I was sentenced in 1998 to 40 years in prison for selling marijuana. Even as it is decriminalized, I remain behind bars.


April 20, 2023, is the day for many consumers to celebrate cannabis. Some will seize it as an opportunity to get high and have fun. Activists will push for legalization in states where cannabis consumption is still illegal. Cannabis dispensaries will promote the industry and its products; and many notable musicians will perform at events, such as the Cannabis Cup, where they’ll pitch the sales up on behalf of the vendors who’ll be showing off their finest marijuana products to tens of thousands of event goers.

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As for me, I will be sitting in a twelve-by-ten prison cell in the hills of Alabama, away from civilization, wishing I was free, and fantasizing of a world full of joy, laughter and love; and dreaming of a life I wish I had, in which the intimacy of my wife would give me comfort, in which my children’s unconditional love would bring me happiness. But those are just wishes, fantasies, dreams, thoughts and mental illusions to deceive my imprisoned soul.

Since 1998, when I was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency and Houston Police, and later convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for conspiracy to sell and distribute cannabis, I’ve tried to comprehend the gravity of my punishment for a nonviolent cannabis crime (essentially when no guns, money, or drugs were found on me), without finding a legitimate answer.

They say a man isn’t supposed to cry (even under these dire circumstances). I steadily believed it — from the moment I walked into the belly of the beast — randomly walking the prison corridors like a zombie, suppressing the painful feelings of regret, shame and guilt, until one day they decided to burst wide open, prompting me to attempt to take my own life. It didn’t happen, thank God. Eventually I learned to play the cards, learned to cheat life from a confined state of mind. I chose to survive, going against the voices telling me, “I just wanna die!”

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