After serving over three years in prison for ingesting marijuana while on parole, Michigan resident Jason Szymanski was freed from prison earlier this month. He was originally incarcerated in 2012 for receiving and concealing stolen property, stated the court documents. The received and concealed item was an iPod according to the GoFundMe page set up to support Szymanski.
In 2014, he was placed on parole for two years, which extended to 2018 following violations “related to his possessing and using marijuana.” Szymanski, a registered medical marijuana patient, under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, tried to have his parole conditions modified to allow him to consume cannabis but his request was denied. In 2018, Szymanski tested positive for THC, he was returned to prison according to The Last Prisoner Project.
Earlier this year, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided People v. Thue, ruling that individuals on probation can use medical cannabis as long as they are conforming with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. After the decision, advocates, including the Michigan Cannabis Freedom Coalition, the Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, the Clean Smoke Initiative, the Redemption Foundation, and others, began pushing for Szymanski’s release. On an early morning on August 11, he was released from Parnell Correctional Facility in Jackson Mitch.
Szymanski said, outside the prison walls, “Freedom is unbelievable.” He continued, “Thank you so much. Words don’t express. I just want to give back what I’ve been given, and I’m so thankful for that.” It’s great to see marijuana reform work its way through the prison system, where people who used cannabis before it was legal are now getting a second chance.