Obama Frees Convicted Pot Prisoners
Posted on February 26 2016
This is a pretty positive story, and the kind of thing it’s always good to hear about. As legalisation and decriminalisation laws evolve and grow (hopefully for the better!) it also raises the question of retroactive sentencing, i.e. those sentenced for a weed crime that would be treated more leniently by modern standards.
President Obama has spoken openly about his marijuana use in college and has campaigned to reduce incarceration for marijuana prisoners. Obama has taken this action further recently by ‘freeing’ 22 people who had received harsh punishments for marijuana use, including a man who was given a life sentence for growing pot.
Francis Darryl Hayden was imprisoned for life in 2002 for growing marijuana. While his only crimes were non-violent marijuana offences, the fact that he had previous convictions in 1980 and 1990 led to a court giving him life in prison for his third offence. Obama’s intervention in this case should be seen as a massive positive for marijuana users, both looking backwards and looking to the future.
In addition to the 22 people freed for marijuana crimes in recent years, Obama has also demonstrated his power and ideologies in reducing the sentences of 6000 other people. It may only be a small step towards a country where marijuana is entirely legalised, but the fact that 6000 people were arrested for owning a plant in the first place, and required this action, shows how attitudes have changed in the last ten years and you can only hope such actions can continue and be taken further.