According to advocates, that’s the estimated number of people still incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes—and that’s just at the federal level. The state level is not accounted for, but as most cannabis crimes are at the state level, we can be certain it’s far more than 40,000.
In a time when consuming cannabis is not only legal, but producing, distributing and selling, it’s hard to believe any person is still in jail for these crimes, let alone 40,000 and an additional unknown, much higher number.
Thankfully, organizations like The Weldon Project’s Mission Green, a nonprofit started by Weldon Angelos who himself was convicted of a nonviolent cannabis crime and delivered a harsh sentence,
Danny Trevino’s Story
Danny Trevino is a father, committed to his daughter. Husband committed to his wife. And Michigan citizen committed to bettering his community.
A passionate cannabis enthusiast who was previously convicted in 2002 for conspiracy to distribute, with the passing of the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, Danny decided to help others amidst the vague laws that approved the cultivation and consumption of the plant for medical purposes.
HydroWorld Hydroponics opened in 2009 as a hydroponic grow supply store. As he noticed the needs of the community, he expanded his services to include cultivation classes, showing medical patients how to grow their own medicine. Danny added dispensary to his business repertoire, opening several state-valid clinics in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Mount Pleasant, and Flint that operated from 2010 to 2017.
Danny Trevino is a prisoner of the War on Drugs.
Dispensary raids were increasing in 2016, and HydroWorld was no exception. HydroWorld was raided by police and federal agents and Danny charged with federal crimes related to cannabis production and distribution. He was sentenced in 2020 to 15 years and 8 months in federal prison. His daughter was three years old when he went to prison. She will be 19 upon his release.
This wasn’t the first search of HydroWorld. In fact, Danny’s businesses were searched a total of 16 times over a 6-year period. Though assets were taken in some searches, Danny was not arrested at the time of these searches, and any charges were dismissed in state court. So, why was Danny sentenced this time?
Federal vs. State
The question “Why now?” boils down to the federal status of cannabis. In 1970, cannabis was added to the list of controlled substances as a schedule 1 drug. This is the highest schedule a drug can receive – and the same level as methamphetamines and heroin. As U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney, the presider over Danny’s case, said: “States are changing marijuana laws across the country…Certainly, that’s true. But federal law has not changed.”
As is often the case in federal court cases regarding cannabis, any state laws and even previous state-won cases cannot be presented in defense, leading to harsh punishments despite evidence in the defender’s favor.
In the first step in the right direction at the federal level, in October 2022, President Joe Biden pardoned those federally convicted of low-level cannabis possession…and committed to re-evaluating the level at which cannabis is labeled at the federal level. While sweeping legalization of the plant is what is desired by most, rescheduling is a very second first step in the fight, making unjust, long sentences harder to hand down. Though promising, no updates regarding scheduling have been released yet, which is why advocating for the prisoners of the War on Drugs, like Danny Trevino, is imperative to the pro-cannabis cause.
Advocate for Danny’s Compassionate Release
Speaking up on behalf of or supporting wrongfully incarcerated persons is easier than you may think. From letters to forms to donations, here are a few ways you can get involved:
Contact the White House
Your voice is needed for Danny and for sweeping cannabis change.
The White House has a dedicated contact form in which you can advocate for this change. You can mention a specific person like Danny Trevino, or Deana Martin or Luke Scarmazzo. You can also take this a step further and call for sweeping changes to the cannabis space, for the immediate pardon or clemency of those still incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis crimes.
Be sure to fill out every piece of the form. And, when you reach the question “What would you like to say,” Mission Green suggests including that in addition to these pardons and clemencies being just, they will generate a positive impact on the economy.
Donate to Mission Green
Project Mission Green is a powerful voice in the world of cannabis clemency. Founded by Weldon Angelous, who served 13 years of a harsh 26-year sentence, Mission Green advocates on behalf of those still incarcerated due to the War on Drugs, working to grant clemency through political collaborations and constant advocating. Too, funds have a quick, direct impact in the form of commissary, because as Weldon put it, “Prisons only feed you enough to keep you alive, not full.”
Join Mission Green and Verano in saying yes to cannabis clemency. Together, we can bring about change.