Company: West by Donte West
Having launched West by Donte West in Missouri in January, with a multi-state expansion planned within the next six months, it seems like nothing can stop Donte Westmoreland.
However, just two years ago, Westmoreland was in a far different situation, less than halfway through a 92-month prison sentence.
In 2017, Westmoreland was convicted of possession of marijuana and conspiracy to distribute. Westmoreland had no prior offenses on his record and says the marijuana seized by police was in his friend’s car, miles away from where he was at the time.
“The judges sentenced me to nearly eight years in prison, 92 months to be exact,” Westmoreland says. “My earliest day out was at the end of 2023. I’m still supposed to be sitting in a cell right now.”
Westmoreland spent three years and eight months in prison. During that time, he realized that if he wanted out early, he would have to take matters into his own hands. He read every law book at his disposal and then started contacting elected officials. After multiple appeals, Westmoreland’s conviction was eventually overturned. Initially planning a retrial, the district attorney offered a plea deal to accept a felony in exchange for freedom. Westmoreland refused.
“That district attorney wanted to meet me because I denied the plea deal,” he says. “I told him what he was giving me wasn’t true freedom, and I explained how a felony affects Black Americans.”
Moved by Westmoreland’s courage to refuse the plea deal, the district attorney dismissed the case without prejudice.
Westmoreland is now routing proceeds from his cannabis brand to commissary accounts of prisoners still serving time for marijuana-related offenses.