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Clemency For 12 Cannabis Prisoners Thanks To Trump’s Last-Minute Pardons


President Donald Trump’s last-minute pardons of 143 people included 12 people currently or formerly incarcerated for cannabis. Primarily of course, the pardons made news for the numerous Trump associates who received clemency (such as Steve Bannon) and for the pop culture oddballs who did not receive clemency (such as Tiger King’s Joe Exotic)—all of which Leafly characterized quite well: “Much of the attention went to the official forgiveness he lavished on his friends and cronies. But for a few people convicted of past marijuana-related offenses, Trump’s relentlessly stormy tenure also ended on an upbeat note.”

The inclusion of a dozen cannabis-related pardons however, speaks to the way cannabis—which is currently legalized in 15 states (plus Washington D.C.) and decriminalized in 16 states—is perceived even among the “law and order,” anti-cannabis Trump administration. In particular, the explanation for these pardons stresses the “nonviolent” nature of the charges against all 12. Additionally, some of the 12 granted clemencies were caught up in the federal government’s complex and often unforgiving conspiracy charges, which strategically charge those lower in the conspiracy harshly as well in order to enforce cooperation.

The list of those with cannabis charges pardoned by Trump is below.

Lynn Barney, who served nearly three years for being a convicted felon charged with gun possession. Barney’s previous charge—the one that labelled him felon—was for cannabis distribution and was a state charge. He was released from prison in 2007, eventually had the state charge expunged but has had the federal gun charge hanging over him.

Johnathan Braun, who was five years into a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to import cannabis and for money laundering. Braun is one of the more controversial people who received clemency for cannabis charges due to the size of the cannabis importing he was doing and the fact that he fled to Israel before he was arrested.

Craig Cesal, who was nearly 17 years into a life sentence for possession of cannabis and conspiracy to distribute cannabis. Cesal has said his role in the conspiracy was that he worked for a trucking company fixing the trucks which were being used to move drugs.

Corvain Cooper, who was seven years into a life sentence for his role in a conspiracy to distribute cannabis—non-violent charges that resulted in the extreme sentence because of two previous drug felonies.

Anthony DeJohn, who had spent more than 13 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cannabis charges and was serving a life sentence. 

Noah Kleinman, who was six years into an almost 20-year sentence for distributing cannabis in California, the first state to legalize cannabis.

John Knock, who had served 24 years of a life sentence for conspiracy charges tied to importing cannabis from Canada and Europe into the United States.

Way Quoe Long, who was almost 25 years into a 50-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cannabis. He was serving one of the most extreme sentences for growing cannabis.

Michael Pelletier, who was 13 years into a life sentence for smuggling cannabis.

James Romans, who was 10 years into a 30-year sentence for conspiracy to distribute cannabis.

Ferrell Damon Scott, who was more than 10 years into a life sentence for possession of cannabis with intent to distribute. 

Brian Simmons, who was five years into a 15-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute cannabis.

Photo by a katz via Shutterstock.

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