Marijuana Conviction Felt Like A Death Sentence After Man Got COVID In Prison, He Tells Congress

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The consequences of cannabis criminalization went on full display before a U.S. House of Representatives committee earlier this month when a man who contracted COVID-19 while incarcerated told lawmakers that he felt he had been effectively “sentenced to death for a first-time marijuana offense.” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, highlighted the story of the man who was convicted for allegedly selling cannabis in Kansas and then got coronavirus behind bars before exculpatory evidence came to surface that set him free. In testimony pegged to a hearing on the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service, Donte Westmoreland noted that while, after four years, he was released from the eight-year sentence because of the later evidentiary findings, he could still be put back on trial if Kansas prosecutors choose to do so. He said he felt heartened, however, by recent Election Day votes at the state level to legalize marijuana. Donte couldn't testify at our hearing on COVID in prisons this month but his words must be heard. “In the end, I became infected with the virus. At that moment, I felt as if I was sentenced to death for a first-time marijuana offense.” His full testimony is below. pic.twitter.com/nhrf2uZBII — Congressmember Bass (@RepKarenBass) December 14, 2020 “I’ve been encouraged that the citizens of all five states that had cannabis reform initiatives on the ballot decided to approve those measures, including in conservative states,” he said. Still, during the time he served, Westmoreland said he was cognizant of the unfairness that he was sitting in prison over a plant that was becoming legal in states across the country. For example, at one point while he was serving time, he watched a news segment on TV about medical cannabis being legalized in neighboring Missouri.…

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Source : Marijuana Conviction Felt Like A Death Sentence After Man Got COVID In Prison, He Tells Congress

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