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Pope Francis meets cannabis convict in prison

By Oscar Pascual |

Pope Francis is taking his message of charity and goodwill to a Philadelphia prison this weekend to meet a man imprisoned for cannabis.

The Pope’s US tour moves from Congress to cannabis for his meeting with Ed Gilchrist, who spent a year and a half incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on a first charge of attempting to sell seven pounds of marijuana to undercover police in the Northeast from Philadelphia, the Huffington Post reports.

“Someone just put me in touch with them. Someone introduced me to them, I think someone is trying to get out of trouble or someone trying to get out of a DUI or something stupid,” Gilchrist told the Post.

Gilchrist, 43, expresses frustration at spending so much time behind bars selling a product that is legal in the majority of the US

“They’ll look back on it 20 years from now and say, ‘That guy really made time for selling marijuana?’ and feel how stupid it is,” Gilchrist said. “It’s like going to jail because you got caught with some liquor. People had to go to jail for that.”

Speaking to Congress on Thursday, the Pope addressed several negatives that have been poured into the US correctional system, such as the lack of rehabilitation and treatment in the sentencing of drug offenders.

“A just and necessary punishment should never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation,” Pope Francis told the crowd.

The pope also mentioned the excessive number of young people and minorities ending up in the prison system – another direct result of the drug war.

“For many of them a future beckons with countless possibilities, but so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair,” Francis said on Thursday. “Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, talk about them and find effective solutions instead of getting bogged down in discussions.”

As for Gilchrist, he has no plans to return to the marijuana industry — legal or otherwise — once he’s released from prison.

“I just need to get a 9-to-5,” Gilchrist told the Post.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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