Aaron Sandusky, 48, is a man stuck in a federal state penitentiary for medical marijuana. He is originally from Southern California and currently serving a 10-year federal drug sentence for running a state-legal medical marijuana business. In 2013 he was sentenced on federal charges of conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana for running three dispensaries in Southern California even though medical marijuana was completely legal in that state.
“I wake up every day in here and ask myself, ‘How did this happen?’ There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t say, ‘Why am I here again? I’m surrounded by marijuana farms and I’m doing time for cultivation and distribution,” Sandusky sadly explained to the Huffington Post.
Not only that, but Sandusky is currently in the Florence Federal Correctional Complex, a federal penitentiary in Colorado. According to the Huffington Post, this penitentiary is dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” and is home to Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers; and Zacarias Moussaoui, an al Qaeda operative who played a role in the 9/11 attacks.
He has been fighting for his freedom since his conviction and has now found hope in someone you would not expect — President Trump.
“There’s a rumbling going through the prison walls right now of Donald Trump possibly sparking a clemency wave,” Sandusky told the Huffington Post.
Previous presidents would follow the Department of Justice’s recommendations on who to grant clemency to prisoners, but that hasn’t been the case for Trump. He has been skipping that part and just granting clemency, somewhat spontaneously, and has granted nine people clemency since office. Sandusky is hoping to be number 10.
A non-profit group that advocates clemency for prisoners with drug offenses called the CAN-DO foundation released a list of prospective candidates for clemency. Sixty people were on that list, Sandusky was one of them, and an additional 22 people on that list are serving similar marijuana offenses.
During Trump’s presidential campaign he actively said that he supports states’ rights of legalizing marijuana. Brandon Rittiman interviewed him for NBC News in 2016 about the issue and Trump said that he wouldn’t shut down Colorado’s distribution of legal marijuana, claiming that he is a “states person and it is up to the states.”
A new bill introduced by Senator Cory Gardner and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act, could assist Sandusky and the others. The bill would allow businesses and people working in the legal marijuana industry to operate without fear of prosecution. The L.A. Times reported that Trump is likely to support this new bill, with the president saying, “I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
Sandusky tried for clemency in 2016 during the Obama administration. Unfortunately Obama did not approve. He’s hoping Trump will have a different opinion.