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?
Veterans in Colorado form Pro-Marijuana Legalization Group
After their petition to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Colorado was denied for a second time, veterans in the state have decided to take matters into their own hands.
At a news conference recently at the El Paso County Court House in Colorado Springs, veterans gathered to announce the formation of "Veterans for 64," a group in support of Colorado's Amendment 64 ballot measure which seeks to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
“As a combat veteran,” said Iraq War veteran Joe Hatcher, on whose behalf the PTSD petition was filed, “I served our country in Iraq, and I am painfully aware of the devastating impact PTSD has had on veterans and their families. These brave soldiers -- and the many non-soldiers who suffer from PTSD -- deserve legal and safe access to this substance that has been proven to be therapeutically effective in treating this condition. I hope Coloradans will join me in voting Yes on 64, and help veterans and others with PTSD get access to marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution.”
"The state's failure to act is an effective denial of this compassionate petition," said Vietnam veteran Bob Wiley in a statement announcing the formation of Veterans for 64. "Our only option is to support Amendment 64, which will ensure that Coloradans 21 and older who suffer from PTSD will no longer be subject to arrest and prosecution for using marijuana."
In the end many medical marijuana patients will find that they will need legalization in order to be free to treat their ailments, no matter what they are. Everyone should have the option of cannabis instead of the addictive and deadly prescription drugs that Big Pharma pushes on us.
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