How Corvain Cooper moved from prison life to a presidential pardon


By now you’ve probably heard of Corvain Cooper, and if you haven’t, you certainly will.

Corvain Cooper was born and raised on the east side of South Central in Los Angeles. He and his sister were raised by their grandmother, who kept them in magnet schools, but that didn’t make times in the hood any easier.

Faced with the reality of an impoverished life, Corvain turned to the hectic pace of adulthood to make ends meet. He ventured into cannabis entrepreneurship in 2004 after participating in some non-violent crimes (petty theft, marijuana possession, and possession of cough syrup containing codeine) that would ultimately end up imprisoning him for the first time.

Starting with selling small quantities of weed, he eventually took part in a multiple state operation that shipped cannabis across the country. In 2011, a possession charge would put him in jail for about a year – which would spark a change in his thinking and lifestyle.

After leaving in 2012, Corvain left cannabis to open a clothing store with his own brands and focus on raising his two daughters. With his past behind him, things began to improve for the business owner and father.

Strike with the Fed

Despite pledging to live differently and start a new business as a free man, Corvain Cooper was arrested on the afternoon of January 28, 2013. It turned out that a previous business partner left a list of company names in 2009 for an exchange for a shorter stay.

“I just got back from New York for Christmas. I stop at the house and the government jumps out and talks about Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m like ‘sh * t, I’ve never been to Charlotte, North Carolina. “

– Corvain Cooper

Cooper was extradited to North Carolina and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole under the Three Strikes Act.

Under the federal “Three Strikes” provision, offenders receive life imprisonment for a serious violent crime or two or more previous convictions in federal or state courts, at least one of which was a serious violent crime or a serious drug offense.

Corvain’s previous handling of cannabis placed him in the drug offense category, despite having given up the illegal business a few years earlier.

He had changed his life but went to jail anyway.

Fight for freedom

In 2014, California Prop 47 Coopers reduced previous drug crimes to misdemeanors. And in 2016, adult cannabis legalized under Prop 64 in California. Changes like this should have released Corvain from his mandatory life sentence since his crimes were no longer serious and cannabis was legal, but they weren’t legal.

Instead, it was up to him, his family, his legal team, his supporters to appeal, seek mercy from presidents and prove his innocence under the law.

Cooper’s attorney filed a petition on Change.org that received over 40,000 signatures in the first month and over 150,000 signatures when he left federal prison. News of his story spread and he was even featured in a documentary about the black community and cannabis.


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“The priors that were on my jacket were no longer there. So I think boom, get angry, give me 10 years and I’ll get time. But we sent that to the Supreme Court and it is rejected. Then we went to Obama at mercy; that is denied. So we had to rely on Trump, ”he said.

The day things changed

Eventually Corvain Cooper was released on January 20, 2021. He was pardoned by former President Trump on his last day in office and is now free after serving a life sentence for eight years for nonviolent cannabis crimes.

He says he has to keep the faith for something at the last minute, noting that the moment came at the very last second on the shot clock.

“It was morning time and we were locked. I was still trying to believe that when Trump leaves I would go, but he got on the helicopter to leave when I was about to take a shower. I’ll be in the cell for about five or ten minutes, then out of nowhere I hear, “You have five minutes, wrap it up,” he said.


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Life outside

Now Corvain Cooper is jail free but has been transported straight back to the reality of its neighborhood. But this time he has a different mentality.

He worked with 40 Tons (a social impact and lifestyle company) and Last Prisoner Project to use his story to stop kids from making his mistakes. Both companies provide a platform that can help attract nonviolent cannabis offenders serving federal prison terms.

“We are in Cali, where it is expensive to live. It’s $ 600,000 to buy a house in the hood. I want to focus on saving the youth and telling them not to hunt ghosts. Make sure they know the things they want and all of the people you are with – anything could go bad. “


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Determined to change, even after the US judicial system has ignored his appeals for all these years, he states, “I want to speak to youth halls and prisons. I don’t want to be quiet. “

Dante Jordan

Danté Jordan is a former member of the Leafly Subject Matter Expert team and is currently a freelance writer, video producer, and media consultant specializing in cannabis culture, strains, products, education, and everything else related to this little green flower. Contact him at Smokingwithdante on Instagram or at dantenetworks (at) gmail (dotcom). His website is www.dantejordan.com.

Show item by Dante Jordan

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Beth Edmonds