FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Should Making a Music Video Keep Luke Scarmazzo in Prison?

In 2008 Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Ruiz Montes were found guilty of drug charges for operating a medical marijuana dispensary and both sentenced to 20 years in federal prison with the possibility of life behind bars.

In his own words Luke wrote about his arrest “On a crisp September morning in 2006, federal agents in military fatigues, carrying automatic weapons and draped in tactical gear, were at their staging area going over the final details of their plan. They were preparing to take down their target. I just didn’t know when I answered my door bell at 6 a.m. that I, in fact, was their target. They stormed into my home, slammed me against the wall, and handcuffed me.”

It was the end of life as Luke knew it. According to Peter Hecht of the Sac Bee before his arrest Scarmazzo hired a production company to make a spectacular-looking music video, which depicted hip entrepreneurs packing boxes of cash, filthy rich from marijuana.

Dapper in shades, a braided ponytail and business suit, Scarmazzo rapped boastfully about riding in high-priced wheels, suggesting he kept “a weapon on me” to keep robbers at bay. He presided over a board room with seductive women and delivered this mocking testimony before a tribunal seemingly depicting unwelcoming city officials:

I’m a business man
I mean business, man
Let me handle my business, damn!

In the five-minute video, which was uploaded to YouTube, Scarmazzo brags of making $4,800 per pound – or “bow” – of marijuana, adding a rhyme: “Now that’s what I call incorporating dough!” He celebrated smoking joints in the face of federal marijuana intolerance and, with flipping fingers, delivered his kicker: “F—- the feds!”

Just weeks after the release of the video Federal and local drug agents raided his California Healthcare Collective. Both Luke and Ricardo went to prison. They fought for their lost freedom for years exhausting all of their legal remedies. His young daughter Jasmine even started a petition to set him free. The only chance to regain their freedom was through an act of mercy from President Obama in the form of clemency. Both Luke and Ricardo applied. I wrote a letter last year in support of them telling the president that:

“I want to particularly bring to your attention that neither Ricardo nor Luke would be charged with a federal crime today if they were operating a medical marijuana dispensary in California. Both federal law and Department of Justice charging practices have changed to the extent that their business activity would be legal today”.

In January of 2017 Ricardo was granted clemency by President Obama, Luke was not. Why? Both were convicted of the same crime. I strongly believe the video sunk any chance of Luke receiving clemency.

Today twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada all passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana. California’s Prop. 64 measure allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes. Other tax and licensing provisions of the law will not take effect until January 2018.

The question I now ask is should creating a video keep someone in prison for many years?

Luke’s video will be featured in a piece titled “Martyr or Drug Dealer” in my upcoming art installation next month at Drug Policy Alliance’s International Reform Conference in Atlanta.

For more info about the DPA Conference visit www.reformconference.com

More articles by:

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS class struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail