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Man Who Spent 14 Years in Federal Prison Challenges Trump and Biden on Cannabis Reform

Scarmazzo says it is “quite obvious” that the Biden campaign is using cannabis reform to boost his campaign in this high-stakes election.

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LOMPOC, CA, USA, June 18, 2024 / -- “There are still 3,000 people incarcerated in federal prison for cannabis, and moving cannabis to Schedule III doesn’t change their sentences,” says Luke Scarmazzo, a cannabis entrepreneur who was recentlyreleasedfrom federal prison after 14 years for running a state-legal California dispensary in 2006.

“While President Biden has issued some pardon proclamations, the real-world impact of the Biden Administration's cannabis pardons is a net zero. No one was released from prison by the recent proclamations from the Biden Administration.

The Biden Administration has not released a single person from prison who has a marijuana-only offense. Both Presidents Biden and Trump have publicly pandered on this issue for political support, but neither has gone far enough to end the injustice.”

Scarmazzo authored a book about his ordeal,High Price: The Luke Scarmazzo Story(2024, Flower Valley Press), including the sentence commutation he waspromised by the Trump Administration, which was on President Trump’s desk the day of Biden’s inauguration.

“President Trump had the opportunity to commute my sentence. It was actually approved, and they called my parents and told them to ‘get ready because your son is coming home,’ and at the last minute, due to outside pressures, my commutation was pulled, and I sat in prison for four more years,” Scarmazzo says. Scarmazzo was ultimately released in 2023 by a federal judge and has gone on to start another state-legal cannabis business.

He adds that it is “quite obvious” that the Biden Administration is using cannabis reform to boost his campaign in this high-stakes election, and Scarmazzo is challenging the president to use his platform now to make real change in the lives of the 3,000 federal prisoners still serving time for non-violent cannabis crimes.

“To truly make progress on this front, all President Biden would have to do is issue a mass commutation to every man and woman who's incarcerated for cannabis in a federal prison. We must demand that President Biden fulfill his campaign promise to release everyone who's incarcerated for cannabis and expunge their records.”

He adds that President Biden could take a queue from Maryland Governor Wes Moore, who recently announced 175,000 pardons of non-violent state cannabis crimes.

“Governor Moore is leading the charge by issuing mass pardons to cannabis offenders, including people with sales convictions, and not waiting on the White House to act.”

Scarmazzo adds that he is “cautiously optimistic” about either President Trump or President Biden being reelected because they both have a track record of promising reform to pander for votes despite forgoing meaningful change, and both can and should be pressed to bring home prisoners during this election.

He notes that right now, however, President Biden has the ability to make the greatest impact, and former federal prisoners like himself would love to come to the table and help guide more meaningful reform


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