Twenty-one years ago, Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced to life in prison without parole for nonviolent marijuana charges; on Thursday, it was announced that he will be set free. Despite being listed as a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is starting to be seen in a much more positive light in the United States, which has led to the release of prisoners, like Mizanskey.    


Jeff Mizanskey sitting in a prison room

Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced to life in prison for nonviolent marijuana charges. (

Over 20 U.S. states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use in recent years, and other states are starting to put legalization to a vote. Part of the legalization is coming from studies that are showing that the drug can be used to help treat certain illnesses. The National Cancer Institute found that marijuana may have a medical use for cancer patients beyond pain relief and appetite stimulation.        


“Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells,” says the National Cancer Institute.  


Marijuana was once chastised for causing mental health and respiratory problems later in life when used by teenagers, but a new study published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors journal may have disproven this theory. The researchers followed the health of 408 seventh-graders, some were chronic marijuana smokers while others were not, starting in the late 1980s. The study’s participants weren’t found to have any problems with their health as a result of their past marijuana use.      


“There were no differences in any of the mental or physical health outcomes that we measured, regardless of the amount or frequency of marijuana used during adolescence,” said Jordan Bechtold, the study’s lead researcher.


New studies will continue to need to take place in order to find out more about the drug’s efficacy and safety. Many prisoners, like Mizanskey, are now being given a second chance because of new studies and laws, but there are still thousands of people incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses in United States prisons.


Has your view of marijuana changed in recent months? Should more states change their stance on the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.