Did you know there are still 40,000 people in prisons all over the country for nonviolent marijuana offenses?
In Michigan, there are hundreds who remain locked up – despite promises of expungement. While Michigan’s latest expungement law promises expungement for nonviolent marijuana offenders, these changes won’t go into effect until April 11th, 2021.
Automatic expungement won’t be introduced for at least another two years, to give the state time to implement a new system. But those sitting in Michigan prisons and jails right now for nonviolent cannabis offenses don’t have time to waste.
Given the progression of cannabis in Michigan, there is clearly a need for criminal justice reform. This is precisely the focus of the Last Prisoner Project (LPP).
What Is the Last Prisoner Project?
The LLP is an organization demanding criminal justice reform through interventions, advocacy, and awareness. It has dedicated its mission through engagement and specific campaigns.
Right now, LPP’s major release campaign is centered on Michigan’s cannabis prisoners. Dubbed the Michigan Cannabis Prisoner Relief Fund, this campaign has worked in partnership with the Redemption Foundation and the Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, along with the the Law Offices of Barton Morris, to raise more than $30,000 in just one month’s time.
Liberating Those With Nonviolent Marijuana Offenses
As we stated above, there are hundreds still serving time in Michigan for these offenses. One such person is Michael Thompson.
In 1994, Thompson was sentenced to 42-60 years in prison for selling three pounds of marijuana to an undercover officer. Now, 25 years later, he remains in a Muskegon prison. His release was recently supported by the Michigan Attorney General, but he’s still awaiting a public parole review hearing pursuant to his clemency petition.
Then there’s Rudi Gammo.
There’s no arguing that Rudi Gammo is one of the people who helped to foster so many of the available opportunities in Michigan’s licensed commercial cannabis program. Yet, in 2018, Gammo was sentenced to 5.5 years for operating a medical dispensary that was distributing Michigan caregiver product.
That practice was only recently discontinued by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency in October of 2020. Nevertheless, Rudi was prosecuted for operating a criminal enterprise by the Oakland County Prosecutor, Jessica Cooper – who, incidentally, lost her 2020 primary and will soon be replaced.
“(Rudi) has been a close friend for many years and is one of the most prominent examples of the need for restorative criminal justice in Michigan,” says Barton Morris, principal attorney and founder of the Cannabis Legal Group, who represented Rudi Gammo in that criminal court case. “I am personally dedicated to doing everything in my power to obtain his immediate release, as well as for all similarly situated cannabis prisoners in Michigan. So is the Last Prisoner Project.”
Donations Forward the Cause
Leaders in the Michigan cannabis industry are stepping forward to make a difference. One such company is Michigan Supply & Provisions (MS&P).
MS&P partnered with LPP earlier in the year to be vocal about the crucial role current cannabis companies play in advocating correctional reform.
“We cannot sit idly by and watch people like Michael Thompson sit in jail for doing something that we now are legally allowed to profit,” says MS&P Founder and CEO Francis Perullo. “Mr. Thompson has more than paid his debt to society and should be freed.”
To boost fund-raising efforts, MS&P now offers its customers the opportunity to donate at all of their locations.
Furthermore, Barton Morris is also calling on companies to join in the effort. With a donation of $1,000 or more to the campaign, they will have their logo and link on the Michigan Prisoner Release campaign page and online donation page. They will also appear in a press release as a major contributor, and their logo will be included on each of three fund raising videos that are currently in production.
Furthermore, their contribution and support will be used in social equity program narratives written by the law firm in all subsequent applications – both state and municipal.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, all donations will go toward the release of Michigan cannabis prisoners and their families, reentry resources such as housing and transportation, and all other essentials towards rebuilding their lives.
How Can You Make a Difference?
It’s clear that the time has come to forgive nonviolent marijuana offenses in Michigan (and nationwide, for that matter).
You can help make that happen by donating here with any amount you can.
And if your company is able to make a minimum $1,000 donation, be sure to send your logo to the Law Offices of Barton Morris to be included on all campaign materials as promised.
As cannabis marketing experts, we can honestly say that everybody wins with this opportunity.