After spending 23 years in jail on marijuana charges, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer commuted Michael Thompson's sentence on December 22. He was arrested and convicted in 1994 for selling three pounds to an informant and given a 42-year sentence. Thompson, 69, was released from Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson on January 28..
Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich stated:
“It’s hard to stomach that a man who was booked on drug charges in the nineties could still be incarcerated in 2020, by a state that had since legalized the use of recreational marijuana... I, along with thousands of people who were shocked by Mr. Thompson’s absurdly long sentence, have petitioned the governor’s office on his behalf and we applaud her for doing the right thing by granting him clemency.”
Prior to the commutation announcement, Thompson's case had drawn the attention of celebrites. Sarah Silverman tweeted:
The weed industry is run almost entirely by white men while people like Michael Thompson spend their lives in prison https://t.co/SlGgWgnScK— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 1, 2020
She followed up with this tweet:
While John Boehner now makes millions as a weed lobbyist ⬇️⬇️⬇️ https://t.co/SlGgWgnScK— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 1, 2020
According to Can-Do: Justice Through Clemency:
"Michael “Meeko” Thompson has spent more than two decades locked in a state prison and is now in the Muskegon Correctional Facility. Michael was arrested for selling three pounds of cannabis to an undercover officer. He had prior drug offenses, but no history of violence. When his house was raided after his arrest, a few antique firearms and one usable firearm were recovered. Despite the fact that the antiques did not fire and the one that did was owned by Michael’s wife, he was convicted of felony possession of a firearm along with his cannabis charges. This was his fourth offense which labeled him a habitual offender, and he was sentenced to 40-60 years in prison. He could have been sentenced to as little as three to five years."
Montel Williams tweeted:
Respectfully asking @GovWhitmer to do the right thing. Michael Thompson has been taken to a hospital with #COVID19 symptoms... He is the longest serving non-violent offender in Michigan history. Please m’am - enough is a enough. I know Michigan values - this isn’t that. https://t.co/xAbQjPsw7b— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) August 1, 2020
Podcaster Shaun King tweeted:
Dear @GovWhitmer,— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 1, 2020
It’s absolutely shameful that you refuse to grant clemency to Michael Thompson. The request is on your desk.
He is the longest serving non-violent person in Michigan’s prisons. He’s been there for nearly 30 years.
Now he has Covid-19https://t.co/9s5yqn55Bx
Recent Cannabis Lifer Prison Releases
• A Dozen Longtime Marijuana Prisoners Have Sentences Commuted - Jan. 20, 2021
• Andrew Cox - Jan. 6, 2021
• Fate Winslow - Dec. 16, 2020
• Richard DeLisi - Dec. 8, 2020
• Anthony Bascaro - May 1, 2019
This article was originally posted on August 3. It has been updated several times.