America’s Longest-Serving Marijuana Prisoner Finally Freed

THE US INMATE believed to be the country’s longest-serving non-violent marijuana prisoner has been freed after 31 years in prison.

In 1989 Richard DeLisi and his brother were slapped with three consecutive 30-year sentences each for importing 100lb of marijuana into Florida from Colombia. The extremity of the sentence was far beyond the legal guidelines of the time, even amidst the ‘War on Drugs’ that saw many jailed for non-violent offenses in the 1980s and 90s.

His brother won an appeal in 2013 and was released, but DeLisi was not scheduled to be freed until the summer of 2022. However, thanks to the efforts of supporters and legal activists he will spend Christmas with his family for the first time in 31 years as a free man.

The 71-year old told Florida’s Ledger newspaper that he was ‘grateful to everyone who has been there’ for his case, and said it was ‘amazingly wonderful to know that I will be home with family and loved ones very soon’.

DeLisi lost his parents, wife, and son during his three decades of incarceration. He said ‘I have missed so many important moments’ of his life and expressed his relief that ‘this dark chapter’ is finally over.

His release follows the US House of Representative’s decision to decriminalise marijuana nationwide to ‘address the devastating injustices caused by the war on drugs’.

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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...