Who is George Martorano?
George Martorano was born in 1950 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before his conviction in 1983, the Federal authorities had suspected and accused George of being at the head of an organized crime business which had been seeing an annual revenue upwards of $75 million. What happened next is what ultimately sent George to his darkest years of his life; he was caught with a truckload of marijuana by the FBI, who had then charged him with 19 counts of drug-related offenses.
In 1984, following the advice of his attorney, George plead guilty to multiple drug charges including drug possession and distribution. While under the impression that if he had taken the plea deal a life sentence would have been off the table, George agreed. On September 20, 1984, expecting to receive the 40-54 months the prosecution had initially recommended, Martorano was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the longest prison term to ever be imposed on a first time non-violent offender in (American) history. To this day, many people believe that George's sentence was unusually harsh for not only a first-time offender, but a “first-time non-violent” offender.
While in federal prison, George was inhumanely held in an underground solitary confinement area for five years as punishment for not providing the FBI with crucial information on the Philadelphia mob scene that they had suspected he and his father had been involved with. Clinging on to any shred of hope, almost 2,000 days later, George was freed from his solitary hell and began his journey to become a distinguished and “model” prisoner.
Once George was finally in a general population setting among his fellow prisoners, George started sought out different ways to assist his fellow inmates by better themselves in a multitude of creative ways. Over the course of 32 years, one of George's most credited acts was preventing the hijacking of an aircraft by prisoners from Philadelphia to Oklahoma which followed the loss of his 33rd appeal. This incident has been documented by the FBI and FBOP as “extraordinary.”
George Martorano not only taught yoga to his fellow inmates, he was considered one of the most prolific writers in the Federal Prison System with having authored over 31 books and numerous short stories, screenplays, and poems. George also started a creative writing course - “The Write to Life” which inevitably guided numerous inmates to receiving their GEDs and developing remarkable creative writing skills. Martorano became a certified suicide watch counselor using himself as an example to help others lead themselves away from the darkness in prison, often saying: “If I have hope facing what I am facing every day so can you.”
In 2015, George Martorano was released from federal prison after serving 32 years on drug charges thanks to former President Obama's prison reform plan that was announced to “reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who had received harsh sentences over the last three decades.”
Since his release from Florida's Coleman Prison, George has continued in his attempt to better the lives of others and is now a motivational speaker for a variety of audiences, as well as a cannabis advocate and speaker at Seattle Hempfest, and founder of Hip Hemp Cafe. He has become an intervention-specialist for those who've depleted all other options, and since then, taken additional time to mentor students from local grade schools to The Wharton Business School at the University of Penn.
Now, George's biggest goal is to advocate cannabis law reform and and to help remove the negativity associated with marijuana. To end the violence plaguing American families, he has hopes of one day exchanging guns in homes and on the streets with legal, adult use cannabis with his dream program, Cannabis for Guns. He's optimistic in his hopes to one day help end gun violence in an authentic and practical way.
Until then though, George is diving face first into the world of CBD products (derived from hemp) and their positive medical effects. As an advocate of cannabis and it's multiple cannabinoids, George has since opened Philadelphia's first CBD lounge, Hip Hemp Cafe. His main goal has been to help educate people on the medical benefits of cannabis as well as clearing the air of the stigma that the War on Drugs left, to which this day George remains one of the largest casualties of.