|Will Foster, victim of the war on medical marijuana patients|
Medical marijuana patient Will Foster, who once faced 93 years in prison for growing pot in his closet, is now a free man, according to the Drug War Chronicle.
Foster was released on parole from an Oklahoma prison today, adding a happy note to a saga that stretches back to his bust in the 1990s.
Foster was in the unfortunate position of being a public example of the mindless cruelties of the war on marijuana. The 36-year-old father of two, a computer programmer, had his life changed forever when Tulsa, Okla., officers showed up at his door with a “John Doe” warrant to search for methamphetamines. No meth was found — even after officers tore apart his 5-year-old daughter’s teddy bear.
But behind a locked steel door in his basement, the cops found a 25-square-foot marijuana garden. Foster said he grew the plants to treat the chronic pain of acute rheumatoid arthritis.
Foster had prescriptions for the opiate narcotic painkillers Percodan and Percocet, but didn’t like their side effects, such as moodiness, and their potential for addiction. With marijuana, he was better able to control his pain.
After Foster refused a plea bargain and went to trial, the prosecutor told the jury that Will had intended to distribute marijuana because his garden “was producing the equivalent of 2,652 joints,” (more than four times the actual amount, according to cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal, who testified at the trial).
Even though Foster had only $30 in the house and no evidence of any sales, the jury convicted him in 1997 of cultivation and intent to sell. His sentence was enhanced because of the presence of a minor (his daughter) and he got the unbelievable sentence of 93 years.
Thanks to the efforts of StopTheDrugWar.org (back then known as DRCNet), Foster eventually got his draconian sentence trimmed to a “mere” 20 years in 1998, and after serving three years, was paroled to California in 2001.
Last year, a raid at Foster’s California home resulted in charges of an illegal marijuana grow operation, despite the fact that he was a legal patient and was abiding by the rules. Incredibly, he spent a year in the Sonoma County Jail before prosecutors dropped all charges. Unfortunately, this attracted the unwelcome attention of the Oklahoma parole authorities, who declared Foster in violation of parole. Oklahoma demanded he return to the state to finish his sentence.
Foster dropped a difficult fight against extradition last September and returned to the Oklahoma prison system.
His path to freedom became clearer a few weeks ago when the parole board decided he hadn’t, in fact, violated the terms of his parole and should be released. This week, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry followed the board’s recommendations and cleared Foster for the release which finally happened today.
After taking care of some paperwork with the parole board in Oklahoma City, Foster will soon be back with his loved ones in California in a matter of days, according to StopTheDrugWar.org.