Michael Thompson was America’s most well-known cannabis prisoner. He served decades for charges related to a cannabis possession and sale investigation in Flint, Michigan.
In 2017 a rolling Stone article was written about Michael’s story; soon after, activists from groups like the Last Prisoner Project took up his case and began a public lobbying blitz. Celebrities like Joe Rogan and Jim Belushi tweeted support for the #freemichaelthompson movement.
The Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party brought the case to the attention of Michigan’s Attorney General, who wrote an impassioned letter to the governor supporting clemency for Mr. Thompson. Michigan’s system requires a Parole Board hearing before a governor can grant clemency; they conducted their hearing via Zoom due to Covid-19 protocols.
Testifying on Michael’s behalf were Sarah Gerston of the Last Prisoner Project; Rick Thompson and Mike McCurdy of the Cannabis Caucus; Ryan Basore of Redemption Cannabis; family members, attorneys and others.
The Board approved parole for Mr. Thompson in early December of 2020; the governor commuted his sentence almost immediately. Paperwork concerns prevented Michael from being released until January 28, 2021, but… he was released, into the arms of his loving daughter. His press interview afterward is a shocking commentary on our modern prison system, delivered by someone with decades of knowledge.