Advocate Goes To Prison Rather Than Quit Marijuana


Photo: Meredith J. Graham
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Greeson holds up a jar of marijuana obtained from defendant Joel Castle’s hotel room ore than a year ago. Castle, left, was ultimately found guilty of possession and sale of marijuana. He chose nine months in prison rather than three years’ probation.

‚ÄčA California medical marijuana patient said he prefers being behind bars to being told he can’t use cannabis. Joel Castle is going to prison for nine months rather than spending the next three years on probation, because a condition of the probation a judge offered him was that he quit smoking pot.

Castle, the former Chico Cannabis Club operator who was found guilty last month of two felonies associated with a guitar-for-pot trade in January 2010, was sentenced earlier this month, reports Meredith J. Graham at the Chico News Review.
Judge Robert Glusman at first offered Castle three years’ probation. But the medical marijuana patient refused, and was sentenced instead to two years, eight months in state prison.
“It was the first time I really spoke my mind to that judge,” Castle said. Castle ended up being ejected from the courtroom during his sentencing, never a good sign.

“I was offered probation a year ago,” Castle said. “I didn’t take it then; why would they think I’d take it now?”
Under the district attorney’s conditions of probation, Castle would have been required to give up his Prop 215 medical marijuana rights for three years, “which I have and will always refuse as the medical cannabis advocate of Butte County,” he said.
Parole, by contrast, usually does not come with the stipulation of not smoking medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
Castle said he was upset that three misdemeanor charges involving separate incidences of violating his probation by smoking marijuana were all dismissed. He said he’d rather have them heard in court and added to the public record than dismissed.
They were acts of protest that were generally ignored and led him to remand himself into Butte County Jail more than once in further acts of protest against conditions requiring that he not use his medical marijuana, he said.
In fact, Castle’s extended time already spent in jail will count against his prison sentence, reducing it by more than half and leaving him just nine more months to serve.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Greeson said he had hoped Castle would get more time in prison. The judge gave Castle the lower term, but Greeson had requested about a year more.
“My advocacy does and will not stop at the door of the prison,” Castle said. “There are many men in prison that have been put there by Butte County’s probation department and this district attorney, Mike Ramsey. I will be welcomed there with a red carpet.”