This Air Force Veteran is still behind bars for cannabis

States and countries continue legalizing cannabis, but some remain imprisoned for cannabis offenses. People are even serving sentences in states like Arizona, where medical has been in place since 2010 and recreational passed in 2020, for doing cannabis business too soon. That is where the most recent push from the Last Prisoner Project is focused as the advocacy group rallies behind Robert Deals.

“We are using the power of our growing voice to raise awareness about my dad’s unjust sentence and to bring him home,” Robert’s daughter Alicia Deals said in a press release acquired by GreenState.

Alicia opened a dispensary with a social equity license in partnership with Cookies. She became the first Black woman dispensary owner in the summer of 2023 with the opening of the shop, and now she is using the platform to spread her father’s story. She is doing so with the help of Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit committed to social justice and equity in the cannabis space.

The story of Robert Deals

Before facing incarceration, Robert served 10 years in the United States Air Force. The veteran fled the scene of a weed deal bust in 2010. He says he experienced PTSD-related fight for flight which led to him running from cops drawing weapons. While attempting to escape, the side mirror of Deals’ car struck an officer’s hand.

Robert was sentenced in 2012 for illegal enterprise, possession and sale of cannabis, money laundering, aggravated assault (for the side mirror), and a weapons charge. Alicia believes that the case has been mishandled by prosecutors. Robert is submitting his case for clemency with the help of Alicia and the Last Prisoner Project.

“We are underscoring the urgent need to free individuals like Robert Deals. By shedding light on the human stories behind these convictions, we hope to prevent further injustices,” said LPP executive director, Sarah Gersten, in the release.

To achieve this goal in Arizona, the Board of Executive Clemency first reviews the case. The Board then makes a recommendation to the governor, who then finalizes the request.

“The injustices faced by Robert Deals and countless others highlight the urgent need for reform in our legal system. As a community, we cannot stand idly by while lives are unjustly altered by outdated laws,” Cookies’ founder Berner added to the release.

Those who believe Robert Deals deserves clemency can send a letter to the Board of Executive Clemency and Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. There are simple letter-writing prompts available on the Last Prisoner Project #FreeRobertDeals page.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.