Johnny Boone, now 73, was widely considered to be the biggest outlaw marijuana grower in U.S. history. For more than 25 years beginning in the 1970s, the Kentucky native ran a cultivation and smuggling network that, at its peak, included 30 farms and 70 workers stretched across 10 states. Boone, dubbed by law enforcement the “Godfather of Grass,” became a fugitive in 2008 as police were on his trail, but he was arrested last month in Montreal. In the eight years since, marijuana laws have changed dramatically in the U.S. Twenty-nine states have approved marijuana for medical use, and eight of those states have legalized marijuana for any reason at all, making Boone’s skill set of growing highly potent cannabis at high volume a highly lucrative and legal profession, Politico reports.
Federal authorities, keenly aware of the legalization trend, have taken a hands-off approach during the Obama administration to the prosecution of marijuana cases in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. A new administration is about to enter the White House, and Donald Trump’s choice as the nation’s top law enforcement officer Jeff Sessions, has a very different, and much more conservative view on the subject of marijuana. Once Boone is brought back to the U.S., he likely will be tried, convicted, and sentenced to the life term that he has avoided for almost a decade. He would be a prominent conviction for Jeff Sessions, a signal that the Trump administration intends to ramp up the war on drugs despite changing social mores. That is, unless something dramatic happens. Like a presidential pardon. It’s a long shot, say clemency experts, but President Obama has already pardoned three men from Boone’s part of Kentucky who were convicted of non-violent drug crimes. He could add Boone to a fast-growing list of those who have received presidential clemency. An online petition is circulating asking Obama to pardon Boone in the remaining days of his term.