Weldon Angelos went to prison at age 24 and may not see freedom until he's a senior citizen — all for three marijuana charges.
The retired federal judge who sentenced Angelos in 2002 now says justice wasn't served.
Paul Cassell, a former federal judge in the Utah circuit, spoke to ABC News:
“If he had been an aircraft hijacker, he would have gotten 24 years in prison. If he’s been a terrorist, he would have gotten 20 years in prison. If he was a child rapist, he would have gotten 11 years in prison. And now I’m supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? I mean, that’s just not right,” Cassell said.
The judge sentenced Angelos to 55 years in prison after he was caught selling marijuana to federal agents on three occasions in a sting operation. Authorities claim Angelos had a gun during one of the sales.
Laws requiring "mandatory minimum" sentences in drug cases forced Cassell hand down the extreme sentence.
ABC News reports that as many as 210,000 people are serving decades in prison for non-violent crimes.
Marijuana groups strike back against a top Democrat in Florida
Voters in Florida had the chance to legalize medical marijuana in November, but a ballot initiative fell just short of breaking the 60 percent threshold it needed to pass.
The measure didn't have the backing of one of the state's top Democrats, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Now Wasserman Schultz is considering a run for Senate and marijuana groups aren't about to let voters forget her stance on medical cannabis. Four political groups that fight for marijuana law reform are vowing to rally against her if she runs for office.
Getting the last laugh on marijuana (Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)
That is, unless she has a change of heart.
“This issue is evolving very quickly, and hopefully she will evolve,” Bill Piper, the national affairs director at the Drug Policy Alliance, told Politico. “But if she doesn’t, you can expect medical marijuana patients and supporters to dog her on the campaign trail.”
Texas mom says marijuana makes cancer more bearable
Barbara Humphries has been receiving chemotherapy for the last 10 months in a fight to beat stage three breast cancer.
The treatments make her sick, but the Texas-based mother of two found a home remedy to overcome the side effects: marijuana.
"It helps with pain and nausea from my chemo symptoms," she told KVUE. "It helps with inflammation and just a general feeling of depression you have when you have cancer."
Humphries joined a group of 200 people lobbying lawmakers in Austin on Wednesday to change marijuana laws. Cannabis is illegal in Texas, even for medical purposes.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.