Bill Introduced To Release Jeff Mizanskey From Life Sentence for Marijuana Charges

Ray Downs
Jeff Mizanskey has languished in prison since 1993 for three nonviolent pot charges.
It's not every day that a Missouri lawmaker proposes a bill to free one man from prison.

This week, however, Republican representative Shamed Dogan did exactly that with House Bill 978, which would allow a parole board to release any prisoner serving a life sentence for nonviolent marijuana charges.

There's only one Missouri convict who fits that description: Jeff Mizanskey, a 61-year-old grandfather who has spent more than two decades behind bars because of the state's draconian three-strike law for drug crimes.

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Gov. Nixon Says He'll Review Why Jeff Mizanskey Is Serving a Life Sentence for Pot

Show-Me Cannabis
It looks like Governor Jay Nixon is finally paying attention to Jeff Mizanskey.
Maybe it was the billboard placed near his mansion. Maybe it was the letter-writing campaign. Maybe it was the nearly 400,000 signatures on a petition. Or maybe it's the throngs marijuana-legalization advocates gearing up for Missouri's 2016 election.

Whatever the reason, Governor Jay Nixon now says he'll take a "hard look" at the case of Jeff Mizanskey, the only Missouri prisoner serving a life sentence for marijuana-only charges.

"It's a very serious amount of time," Nixon told KMBC-TV. "If the laws change after someone is sentenced, then you want to give those things a close look."

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The Rest Of America Is Just Now Experiencing That Eerily Chirpy Super Bowl Heroin PSA

Categories: Drugs

via YouTube
"Aaaaand that's how you OD on heroin."
America wakened from its seven-layered Super Bowl stupor Monday morning to discover something St. Louis already knew: what it looks like to overdose on heroin in your mom's house while some twee songstress strums the ukulele.

The commercial, run locally by the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse-St. Louis, aimed to raise awareness about the epidemic of heroin and prescription painkiller addiction here. (You can tell it's St. Louis because the mom is carrying Schnucks grocery bags. Also, the heroin.)

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Where Are The Oversight Records for St. Louis County's Drug Task Force?

Categories: Drugs

St. Louis County Drug Task Force/Facebook
St. Louis County's drug task force may be making the busts (like this one), but who is doing the oversight?
The more Aaron Malin digs into St. Louis-area drug task forces, the more worried he gets.

Daily RFT readers may remember how last year Malin, a researcher with marijuana reform group Show-Me Cannabis, uncovered public records of a St. Louis city drug task force. The records included breakdowns of arrest data and budgeting documents listing $200,000 from state and federal grants, yet when Malin asked St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officials about the task force, he kept getting the same answer -- the task force doesn't exist.

Last week, Malin and Show-Me Cannabis turned their sights on St. Louis County police. In a formal complaint to the Missouri Attorney General, Malin accuses the county's multi-jurisdictional drug task force of failing to provide minutes of their oversight meetings. Malin suspects the meetings never occurred.

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Nixon Pardons Nine Nonviolent Offenders, Ignores Man Serving Life for Pot

Kholood Eid
Jeff Mizanskey has languished in prison for more than twenty years -- all on nonviolent pot charges.
As far as late Christmas presents go, Governor Jay Nixon's decision to pardon nine nonviolent offenders is as big and unprecedented as they come.

But for a governor who, before Monday, has pardoned only one person since taking office in 2009, the list of formerly naughty Missourians is arguably more notable for the name it doesn't include.

While the eight men and one woman Nixon pardoned yesterday already served their sentences for felony and misdemeanor crimes ranging from minor theft, writing bad checks and marijuana possession, there's no mention of Jeff Mizanskey, the only inmate in the state who's currently serving a life sentence without parole for three nonviolent pot charges.

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Billboard for Jeff Mizanskey, Man Serving Life for Pot, Placed Near Governor's Mansion

Categories: Drugs, Politics

Show-Me Cannabis
Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for nearly 21 years.

Governor Jay Nixon is the only person in the world who has the authority to release Jeff Mizanskey from prison. And activists want to make sure he's reminded of that every time he leaves his house.

The marijuana reform group Show-Me Cannabis recently purchased billboard space less than two miles away from the governor's mansion. The billboard urges people to call Nixon directly and ask for the release of Mizanskey, who is 21 years into a life-without-parole sentence for marijuana-only charges.

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Two Killed, One Wounded In Drug-Related Shooting in Downtown St. Louis

Categories: Code Dead, Drugs

Thumbnail image for shootingatmarketandfourth.png
Google Maps
The shooting occurred around 2:35 p.m. in front of the Drury Plaza Hotel (left) at Fourth and Market.
Two men were killed during an apparent drug-related shooting yesterday in broad daylight near the Arch grounds.

Police say two male occupants of a red Oldsmobile Alero fired shots into a burgundy Dodge Caliber SUV near Gravois Avenue and Russell Boulevard as a result of a drug sale. The confrontation continued as both vehicles drove into downtown, before finally stopping at Fourth and Market streets just blocks away from Busch Stadium where some fans were already gathering for last night's playoff game.

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Is the St. Louis Metro Police Department Hiding a Drug Task Force?

Categories: Drugs, Police

St. Louis Metro Police/Facebook
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department received $200,000 in grant funding for a drug task force that they say does not exist.

That might sound strange, but city officials tell Aaron Malin, a researcher for Show-Me Cannabis, the marijuana reform group, that they don't know about any so-called "drug task force." And that's despite several government records showing that grant money has been awarded to the non-existent drug task force and other records that tally the number of arrests the unit has made. These records were obtained by Malin via Missouri Sunshine requests.

Malin tells Daily RFT that he believes there can only be two explanations.

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Missouri Drug Task Forces Seize a Lot of Money and Don't Keep Close Records Of Where it Goes

Categories: Crime, Drugs, Police

When drug task forces in Missouri confiscate money and valuables during narcotics investigations, they keep about 80 percent of what they seize through a federal asset forfeiture program. They are supposed to document what that money is used for, whether it's new equipment, overtime, or other expenses.

However, the form they fill out is vague and the drug task forces themselves say they aren't sure where much of the money goes without the help of accountants to figure it out.

According to Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force 2013 asset forfeiture report, which was obtained by Aaron Malin of Show-Me Cannabis through a Missouri Sunshine request, more than $141,000 out of $204,991 in seized assets spent by the task force was put in the "other" category.

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People Are Using More Heroin Because It's Cheaper Than Painkillers

Categories: Drugs

Doing heroin just makes good economic sense.
A new study conducted by Wash. U. says that an increasing number of drug addicts simply can't afford fancy painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin anymore, so they're switching to a cheaper alternative: heroin.

Dr. Theodore J. Cicero and his team based the findings on data collected between 2010 and 2013 from 150 drug-treatment centers across the country, which included surveys completed by 9,000 painkiller addicts. They found that 2,800 of these patients said heroin was their primary drug. But the researchers found that in many cases, it wasn't because the patients wanted it.

"Heroin has now been cleverly marketed by dealers as a cheaper and more accessible alternative," Cicero, a psychiatrist who studies opioid addiction, tells Daily RFT. "Interestingly, most people don't want heroin as their drug of choice, but can't afford their preferred opioid of choice."

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