CANNABIS CULTURE –   “I’m so blessed to be launched however there are nonetheless so much (of hashish prisoners) which might be nonetheless there,” says Andy Cox — now reunited together with his mom, two youngsters, and prolonged household in Florida after 13 years in federal lock-up.

In 2004, Cox started rising hashish crops within the Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest of Georgia the place his father owned land. After complaints from neighbors, Nationwide Forest Service brokers adopted ATV tracks to the property the place Cox had his operation. “It wasn’t actually concerning the cash,” Cox mentioned. To him, rising was extra about being a connoisseur. 

Cox was indicted in 2005 for conspiracy to fabricate marijuana.

To keep away from jail time, Cox lived as a fugitive for 3 years persevering with to work within the hashish black market. Cox mentioned it was not straightforward. The sacrifices have been enormous, “I needed to give my youngsters.”

He was captured in 2008. Since this was his third strike, Cox was sentenced to a life sentence with out parole, regardless of having no historical past of violence. “I might’ve by no means grown marijuana if I knew I might get a life sentence. It’s simply unbelievable,” mentioned the previous Firefighter.

On December 21, 2020, The Goodwin Regulation agency, partnered with Final Prisoner Challenge (LPP) filed for Cox’s launch, citing the First Step Act, a bipartisan felony justice invoice handed to scale back prolonged necessary minimal sentences for repeat drug offenders.  

Goodwin said that Cox, now 57, needs to be launched since his life sentence was issued beneath an outdated system of laws for an act (cultivating hashish) that’s authorized in lots of states. His age and preexisting situations additionally put him vulnerable to dying from COVID-19 in jail. 

On January 5, 2021, a decide ordered Cox’s quick launch.

“I believe each case is totally different…in a case the place you might have a life sentence for a nonviolent offense that clearly resonated with the federal government and the decide,” mentioned Brett Schuman, Hashish observe Co-chair at Goodwin Regulation Agency. Regardless of the quick turnaround time, Schuman doesn’t consider that “that is the winds of change” for hashish offenses or nonviolent life sentences. 

Schuman went on to say the hashish business within the US alone is a $60 Billion a 12 months business. “I do really feel that there’s a ethical obligation on the a part of, if not all of society, a minimum of these of us which might be working on this business and benefiting from it to assist folks like Andy.”

“There’s a huge false impression that folks assume as legalization turns into extra widespread we’re simply mechanically letting these nonetheless incarcerated for hashish offenses out. Clearly, that isn’t true,” Govt Director and Common Counsel of LPP Sarah Gersten mentioned. At present, LPP has “5 or 6” lively circumstances within the pipeline with Goodwin. LPP heard about Cox’s case from collaborating teams Freedom Develop and Life4Pot.