|Amardeep Singh Kaleka|
Amardeep Singh Kaleka didn’t see politics in his future five years ago, nor did the Indian-American filmmaker think he would become a face for the compassionate use of cannabis. The Wisconsin-raised Kaleka instead was focusing on an Emmy-award winning career. But all of that changed in 2012 when his father, founder of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, was gunned down along with five others by a white supremacist that had entered the temple apparently in an attempt to start a holy war.
In his grief, Kaleka – living in California at the time – turned to medical cannabis to help his anxiety, panic-attacks and complete lack of appetite that comes with the tragic loss of a loved one.
Meanwhile back in Wisconsin, Kaleka’s mother was forced to turn to pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medicines. They killed the anxiety, but the also killed everything else off in her – leaving her a zombie some days. Kaleka says he was able to avoid that by using edible candy lolipops infused with cannabis and wishes they been legally available for his mother.
“When your wisest decision is against the law, either your decision is wrong or the law is wrong,” Kaleka tells the AP. “In this case, it’s the law that’s wrong.”
Fast forward to 2014. Kaleka is now running for U.S. Congressas a Democrat and says one of his goals would be to address the legal disparity over a plant that a majority of people seem to agree can help people. Many, however, have called his candidacy against the established Republican Paul Ryan, a long shot.
Still, he says he will use his platform any way he can to advance medical marijuana nationwide and, eventually, outright recreational use.
“Personally I know that medicinal marijuana works,” Kaleka says. “I think it’s disappointing that people who might really need it, someone who’s gone through a tragedy like that, doesn’t have access to that option.”
Posession of any amount of herb in Wisconsin on first offense is a misdemeanor with up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. Get caught a second time and it’s a felony with up 3.5 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.