Pot grower's verdict irks medical marijuana activists

January 15, 2004

Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

OLYMPIA -- A verdict against an admitted Olympia pot grower is drawing fire from medical marijuana advocates.

In a verdict Wednesday, Thurston County Superior Court jurors convicted Monica Ginn, 53, of growing and distributing marijuana, and decided she qualifies for a more severe sentence because her growing operation was within 1,000 feet of a designated school bus stop.

She faces up to five years in jail, but her attorneys promised to appeal the case as high as the Washington Supreme Court.

Kevin Johnson, Ginn's attorney, said the verdict was a foregone conclusion because Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee forbade him from using Washington's medical marijuana law as a defense, saying Ginn's condition wasn't well enough documented.

'With that gutted, there's basically no defense,' Johnson said. 'I think the verdict was a foregone conclusion.'

Patients must have a terminal or debilitating medical condition to qualify for medical marijuana under a state law enacted by voters in 1998.

The jury's verdict Wednesday could make it harder for patients who need marijuana to alleviate pain, advocates said.

'It sends chills down our spines,' said Martin Martinez, director of the Seattle-based Lifeline Foundation. 'Many of these people have been living in fear for many years, and this only reinforces that fear.'

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