Newsbrief: Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop Head Gets Three Months in Jail for Trying to Inform Jurors 2/28/03

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Jeff Jones, head of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop, was sentenced to three months in jail Thursday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of jury tampering. Jones was arresting for distributing literature outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento during jury selection in the federal prosecution of medical marijuana provider Bryan Epis last September. Epis was convicted of federal marijuana distribution charges and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Jones was charged with attempting to inform potential jurors about the background of the Epis case, particularly the facts that Epis was a medical marijuana patient in compliance with California's Compassionate Use Act and that he was attempting to grow medical marijuana for a patients' group in Chico, CA.

The harsh jail sentence for Jones is only the latest indication that the federal government is scared that allowing federal juries in California to hear the complete story about its prosecutions of medical marijuana providers would result in failures to convict. Most recently, the federal judge in the Ed Rosenthal case took great pains to excise any mention of medical marijuana, California law, or Oakland ordinances allowing Rosenthal to grow medical marijuana -- an action that caused Rosenthal jurors to react with anger and disgust when informed of all the facts of that case.

Jones pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge rather than face felony charges of jury tampering. His sentence begins on March 3.

In a press release Thursday, California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer denounced Jones' sentence as an inexcusable misuse of law enforcement resources. "It's time that our federal government took action to reform the marijuana laws, rather than waste yet more taxpayers' money to perpetuate its blatantly unjust, bankrupt and unpopular policy," he said.

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