Jay-Z Pushing For Release Of 55-Year-Old Man Serving Two Decades For Marijuana Possession

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, music industry mogul and a chief visionary officer at

cannabis company TPCO Holding Corp. GRAMF doing business as The Parent Company, is helping Valon Vailes get out of prison. 

Jay-Z, known in the cannabis community for his luxury weed brand Monogram, and his legal team have twice made a plea to a North Carolina judge asking for “compassionate release” of Vailes, now 55, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison over cannabis-related charges, reported NY's Page Six.

According to court documents obtained by Page Six, attorney Alex Spiro asked the court to reconsider their previous request, which was dismissed due because of Vailes' COVID-19 vaccination record.

 “Mr. Vailes’ motion for compassionate release does not mention COVID-19 and does not rely on any COVID-19-related argument as a basis for arguing in favor of a reduced sentence,” Spiro argued

An Emotional Letter To Jay-Z

Back in December 2007, Vailes was found guilty for conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute more than one ton of weed from 2003 to 2007. He was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison with an additional 10-year supervised release. 

Jay-Z and his legal team became aware of Vailes’ case, after the inmate sent an emotional letter to the rapper, saying: “This correspondence is a plea to ask for your help with the intent to campaign for my clemency. 13 and a half years is a long time to be still incarcerated over a substance that has become the ultimate green rush.”

Vailes highlighted that while following Jay-Z’s career he was touched by the musician’s advocacy for the “underprivileged and voiceless.”

 “A lot has changed in my life, but most importantly, I have a newfound view of society,” Vailes wrote. “Therefore, I pledge to my family, my children, and myself that my incarceration would not be in vain.”

The Injustice 

Vailes highlighted the injustice of the judicial system.

 “It is a bittersweet reality that I am a casualty and a commodity of this system filled with injustice,” Vailes wrote.

After reading the letter, Jay-Z connected Spiro and his team at Monogram and asked them to file a petition on Vailes’ behalf. The first motion for a compassionate release request was filed this past August.

On Wednesday, another filing sought to release Vailes by reducing his sentence to time served, Spiro argued: “Mr. Vailes has exhausted his administrative remedies with the [Federal Bureau of Prisons]; extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant compassionate release in his case; the relevant factors support release and Mr. Vailes is not a danger to the community.”

A Change.org petition advocating for Vailes’ release already has more than 4,300 signatures.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Author Joella Marano

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