In a non-jury trial, a Marion County judge Tuesday found Robert Gray, director of the Medical Cannabis Resource Center in Salem, guilty of marijuana possession, manufacture and distribution and sentenced him to 40 months in prison. Also found guilty was Linda Johnson, Gray's girlfriend and grower, who was sentenced to 18 months probation.
While Gray had vowed a noisy defense after his arrest 15 months ago, Tuesday's convictions came after Gray and Johnson dropped demands for a jury trial and stipulated to facts that supported a guilty verdict. That was a tactical move, Gray told the Salem Statesman-Journal. "I had no choice," Gray said. "He wouldn't allow me to use medical marijuana as an affirmative defense. I didn't plea because I didn't commit the crime. I need to take it to the Supreme Court on appeal."
Gray would appear to be arguably within the boundaries of Oregon law, but that's not how the Marion County criminal justice system saw it. Police raided and prosecutors prosecuted the case as a drug trafficking case, and Marion County Judge John Ochoa refused to allow Gray to present a medical marijuana defense.
Gray and Johnson were arrested after the Marion Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team raided Johnson's residence next door to the center and found 37 plants and a pound of dried marijuana. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act allows each patient or his caregiver to grow seven plants and possess up to seven ounces of marijuana, and the law also allows doctors to recommend more. Gray, who is a certified medical marijuana cardholder, said he was growing for about a half-dozen patients, including himself. That would add up to 42 plants and a pound-and-a-half of dried pot.
As Gray vowed to appeal and promised to file a lawsuit against Marion County, about 25 supporters applauded. Johnson, with whom Gray lived, was sentenced to 18 months probation, ordered to undergo evaluation for drug treatment, cease being a caregiver and, to add injury to injury, ordered to stop associating with Gray. "I'm only a caregiver," she said. "I don't smoke it. I do it just to help someone out."