CANNABIS CULTURE – “I’m so blessed to be launched however there are nonetheless rather a lot (of hashish prisoners) which are nonetheless there,” says Andy Cox — now reunited together with his mom, two kids, and prolonged household in Florida after 13 years in federal lock-up.
In 2004, Cox started rising hashish vegetation 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 big, “I needed to give my kids.”
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’d’ve by no means grown marijuana if I knew I’d get a life sentence. It’s simply unbelievable,” mentioned the previous Firefighter.
On December 21, 2020, The Goodwin Regulation agency, partnered with Final Prisoner Undertaking (LPP) filed for Cox’s launch, citing the First Step Act, a bipartisan prison justice invoice handed to scale back prolonged obligatory minimal sentences for repeat drug offenders.
Goodwin said that Cox, now 57, must be launched since his life sentence was issued beneath an outdated system of rules for an act (cultivating hashish) that’s authorized in lots of states. His age and preexisting situations additionally put him liable to dying from COVID-19 in jail.
On January 5, 2021, a choose ordered Cox’s quick launch.
“I believe each case is completely different…in a case the place you will have a life sentence for a nonviolent offense that clearly resonated with the federal government and the choose,” mentioned Brett Schuman, Hashish apply Co-chair at Goodwin Regulation Agency. Regardless of the quick turnaround time, Schuman doesn’t imagine that “that is the winds of change” for hashish offenses or nonviolent life sentences.
Schuman went on to say the hashish trade within the US alone is a $60 Billion a 12 months trade. “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 are working on this trade and making the most of it to assist folks like Andy.”
“There’s a massive false impression that folks suppose 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 Normal Counsel of LPP Sarah Gersten mentioned. At the moment, LPP has “5 or 6” lively instances within the pipeline with Goodwin. LPP heard about Cox’s case from collaborating teams Freedom Develop and Life4Pot.