Detroit, MI—(ENEWSPF)—May 27, 2013. Several Michigan medical marijuana patients and caregivers are being forced to surrender to federal authorities over the next few days to serve out lengthy prison terms, after being convicted in federal court without any opportunity to defend themselves on medical necessity or state law grounds. Some defendants went to trial while others pleaded guilty when they saw no opportunity to defend their actions under state law. Advocates are staging a press conference at the federal courthouse in Detroit on Tuesday at Noon at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., to draw attention to the Obama Administration’s ongoing imprisonment of state lawful medical marijuana patients and providers.
53-year-old Michigan medical marijuana patient Jerry Duval, a kidney-pancreas transplant patient with coronary artery disease and a strict medication regimen, was sentenced earlier this year to 10 years in prison and will be surrendering to FMC Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts on June 11th. Duval will be filing a Compassionate Release Request this week, urging the the Bureau of Prisons to consider his extraordinary and compelling circumstances. Three other Michigan cultivators, Dennis Forsberg, 59, his son Lance Forsberg, 32, and Ryan Basore, 36, who were sentenced to 3-4 years in prison will be self-surrendering to FCI Morgantown in West Virginia on May 30th.
“Jerry Duval and his 10-year sentence is emblematic of how the Obama Administration has been undermining state medical marijuana laws, while persecuting patients who are in no way violating state law,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director with Americans for Safe Access, which is hosting Tuesday’s press conference. “President Obama and Attorney General Holder must start owning up to the unnecessary torment they’re forcing not only cultivators, but thousands of patients, to endure.”
To counter this aggressive stance by the Obama Administration, ASA and its members are mounting a campaign called “Peace for Patients” (#Peace4Patients). The Peace for Patients campaign is an effort to educate elected officials about the millions of federal dollars being spent on attacking law-abiding patients and their providers in medical marijuana states. But the grassroots campaign is also urging members of Congress to vote this summer for an appropriations amendment that would re-prioritize Justice Department resources away from the kind of aggressive enforcement that has been occurring in medical marijuana states.
Jerry Duval was convicted at trial in April 2012 of manufacturing with intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and maintaining a drug premises. Because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, federal defendants like Duval are prevented from showing relevant evidence to the jury. To make matters worse, Unsatisfied with Duval’s conviction and 10-year sentence, the Obama Justice Department is trying to forfeit his home and farm land worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Duval’s imminent surrender comes less than year after Montana medical marijuana patient Richard Flor died in federal custody last August while serving a 5-year sentence for a similar conviction. The Justice Department also never provided evidence at any point that Flor had violated Montana’s medical marijuana law.
Duval and Flor are, unfortunately, only two out of scores of medical marijuana patients and providers targeted by the Obama Administration. Since President Obama took office in 2008, his Justice Department has aggressively prosecuted more than one hundred medical marijuana patients and providers, none of whom had an ability to bring a medical necessity or state law defense. In addition to the Michigan cultivators, several patients and dispensary operators have been sentenced over the past few months to several years in federal prison, including California dispensary operator Aaron Sandusky (10 years), Montana cultivator Chris Williams (5 years), Jerry Duval’s son Jeremy (5 years), and another Michigan cultivator John Marcinkewciz (5 years).
A cross-country educational caravan, called Green Bus Tour for Cannabis Freedom (aka CannaBus) is adding a stop to their nationwide tour to support the Michigan federal defendants before they surrender to authorities. The CannaBus also trekked more than three thousand miles in January to attend the sentencing hearing for Montana cultivator Chris Williams, who is currently serving 5 years in prison.
Peace for Patients campaign: http://PeaceForPatients.org
Jerry Duval’s Compassionate Release request: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Compassionate_Release_Request_Duval.pdf
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With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.