Our mission

We want communities to see the human cost of cannabis prohibition through the testimony of those affected by the
War on Drugs.

Cruel Consequences: Portraits of Misguided Law is a 501c3 nonprofit cannabis social justice portrait collection founded in Virginia in 2018 by photographer and medical cannabis patient, Tamara Netzel. She created a growing portrait exhibit of people criminalized for cannabis and invites others to take a closer look at how decades of propaganda influenced perceptions led to stigma influenced policies denying Americans life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Cruel Consequences has held discussions at community events, college classes, and events like the Virginia Attorney General’s Cannabis Summit in December 2019, the 2019 NORML Conference in D.C. and the 2020 Virginia NORML Conference. 

During the pandemic, Cruel Consequences Exhibits has been fortunate to have the ability to continue to display our portrait collection in cannabis dispensaries thanks to donations from dispensary owners. Our exhibits are now in 5 dispensaries! Dispensary owners have told us it has made a difference to their customers to see they support ending the human cost of marijuana criminalization.

We encourage communities to and have open conversations

to replace the negative stereotyped images of

Long after court requirements are satisfied from a marijuana charge, many Americans are denied basic rights like employment, voting, housing, property, child custody, and college loans that keep them from

Featured Portraits and Stories

Photo: Tamara Netzel

Michael, a  Navy Veteran, was medically retired from the military due to his kidney disease. His new kidney triggered chronic pain which led him to seek medical cannabis from a dispensary out of state so he could avoid potential contaminants that could further harm him in cannabis from the illicit market. Michael was arrested bringing the cannabis back into the state of Virginia.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Melissa Mesko

Edward is continually fighting for custody of his children and Child Protective Services will not recognize his Virginia Medical Cannabis Registered Patient Card as protection from policies against cannabis use.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Tamara Netzel

Tyrone, a Navy Veteran, treated for PTSD by the Veteran’s Administration with dozens of medications, knew cannabis would help him better. He wanted to avoid potential contaminants in cannabis from the illicit market, so he grew chose to grow it in his garden. Even though it was for personal use, growing cannabis is treated as felony manufacturing. Long after Tyrone paid his debts for his charge, he and his family have been denied both private and public housing.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Tamara Netzel

Harry went to prison in 2008 for manufacturing and distribution charges paying the mandatory minimums and when he was released 10 years later, nine states had legalized the adult-use of cannabis making millions of dollars doing the same thing for which he was put behind bars.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

"I was sitting there in handcuffs on the side of the road while my father's medicine lay on the hood of the car."

Brooke wanted to help ease his father’s pain from bladder cancer but was arrested when law enforcement pulled him over for a traffic infraction and searched his car. 

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Joe suffered for years from the collateral consequences of a possession charge at age 19. He struggled to get employment because of propaganda and stigma influenced policies preventing applicants who have a drug charge on their record. Joe passed away at age 43 from cancer. His state of Virginia has passed medical cannabis and social justice legislation since his passing that he never got to see.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Tamara Netzel

Jeff moved his family to Nevada so he could get a medical cannabis patient card and treat his PTSD from his many combat missions in the NAVY. Nevada had also passed legal adult-use of cannabis. However, none of this cannabis law reform or passing all the road side sobriety tests protected Jeff from antiquated laws making any driver a criminal if they have any cannabis detected in their blood. These ‘Per Se’ laws are not scientifically based.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Joe and his wife Ryanna were caught in a difficult place. Nevada’s medical cannabis program allowed Ryanna to treat her Ehler’s Danlos with cannabis, but the couple lives on the Walker River Pauite Reservation where the tribe kept cannabis illegal despite the law changes. The tribe said Ryanna could continue growing her cannabis plants in her home on the reservation as a patient as long as she was not officially a part of her husband’s tribe. Until…someone tried to say the plants were Joe’s, not Ryanna’s…

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Chris Smith

Dolores, a registered nurse, was growing cannabis to treat her ill husband. The couple’s farm was raided and the couple in their 60’s spent a few weeks in jail, but the incident took a toll on Dolores’ husband who passed away shortly after. Dolores faced the charges by herself while grieving her loss.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Tamara Netzel

Jessica wanted to help fellow medical cannabis patients who preferred not to smoke it convert the only form of cannabis sold in Delaware dispensaries, Flower, into edible forms. She always checked for the patient to have ID, but an undercover cop convinced her the card was in the mail and she was arrested.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Tamara Netzel

Trenice admits she was addicted to Opioids and even though she had access to cannabis, she did not consume it. Friends concerned for her health, convinced her to use cannabis to help her break her addiction to Opioids. To her surprise, cannabis allowed her to begin a healthy journey beyond dropping the opioids. 

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Lucas was denied employment opportunities for years after his charge, but he has hope that Illinois’ new legislation will allow his to be pardoned by the Governor.

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Photo: Randi B. Hagi

Christopher did not have a marijuana charge. But when he was on probation for a domestic dispute, a positive result on a mandatory drug test meant his PO turned the case turned into a drug case. Christopher went to court during the pandemic and the passage of decriminalization had just taken effect…the judge gave him 5 days in jail. 

Support cannabis social justice reform by ordering your own Cruel Consequences Exhibit. (Suggested donations)

Stop the Human Cost and Lifetime Consequences of Marijuana Prohibition.

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Thank you to the following cannabis dispensaries who display a Cruel Consequences Portrait Exhibit

© 2021 Cruel Consequences