Thank you for Greg Kesich’s recent column highlighting the issue of poverty and the mayoral campaign. It is a much-needed discussion and one I hope you will continue to bring up.

However, I take serious issue with his insinuation that reforming marijuana laws is not a means of fighting poverty. More than handouts, poor and working people need justice to escape poverty.

The federal government’s unjust drug laws have kept millions impoverished by putting otherwise law-abiding citizens in prison, handing out large fines and ruinous criminal records for the minor offense of marijuana possession.

Many respected commentators, including many in law enforcement, agree that the “war on drugs” has needlessly increased our prison population and placed more in poverty.

Nicholas Kristof writes in The New York Times that the “big problem with the drug war is that it has exacerbated poverty and devastated the family structure Partly that’s because drug laws are enforced inequitably.”

The unfair and arbitrary enforcement of marijuana laws continues the cycle of poverty.

Had the petition directing law enforcement to make marijuana offenses the lowest possible priority been placed on the Portland ballot, it would have been a boost in fighting poverty in our city.

Selfishly, Kesich chose to ignore the facts on marijuana reform and take shots at activists who have been working to end poverty in Portland for the last decade.

The condemnation of Sensible Portland’s efforts willfully ignored the facts on the benefits of marijuana reform for Portland’s working and poor residents.