Recent Medical Marijuana Convictions Spur Action from State and Federal Government

In a press conference in San Francisco today, state assembly member 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.

On the federal level, Americans for Safe Access organized a press conference yesterday that was attended by Mark Leno, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state rep Senator Vasconcelles to honor US Congressmen Sam Farr, Dana Rohrbacher, and Lynn Woolsey who will introduce bipartisan legislation that would allow defendants to mount an affirmative defense in medical marijuana cases. 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.

Congressman Sam Farr announced that the intention of the bill was, "to allow defendants in federal criminal trials to introduce evidence in court that they have complied with state law," regarding 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 mistakes I've ever made in my entire life,' this is not the way our judicial system should work." He went on to say that, " 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.

CA Attorney General Bill Lockyer also thanked Reps Farr, Woolsey and Rohrbacher for their bipartisan effort to reconcile state and federal law. He commented that he could not understand the DEA campaign on the medical use of marijuana, suggesting it was a case of, "left-over reefer madness."

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.

Assemblyman Mark Leno announced his intent yesterday to introduce Prop 215 implementation legislation that would include a "state-sponsored distribution system" of marijuana for medical use, saying that, "Ed Rosenthal is not a criminal, it is this injustice that is criminal." The letter he introduced today, signed by 48 members of the state legislature shows that that promise is in the works. ###