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Our Missed Opportunity

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Another Presidential race and another disappointment in ending the war on drugs. The prohibition on cannabis, psychedelics, opiates, or whatever people want to put in their body, has really been a terrible policy for all Americans.

This worldwide prohibition, which gets its impetus and raison d'être almost exclusively from the U.S. federal government, has enabled the proliferation of violent drug-distribution gangs and cartels everywhere on Earth. In America it has sucked vast amounts of taxpayer funds to wage the war, and as much or more of the personal earnings to pay for these prohibition-inflated-priced substances that tens of millions of Americans -- and perhaps over a billion people worldwide -- desire.

With its lucrative profits in our age of omniscient materialism, prohibition attracts millions of teenagers into the world of gangs and cartels. It motivates millions of young adults worldwide to become prostitutes or gang members, endangering countless lives. Prohibition has destabilized several nations of the world: Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, several West African nations, the United States and beyond. Prohibition brings ruin and degeneration wherever the policy is enforced.

Every human being on Earth loses in this war.

I'm serving a five year federal sentence in Yazoo Federal Prison in Mississippi for sending cannabis seeds from my desk in Vancouver, Canada to consenting Americans, some of the tens of millions of Americans who just want a little bit of homegrown pot to smoke without having to buy who-knows-what on the street from strangers. Of course, on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) press release issued the day of my arrest, Karen Tandy, the head of DEA, did not actually mention my "crime" of selling seeds when referring to me as one of the 50 most wanted drug trafficking targets in the world, but in fact referred to my political activities to end prohibition and promote legalization in five instances. (See the official DEA release here.)

Many of the inmates in this federal prison are serving absurdly long sentences in what is expensive (to the taxpayer) and unfathomable cruelty (to the sentenced and their families). Several in my unit are here for life sentences without possibility of parole; one received life without parole for a mere 99 grams of crack cocaine!

Barack Obama has done nothing to alleviate this prohibition punishment system, despite his having smoked marijuana and used cocaine. He has made the drug war even worse. Of his many damning failings in ignoring the cruelty of the drug war is that he has issued the fewest pardons (under 25) of any full term president of this century, and just ten for drug offenses - and one sentence commutation in his four years.

When Americans had the opportunity to vote for a courageous, principled primary presidential candidate earlier this year, virtually none of them supported Republican Ron Paul, despite his frequent statements like the one at his rally (attended by 4,000) in Seattle earlier this year when he said, "If we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if we're allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we can't put into our body whatever we want?"

Ron Paul has introduced bills to legalize marijuana, legalize medical marijuana, legalize industrial hemp, end the drug war, stop funding the drug czar's office and end cannabis prohibition entirely. Yet the tens of millions of Americans who still have their voting rights -- and who have a family member among the seven million Americans in prison, or on parole, bail, probation or supervised release, along with 22 million Americans still alive with criminal records for previous drug convictions -- continue to vote for the same miserable failed drug warriors for President.

Mitt Romney has never commented on the drug war and its loathsome damage to families, the public safety, its exacerbation of police corruption, gang proliferation, street violence, exploding prison populations, and the staggering waste of taxpayer money. It's a safe bet that Mitt Romney wants to maintain the status quo. He has no record as a reformer.

Ron Paul, in supreme contrast, has promised to pardon every serving and previously convicted nonviolent federal drug offender along with ending the federal drug war. Now that's reversing the pernicious effects of the drug war! And it's not something that Obama or Romney even care to discuss. In fact, they actually laugh at the idea while millions of people worldwide continue to suffer from the U.S.-based war on drugs that has spread around the globe like a cancer.

America missed its one great chance to end the drug war by ignoring Ron Paul as their choice for Republican nominee. Of course, in resignation to this fact, I'll endorse the Libertarian ticket of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnston and California Judge Jim Gray because they understand the importance of ending prohibition. But unfortunately, unlike Ron Paul, these two fine gentleman who would end the drug war don't have a prayer at the polls in November, worthy as they are of the support of every American who sees the madness in the current U.S. drug prohibition policy. It's the responsibility of every voter to remind Obama and Romney that the war on drugs is destroying lives at a cost that can't be afforded, and it's time for real, honest change.

This post is part of the HuffPost Shadow Conventions 2012, a series spotlighting three issues that are not being discussed at the national GOP and Democratic conventions: The Drug War, Poverty in America, and Money in Politics.

HuffPost Live will be taking a comprehensive look at America's failed war on drugs August 28th and September 4th from 12-4 pm ET and 6-10 pm ET. Click here to check it out -- and join the conversation.