The new recreational marijuana amendment in Missouri, which includes expungement for marijuana possession crimes, made history Thursday morning in Cass County when a judge began the process for releasing a prisoner. For two separate crimes, Adam Mace has spent the last 14 years behind bars. The first 11 years were served for a fatal DUI that Mace committed, but the final three have only been served for a marijuana possession charge that he received the day before the fatal DUI.
That qualifies him for release now that Missouri’s recreational marijuana law allows inmates to apply for parole, which is exactly what a judge in Cass County did on Thursday. When Mace called his supporters after the hearing to share the news that his request for expungement had been approved, they responded, “It’s a fantastic victory today for everyone, everybody in the cannabis community.”
For myself, Justin, and everyone else who was standing there behind you, they were amazing. The procedure for Mace’s release can commence on Thursday, according to his lawyer, Justin Ortiz, who anticipates that Mace will be released within a few days. The Missouri Department of Corrections has been given a specific directive to dismiss the case, proceed as if nothing had happened, and promptly release Mace, according to Ortiz.
The aim is that since this petition was successful, other cases will have a road to also freeing persons detained on marijuana charges. Mace’s situation is more problematic than most due to the unrelated DUI, so this petition is more complicated than most. The Missouri medical marijuana regulations didn’t take effect until 2018, so we’re not that far away from the maximum sentence of seven years in prison, according to Ortiz.
When Missouri legalized medical marijuana, Christina Frommer started the Canna Convict Project to help persons who had legal problems prior to that statute. Everyone should have hope after this, said Frommer. We had some doubts about whether this would be approved due to the unclear language in the amendment, so I’m delighted they took everything at its value, didn’t overthink it, and were successful.
According to Ortiz, submitting the first petition in the state presented its own difficulties because several confusing provisions of the amendment had not yet been resolved in court. In addition, the judge emphasized that, regardless of their personal opinions regarding the amendment and expungement, he and other judges must follow the law.
“This is the will of the people, and whether you’re a citizen, a police officer, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, or a judge, you have to adhere by the terms included in that amendment,” said Ortiz. Ortiz previously told FOX4 that because the possession accusation against Adam Mace occurred in the middle of the 2000s, it was tried under tougher rules.
Cannabis-related restrictions have since been loosened. During the evening newscasts, FOX4 will have more on this issue and hear from Mace’s supporters. FOX4 was present in the courtroom when the judge made his ruling. A GoFundMe has been established by the Canna Convict Project to collect funds for Adam’s release.