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Mississippi upholds life sentence for man convicted of marijuana possession

The Mississippi Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a life sentence for a man convicted of marijuana possession with the reason being that he had previous convictions that made him a habitual offender.

Allen Russel, 38, was sentenced to life in Forest County in 2019 after a jury found him guilty of marijuana possession. Russel was in possession of 30 grams of the drug. In Mississippi, a person can be sentenced to life without parole after serving at least one year in prison for two separate felonies, one must be a violent offence. Russel was convicted of home burglary in 2004 and illegal firearm possession in 2015. Home burglary in the state of Mississippi is considered a violent offence whether or not violence occurred.

When Russel was convicted in 2004 home burglary was not considered a violent offence unless violence was proven to have occurred. The law changed in 2014. Russel argued in his appeal that the life sentence constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment and is grossly disproportionate” to his marijuana crime. Marijuana is currently fully legalized in 16 states and Washington DC. It is also legalized for medical purposes in 20 states including Mississippi, the state in which Russel was convicted.

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ARTICLE: DUSTIN RODGERS

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: YAHOO

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