue to urge you to do that for your sake and the sake of your family.” In 2015, Texas passed its Compassionate Use Act allowing for possession of cannabis prescribed by a Doctor. There is no cap on how much a Doctor may prescribe to a patient. It would be reasonable to assume that the very persons Daniel worked with, and did not corroborate with the government to apprehend, are now players in Texas’ growing legalized cannabis market. It is important to note Mr. Nunez has no history of being involved in violent offenses and is one of many such cannabis life prisoners being disproportionally affected by the legal cannabis market. Lawful cannabis conduct continues to be

understandably complex when considering the changing definition for key elements of the cannabis industry such as: ”simple possession” (defined often by quantity at time of offense), what constitutes “marijuana” versus “hemp” (defined by volume of delta 9 THC in the total composition of dried cannabis plant matter), not to mention the new consumer concern of what is “real cannabis” . Needless to say some law enforcement agencies have yet to catch up to this new reality of legalized cannabis. Juan Cisneros, BOP registration # 40178-079, case can help shine light on psychological impacts of legal cannabis, and life sentences for cannabis. In the 28 years since Mr. Cisneros has been incarcerated for three counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, one count of conspiring to distribute marijuana, and one count of laundering marijuana related proceeds, the state he was prosecuted in has continued to pilot a medical marijuana program plus the First Step Act of 2018 & Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment have passed in Congress. He has also served more time than the average murderer (avg sentence is about 13 years). The minimum sentence for a third drug offense was life due to Regan era three strikes laws. In 2018 this all changed with the First Step Act of 2018, a collaborative effort between Democrats and Republicans that modified the three strikes rule eventually signed off on by then President Donald Trump. Though the law addressed wider concerns than cannabis, the aspects of the First Step Act that addressed non violent drug offense seemed to imply an overreaction in prior years. This correction did not result in a retroactive change in the sentencing of Juan. In 1989 Mr. Cisneros was twice caught at the border with bulk quantities of cannabis. In 1993 his brother and him provided drivers and transportation resources to the “Belmontes marijuana transportation enterprise”. In 1995 Juan was arrested for his role as a transportation provider in the operation though he was not

in possession of cannabis or the individual transporter. The First Step Act of 2018 in combination with the Drugs-Minus-Two Reduction amendment to the U.S. Sentencing Guideline, plus the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment would seemingly indicate to anybody with interest in justice being rightfully administered that cannabis prisoners similar to Juan are due for corrective relief. The Drugs Minus Two amendment, adopted in 2014, reduced the offense level for drug trafficking leading to reduced sentencing recommendations. However, stacked charges with differing definition and sentencing is why orders to relieve those incarcerated for things like “simple possession” hardly lead to a single cannabis prisoner’s release or record clearing. Once the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment passed in 2014 the US Department of Justice became prohibited from spending federal funds on prosecuting individuals compliant with state cannabis laws. As Juan is a federal cannabis lifer, chances are in today’s cannabis market he may have well been a licensed transporter, or never the target of law enforcement. Such is a case for many individuals that built the now legalized multi-state, multi-billion dollar market, yet find themselves still incarcerated. The commodity hasn’t changed, nor has the consumer base, more than anything the mentality of the public interacting with the subject matter has changed on some temperamental level. So Juan and others like him stand like relics of folly from a time past, incapable of being brought down quickly by new found good sense. Tameka Drummer, Mississippi Prisoner # 138477, is the only life-sentenced female prisoner for marijuana only conviction. She has served over 16 years so far for her possession of 38 grams of cannabis. Even as the cannabis industry continues to expand the exact definition of “simple possession” remains unclear but according to some, the specific quantity is in the ballpark of 38 grams, depending on the

discretion of law enforcement and courts. Tameka’s arrest came after a traffic stop due to tags being improperly displayed on her vehicle. During the stop 38 grams of marijuana were found in her possession. Ms. Drummer’s journey as a single mother coming up from the rough projects of Memphis TN would eventually be stopped, and spell her doom. Twice prior in Memphis, Tameka was involved in situations requiring her to defend her life with use of firearm. Once when a previous boyfriend attempted to take her life, and another when someone from the neighborhood she lived in became hostile towards her. In the first case, her ex-boyfriend would succumb to his injuries. Ultimately for this, Ms. Drummer served a 3 year sentence (1992-95) for manslaughter after turning herself in and admitting to her actions. In the second instance, the aggressor was injured leading to a guilty plea for assault. Due to these two prior violent convictions, Mississippi’s habitual offender law required she was sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Even though both of her prior offenses happened outside of the state of Mississippi , and she was arrested in Mississippi only due to her marijuana possession. Did you know since 1968 the University of Mississippi has held a federal license to grow cannabis for the National Institute on Drug Abuse for research purposes? This is the longest acting, and only, contract with the U.S. government for cannabis cultivation and research. Ironically up until 2020 medicinal use of cannabis had not yet been legalized by the state of Mississippi for its citizens, and as of the time of this writing recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in the state. How does such as state of permissibility exist within one location? What are everyday citizens with good mind to make of such facts? Furthermore, the amount of cannabis possessed by Tameka at the time of her arrest is an amount that medical cannabis patients are now permitted to carry by law. In light of all

facts Ms. Drummer case requires at minimum reconsideration. However, unless Governor Tate Reeves takes up the matter himself Tameka is likely to die in Mississippi state prison for her 38 gram of marijuana offense. Over 500,000 people have signed a petition requesting her immediate release, and the Second Chance Foundation along with a host of other organizations continue to work with Ms. Drummer in pursuit of her freedom. The point of this article is not to dismiss the seriousness of breaking the law. My goal is to provide a lens towards overlooked or underdiscussed aspects of the growing legal cannabis industry. Existing within a society having several states that have legalized possession, maybe, but continue to criminalize distribution and cultivation of cannabis , often in cases where real demand outpaces legal capacity. Reading like this ought to help us focus our collective efforts to outcomes that increase accessibility while preserving human life. In the age of conscious consumerism and social responsibility how can we as consumers and regular possessors of cannabis sit back in stoned silence sowing the fruits of those serving life in prison, due to the false judgment of time past, and not feel it necessary to advocate for the release of individuals that are no different than us beside time, or place, race and gender maybe too. In a democratic country promoting internationally the values of bravery, science, rugged individualism, independence, and human rights we find an imperfect realization of these values as demonstrated by the situation with the cannabis plant. Somewhere over the course of the last thousands of years the knowledge of cannabis’ natural abilities and limits seem loss waiting to be rediscovered on some fateful day that the overlords of legal definitions free it from its condemned nature to shine, hopefully not as a weaponized commodity (like in the hemp for victory era) , but as a

wonder of nature with well being benefits. But how do we get to this point of collective revelation without working through the murky current reality that has long held dire consequences to the public health which cannabis should be supporting? Should timing be the main culprit in the reason for such a big difference in outcome? 

If you would like to play a role in advocating for the release of Juan Gabriel Cisneros, Daniel Nunez, Gaetan Dinelle, or Rafael Hernandez-Carrillo you can write a letter and send it to :

U.S. Department of Justice

Office of the Pardon Attorney

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

For letters advocating for the release of Tameka Drummer you can write and send letters to: Office of the Governor

PO. Box 139

Jackson, MS 39205


550 High St.

Sillers Building, 19th Floor

Jackson, MS 39201

Be sure to include the register or prisoner number provided in the article.

The Second Chance Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Not For Profit Corporation co-founded by previously incarcerated for life marijuana only prisoner Craig Cesal who was pardon by Donald Trump on January 20, 2021. Esquire Huma Rashid is co-founder of The Second Chance Foundation who has won clemency for atleast 7 other former prisoners. To support their efforts with donations please visit:

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