In 1996, John Richard Knock was arrested for helping to import and distribute tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana in the 1970s and 80s. A federal judge handed him the harshest possible punishment outside of death: life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Nine states have now legalized the recreational sale of pot, leaving Knock to watch as cannabis investors begin to reel in money for the same activities that put him behind bars more than 20 years ago. He is one of dozens of inmates set to spend their entire lives in prison for marijuana trafficking during the height of the War on Drugs, while the legal cannabis industry continues to grow.
Ever since his sentence, Knock’s sister Beth Curtis has never stopped fighting for his release.