One non-violent cannabis consumer has finally been reunited with his family. Ex-convict Robert Franklin was sentenced to 22 years in Missouri state prison for possessing one pound of marijuana with intent to distribute.
After serving 12 years of his sentence, he has been freed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. Parson commuted Franklin’s sentence in May. Based on the governor’s recommendation, the Board of Probation and Parole agreed Franklin should be set free, and he was released the following week. Franklin spent his first day of freedom surrounded by loved ones, family, and supporters.
After holding his 15-year-old daughter and eating at a local Steak ‘n Shake he said he was feeling blessed and it was great to be home and plans to advocate for others in similar situations. “I’m feeling blessed,” Franklin stated. “It’s great to be home.” The question remains as to why he was sentenced for decades for a drug offense that happened more than 14 years ago.
Laws governing the possession of marijuana have since changed. The prior and persistent offender statute used to convict Franklin is no longer in place.
That law specifically came with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison without the possibility of parole for multiple felony drug offenses. The repeal of the antiquated law hasn’t been retroactive, to say the least. Unless Parsons acts, other convicts under the previous statute will stay locked up in prison facing the same fate that Franklin was. A mass release initiative, similar to the one done in Oklahoma after the state reduced penalties for low-level drug possession and theft, should be considered in Missouri.
America’s war on drugs has entrapped many Black men such as Franklin, and other minorities were disproportionately locked up as well. Now that millions of dollars are being spent in the state to produce, distribute, market, and sell cannabis and marijuana accessories from bongs to Juicy Jay rolling papers, non-violent cannabis “offenders” should be set free nationwide.