Long-time San Francisco drug policy, medical marijuana, and human rights activist Virginia Resner died July 18 in her home town following a lengthy struggle with breast cancer. She was 60 years old.
Tormented by the plight of women and families torn apart by harsh drug war practices, Resner became the California state director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. In that position, she played a key role in the effort to obtain presidential clemency for Amy Pofahl, who had served nine years of a 24-year sentence for a drug trafficking offense. Pofahl was granted clemency by President Bill Clinton in 2000.
Resner also joined up with East Bay marijuana activists Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad in creating the traveling "Human Rights and the Drug War" exhibit, which featured photos of various drug war prisoners, their families, and information about their cases. That effort eventually produced a book, coauthored by Resner, Norris, and Conrad, "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War."
Resner received the 2001 Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action from the Drug Policy Alliance for her efforts on the book.
Most recently, Resner was president of Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she was intimately involved in the legal struggles of "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal. Despite her struggles with cancer, she managed to attend his court hearings and handle administrative items for his defense.
She will be missed.