America’s “longest-serving cannabis offender” has been freed after spending more than three decades in prison for a non-violent drug charge.
Richard DeLisi, 71, was released from a Palm Beach County prison in early December and was reunited with family in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, WPEC reported. DeLisi was sentenced to 90 years in prison in 1989 when he was 40 years old, per the Florida Department of Corrections, for smuggling more than 100 pounds of cannabis into the U.S. from Colombia, according to the activist website FreeDeLisi.com.
DeLisi attributed his release to FreeDeLisi.com and The Last Prisoner Project — a nonprofit dedicated to freeing people who are incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses. The organization called DeLisi the “longest-serving cannabis offender in the U.S.”
During a drive-in celebration with family and friends, DeLisi told reporters that he wants to “make the best of every bit of my time.”
“The system needs to change, and I’m going to try my best to be an activist,” DeLisi said. “Prison changed me. I never really knew who God was and now I know and it changed the way I talk to people and treat people.”
DeLisi also said he became a mentor for younger prisoners and helped “take gang members from gangs to gentlemen.”
While he was in prison, DeLisi’s wife, son, and parents all died, but he was able to reunite with his two living children and grandchildren.
“It was a rough time, I’ll tell you that. It was a rough ride,” DeLisi said.
According to The Last Prisoner Project, at least 40,000 people are still behind bars for cannabis-related offenses, despite the drug being legal in several states.