The Cruel Consequences: Portraits of Misguided Law traveling exhibit was founded in 2018 by Tamara Netzel. Netzel became a medical cannabis advocate after finding relief for her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms. She was a middle school English and Civics teacher for 16 years before liver failure from her MS meds caused daily excruciating chronic pain. A friend suggested she try cannabis oil.

She joined Virginia NORML and a group of moms whose children have Epilepsy who had been fighting for medical cannabis for years in hopes of legalizing medical cannabis for herself and other patients.

She was featured on NBC Dateline in May 2018 and interviewed by Harry Smith about her advocacy journey.

Tamara Netzel testifying for the expansion of the Virginia Medical Cannabis Program Let Doctor’s Decide state bill that was passed unanimously in 2018. The original law only allowed CBD and limited only for Epilepsy patients. 

Netzel joined several marijuana law reform advocates at the General Assembly in Richmond, Va. in January 2018.

NBC Dateline featured her story for her medical cannabis advocacy in May 2018.

Netzel educated herself about people who have been arrested, charged, and incarcerated for possessing the plant she depends on for medicine and started thinking about how she could help.

As a result, Cruel Consequences: Portraits of Misguided Law was launched in January 2019 and the traveling exhibit has appeared at several events throughout Virginia since.

Virginia Senator Siobahn Dunnavant (R) and Tamara Netzel at a NORML event in D.C. July 2018

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 4 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.

Notable events in our journey...

December 2019 Richmond, Va

Virginia Cannabis Summit held by Attorney General Mark Herring

 

Our portrait exhibit was  present at an event Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, held to educate stakeholders about marijuana law reform in the state. The AG held the Virginia Cannabis Summit after writing an Op-ed published in several newspapers. Herring invited legislators and the community to discuss how legalization of marijuana in Virginia could affect the state in positive ways. We were proud to be part of this historic event.

November 2019 Staunton, Va

Sociology students at Mary Baldwin University learned about the criminal justice system and reforming marijuana laws through viewing our portraits. Many students expressed their gratitude for such a rich learning experience. One student wrote us a letter. See below.

In class, we had three visitors come and speak about Cannabis, or medical marijuana, and it was a life changing experience. Growing up, I have always assumed the marijuana is bad and nobody should use it at all. I have these thoughts because of the surroundings that I grew up in. I knew there was going to be a presentation on this subject and to be honest, I was not very excited. I had my presumptions going through my head about medical marijuana and I couldn’t wait for the class to be over.

However, the presentation completely changed my mind on this subject. Hearing the stories of our three visitors and how Cannabis helped them really hit me in the gut. They were such moving stories and I had no idea how much Cannabis could really help someone who is ill. So, at this point in the class, after they told their stories, I had started to understand the advantages of Cannabis being legalized. However, my mind wasn’t completely changed yet. Next, we did an exercise where we got to read about many other peoples stories and this is when I finally realized and was angered by the fact that Cannabis was not legal in Virginia yet. Also, I was infuriated by the story of a man getting more jail time for using marijuana than a man who shot another person. 

Another topic we discussed was the difference between legalization and decriminalization. I had never learned the difference between these two terms and it really helped me gain a better understanding of the situation as a whole. These ladies were inspiring and have truly inspired me to start standing up for what I believe regarding this topic and many others. I have realized that all it takes is for people to know the facts. For me, I was ignorant on 

the topic as a whole. I had no idea how it could help so many people. They have touched so many lives, including mine, so far and I know they will continue to touch others. The term sociological mindfulness kept coming to mind during the entire presentation. If only the world was able to look at someone and understand their need for medical marijuana instead of labeling them as a drug addict. Of course, there are people who misuse the drug, but there are so many people out there who would benefit immensely from Cannabis. I am grateful I got to experience this presentation for it was life changing for me.                                                                                                   

                                   Kayley T.

August 31, 2019 Loudon County, Va.

Marijuana and the Impact on Communities event
Loudon County Commonwealth's Attorney, Buta Biberaj

Buta Biberaj, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudon County, Va. wanted to hold an event that would allow her constituents to talk about marijuana criminalization. She invited Attorney General, Mark Herring, after he wrote his Op-ed calling for marijuana legalization in Virginia.

Our portraits created a safe space for her constituents to talk about such a tough topic. We were able to educate the community about marijuana law reform through inviting them to join the conversation.

"As a lawyer and a judge, I witnessed first hand possession of marijuana cases that were harshly prosecuted and resulted in doing greater damage to our community than warranted. It was my pleasure to have Cruel Consequences participate in our presentation 'Marijuana and the Impact on Communities.' Their art and case information was a great segue for our community members to learn how the criminal justice has been weaponized and destroyed lives in the name of “tough on crime”. Further, the conversations were respectful, thoughtful and engaging. Thank you Tamara and your team for highlighting this very important social issue."
Buta
Commonwealth's Attorney Loudon County, Va.

© 2021 Cruel Consequences