Medical cannabis advocates react to Holder sentencing reform proposal

Posted on August 13th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

medical marijuanaUS Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech Aug. 12 to the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in which he outlined a new sentencing and enforcement strategy. Holder said that the Department of Justice is "considering compassionate release for inmates facing extraordinary or compelling circumstances." Holder also spoke out against the indiscriminate use of mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent offenders. There are currently more than two dozen federal medical marijuana patients and providers who are serving sentences for violating federal marijuana laws, despite being in compliance with the laws of their respective states.

Among these prisoners is Jerry Duval, who was recently sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 10 years for cultivating cannabis in accordance with the laws of Michigan where he resided. Duval, who is a kidney-pancreas transplant patient with additional health issues, is expected to cost US taxpayers more than $1.2 million to keep him incarcerated in a federal medical prison.

"The human and financial cost of imprisoning a nonviolent medical marijuana patients such as Jerry Duval is one of the greatest travesties of the Justice Department's current enforcement and sentencing strategy," said Steph Sherer, director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "We look forward to Attorney General Holder bringing about the compassionate release of Mr. Duval and reconsideration of all the other nonviolent federal medical marijuana prisoners."  (ASA, Aug. 12)

But other advocates had a more impatient reaction. "How dare the attorney general come to San Francisco and talk about drug policy and completely fail to address medical cannabis," said Oakland cannabis entrepreneur Steve DeAngelo. "Of all the reforms that should be made, certainly the first should be to get medicine into the hands of people who are suffering." (HuffPost, Aug. 12)

Graphic by Americans for Safe Access



Obama commutes sentences of 22 drug war prisoners

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This week, President Barack Obama used his executive authority to commute the sentences of 22 individuals incarcerated for drug-related offenses, a move that more than doubled the number of commutations the president has granted since moving into the White House nearly seven years ago. This act of clemency was all part of an effort to reduce federal mandatory minimum sentencing. The men and women who received clemency had been convicted of a variety of offenses ranging from the distribution of methamphetamine and heroin to the cultivation of marijuana. Eight of the 22 released from the shackles of an “outdated sentencing regime” were serving life in prison without the possibility for parole. (High Times, April 1) 

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Apr 2nd, 2015 at 3:43 pm

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