Medical marijuana is legal in California and has been since 1996. But that doesn’t mean people are not going to jail for cultivation and other related crimes.
A recent news feature from Marijuana Politics analyzed the story of a man who was sentenced to five years in prison for growing medical marijuana.
This man is an attorney who suffers from hemophilia and lived in California with his wife who was a cancer survivor. The defendant was recently released and said he is happy to be out of prison and no longer having to eat bologna sandwiches and sleep on a cot.
He said his wife was a physician who became sick with breast cancer in 1997. At that time, doctors in California were using marijuana to treat cancer patients and help them get through chemotherapy. They went to her oncologist and asked him to give a her a medical marijuana patient recommendation. His doctor refused. At this point, defendant went to the black market and purchased pounds of marijuana. He also purchased plants and started growing them on his roughly 30 acres of property. He said his wife was using around two ounces of marijuana per week.
At this point, a neighbor told him that police were climbing trees to observe his property. He called the police and told them his wife has cancer and is using medical marijuana. Defendant had represented numerous police officers in the past, and they knew him well, so nothing happened at this time.
The family then opened a business of sorts where defendant’s wife diagnosed the patients, and if they had a legitimate medical need for the marijuana, they would issue a doctor’s recommendation card that was notarized. The police then inspected their property again. They would count the plants, which were never close to 100 at any given time. One-hundred plants is the minimum amount at which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would get involved. However, this is not a clear-cut limit, and you should speak with an experienced medical marijuana attorney in Orange County to find about the law as it pertains to your actual business.
Defendant got written guidelines from the county and stayed within those limits. He did not realize that when the federal government was counting the plants, they could aggregate the number of plants grown over of a five-year period. He and everyone else he spoke with believed it was 100 plants at any given time. This law also came with a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison.
As it turns out, he was sentenced to serve the mandatory minimum of five years in prison. There is no parole in federal prison, and you must serve at least 85 percent of your sentence. The way it works is that you can earn 54 days per year of good time, which is where the 85 percent figure come from. Once released from federal prison, he is still on probation for four years, which is known as “backup time” in the federal system.
Because criminal charges are still a very real possibility for those using, growing and distributing medical marijuana in California.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Dale Schafer: 5 Years In Prison For California Medical Marijuana Growing, February 17, 2016, Marijuana Politics, By Russ Belville
More Blog Entries:
California to Earn Huge Income from Taxes Should Legalized Marijuana Pass, Jan. 18, 2016, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog