6 Ridiculously Long Jail Terms For Pot

With weed creeping closer to legalization, let’s remember the unlucky folk who got busted back when it was still a major crime to smoke a doobie.

As the smoke clears from the historic decision by Colorado and Washington to become the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana – as the current law stands, both states will allow up to an ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana to be legal for anyone 21 and older, for personal use – there’s a chance to take account of the $1 billion America spends annually on pot prisoners. Talk about paying the price for the munchies! There’s still very little talk about rolling back marijuana sentences, or taking a closer look at marijuana offenders who are serving long jail terms, which is why we’ve rounded up six potheads that got the sticky end of the joint.

Photo: Pete Starman / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Robert Platshorn and Robert Meinster AKA “The Black Tuna Gang”

Robert Platshorn and Robert Meinster were certainly king fish in the weed smuggling racket, but their operation was alleged to have been exaggerated by the DEA when Attorney General Griffin Bell called the duo the “biggest marijuana smugglers ever.” The government claimed they were responsible for nearly one million pounds of weed, but their enterprise was actually closer to a tenth of that. Platshorn received 64 years in prison and served three decades of his time – Meinster was sentenced for 54 years for his part. Platshorn and Meinster became the longest serving marijuana prisoners in U.S. history. Billy Corben’s documentary Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja, profiles the “Black Tuna Gang” prominently, but that’s not much consolation after a lifetime in jail.

George Martorano

George Martorano was the son of a gangster and grandson of a made man in the Philadelphia mafia. A mostly honest kid, he wasn’t involved in the family business and got into pot on his own, moving trucks full of marijuana and confessing when the government caught him. The federal parole board recommended he receive 40 months for pleading guilty to all 19 counts of possession and distribution, but in a stunning decision, Matrorano was sentenced to life for his role as a pot kingpin in 1984. Many believe Martorano actually got life because he refused to rat on his father and grandpa, who are both now deceased. To date he’s filed over 33 appeals and is the longest serving non-violent offender in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Photo: Rudy Gutierrez / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Olen Maffett Pound

Like many active stoners, Pound – or one of his buddies – would buy a large amount of marijuana and break the bud up amongst their group of friends for little or no real profit. Pound’s name was dropped when one of his stoner pals was arrested with the goodies and turned informant – the police eventually raided his home to find less than a gram of marijuana. Somehow that was conclusive enough evidence to link Pound to the 300 pounds of weed he was said to have distributed, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison without ever being caught red-handed, ending up incarcerated from February 1990 to May 2006.

Shirley Womble

Shirley and her husband, Willard, had an auto sales business, owned their own home, and had two children. Willard began running a marijuana ring to make supplemental income – as the bookkeeper in the family business, Womble also accounted for the funds Willard made selling pot, but urged him to stop dealing. She’d never had a traffic ticket in her life, but on the testimony of two marijuana dealers with prior records, Womble began a 25-year prison term in 1992. President Bush declined to give her clemency in 2008, and she is set to be released in September 2013.

Photo: Halfdark / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Don Clark

Clark was a farmer in the Florida Everglades with the knowhow to grow some quality marijuana. A sod and watermelon farmer, Clark was convicted of turning an entire community in Manatee County into a pot town where $30 million of weed was grown and distributed. Clark was eventually convicted of what amounted to teaching his neighbors how to grow pot, and was sentenced to life in prison, eventually serving ten years before being granted clemency by President Clinton at the very end of his presidency.

Want more pot stories? Check out Weed Stories From the Pineapple Express Party

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