Donald Trump left the White House for the last time last week, but not before commuting the sentences of multiple individuals serving prison time for cannabis offenses.
Ferrell Damon Scott
In 2007 Ferrell Damon Scott was arrested for transporting shipments of cannabis, which is now done legally in many states, and received a life sentence after turning down a plea deal for 12 years.
Scott says that he did not think he could get a life sentence for cannabis, and was surprised when he received it.
“The day I got my life sentence was like living in a nightmare,” says Scott. “I was watching my whole life drain away from me. I was numb and couldn’t believe that it could happen for a weed charge. I remember thinking I have so much more to do and see for my life to end at age 45.”
United States Attorney Sam Sheldon supported the commutation of Scott’s sentence on Wednesday, stating that he does not believe that Scott deserved a mandatory life sentence.
Trump also commuted the life sentence of 73-year-old John Knock, who had served 24 years for a first-time, non-violent cannabis offense.
Knock was indicted in 1994 in the Northern District of Florida on money laundering, cannabis importation, and distribution charges and received two life sentences plus twenty years.
During his time in prison, Knock proved to be an exemplary prisoner, completing college accounting classes and incurring no incident reports.
Trump this week commuted the sentence of 46-year-old Anthony DeJohn, who had served more than 13 years of a life sentence for a conspiracy to distribute cannabis.
DeJohn was indicted in 2000 but refused to plead guilty.
During his time in prison, DeJohn kept a clean disciplinary record and received recognition for his work ethic.
Forty-one-year-old Corvain Cooper received a commutation from Trump this week after having served seven years of a life sentence for participating in a non-violent conspiracy to distribute cannabis.
Cooper received a three-strikes sentence in 2013 after refusing to name his accomplices.
Way Quoe Long
Trump also commuted the 50-year sentence that California’s Ninth Circuit gave to Way Quoe Long for cannabis manufacturing conspiracy charges.
Long served nearly half of his sentence before this week’s commutation.
During his time in prison, Long took English proficiency classes, obtained his GED, and worked on writing on an album entitled “Rose Among Thorns,” which he hopes to share with the world.
Having served 13 years in prison, 64-year-old Michael Pelletier received a commutation of his life sentence this week as well.
A paraplegic, Pelletier lost the ability to use his legs at a young age and later discovered the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
Pelletier received a life sentence after being arrested for bringing cannabis from Canada into the United States.
Before the commutation of his sentence, Pelletier was already under consideration for release due to health issues.
Trump also commuted the life sentence of 61-year-old Craig Cesal, who was in prison for possession and conspiracy to distribute cannabis.
“My crime was that my truck repair business in Chicago fixed trucks operated by a Florida long-haul trucking company,” Cesal told the Washington Post. “Whose drivers trafficked marijuana in the south.”
Cesal, who maintains that he never received any revenue from the cannabis, held an exemplary disciplinary record while in prison and looks forward to returning to society and contributing to his community.
Trump also commuted Brian Simmons’ sentence this week.
In 2013, Simmons received a 15-year sentence for his part in a non-violent conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cannabis.
Trump commuted James Romans’ sentence this week as well.
In 2004, James Romans was working low-paying construction jobs in Indianapolis and selling cannabis on the side to help support his kids.
Roman later joined a larger distribution ring as a middleman but received a life sentence after he was arrested in 2010 for his role in the operation.
Jonathon Braun received a commutation this week after serving five years of his ten-year sentence for a conspiracy to import cannabis and commit money laundering.
Braun plans to seek employment after his release to support his wife and children.
Trump this week also commuted 45-year-old Noah Kleinman’s nearly two-decade sentence, of which Kleinman had served six years.
During California’s Prop 215 era, Kleinman used legitimate medical cannabis dispensaries to run large amounts of illicit cannabis to other states.
Kleinman received his sentence in 2014.
Trump also granted a full pardon to Lynn Barney, who received a 35-month prison sentence for possessing a firearm as a felon, having previously been convicted for possessing a small amount of cannabis.
Barney’s pardon has the support of Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and other members of the Utah business community.