Paul Stanford of Portland, Oregon, the man who describes himself as the nation’s largest broker of authorizations for medical marijuana, has pleaded guilty to reduced state tax-evasion charges.
But Stanford said it was a petty and politically motivated prosecution.
“It’s the first time in Oregon history that the attorney general has held a press conference about a misdemeanor case,” Stanford told Toke of the Town Wednesday afternoon.
Stanford, 50, founder of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), was charged in March with failing to file personal state income taxes in 2008 and 2009, reports Fox 12 Oregon.
“Paying taxes is not optional,” crowed Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, unable to stop himself from throwing a self-congratulatory press conference immediately after the plea was announced.
Stanford had earlier said he would be cleared of guilt, but told Toke of the Town that he instead took a “sweetheart deal” from prosecutors and accepted a misdemeanor charge of personal income tax evasion.
|Photo: Paul Stanford|
|Paul Stanford: “I didn’t know I was that important”|
According to Stanford, fighting the case to trial would have cost potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, whereas taking the plea deal ended up amounting to just over $200 in court costs.
He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 160 hours of community service.
“I was … dismayed that within minutes of leaving the courtroom yesterday, I started getting phone calls about your office’s press release,” Paul Stanford wrote on Wednesday in an open letter to the Oregon Department of Justice. “I didn’t know I was that important.”
“Please let your supervisors know that I think their pandering to the press hurts [John] Kroger and the office of Oregon Attorney General more than it hurts me or the movement to restore hemp & cannabis. It is clear to most that this prosecution was unnecessary, petty and politicall motivated.
“Publicizing it really just gives us more exposure and recognition, and makes the AG’s office look bad, in my humble opinion,” Stanford wrote in the open letter to Jennifer K. Gardiner, Kmetic Shannon, Tony Greenfield and John Kroger.
THCF, founded in 1999, operates offices in nine medical marijuana states. It has helped more than 100,000 patients obtain medicinal cannabis authorizations in those states.
It lost its federal tax-exempt status last year.