El Sobrante Man Sentenced For Running Marijuana Food Business

September 02, 2008


An El Sobrante man who ran a business that made marijuana-laced cookies and candy was sentenced in federal court in Oakland Wednesday to two years of non-prison confinement.

Michael Martin, 34, operated an Oakland-based business originally called Tainted Inc. and later known as Compassion Medicinal Edibles that produced candy, cookies, ice cream, brownies, energy drinks and other treats containing marijuana.

He was charged with marijuana conspiracy after federal drug agents raided his Oakland facility in September 2007 and, according to federal prosecutors, found 400 marijuana plants.

Martin pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in March to one count of conspiring to manufacture and distribute a mixture containing a detectable amount of marijuana.

Wilken sentenced him today to one year of confinement in a halfway house plus one year of home detention, according to defense attorney Sara Zalkin.

Prosecutors had asked for two and one-half years in prison, saying in a court filing that Martin "was running a profitable business."

Defense attorneys arguing for non-prison confinement said Martin had a good-faith belief in the medicinal effectiveness of marijuana and that he accepted responsibility for his acts.

Zalkin said, "We're very pleased that he is not going to be locked up in a prison."

Martin was supported in the case by Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, an organization that advocates access to medical marijuana.

The group's chief of staff, Rebecca Saltzman, said before the sentencing, "Enforcement actions against people like Michael Martin, who are trying to produce edible, non-smoked medicine, is a travesty."

California's voter-approved Compassionate Use Act allows seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor's approval, but federal laws outlawing marijuana use don't recognize the state law.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials said last year that Martin's company grew from a small operation to an international business that supplied marijuana-laced foods to dispensaries in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver and Amsterdam.

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