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In the first federal sentencing since Ed Rosenthal walked out of court a free man, three medical marijuana defendants, including a noted Hollywood actor, will be sentenced tomorrow in a case which has drawn allegations of San Francisco Police misconduct and caused the judge to order an investigation of SFPD involvement.
Since Stephanie Landa, Kevin Gage, and Tom Kikuchi had met with San Francisco police in February 2002 about how to grow medical marijuana legally, they were shocked to be raided on July 18 by a SFPD team led by the very inspector who had told them what to do. After two hours in handcuffs, their demands to see the captain who had also advised them were finally granted, and he ordered them released.
Two weeks later, they were indicted by the federal government, though no federal agents had been involved in the raid. Suspicion immediately fell on disgruntled SFPD officers, who may have given information to the U.S. Attorney, in violation of the city’s Medical Marijuana Sanctuary Resolution.
San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan criticized SFPD’s apparent role in the case, saying, “It’s absolutely improper for San Francisco law enforcement to turn people in to the federal government just because they feel the D.A., the Board of Supervisors and the voters are too lenient on marijuana.”
Advised that, like all other federal medical marijuana defendants, they would not be allowed to present a defense at trial, the three elected to plead guilty to maintaining a place for the “manufacture” of marijuana, a charge with a recommended maximum of 56 months. As part of their plea agreement, they were forbidden to discuss any of their contacts with SFPD in asking the court for a downward departure.
But at their first court appearance for sentencing last month, Judge William Alsup discovered mention of SFPD involvement in the Probation Department report and then -- over the strenuous objections of Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, Jr. -- first questioned the three about what had happened and then rescheduled their sentencing until after the Probation Department could conduct an investigation.
Kevin Gage is a medical cannabis patient and caregiver who grew marijuana as medication for himself, his sister who suffers from cancer, and his brother who suffers from MS. When Kevin made the decision to take a year's sabbatical to provide medical marijuana, he was living the life of a Hollywood success story, having appeared in such films as Blow (in which, ironically, he played a DEA Agent), Heat, G.I. Jane, and many others. He had appeared on such TV shows as Nash Bridges and L.A. Law and had even earned a Los Angeles Theatre Critics best actor nomination for his stage work.
Co-defendant Stephanie Landa is a single mother and a medical marijuana patient. A car accident in August of 1999 left Landas without use of her right arm; she is still awaiting more surgery. The third defendant, Tom Kikuchi, also uses medical marijuana for pain management.
WHO: Noted actor Kevin Gage and medical marijuana co-defendants Stephanie Landa and Tom Kikuchi
WHAT: Sentencing in medical marijuana case given to feds by SFPD in violation of city policy
WHEN: Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Courtroom of Judge William Alsup, U.S. District Court, 19th floor, 450 Golden Gate Ave
For interviews with Landa, Gage, or Kikuchi, contact William Dolphin: (510) 653-1016 or 919-1498.