Kisare Bundy had been on probation for most of his adult life when, at 22, a marijuana possession charge sent him to prison for just under a decade.
An ounce and a half in his car toppled his probation status, altering the course of his life and that of his three children, he said in an interview from the Haynesville Correctional Unit 17, one of the state’s minimum-security prisons.
Once the shock faded, Bundy said he tried to focus his energy on being a “model inmate” and his job. Through the Department of Corrections, Bundy works in a warehouse and is pursuing the certification to drive a forklift. Outside of prison, the job pays well. State records online show his scheduled release date is Jan. 13, 2025.
When Bundy and his mother, Marilyn, heard the state was considering legalizing marijuana, they built up hopes that he would come home sooner.
The news about legalization quickly soured for her when lawmakers voted to legalize marijuana possession on July 1 but failed to pass a provision that would have allowed judges to revise sentences for those already incarcerated. In the past two years, about 300 people have been sentenced to prison for sale or possession of marijuana for amounts that will soon result in minor penalties.
Virginia on Thursday begins a yearslong process toward becoming the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana use among adults — conceding to the generational shift that has seen the drug enter the American mainstream and acknowledging the harm that has resulted from the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws.