Recent Medical Marijuana Convictions Spur Action from State & Federal Government
February 26, 2003
US Congressman Sam Farr[Please take a few moments today to let your representatives know that you would like them to sign-on to the bill when it is introduced in March. http://mpp.org/USA/index.html]
US Congressmen Sam Farr announced his upcoming introduction of bipartisan legislation that would allow defendants to mount an affirmative defense in medical marijuana cases, at a press conference held by Americans for Safe Access in the State Capitol on February 19. Attorney General Bill Lockyer spoke in support of the legislation, as did Assemblymember Mark Leno, standing beside State Senator Vasconcelles. The families of Bryan Epis & Ed Rosenthal, and 3 of the jurors in Rosenthal's trial were also present at the press conference to personally thank Rep Farr and to call on all Members of Congress to join in the effort. Rep Farr will be introducing the bill along with Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, a Republican from Orange County.
Rep. Sam Farr said that the bill will, "allow defendants in federal criminal trials to introduce evidence in court that they have complied with state law," regarding the medical use of marijuana. He added that this bill, "allows jurors to know the truth, because if jurors are walking away feeling as Marney Craig did, expressing that, 'It was the most horrible mistake I've ever made in my entire life,' this is not the way our judicial system should work. Juries should be informed on all, not just some of the evidence." He warned that the federal authorities "should not confuse compassion with criminal behavior. If a person is following state law that person should not go to prison." Although Rep Farr stated that, " I'd love to see medical marijuana available in all 50 states," he emphasized that this bill would only allow medical defense in states that have passed medical marijuana laws.
Jurors Charles Sackett, Marney Craig, And Eve Tulley-Dobkin thanked Rep. Farr, expressing their hope that this legislation will prevent future jurors from being in the same difficult position they were in. The families of 2 of the 3 medical marijuana providers who were convicted by jurors who were not allowed to hear any evidence supporting medical use were also there in support. Bryan Epis' 8 year daughter Ashley and her mother Cheryl stood with Jane Klein, Ed Rosenthal's wife, and thanked Rep Farr for helping to uphold the integrity of the justice system.
In a press conference in San Francisco the next day, Assemblymember Mark Leno released a letter co-authored by state Senator Don Perata and signed by 48 of their colleagues in the state assembly and state senate urging the CA congressional delegation to:
1. Secure states rights to regulate and oversee the use and cultivation of medical cannabis
2. Amend the controlled substance act to allow medical necessity defense and
3. Cut federal departments whose budgets receive allocations to harass, intimidate and prosecute Californians attempting to comply with Proposition 215.
In the Sacramento press conference, Assemblyman Mark Leno said, "Ed Rosenthal is not a criminal, it is this injustice that is criminal," and announced his intention to introduce Prop 215 implementation legislation that would include a "state-sponsored distribution system" of marijuana for medical use, similar to the Prop S referendum passed by San Francisco voters for city-run medical marijuana garden and distribution system.