Judge Says He May Set Bold Medical Marijuana Precedent Today

August 11, 2003
Santa Ana – A “bold, precedent-setting decision” is what U.S. District Judge David O. Carter has said he will make today in the sentencing of an Orange County man who had been growing in his garage the marijuana he used to treat his chronic back pain. Federal prosecutors want five years in prison for Michael Teague, 33, but Judge Carter has challenged them to produce evidence that Teague ever sold any of it. Otherwise, he says he’s ready to set precedent for Southern California.
 
Since medical-marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal received a symbolic one-day sentence case from Judge Charles Breyer, federal judges have begun looking at the intent of medical marijuana defendants as a way around harsh sentencing guidelines.
 
Mr. Teague was growing cannabis in the back of his garage because his doctor recommended it to him after he nearly died from reactions to such conventional pain-killing medications as aspirin and Tylenol. The owner of a small pool-service business, Mr. Teague suffers from a chronic back injury.
 
Local police initially arrested him, but the District Attorney declined to bring charges after learning of Mr. Teague’s condition. Two weeks later, federal authorities arrived at his home with weapons drawn and re-arrested him, charging him with federal drug violations that carry a possible ten-year sentence.
 
Mr. Teague elected to plead guilty to a lesser marijuana cultivation charge with a maximum sentence of five years, after being advised that he would be unable to tell a jury about either his painful medical condition or the drug allergies that made medical marijuana the best treatment option.
 
The son of a police department employee and brother of a police officer, Mr. Teague’s worst previous encounter with law enforcement was a traffic ticket. Federal prosecutors are nonetheless intent on getting a five-year prison sentence. Judge Carter looks set to say otherwise.
 
Who:     Michael Teague, 33, Orange County small-business owner and medical-marijuana patient
 
What:    Possible Precedent-Setting Sentencing in Federal Medical Marijuana Case
 
When:   Monday, August 11th at 1:30 PM
 
Where: US District Court in Santa Ana, Ronald Reagan Federal Building and United States Courthouse, 411 West Fourth Street, 8th Floor, Courtroom of Judge David O. Carter
 
Americans for Safe Access is a national coalition of patients, doctors and advocates. With 5,500 members nationwide, ASA is the leading organization devoted to medical marijuana.
 
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