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The public is losing appetite for harsh marijuana law sentencing

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Depending on what state you live in, if you are arrested with a small amount of marijuana, you can either get a citation or a long prison sentence.

In states were marijuana possession is legal, there are still federal laws on the books that could land an offender in the federal penitentiary.

There’s been significant movement on the state levelin Washington and Colorado, states that legalized the sale of marijuana this year, and New York – which legalized the use of medical marijuana earlier this month.

In a widely publicized case, Bernard Noble, a 45-year-old trucker from Missouri and father of seven with two previous nonviolent offenses, was stopped in October, 2010 on a New Orleans street with the equivalent of two joints in his pocket.

He was sentenced to more than 13 years. He was in Louisiana visiting his family, having left five years earlier when Hurricane Katrina destroyed his family’s home.

The Drug Policy Alliance has filed an amicus brief which cites states where punishment for non-violent offenders amount to a fine and charges that Nobles’ sentencing in Louisiana amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Then there is the case of Jeff Mizanskey, a Missouri man, who was arrested in December, 1993 and sentenced to life without parole.

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