Jacob Sullum on the Medical Marijuana Grower Who Nearly Got Life in Prison

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Chris Williams, a Montana medical marijuana grower, faces at least five years in federal prison when he is sentenced on February 1. Although that penalty seems unduly severe, says Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, five years is a cakewalk compared to the sentence Williams originally faced, which would have kept the 38-year-old father behind bars for the rest of his life. The difference, Sullum explains, is due to an extremely unusual post-conviction agreement that highlights the enormous power prosecutors wield as a result of mandatory minimum sentences so grotesquely unjust that in this case even they had to admit it.

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