Help Needed: Release Five Lifetime Marijuana Prisoners

[Editor’s note: Along with signing the below White House petition encouraging the president to grant clemency to these federal prisoners with life sentences for cannabis-only related offenses, please take a moment to do something even more important and write letters of support to the clemency petition to both the President (1600 Pennsylvania, NW, Washington, DC, 20500-0004) and the Office of Pardon Attorney (1425 New York Ave., NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20530) asking for immediate commutation of these prisoners’ sentences.

Additionally, please mention each man by name: John Knock, Paul Free, William Dekle, Larry Duke and Charles Cundiff.]

Cannabis Prohibition is ending in America (and likely soon around the world too). It is not going to end without prolonged legal, political and regulatory battles. This is well known and anticipated by reformers.

Social justice movements take decades to build up credibility, social impetus and political saliency. There are, necessarily, many angles by which cannabis prohibition laws can be assaulted: legislation, binding voter initiatives and impact litigation.

Recently, the law office of Michael Kennedy (the principle behind Trans High Corporation, publishers of High Times Magazine; lifetime member of NORML Legal member) filed an historic legal petition with the federal government seeking clemency for five elderly prisoners serving lifetime sentences for cannabis-only related crimes. In the many hundreds of debates and discussions I’ve had with law enforcement officials and elected policymakers about the need to replace cannabis prohibition laws with logical alternatives, I’m vexed to no end when they make the ridiculous claim: ‘no one gets arrested for marijuana anymore and certainly no one is incarcerated for the stuff!’

To wit, 1) there are over 750,000 annual cannabis arrests (90% for possession-only) that generate many tens of thousands of cannabis-only offenders sent to jail or prison, and 2) these five men are serving lifetime sentences, for a product that is no longer contraband in two states, decriminalized in fourteen states and eighteen states (and the District of Columbia) now have medical cannabis laws (with six states allowing commercial retail access to the herb with a physician’s recommendation).

This federal petition to release these men back to their loving families and to get off the tax roll is born out of the non-profit organization called Life For Pot (where the groups is tracking at least twenty prisoners serving life sentences for cannabis-only related offenses), the heart felt project of volunteer Beth Curtis.

Mr. Obama indicated to ABC News that ‘he has bigger fish to fry’ when asked about what if anything the feds are going to regarding Colorado and Washington voters recently approving cannabis legalization measures. Whether the president is going to expend any political capital at all in actually advancing cannabis law reforms in his last four years remains to be seen, but, the man should act post haste, giving a nod to the new legal era America has entered regarding cannabis prohibition, on this well researched and written petition by granting clemency to these former and now elderly pot cultivators and smugglers.

We can all help place greater public focus and attention on this federal petition by letting the White House know that President Obama should ‘do the right thing’ and pardon these lifetime prisoners for growing and supplying cannabis to a willing and wonting population of cannabis consumers while unpopular (and largely unenforceable) prohibition laws were still in place.

Please help Mr. Kennedy’s petition for clemency, Beth’s life’s work and these five cannabis prisoners by signing the White House petition to act favorably upon it. You can review the petition here.


35 thoughts

  1. i believe this that people who deals with pot or smokes pot as long no weapons or other records should be released if people use gun or kill someone or some like that should be arrested that makes sense to me cuz they not used weapons and go jail for long time takes lot of taxes to pay for their food and room. does this make sense. and over 21 too like drinking but iam not like drinking . its worst than pot. thats how i feel and good for people who need it for medical reason. i believe this . i dont see anything wrong with pot and whats more how did that plant get here on earth in first place. ?? george washington and thomas jefferson both were hemp farmers and smoked it too they are Presidents. hope u all try figure this out.

  2. Isn’t it about time. Seriously, Life for marijuana. Good god, they’ve legalized it in some states. Let them go.

  3. In the movie “The Union,” a statistic is offered, that one-third, 33%, one-out-of-three arrests is for cannabis related “offenses,” and mostly for possession only.

    One-third! of all arrests, arrests made for cannabis. Use of cannabis is not a crime at all–by extension possession is not a crime. Free-market commerce of cannabis is not a crime.

    Second, prohibition kills competition, of hemp agriculture, cannabis medicine and recreation, and preventative health care cannabis provides.

    During the Red Scare and Cold War, criticisms of Communism usually included the argument that state-run business has/had an annihilating effect on competition and a healthy market system. Prohibitionists act to destroy competition by removing an immensely valuable commodity from the market…on pain of medieval punishments.

    Calling cannabis “illegal” is arbitrary and stupid; it’s not a crime. It used to be illegal to help runaway slaves. That wasn’t a crime either, but another example of unjust, out-dated, and ultimately harmful and unenforceable legislation.

    Considering all the murders, assaults, rapes, robberies, burglaries, damage to property, white-collar banking larceny, all sorts of crimes that deserve a punishment fitting the offense…it is a travesty.

    About one-third of all arrests are cannabis related which means something is very wrong will the legal/court/justice system. The justice system is frighteningly unbalanced in terms of understanding the concept “public safety.”

    All this nonsense comes from one source, the result of arbitrarily labeling cannabis as “schedule 1” by certain (fail) federal bureaucratic agencies. It’s obvious the scheduling system is a crock, ok? It’s sad more bureaucrats are too afraid or derelict to admit it.

  4. My view on my Uncle Johns situation is just this. He did the crime and has served his time. I can only ramble on and compare the gun issues and alcohol issues at large, but the bottom line is, John has a wife and a son, a supportive family and has been nothing but a trophy to the system. He is involved in helping others in nearly every way possible behind bars. 19 years for bringing marihuana to Canada. I’ve broke the law too, have you? The federal level is not forgiving and needs to look hard a this petition for clemency.

  5. I have had the privilege of spending 5 weeks in Amsterdam and I have been in many coffee shops. In that time and I was looking for the evil our government wants us to believe it is. I was not able to find it. The entire time I was in Amsterdam I never had to step over a body in the street, I did not have to dodge one bullet, I was not held up in the street, what I did find were people from around the planet living in peace and harmony. If that is evil, we need more of it.


    [Editor’s note: ALL CAPS IS TOO PAINFUL TO READ!]

  7. To be quite frank with you guys… when these people were arrested the laws concerning cultivation and smuggling were still active and in place. to that reguard we must stand by our courts desion and leave those guys where they are. I know this hurts but they did break the law and were found guilty. i dont agree with keeping non-violent criminals locked up but it is the law. I dont believe we should release anyone found guilty under the old laws, it will set us down a long bumpy path to getting pot legal across the board.

    [Editor’s note: You can’t maintain both positions…that you believe non violent offenders should not be in jail…except if they broke the law? These men are non-violent offenders, so they should not be in jail (according to you) and costing the taxpayers so much money annually.]

  8. Georgia’s new teacher, moral turpitude code, allows for a possession charge. Watch out for those teachers!! That is one small victory in a state that loves its prisons.

  9. This incarceration of people for Cannabis possession or cultivation needs to stop nation-wide now! From Samuel Caldwell to the one arrested 42 seconds from now. Their rights need to be restored and they should receive an apology for arresting them in the first place. Thanks to NORLM the insanity is coming to an end. Sign it.

  10. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition.

    In my fathers case, William, he committed his crime in the 80’s, but was sentenced under the new guidelines as if he committed his crimes in the 90’s. This was later found to be unconstitutional, but the government did not make the findings retroactive. He is no longer able to appeal his case, because of the Anti-terrorism and Death Penalty Act. If he could appeal his sentence he would be out on time served.

    My father is a good man and has served his time. Like all of the families of these petitioners we just want them to come home. These sentences are unjust and the US government should reconsider the sentences of all non violent life for pot inmates.

  11. to the editor: I can maintain both posistions. I think a retroactive desion on offenders for pot laws in the past should not be given a reprieve just because the laws changed. I also believe that our justice system is broken and there are too many non-violent criminals locked up that shouldnt be (including more than pot offenders). i do think the cases concerning only pot offences should be reviewed with an updated outlook concerning the new laws though.

  12. Stop the total insanity. People can get high and burn their brain up on gasoline. It’s everywhere and legal just like booze. Marijuana is everywhere anyway and is illegal. How dumb is that! Marijuana is not not particularly harmful but can be beneficial medically and otherwise same as a glass of wine or two. Let the police protect our schools and leave the herb users alone.

  13. No human being should ever have to rot in a cell because they used an herb. By definition a whole cannabis plant isn’t a drug. Its also non-toxic.

  14. I hope these men go free. I live in Wisconsin and here the laws are terrible! My friend was pulled over for tinted windows and I was a passenger in the back seat. They searched me I had a little over a gram of brick shwag. Well off I went to jail paid bail 220 dollars, 350 dollar ticket, and one year of probation. I completed eight months of paper then was revoked where I sat 67 days all of this for about a bowls worth. God gives the right to all seed bearing plants! What we decide as individules to put in to our bodies should be our choice! Unless I am mistaken and the government is my daddy and I didnt know it. These men should be set free then file lawsuits against our gov! Weed is soo much better then all the other crap we have out there today I hope our government will listen to us as we stand united.

  15. Please stop the insanity, let non-violent people pay a fine, not rot in jail. Let them out before the new year.

  16. KC, these laws are a scam, and there were a scam. There is no reason anyone should be arrested for marijuana even is the law says so; since these laws were stolen and put in place by hearsay, libel and perjury. No one was ever supposed to be in jail over anything related to Cannabis. In fact, public monies spend on incarcerating innocents need to recouped and that certainly does involve letting everyone out of jail. And then paying them for their lost wages out of the money that was used to illegally jail them. And you should also get a refund for your stolen money. This really is the only way to clean the money (and a large portion of our economy) of the evil it was used for.

  17. When one commits perjury, they aren’t supposed to be given money, they are supposed to be fined and/or sent to jail. The folks who tesified in front of congress regarding the “need to ban marijuana” all lied. They were put on a pedical and looked up to when they should have been shamed and fined. No, there is no reason for anyone to be in prison because someone lied.

  18. As crazy as it sounds…do you think that if marijuana would have been easy as a cigerette to get. Maybe the shooters behind the semi automatics could have lite a joint, they wouldnt have pulled the trigger…

  19. i’m so sick in tired of these government people telling me what i can do and what i can’t do with my makes me sick hearing all this made up crap about pot and all the cops worry about is pot WTF WHAT ABOUT THE CRACK,HEROIN,COCAINE,METH THESE ARE THE DRUGS THAT KILL NOT POT. now if anyone of these cops or even the president had a son or daughter that had some thing medically wrong with them and the only medicine that would work is cannabis they would change there mind about cannabis and if they try and say it wouldn’t change their mind i call them a fucking lier

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