55 Years for a Few Bags of Pot


Weldon Angelos, founder of the rap music label Extravagant Records, was sentenced yesterday to 55 years in federal prison for selling a few bags of marijuana. U.S. District Judge Paul G. Cassell, who imposed the sentence, called it "unjust, cruel, and even irrational" but said his hands were tied by mandatory minimums for people who engage in drug trafficking while possessing a gun: five years for the first offense and 25 years for each subsequent offense. Angelos was convicted of three counts for carrying a pistol in an ankle holster twice and in a briefcase once while selling marijuana on three occasions. He never took the gun out, let alone used it.

He would have been better off if he had. If Angelos had merely murdered his customers instead of selling them pot, his sentence probably would have been lighter. Cassell noted that the same day he sentenced Angelos, he gave 22 years to a man convicted of beating an old woman to death with a log.