We value the advice and support of our advisory board, all experts in either the law, the subject of Marijuana Lifers, and often, both!
Cheri Sicard, Founder, Marijuana Lifer Project
Had someone told writer Cheri Sicard back in 1996, when California’s Prop 215 first legalized marijuana for medicinal use, that she would become entrenched in the cannabis movement, write two books on the subject (and counting), and become an outspoken advocate for prisoners serving life sentences for marijuana, she would not have believed them. Other than the rare toke at a party, Cheri didn’t use marijuana, and she knew little to nothing about the justice system. It wasn’t until she was nearly 40 years old when her doctor suggested she try cannabis to help with a chronic nausea problem, that the herb became a permanent fixture in her life, and it wasn’t until doing research for her book Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women (2015, Seal Press), that she discovered the reality that there were people serving sentences of Life Without Parole, for marijuana, in the United States.
A well respected leader within the cannabis community, Cheri is especially known for her work with federal marijuana prisoners serving Life Sentences. Cheri’s earlier books like The Great American Handbook, Everyday American, and US Citizenship for Dummies were about how American government is supposed to work. The corruption and government waste and abuses she saw exposed via the Marijuana Lifers she was working with, was about as far from the ideals of American government as possible, something that angered and haunted her. She found it impossible to not do something about this and she soon enlisted the help of her business partner, Mitch Mandell, to start producing websites and doing media and public outreach for a number of Marijuana Lifers (3 of whom are now released).
Eventually working on the cause of Marijuana Lifers was taking up so much time and money, it necessitated the formation of this organization. This issue is far bigger than one activist and Cheri is confident with the help and support of a pubic that is outraged as she is about people having a natural death sentence for marijuana, we can solve this problem and send these prisoners home to their families where they belong.
Prior to entering the world of cannabis, Cheri worked as a professional writer, recipe developer, and internet entrepreneur. Cheri began life as a circus performer, mentalist and magician, crisscrossing the country and the globe performing at nightclubs, amusement parks, and theaters. She was also one of the first female solo magicians/mentalists working at Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle and was in demand at LA parties and events before retiring her performance career in favor of writing and activism.
Mitch Mandell, Marijuana Lifer Project
Marijuana Lifer Project’s tech guru, Mitch Mandell, was drawn into the cause of Marijuana Lifers by his friend (and Marijuana Lifer Project founder) Cheri Sicard’s passion for the cause. Years before Cheri founded this organization, she and Mitch worked together through their company Z-Dog Media to produce websites and engage media outreach for a number of Marijuana Lifers including Paul Free, Craig Cesal, Michael Pelletier, and Andy Cox, along with now released lifers Randy Lanier, Larry Duke, and Billy Dekle (most of whom serve on the Marijuana Lifer Project’s Advisory Board of Directors).
Mitch started his career in advertising and over the years he’s worked on accounts as diverse as Apple, Taco Bell, and Nike. He and business partner Cheri Sicard spent nearly 10 years as publishers of FabulousFoods.com, building the site from nothing, to over 5 million monthly page views garnering a top 10 placement as rated by Alexa.com. The pair sold the sites to Atomic Online in 2010.
When it comes to new media, Mitch is a “jack of all trades,” a skill that lead him to success as the senior project manager for the Lexus auto website for over five years. In earlier days as a broadcast producer/project manager at Chiat/Day, Inc Advertising, Mitch learned all the disciplines needed to create award-winning media. He was responsible for projects, from conception to completion which requires the ability to work with creative types, technical geeks, and business minds while achieving the needs of the client. His success in these endeavors allowed him to work in top advertising agencies for more then 20 years while simultaneously starting and maintaining a media business.
These skills, coupled with his unshakable belief that no nonviolent prisoner should receive a life sentence, let alone for marijuana, make Mitch an invaluable part of the Marijuana Lifer Project team.