Legal Michigan Medical Marijuana Growers Face Years in Federal Prison
Four medical marijuana patients and caregivers will be sentenced federal courts in Michigan this week, highlighting the human cost of the federal government’s stance toward state medical marijuana laws. The sentencing hearings come less than a week after another Montana medical marijuana provider, Chris Williams, was similarly denied a defense and found guilty at trial. In August, Montana medical marijuana provider Richard Flor, who was 68, died in custody after being sentenced to 5 years in prison despite a lack of evidence that he was in violation of any state laws.
Two medical marijuana caregivers from Monroe County, Michigan, Gerald Lee Duval Jr., 52, and his son, Jeremy Duval, 30, were raided by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in 2011 and charged with felony cultivation, maintaining a place to cultivate marijuana, and conspiracy to distribute. In April, the Duvals were convicted at trial, the expected result of federal laws that prohibit any medical defense or reference to state law in front of juries.
"The Duvals' case is another tragedy from President Obama's war on medical marijuana," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. "This type of enforcement is completely discretionary, unnecessary and far from the public health approach that medical marijuana patients deserve."
With all the things officials in the federal government need to worry about, it is inexplicable that they would waste so many resources on medical marijuana caregivers and patients.
Two other medical marijuana caregivers are due to be sentenced this week as well, John Marcinkewciz and Shelley Waldron, were originally charged under state law with cultivation and conspiracy to cultivate, but prosecutors soon turned their cases over to the federal Justice Department, where the three had no chance of defending themselves against federal law. Marcinkewciz, Waldron and Montague all ended up taking plea bargains in May.
After all, what chance do caregivers have against the feds, especially when they are not allowed to even mention state medical marijuana laws in their defense?
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