It seems like an exaggeration to suggest that marijuana could lead you to a life sentence. Unless weapons or other violence was involved, it just doesn’t seem logical. But at least one Missouri man is proof that marijuana charges can result in lengthy and unjustly severe penalties.
As reported by the Huffington Post, Jeff Mizanskey is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. His horrific crime: possessing five pounds of marijuana.
Mizanskey was arrested in 1993. His attorney and his son are now asking the Governor of our state to grand him executive clemency and amend his outrageous prison sentence.
He was sentenced under the state’s prior and persistent drug offender law, a law designed to keep violent and serious drug criminals off the street. It’s Missouri’s “3 strikes law”. But Mizanskey doesn’t have a violent history. His criminal history has no evidence of violence, weapons, juveniles or other aggravating factors.
His third and final felony charge, the one that left him living out his life behind bars, came after giving a ride to his friend Atilano Quintana, who had just purchased seven pounds of pot. Quintana testified Mizanskey didn’t even know about the marijuana ahead of time. Still, he was left with the horrific consequences.
According to the letter his attorney sent to Governor Jay Nixon:
I am not aware of any other person in Missouri who is serving a life sentence for non-violent cannabis-only offenses. It is no secret that all recent major polls indicate over 50 [percent] of Americans, including Missourians, favor the complete legalization of adult use of marijuana. We are not asking you to commit to this new majority preference for cannabis legalization, but rather as Governor of Missouri to represent the current population’s modern socio-political trends to liberalize marijuana laws in considering the commutation of Jeff’s sentence.
The war on drugs and particularly the war on marijuana is futile. Not only does locking people like Mizanskey up for years not reduce the amount of drugs on the street, it damages communities and families, and costs the taxpayers millions of dollars each year.
As we celebrate victories in reducing pot penalties across the country, we have to remember that we have a long way to go. You can still be arrested for possessing marijuana. You can still go to prison for a marijuana offense, especially distribution. If you are in trouble for violating a marijuana law, you may benefit from having an advocate on your side. Contact our office today to discuss your case.