MISSOURI - A Columbia man was granted compassionate release after serving over 12 years in prison for marijuana charges.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Bough of the Western District of Missouri granted the release of Eric McCauley on Thursday.

McCauley was sentenced to 23 years for marijuana and money-laundering felonies but was granted release after 12.5 years because of the The First Step Act of 2018.

“The First Step Act of 2018 allowed for federal judges to take a second look at unduly harsh sentences of individuals like Mr. McCauley and determine if extraordinary and compelling reasons justify reconsideration of continued incarceration," McCauley's attorney, Barry Grissom, said in a news release.

Judge Bough said, “Upon review of the record, the Court finds further incarceration is not needed to reflect the seriousness of Defendant’s crimes, promote respect for the law, or provide just punishment for his offenses."

The effort to release McCauley was supported by Mission Green, a marijuana-offender release, expungement and clemency campaign organized by the Weldon Project. 

The founder of the Weldon Project, Weldon Angelos, has been advocating for people who have been charged and are spending time for cannabis offenses with hopes to gain larger political attention and support.