FREEDOM! Jeff Mizanskey Out of Prison After Life Sentence for Marijuana

   

I shed happy tears when I first heard that Jeff Mizanskey got paroled and I was happy to have more tears of joy when I saw my Facebook feed full of photos of Jeff surrounded by friends, family and cannabis law reform advocates. It is amazing how a rallying cry to #FreeJeff turned into the celebratory #WeFreedJeffMizanskey!

Thanks to Jeff’s family, sympathetic politicians and the amazing activists at Show-Me Cannabis, Mid-Missouri NORML and others across the country, not only is Jeff a free man today, but Missouri changed its laws to ensure that no nonviolent marijuana offender would suffer the same cruel fate of a life sentence without the possibility of parole for such nonviolent offenses. Show-Me Cannabis is leading the way to end marijuana prohibition in the Show-Me State and you can help them pass legalization in the very important bellwether state by donating to their fight for freedom.

As NBC reports, Jeff was the only Missouri prisoner serving such a life sentence and other states are looking to pass similar Drug War reforms:

Mizanskey was the only Missouri inmate serving such a sentence for a nonviolent marijuana-related offense when Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon agreed in May to commute his sentence. Nixon’s action allowed Mizanskey to argue for his freedom.

Nixon cited Mizanskey’s nonviolent record, noting that none of his offenses involved selling drugs to children. The law under which he was originally sentenced has since been changed.

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In Connecticut, a new law will make possession of small amounts of hard drugs, including heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, a misdemeanor for a first-time offense, rather than allowing for the current maximum seven-year prison sentence. Nebraska and Alabama expect to save hundreds of millions of dollars by cutting down on the number of offenders locked up for possessing small amounts of drugs under new laws.

Here in Oregon, after passing marijuana legalization, New Approach Oregon helped successfully improve criminal marijuana laws even further and pass an expungement provision that was the model for federal legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer and. Hopefully, other states will follow suit. While we are pleased with our progress and victories, we are determined to pass even further Drug War reforms as we look to successful policies implemented in places such as Portugal.

I can only imagine more than two decades behind bars, not able to be at important family events, all because of marijuana prohibition. I can only hope that Jeff understands the inspiration that he has given to activists across the nation to work even harder to legalize marijuana and end the greater Drug War. Too many lives have already been lost and ruined by a harmful and failed war that we are waging upon our own citizens. And make no mistake, anyone can fall victim in the war, even those 100% innocent. I know that every Drug War horror story motivates me even more to fight for freedom and the happy pictures of Jeff and his supporters make me want to see similar pictures for the many nonviolent people unjustly incarcerated by this unjust war. You can help Jeff Mizanskey by donating to his “Coming Home” fund here.

 

 

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.