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'Longest-serving cannabis offender' to be released early from 90-year prison sentence


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SOURCE: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/longest-serving-cannabis-offender-be-released-early-90-year-prison-n1248322
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SectionsTVFeaturedMore from NBC Follow NBC News After serving more than three decades in prison for nonviolent cannabis offenses, a 71-year-old man is hoping to spend Christmas this year with his family.Richard DeLisi, who was sentenced in 1989 to 90 years in prison for conspiring to traffic more than 100 pounds of cannabis into the U.S. from Jamaica, could be released as early as Dec. 4 amid failing health and the worsening coronavirus pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.He is described as the "longest-serving cannabis offender in the country" by the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit organization working towards criminal justice reform for marijuana-related crimes. Oregon became the first state to make possession of small amounts of harder drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, violations not punishable by jail time.Despite the changing attitudes surrounding drug use, law enforcement officers made 663,000 arrests for cannabis-related offenses in 2018, which amounted to 40 percent of all drug arrests that year, according to FBI data.As more states decriminalize and legalize cannabis, draconian prison sentences need to be revisited, said Chiara Juster, a marijuana criminal reform advocate and lawyer on DeLisi’s legal team.“Across the nation, cannabis won wherever she was on the ballot this year,” Juster said.

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