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Mind Pilot

Registered: 02/09/09
Posts: 3,469
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Medical-Pot Advocate-Grower Gets 10 Years
    #416463 - 05/12/10 04:50 PM (6 years, 5 months ago)

SAN FRANCISCO — A medical-marijuana advocate who grew 32,000 plants on his land in Lake County was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday by a federal judge who criticized the law she was applying.

“I think that amount of time is excessive, but it’s not up to me,” U.S.  District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said in sentencing Charles “Eddy” Lepp in a San Francisco courtroom crowded with his supporters.

Patel gave Lepp until July 6 to report to prison and said she would reconsider the sentence if Congress changed the law, which requires a 10-year term for growing at least 1,000 marijuana plants.

Lepp, 56, was arrested in 2004, after federal agents said they had found more than 32,000 marijuana plants in gardens near his home in Upper Lake, most of them in plain view of Highway 20.

He said the plants were all for patients who had a right to use marijuana with their doctors’ approval under California law.  Courts have ruled, however, that the state law does not bar federal prosecutions.

Lepp also said that he was a Rastafarian minister, for whom the plants were a sacrament, and that he was growing the plants for 2,500 members of his church who were sharecroppers.  Patel barred the religious defense last year, saying Lepp could not credibly claim that his faith compelled him to distribute thousands of plants to unidentified parishioners.

A jury convicted Lepp in September of conspiracy and cultivation with the intent to distribute marijuana.  His lawyer, Michael Hinckley, argued for a lesser sentence, but Patel said the 10-year term was mandatory because the evidence showed Lepp led the operation and supervised others.

Hinckley also argued in court papers that the sentence was “grossly disproportional” to the crimes and that Lepp, who is in frail health, would not survive 10 years in prison.  Hinckley said Monday he would appeal the sentence.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Contact: letters@sfchronicle.com
Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer


:guns: Don't Mistake My Kindness For Weakness :guns:

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