Jeff Mizanskey’s Sentence Commuted


“FREE JEFF MIZANSKEY!” became a rallying cry for the amazing activists at Show-Me Cannabis and civil libertarians across the nation. In fact, anyone that cares about fairness and justice can’t justify a nonviolent marijuana law offender spending longer in prison that rapists, robbers and even some murderers. The tragic plight of a nonviolent man sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole illustrates the harms and unintended consequences of the Drug War.  Show-Me Cannabis has done a tremendous job publicizing Jeff Mizanskey’s case and garnering support for his release from across the political spectrum. It feels me with joy that Mr. Mizanskey, who has already spent too long in prison, will now have an opportunity to be paroled, following a commutation from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

From Show-Me Cannabis:

Late this afternoon, Governor Nixon announced he’d commuted Jeff Mizanskey’s sentence from life without parole to a life sentence with parole eligibility, almost guaranteeing Jeff’s freedom in the immediate future. While Jeff’s release must now be approved by the state parole board, Jeff has been a model prisoner with no violence or disciplinary issues, and is extraordinarily likely that he will meet the conditions for parole eligibility. It is our hope that he is re-united with his family sometime this summer.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to call or write the Governor about this issue. There are a ton of people who share credit for today’s news, including everyone who contacted the Governor’s office to advocate for Jeff’s release. Your hard work, combined with pressure from a statewide media campaign and the actions of courageous legislators, such as Shamed Dogan, made this possible.

From here, the parole board will schedule a hearing to decide on Jeff’s release. This is likely to happen sometime this summer. Our hope and expectation is that they will immediately grant parole. While today is absolutely a day to celebrate, let us always remember that we must continue to fight for others serving unjust sentences for cannabis. Jeff will soon be free, but we will continue to fight for others like David and Natalie DePriest who recently received 15 year prison sentences for growing 20 cannabis plants in their closet. We hope you will continue to support our efforts by making a contribution of $10, $25, or $50 to help end the war on cannabis and free its victims.

Today is such a great day for Jeff Mizanskey, his entire family and the many, many people who helped shine a light on his cruel punishment. I am so proud of Show-Me Cannabis and every single person that has fought for Mizanskey’s release. The fact that such draconian sentences are levied in a free country is mind boggling and puts into perspective why drug law reform advocates do what we do. While prohibitionists like to claim that advocates only care about getting high or are all about making money with a new industry, the case of Jeff Mizanskey demonstrates the real reason we fight unjust laws and the compassion at the heart of our fight. We strive for a day, when no one is locked in a cage for nonviolent drug offenses.  And days like today, when we can celebrate with Jeff Mizanskey and everyone that cares about him, are so rewarding and let us know that, one day, the truth shall set us all free.

You can donate to Jeff Mizanskey’s “Coming Home” fund here. 

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.