House of Wise is a proud partner of Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit organization fighting criminal injustice and reimagining drug policy, specifically regarding cannabis-related incarceration. As a brand, House of Wise stands for fairness, equality, and the decriminalization of cannabis.
More than 40,000 people in the U.S. are incarcerated for cannabis-related charges, and we’re highlighting strong women who have come out on the other side to tell about it. We asked real women from LPP’s community to share what it’s like to be sentenced and imprisoned for something which others are publicly profiting from. Here is the story of Katree Darriel Saunders.
Katree’s story isn’t uncommon for women who are victims of cannabis criminalization. She was separated from her family, missing her freedom, and wondering why she was locked up even as the cannabis industry booms.
Cannabis-related charge: Possession of <50 kg of marijuana with intent to distribute; violation of probation for Marinol use
Sentence: 3 years probation (for possession); 4 months in federal prison (for violation of probation)
“I felt alone and lost.”
In 2010, Katree had a taste of limited freedom with her probation. But that was only the beginning; a violation of probation from using Marinol landed her in federal prison.
During her time in prison, she felt “alone and lost,” especially separated from her four sons. She turned to prayer, which kept her grounded and hopeful during her time behind bars. She missed her freedom.
“I feel misunderstood by people when they judge me for having a cannabis felony,” said Katree. It can be hard to comprehend how any of this is fair (because it’s not), especially when the crime hinges on a plant that’s driving the $61 billion cannabis industry.
“You always have a stigma attached to you.”
The felony follows Katree everywhere “like a dark cloud.” Not only did cannabis criminalization limit Katree during her few years of probation and jail, but it also impacts her family and daily routines. “Having a non-violent crime makes things hard on trying to move forward with your life,” she says.
Katree believes once a sentence is served, it shouldn’t be so hard to do things like get a job, pursue education, or find new business opportunities without being haunted by a felony. “It should not be a life sentence,” she says.
“We deserve a right to thrive.”
She hopes that there is a rise in job and business opportunities specifically for women who were incarcerated for cannabis. “We deserve a right to thrive and build generational wealth for our families.”
Katree knows the power of education and how it can help switch the narrative about cannabis. She wants everyone to know about the natural, nourishing properties of cannabis on our endocannabinoid system. Proper education will help change the perception of the plant and the stigma around it.
Katree’s story took a turn when LPP provided moral support and reentry assistance. She was able to attend Oaksterdam University, the world’s first cannabis college in Oakland, CA.
The financial assistance from LPP allowed her to go to the dentist, see her sons for Christmas, and pursue her education. “Being able to see my sons happy was priceless.”
Now, Katree attends Columbia University on a scholarship. She enjoys reading about metaphysics and esoteric knowledge. She even had the opportunity to spend time with and learn from Sophia Stewart, creator of The Matrix and The Terminator franchises.
More than anything Katree is thankful for the freedom she has now to spend time with her family and beloved sons.
Learn more about Last Prisoner Project and its efforts and how you can help.