Clemency Sought for Medical Marijuana Patient, Cancer Survivor Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

April 20, 2011
Sacramento, CA -- A clemency petition was filed this week in the federal Eastern District Court of Sacramento and sent to President Obama in an effort to avoid or shorten the imprisonment of Dr. Mollie Fry, a physician, breast cancer survivor and medical marijuana patient sentenced to 5 years along with her husband Dale Schafer, also a patient and an attorney. Fry and Schafer were arrested and convicted without a defense under President Bush, but they appealed their sentence which was vigorously fought by the Obama administration in the Ninth Circuit. Fry and Schafer's sentences were upheld in November and in March they were ordered to surrender to federal authorities on May 2nd.

"On behalf of Dr. Fry and her five children," read the clemency petition filed by Fry's attorney Laurence Lichter. "I beseech you to release Judge Damrell and others from participating in this tragic result not by pardoning her behavior but by commuting her sentence to one that does not involve the brutality of incarceration." The government has already harshly punished Fry and Schafer by revoking both their licenses to practice. "My parents don't deserve to go to prison," said Heather Schafer, the couple's oldest daughter and a mother herself. "It's incredible that President Obama would spend precious taxpayer dollars to lock up patients despite their compliance with state law."

Beginning Thursday, April 21st until their surrender on May 2nd, Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer will be available for interviews and can be contacted at 530-333-1607.

Fry and Schafer, who live with their family in Cool, a small town in El Dorado County, California, were raided by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2001, despite approval from local law enforcement to cultivate medical marijuana. Nothing happened in the case until June 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that federal marijuana laws could be enforced even against qualified patients. Two weeks later, Fry and Schafer were indicted charged with manufacturing and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Both defendants were denied a medical defense despite being legal patients in compliance with state law and were convicted in 2007. In order to obtain the mandatory minimum 5-year sentence, the government added up multiple years of harvests to arrive at more than 100 plants.

Advocates are blaming the Obama administration for failing to develop a federal policy that avoids costly prosecutions and harmful sentences, which have continued unabated under his administration despite a supposed change to the country's enforcement policy in October 2009. On the campaign trail, Obama said he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." However, as president, Obama has conducted more than 100 aggressive SWAT-style raids in at least 5 states, resulting in more than 30 new federal prosecutions. President Obama has also continued to vigorously prosecute his predecessor's cases -- like Fry and Schafer -- rather than remanding them to state court where defendants have a chance to defend themselves.
Patient advocates are bringing their message of medical marijuana policy reform to President Obama's re-election kick-off campaign in California. President Obama will be in San Francisco over the next couple of days and advocates plan to stage a lively rally on Thursday at 8am outside of a breakfast fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel (125 3rd Street). The rally coincides with the release of a report card decrying Obama's record on medical marijuana.
"Patients are sick and tired of being marginalized and suffering from both their medical condition and the full force of the federal government," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group and organizers of the protest. "It's time for medical marijuana to be properly integrated into the president's public health policy."

A coordinated day of action across the country is planned for Monday, May 2nd, when Fry and Schafer are scheduled to surrender to federal authorities. In Sacramento, their family and supporters will rally at the federal courthouse. A press conference will be held in front of the courthouse that day at 1:15pm, preceding Fry and Schafer's scheduled 2pm surrender.

Further information:
Clemency petition: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Fry_Clemency_Petition.pdf
Background on Dr. Mollie Fry & Dale Schafer: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Fry_Schafer_Background.pdf

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