"The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness," Nixon said in a press release announcing the commutation of Mizanskey's sentence. He also pardoned five other non-violent offenders.
Regarding Mizanskey, Nixon's remarks imply that he will be given a parole hearing:
"In the case of the commutation, my action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole," Nixon said.
Riverfront Times broke the news that Mizanskey has been rotting in jail in a 2013 feature story that investigated the relatively minor (and non-violent) pot busts that preceded his 1993 arrest for being involved in the sale of a six to seven pounds of marijuana. Because it had been his third drug offense, Mizanskey was sentenced to life without parole under the state's Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute, a law that was repealed last year.
"It's wonderful. Thank Jay Nixon for doing that, for finally looking at his case and doing the right thing," said Michael Mizanskey, Jeff's brother.
When we spoke to Aaron Malin, a researcher with Show Me Cannabis who has helped publicize demands for Mizanskey's release, he was running out the door to drive to the prison to tell Mizanskey the news before visiting hours end today.
"I am still in shock but obviously thrilled," Malin says. "My understanding is Jeff doesn't know."
Mizanskey will of course have to apply for parole and be approved for release. Malin says he should be eligible to apply immediately but wasn't sure how soon he could get a hearing.
Neither Malin nor Michael Mizanskey had any idea that this decision was coming down today. Michael, who lives in Chicago, is actually on vacation in Florida with his family.
"I'm very emotional. I'm overjoyed he has a chance," he says. "In almost 22 years he had two write-ups, one for putting mail in the wrong slot and one for a messy…Continue
Wiz Khalifa is back in the lab again preparing his sixth solo album he's calling "Rolling Papers 2: The Weed Album." The Taylor Gang boss made the announcement on Friday, May 22, via Twitter. The date will be revealed soon .
The Illinois legislature joined the movement to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot, passing a measure Thursday that would bar arrest for the offense.
Carrying small amounts of marijuana would result in a fine instead of an arrest under a measure approved Thursday by the Illinois Senate.
Low-level cannabis possession would go from a crime with fines up to $2,500 and up to a year in a jail to penalties likened to a traffic ticket: no court time and a fine of up to $125 for those caught with 15 grams or less, which is the equivalent of about 25 cigarette-size joints.
The Senate voted 37-19 to approve the legislation after it cleared the House last month. But it's not going to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk just yet — sponsors say they'll hold onto it until additional cleanup language is approved.
If signed into law, Illinois would join 17 other states in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to NORML, which advocates the legal use of marijuana. Nearly half the country, including Illinois, already allows for the use of medical marijuana.
Sponsoring Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, said that while he believes using marijuana is wrong, people shouldn't have their lives ruined because of it.
"It's wrong, and I would encourage the children of this state and my own children to abstain from the use of the substance, but people do use this, and it should not be something that ruins social lives and professional lives as well," said Noland, who is mulling a bid for the 8th Congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates. "People have been arrested at very young ages for this and have suffered the consequences."
Supporters said the measure would keep low-level drug offenders out of the state's clogged jails and prisons. Earlier this year, Rauner announced a goal of reducing the state's prison population by 25 percent…Continue
An Indiana judge has rejected an argument by a man who asked that his marijuana possession charge be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor because he follows the Rastafarian faith.
Jerome Scott that he was being charitable to others by cultivating marijuana to ease ailments from chronic back pain to cancer, the South Bend Tribune reports. St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller said he still broke the law.
"I understand there are many people who agree with you that marijuana should be legal, but you're in the wrong state for that," she said. "What you knowingly and deliberately did in Indiana is break the law by not only cultivating it, but also distributing it."
Followers of the Rastafari faith, developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, believe cannabis is a holy herb, and smoking marijuana is considered a sacrament that brings peace, wisdom and a spiritual connection to nature.
Scott and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Melanie Schmidt, see the state's marijuana laws as unjust.
Scott said was not a drug dealer, but that he distributed the cannabis strictly for medical and religious purposes.
"Cultivating my own cannabis is my way of not contributing to the black market and drug dealing tactics," he said.
In March, Scott pleaded guilty to a felony count of possession of marijuana. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance. Schmidt pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
Woodward Miller ordered Scott to serve 18 months on probation and sentenced Schmidt to 12 months on probation.
Scott, who has a license in Michigan to grow marijuana for other approved patients as a "caregiver," said his felony conviction will ruin his chances of having his license renewed. If he loses the license, Scott said, he will also lose the right to practice the cultivation of cannabis, which he views as a calling and key aspect of his faith.