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On Thursday, Allen Russell, who was sentenced to life in prison on a marijuana possession charge, has lost his appeal in Mississippi’s highest court.
According to WLBT, the MS Supreme Court ruled that Russell’s life sentence was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment and was in line with state statute.
Russell was handed life without parole in 2019 after being found guilty of being in possession of 43.71 grams of marijuana.
Marijuana laws in America enrich some and imprison others.
The conviction typically would have carried an up to three-year sentence, but Russell was given the enhanced sentence of life under the state’s habitual offender rules. Russell had previously been convicted of two separate charges of house burglary and one charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Per WLBT, under Mississippi Code, the judge was required to give him a life sentence upon Russell’s conviction.
Russell, though, said the sentence violated his Eighth Amendment right, which ensures freedom from “cruel and unusual punishment.” He appealed that sentence to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which deadlocked 5-5 on a ruling last year. The Supreme Court later agreed to hear the case.
In a split decision, six justices affirmed the trial court’s ruling, saying that Russell received “the only sentence available.”