Obama Petitioned to Release Man Sentenced to Life for Pot He Never Sold

Marijuana Arrests

Craig Cesal owned a truck towing and repair shop near Chicago. He often repaired trucks or retrieved them after they had been used to smuggle pot from Mexico to the United States. He didn't think it was his business to inform on them, but he wasn't involved in the drug trade other than fixing trucks like he did for other kinds of customers, something perfectly legal.

However, the prosecutors in the case were determined and sentenced Cesal to life in prison. He has been sitting in an Indiana cell for years and had no real criminal history. Once he walked into a public place with a beer and paid a $150 fine. He had minor infractions in prison, but has attained a paralegal degree there. He already had a high school diploma and bachelors degree from an Illinois university prior to being locked up.

Friends and family have stood by him and plan to help with his transition back into civilian society. Many stories like this seem to plague the country, where overly harsh sentences for dealing substances like marijuana are turning normal citizens into unproductive and disenfranchised adults. This provides little to no clear benefit to the society. Obama pledged to grant many individuals clemency but very few have been granted their freedom under the promise, leading many to accuse the president and justice department of only providing lip service to the problem.

The petition to Obama is circulating on Change.org, a website dedicated to causes. His daughter, Lauren Cesal is appealing to the mercy of the president. Will he act? Or will Lauren's dad, who took her to Disneyland because she and her brother (now deceased) got straight A's in school, die in prison? It is ever more likely: Lauren says her dad has diabetes and other health issues that are not being properly handled by the prison or the justice system at large.

Cesal is not an isolated case. Vice News reported a story of two men serving life for pot and no action from Obama. The Clemency Report offered 10 cases of individuals serving life for pot as well. These people have suffered a great deal from being incarcerated for such petty crime, but let's also consider another cost: the suffering of innocent family members like children and spouses. What crimes have they committed to have been put into such a traumatic position? What can be done to mend their wounds?