What is a criminal? A Dr gives his dying wife cannabis to ease her pain. He goes to jail

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On Wednesday the Governor of Pennsylvania pardoned Dr. Paul Ezell, a practicing physician of 30 years ”who had not so much as a speeding ticket.”

His crime: Growing cannabis that he used to provide pain relief for his dying wife as an alternative to prescription opioids. For that he was prosecuted as a felon, spent 6 months in jail, and lost his license to practice medicine – in important ways, a life sentence.

The Governor’s office explained their thinking:

He lost his wife, his career, everything. Today, Dr. Ezell can start to rebuild his life. Cases like his illustrate why we must end marijuana prohibition before it destroys one more life.

It’s almost too much to comprehend: Some 500 000 lives a year are destroyed this way in the US, disproportionately Black & Latino.

A fact recognized by Congress in their drafting of the MORE Act, passed by the House and pending before the Senate, which aims to decriminalize cannabis because of its “legacy of racial and ethnic injustices, compounded by . . . 80 years of cannabis prohibition enforcement . . . [where] People of color have been historically targeted by discriminatory sentencing practice.”

80 years.

Paul is pictured above with his now deceased wife on the left and their daughter Valerie.

Paul has another daughter, Victoria, who lost her license to be a nurse because she was visiting her parent’s house when police seized the plants in 2014. Like many people, rather than risk going to prison if she lost at trial, she pled guilty to a cannabis charge and was given probation.

Next month, Victoria’s case goes before the state Board of Pardons who will vote on whether to make her eligible for gubernatorial clemency.

“The only thing that matters to me is that I paved the way for my daughter to get her pardon,” Paul said. “She just happened to be in the house that day.”

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