Newsbrief: Federal Jury Convicts in California Medical Marijuana Case 7/12/02

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Defying the predictions of medical marijuana advocates, a jury has convicted Bryan James Epis on federal marijuana production charges. Prosecutors alleged that Epis, who helped found and supply Chico Medical Marijuana Caregivers, was planning to grow as many as a thousand plants for profit. Epis argued that while he indeed grew marijuana, he did not do so for profit and was only trying to help sick Californians in compliance with state law.

Epis, 35, now faces a mandatory minimum ten-year prison sentence.

The trial could be a harbinger of things to come as California medical marijuana advocates find themselves in an increasingly tense and heated conflict with the federal government. It was marked by accusations of obstruction of justice against Epis and Oakland Cannabis Co-op head Jeff Jones; Jones attempted to familiarize jurors with the concept of jury nullification, and Epis was accused by US District Judge Frank Damrell of doing so. Damrell dismissed one batch of potential jurors before the trial could get underway because of the pamphleteering, and had Jones briefly arrested. Epis returns to Damrell's court on August 1 for a hearing on the obstruction of justice charge.

Police also barred Epis supporters from demonstrating at their usual spot outside the courthouse.

If hang 'em high federal judges in California want to continue to preside over medical marijuana cases, they better get used to unruly demonstrators. The medical marijuana movement is becoming increasingly militant and proactive as the Justice Department and the DEA continue to turn up the pressure.

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Issue #245, 7/12/02 Editorial: What People Are Thinking | British Cannabis Decrim: One Step Forward, One Step Sideways, One Step Back | US Drug War: Trouble Down South America Way | Motorist Flexing Rights Doesn't Sit Well With NC Cops -- Man Arrested, Lawsuit Pending | DC Medical Marijuana Initiative Will Be on November Ballot -- Unless Congress Quashes It Again | Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot | Newsbrief: Federal Jury Convicts in California Medical Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: New Jersey Weedman Strikes Again | Newsbrief: Kid Turned in Dad's Pot Grow, Did "Right Thing" -- or Did He? | Newsbrief: Canada Just Says No to Workplace Drug Testing | The Reformer's Calendar

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