No jail for patient who grew his own marijuana

May 27, 2004

Sharon Coolidge, The Cincinnati Enquirer

A 65-year-old Mount Healthy man, convicted of growing marijuana he said he used to stimulate his appetite while undergoing cancer treatment, was placed on three years probation Thursday.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge John Andrew West sympathized with Carter Singleton's medical reason for using the illegal drug, but said in the future Singleton must rely on prescription drugs.

'I find there to be substantial mitigating grounds,' West said after he sentenced Singleton. 'The circumstances are unlikely to reoccur and he shows genuine remorse.'

Singleton's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is now in remission.

He told the judge: 'You don't have to worry about me, I'll do what the probation officer says I have to do.'

West could have sentenced Singleton to up to five years in prison.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Singleton in October on a charge of cultivation of marijuana after a neighbor spotted his grow light flickering and, fearing a fire had ignited, called for help. Singleton pleaded guilty.

Singleton said chemotherapy had racked his 6-foot, 230-pound frame. He couldn't eat and lost 80 pounds over five months.

A friend suggested he try smoking marijuana, and Singleton said it helped. Singleton started growing it because it was too expensive to buy.

At the time, Singleton said he did what he had to do, but after sentencing he said he'll never do anything illegal again.

Larry Keller, Singleton's attorney, said probation was the best possible resolution.

'This judge expressed understanding of these unique circumstances,' Keller said. 'What made this case noteworthy was that Carter had no prior record.

'It was a pure case of medical marijuana,' Keller said.

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