Prisoner of the Month: Weldon Angelos | Marijuana

Prisoner of the Month: Weldon Angelos

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This piece is the second in our new, monthly series titled “Prisoner of the Month.” In an effort to highlight the absurdity of prohibition and educate people that countless individuals remains behind bars over a plant, we will be highlighting a non-violent cannabis prisoner who was wrongly placed in the United States prison system. Our second edition highlights Weldon Angeleos who is currently serving a 55 year sentence thanks to three small-time marijuana busts. 

The story of Weldon Angelos perfectly illustrates what can happen with an out-of-control federal system of justice that over zealously focuses on cannabis, often at the expense of actual crimes with real victims.

Despite having no prior convictions, Angelos received a sentence of 55 years and one day for selling a small amount of marijuana on three occasions. He was 23 years old, a young father, and an up and coming music producer and artist when he was first incarcerated. He will be 78 years old before he is eligible for parole.

So how is it possible that someone selling a little bit of weed can get a sentence FAR longer than those recommended for airline hijackers, kidnappers, 2nd degree murderers, and child rapists? By unjust prosecutors playing a life destroying legal game by piling on charges to make sure the defendant gets the maximum amount of prison time possible.

In Weldon’s case, he sold marijuana on three different occasions to the same childhood acquaintance, who unbeknown to him was working for the DEA in order to avoid doing prison time himself. The total amount of marijuana sold was under 2 pounds – just 8 ounces per transaction — but the prosecution counted each one as a separate “crime,” and as they say, “three strikes you’re out.”

To make matters worse, Angelos owned a firearm. Not an illegal firearm, a legally permitted one. He did not use that firearm in the “crime,” nor did he brandish it or even threaten to use it. The mere fact that he owned a gun added SIGNIFICANT time and severity to his sentence, something all gun owners reading this should take particular note of. Weldon Angelos’s actual charges were:

“Possessing and selling marijuana and selling marijuana while in possession of a firearm.”
Judge Paul Cassell, a conservative Bush-era appointee, was appalled at the sentence federal law mandated he impose on a first time offender of a victimless crime. The charges called for five years on a first offense, 25 years on a second offense, and 25 years on a third offense. Those three sales of marijuana constituted Weldon’s three offenses. Judge Cassell called the punishment “cruel, unusual, and irrational.”

Judge Cassell’s hands were tied at sentencing. He immediately called upon the President to grant commutation and called on Congress to stop the insanity. The President and the Congress did nothing.

Since his incarceration, Weldon Angelos has become the poster child for an out of control legal system. Senators Patrick Leahy and Rand Paul spoke out against his sentence before a senate judiciary hearing evaluating the effectiveness of mandatory minimum sentences. Over 100 powerful and influential people including judges, attorneys, politicians, activists, authors, and celebrities signed a plea through The Constitution Project asking President Obama to commute Weldon’s sentence.

So far, to no avail.

At the time of his arrest, Weldon Angelos was considered a fast rising star in the music world. He owned his own record label and worked with luminaries like Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. His incarceration left 3 young children without a father in their lives. His sister, Lisa, remains his staunchest supporter. Between her efforts and the visibility of his rising star, a Change.org calling for President Obama to commute Weldon Angelos’s sentence has collected over 250,000 signatures. Apparently it needs more because Weldon Angelos still sits in Lompoc Federal Penitentiary. He will be eligible for parole in 2051.

weldonangelos

How You Can Help:

Sign the petition asking President Obama to commute Weldon Angelos’s sentence:
www.change.org/p/president-obama-commutation-for-weldon-angelos-55-years-for-marijuana

Sending letters and making phone calls to the President and your elected representatives about this case can also help.

Weldon loves getting cards and letters from supporters. Write to him here:

Weldon Angelos #10053-081
USP Lompoc
3901 Klein Blvd.
Lompoc, CA 93436

Want to help more? Here’s how to put money directly onto a prisoner’s books — no middle man, ALL of the money goes DIRECTLY to the prisoner – to be used for phone calls, email, legal expenses, food, personal hygiene items, etc.:

1. Send a postal money order (yes it must be a POSTAL money order or the Bureau of Prisons will not accept it) to:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Inmate Name, Inmate Register Number
(in this case Weldon Angelos #10053-081)
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Or go to Western Union and find the link on the bottom of the page “send money to an inmate.” (www.westernunion.com)

 

About Author

Cheri Sicard is a dedicated cannabis activist, the author of “The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook (2012 Z-Dog Media) and the upcoming “Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women” (Seal Press, release date 4-20-15). Her blog is www.CannabisCheri.com.

7 Comments

  1. The Chronic Scientist on

    I’m sorry but 3 x 8oz sales is not “small.” I feel for the guy but selling a pound and a half of weed isn’t legal in ANY medical marijuana or recreational marijuana states. Again – 55 years is over kill but this guy was definitely a dealer.

    • That’s and ignorant statement, scientist.
      Everyone knows the standard rec given by doctors and state law is usually for 8 ozs of flowers.
      Charging money for time, genetics, nutrients, space, etc is what is fair and 100% legal.
      You really make me sick!
      Who’s side on you on? A55hole!!

      • The Chronic Scientist on

        Did you read the article or my comment? I stated that 1.5 pounds is not a small amount because the article called it small three times. You went on some rant about ignorance, state recommendations, charging money, etc. Despite you being completely off base – let’s address your concerns….

        1. You called someone ignorant in a sentence in which you made spelling and punctuation mistakes.
        2. The state law in Colorado states medical users can possess 2 ounces and users over 21 years of age can possess 1 ounce. I don’t know who “everyone” is but in the MOST LEGAL marijuana state in the country you cannot do anything that Weldon did – i.e. possess 8 ounces at any time or sell it – he did both of these things, THREE times.
        3. A doctor’s recommendation is NOT law. He could tell you that you can grow a million plants – you would not be allowed to.
        4. And speaking of a doctor’s rec? Dude was not a medical patient
        5. Genetics and nutrients? Dude was not a grower
        6. Nothing is 100% legal about what he did or he would not be in jail.
        7. You are the first person to be “sick” from my efforts and contributions to the medical and non-medical marijuana community.

        Again – had you actually read my comment you could have saved yourself this embarrassment. I even said I felt bad for the guy and that his sentence was overkill….. some people

          • The Chronic Scientist on

            Compare our comments dk. One is intelligent, factual, and applicable to the story written. The other is profane, inaccurate, and addresses topics not even mentioned in the story. I have no time for trolls and when they show their little faces I drop the hammer! I’m disappointed you up voted his comment – I genuinely do not see any merit in anything he said.

    • for a plant that kills nobody and that’s legal in some states?
      it’s a huge waste of tax dollars as well as being massive over kill

      what happened to moderation in the US ?

      why does everything always need to go to extremes?

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