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A Man with a Life Sentence for Marijuana Was Just Released From Prison

He spent two decades behind bars for conspiring to sell six pounds of marijuana.

Jeff Mizanskey, a 62-year-old Missouri man who was sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge, was released from prison today. He spent two decades behind bars.

Mizanskey was arrested in 1996 for conspiring to sell six pounds of marijuana. He already had two prior drug convictions – one for possession of marijuana, and another for possession and sale of marijuana – at the time of his arrest. Because Missouri had a three strikes law in place at the time, Mizanskey was labeled a "persistent drug offender" and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole.

That same year, California introduced the first medical marijuana program. Now, nearly two decades later, 23 states have medical marijuana programs in place and four states plus Washington, DC, have legalised recreational marijuana. Missouri also repealed their three strikes law in 2014, which led over 390,000 people to sign a petition lobbying for Mizanskey's release.

In May, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon agreed to commute Mizanskey's sentence, which allowed Mizanskey to argue his case before a parole board. The board, agreeing that Mizanskey's sentencing had been harsh, granted him parole. He was released from prison today.

Now, Time reports that Mizanskey plans to spend his time advocating for the reform of marijuana laws. He does not plan to smoke marijuana, as doing so would go against the conditions of his parole.