Obama Withholds Clemency from Pot ‘Lifers,’ Devastating Families

Article by Steven Nelson, US News

Pot smugglers Michael Pelletier, left, and John Knock

High-profile inmates serving life sentence for marijuana crimes were not given clemency by President Barack Obama on Thursday, leaving their families devastated after long public campaigns urging their freedom.

John Knock, whose sister Beth Curtis has lobbied for the release of nonviolent marijuana convicts, learned Wednesday that his application had been denied. Knock was arrested in 1996 and convicted in 2000 of participating in an international pot-smuggling operation.

“It’s an incredibly painful disappointment that my brother – a wonderful person who is totally nonviolent – is going to die in prison,” Curtis says, holding back tears.

“My brother along with about 2,500 others were denied yesterday,” she says. “The big story is the number of denials that have gone out. My brother was among them along with other nonviolent marijuana offenders and many, many nonviolent drug offenders.”

Obama has for years been criticized for being reluctant to grant clemency. But following a surge in applications, he has given hundreds of commutations as he prepares to hand over power Friday to President-elect Donald Trump.

Obama gave 330 sentence commutations Thursday, following 209 commutations and 64 pardons Tuesday. His final clemency figures will dwarf recent predecessors, with beneficiaries largely dealers of crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.

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