Marijuana and Cannabis News

Sentencing of Legal Marijuana Providers Highlights Harmful Obama Policy
By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in Medical, News
Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:20 am
Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle
Protesters of President Obama's medical marijuana crackdown march down Broadway in downtown Oakland

Justice Department uses prosecutorial discretion to seek decades in prison for legal Michigan cultivators

Five medical marijuana patients and caregivers will be sentenced in federal court next week, highlighting the human cost of the federal government's intolerance for state medical marijuana laws.

Two medical marijuana caregivers from Monroe County who were convicted earlier this year in federal court will be sentenced at 3 p.m. Monday, October 1, before U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson (231 W. Lafayette Blvd, Detroit). 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.

steph sherer.jpg
Americans for Safe Access
Steph Sherer, Americans for Safe Access: "This type of enforcement is completely discretionary, unnecessary and far from the public health approach that medical marijuana patients deserve"
"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), a medical marijuana advocacy group. "This type of enforcement is completely discretionary, unnecessary and far from the public health approach that medical marijuana patients deserve."

The Duvals face decades in prison despite no evidence of state law violations.

Days later, three more medical marijuana patients and caregivers will be sentenced in federal court in Michigan. Around the same time federal agents were raiding the Duvals, officers with the Central Michigan Enforcement Team (CMET) and the Mecosta County Sheriff's Department raided the Austin Township home and other property of John Marcinkewciz, 42, and Shelley Waldron, 42.

Monroe News
Gerald Duval, 52, faces decades in federal prison for medical marijuana
Marcinkewciz, Waldron and Jaycob Montague, 26, 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 subsequently took plea bargains in May.

Waldron and Montague are scheduled to be sentenced at 8:45 a.m. on October 4 before Judge Robert Bell in U.S. District Court at 110 Michigan Street NW, Grand Rapids. Marcinkewciz is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:45 a.m. October 5, before the same judge.

In spite of the plea bargains, the three medical marijuana providers still face decades in prison.

"The federal raids and prosecutions in Michigan are unfortunately only an example of the broader aggressive campaign by the Obama Administration to undermine state medical marijuana laws," Sherer said.

Monroe News
Jeremy Duval, 30, was arrested along with his father, Gerald.
As with the Duval raid, DEA agents commonly burst onto the scene wearing full body armor and wielding machine guns in a clear attempt to intimidate.

Despite claims by the president that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws," Obama's Justice Department has conducted more than 200 SWAT-style raids and indicted well over 70 medical marijuana patients and providers since he took office.

A federal lawsuit to force the DEA to reclassify marijuana for medical use will be heard by the D.C. Circuit on October 16. The case, Americans for Safe Access v. DEA, is bringing the science of medical marijuana into federal court for the first time in nearly 20 years.

If marijuana were reclassified, the five people being sentenced in Michigan would be entitled to a medical defense -- a right they are now denied.

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