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Feature: American Nightmare -- Will Foster and Justice, Oklahoma Style

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #591)
Drug War Issues

Will Foster became a poster child for the mindless cruelties of the drug war more than a decade ago. The Tulsa computer consultant and medical marijuana user -- he suffers from degenerative arthritis -- was raided by police with a warrant for a methamphetamine lab back in 1995. Police found no meth, but they did find a small marijuana garden. The unfortunate Foster was convicted of cultivation and sentenced in 2007 to a mind-blowing 93 years in prison.

Will Foster (
It took a growing national movement and, ultimately, an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision to get that sentence redressed. After the state high court threw out his sentence, Foster was resentenced to 20 years, twice denied parole, then finally paroled to the more medical marijuana-friendly state of California, where he moved in temporarily with "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal, who had testified in his defense in Oklahoma and then befriended him.

And they all lived happily ever after, right? Wrong. Although Foster settled into a law-abiding life in Northern California, picking up a new family along the way, and successfully completed what the state of California considered an adequate parole period, that wasn't good enough for the state of Oklahoma. Upset that California officials hadn't kept him on parole as long as they would have, Oklahoma parole officials demanded that he return to that benighted state to finish his parole and when he, perhaps understandably, declined, issued a warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his parole.

Nothing came of that until Foster had his ID checked in a police encounter, but then, the pending Oklahoma warrant popped up, and Foster was jailed in California to be returned to Oklahoma to finish the rest of his sentence. With nothing to lose, Foster fought the warrant by filing a writ of habeas corpus and winning its dismissal in the California courts in 2006.

Susie Mueller and family
Once again, Foster was a free man, but Oklahoma still wasn't done with him. Oklahoma parole officials then offered to reinstate him in the interstate compact, which governs the supervision of parolees who parole to states other than the one in which they were sentenced, but then added that they had made a mistake when originally calculating the length of his parole period. His parole didn't end in 2011, but in 2015, they said, demanding he sign a document to that effect. Again, perhaps understandably, Foster declined that offer, and again, the state of Oklahoma issued another warrant for his arrest for violating the terms of his parole.

By then, Foster had moved to Santa Rosa, California, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, and was in a relationship with and supporting a local woman, Susie Mueller, and her three daughters. At Foster's residence, he had a medical marijuana grow, all completely legal under state law and county guidelines. But he also had a personal enemy, Mueller's estranged husband, who told law enforcement officials he was operating a major marijuana grow operation.

The next thing Foster and Mueller knew, DEA agents and Sonoma County sheriff's deputies were kicking down Foster's door, the couple was arrested on state marijuana cultivation charges, and Mueller's youngest daughter was taken into custody as an endangered child.

"It was terrible," said Mueller. "They did a full-on raid and arrested him over seven mature plants, and they arrested me and took my daughter away. They thought because he knew Ed there was something big going on. They said if I told them where the other grows were, they wouldn't arrest me and take my daughter. I told them that's all there was and that he was within the guidelines, and they said 'take her kid,' and they arrested me."

A hard-nosed Sonoma County prosecutor delayed months before dropping the baseless charges, and Foster sat in the Sonoma County Jail the whole time. But even after the charges were dropped, Foster remains behind bars, fighting the extradition warrant back to Oklahoma. It's now going on 16 months of imprisonment for him.

"In their warrant, they said I violated the terms and conditions of parole in Oklahoma, then fled Oklahoma to escape justice," Foster said Wednesday in a phone call from the jail. "But I haven't been back in Oklahoma since I left in 2001. I successfully finished parole here, I beat back that earlier extradition effort, and they're still coming after me."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger routinely signed off on the Oklahoma warrant without knowing all the facts, Foster said. "The governor has not been given all the information. Oklahoma didn't tell him I had finished parole, had an earlier extradition attempt thrown out, or that they had tried to extend my parole six years after the fact," he pointed out.

Neither the California nor the Oklahoma governors' offices nor Oklahoma parole officials responded to Chronicle inquiries about the Foster case.

Now, with his options running out, Foster and his supporters are pursuing two strategies, one political and one judicial. The first is aimed at the two governors, urging them to revoke the warrants. The second is to file another writ of habeas corpus, which Foster said he would do at the end of this month. Otherwise, he will be taken back to Oklahoma in shackles before July is over.

"I am asking the governor of Oklahoma to recall the warrant and commute my sentence and let me live in peace in California and just leave me alone," he said. "I'm asking Gov. Schwarzenegger to not honor the extradition request. There is case law suggesting that he does not have to grant extradition; he can deny it and recall his warrant."

Ed Rosenthal is leading the campaign to free Foster. On his blog is complete information about how to contact the two governors to ask them to recall the warrants.

"Every human being whose life is disrupted because of the marijuana laws deserves our attention, but Will's case is important first because people already know about the terrible injustice done to him back in Oklahoma, and second because it's just so weird and egregious," said Rosenthal. "People just shake their heads and say this shouldn't be happening. We're trying to get him out, and we're trying to bring this injustice to the attention of people who don't already know about it," he said.

"Apparently, Oklahoma has a lot of money to burn on this vindictiveness," he noted. "This is a sad and stupid case."

It's costing cash-strapped California, too. The cost for imprisoning Foster for the past 15 months is now in excess of $100,000, and that doesn't include the cost of the bogus marijuana cultivation prosecution.

"I'll be filing a habeas writ on June 29," Foster said, "and the state will have 15 days to respond. There will probably be a hearing in 30 days."

It's unusual for habeas writs to be granted, and Foster is uncertain about his prospects for victory, but is prepared for the long haul. "If I don't win there, I can drag this out for years. I could go all the way to the California Supreme Court, and then into the federal courts. But that would require that I continue to sit here in jail," he said.

Susie Mueller visits Foster in jail almost every day. "This is heartbreaking for me, it's very emotionally difficult because he shouldn't be in there," she said. "But I'm really devoted to him. I go almost every night, and we talk for an hour and play tic-tic-toe and go over the case."

In one of the strange ironies of Foster's ordeal, Mueller said she had gathered signatures for petitions seeking his release when he was imprisoned in Oklahoma a decade ago. "I met him at work here in Santa Rosa and didn't even realize he was that Will Foster," she laughed. "What a coincidence."

"Ed and Susie are the best advocates a guy could have," said Foster. "I'm so grateful for all they're doing."

For Foster, Oklahoma's efforts to punish him further are not about justice, but vengeance. "I beat them on the sentencing, I beat them on the first extradition warrant, and they want to teach me a lesson," he said. "They want to impose their authority."

Right now, the decision to extradite Foster back to Oklahoma is up to the two governors and their extradition specialists. An outpouring of public support in favor of allowing Foster to remain in California as a free man could make the difference.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Because of the MANY atrocities against human rights and virtual nullification of The Constitution of the United States of America due Marijuana Prohibition and the War on Drugs in general, I consider the American Flag barely worthy of use even as a floor-mat upon which to wipe the dirt from the soles of my shoes. (after all, politicians, bureaucrats, and agents wipe thier butts with the Constitution so why shouldn't we wipe our feet on the Flag?)

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 3:27pm Permalink
law enforcemen… (not verified)

We do not like being made to look like ignorent fools in the drug're just supporting another drug war criminal posing as "medical marijuana" please dont buy into that.he volatied preol and needs to be punshied to the fullest.and what about those young children living in thaT house? he was endangering those poor children with toxic posioness plants.u should be ashamed of this you need to support your law enforcement not the criminals .

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 3:28pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by law enforcemen… (not verified)

what toxic plants are you talking about?
from norml:
Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Similarly, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison,
*****my emphasis added*****************

marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose.
According to the prestigious European medical journal, The Lancet, "The smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health. ... It would be reasonable to judge cannabis as less of a threat ... than alcohol or tobacco

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 3:50pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by law enforcemen… (not verified)

It always warms my heart when the only voice supporting prohibition and intolerance comes from someone who demonstrates the writing ability of a second-grader. You'd be an ignorent fool (sic) with or without the efforts of the people who are attempting to end 72 years of injustice against the American people.

Making your side look stupid does us more good than you'll ever know.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 6:44pm Permalink
We understand … (not verified)

In reply to by law enforcemen… (not verified)

- "We do not like being made to look like ignorent fools in the drug war"

Then stop acting like ignorant fools (and learn how to spell the word "ignorant").

The American public's respect for law enforcement has been utterly destroyed by the ugly, unconstitutional "cultural cleansing" campaign that is the drug war. One of the innumerable benefits of legalization is that law enforcement will finally have a chance to win back the public's trust after decades of abuse. Imagine how much easier cops' jobs will be when people can once again respect and support them (i.e. the way people did before the drug war).

Sat, 06/27/2009 - 12:56am Permalink
informer (not verified)

In reply to by law enforcemen… (not verified)

Law enforcement just like criminal justice turns my stomach. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only the perverts in the criminal justice system refuse to admit their crimes against the people.
Websters says pervert: to lie and mislead. Our judiciary is run by perverts.

Sat, 06/27/2009 - 6:49pm Permalink
Me again (not verified)

In reply to by law enforcemen… (not verified)

"I think John Stuart Mill had it right in the 1850s," said Congressman Frank, "when he argued that individuals should have the right to do what they want in private, so long as they don't hurt anyone else. It's a matter of personal liberty. Moreover, our courts are already stressed and our prisons are overcrowded. We don't need to spend our scarce resources prosecuting people who are doing no harm to others."

Tue, 06/30/2009 - 12:30pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by law enforcemen… (not verified)

Please don't judge Oklahoma by our Law Enforcement Officials, humans live there too. When I first read this, I thought this has got to be someone's practical joke... but then I remember how many times I've been wrongfully imprisoned in Oklahoma, and how these moron's think. I was once arrested on totally unsubstantiated charges of "fraud by deception", along with a 85 year old man, he was homeless living in his car, selling souvenirs, they watched us all week, then waited until Friday to evening to arrest us and take us to jail so that we would have to spend the weekend in jail. On Monday, were offered a real plea "bargain" we could plead guilty, pay a $100 dollar fine, and be set free, OR we could go back to jail (remanded since we were considered transient) and then face up to a year in jail and up to $10,000 fine. or how about the time that I was at the Lake with only swimming trunks and flip flops, after I got out of the Lake, into my car with my invalid brother and his two kids, they stopped me for rolling through a stop sign, Took me to jail for having a Florida license instead of a OK DL. When I tried to explain to them that I was just visiting from Florida, they said "this doesn't mean you live in Florida, this just means you've been to Florida." Later in the holding cell I was informed that Possession of Marijuana had been added to the charge. The honorable law enforcement officers had searched their car thoroughly before I was in it, and had found a quarter ounce of a substance believed to be marijuana... this was only the beginning of a 3 month battle that finally ended in me agrreeing to a plea ($100 fine and a "you can leave, but don't leave the State" sentence). You probably wondering why I still live here, This is my home! This is my State, not theirs. My family has been in this state for generations, some were moved here forcefully from Georgia, others homesteaded here.
I just want you to please don't judge Oklahomans based on these few assholes, and the naive (but not stupid) people that let them maintain their authority.

Fri, 08/28/2009 - 1:36pm Permalink

This is a great article, but sadly this is the first I've personally heard of Foster's case. The continued actions of both states are appalling, and highlight the need for major reform of federal, state and local laws. The following quote says it all:
"Apparently, Oklahoma has a lot of money to burn on this vindictiveness," he noted. "This is a sad and stupid case."

Add in $100,000 Cali has already spent, and our new President will have no way left to spin this idiocy. In my opinion, Will Foster is the perfect poster child for decriminalization. (please note, Mr. President, we are NOT talking about "legalization"; but instead discussing the appropriate legal process recommended by virtually all groups who have taken the actual time to study the situation at hand.)

Our new President is a smooth-talker, but if he's forced to answer for things like this then we will finally start to see real change. So, basically, my theory is that we need to use our growing voice in the press to force this issue. Right now, and specifically with this case in mind. Perhaps the incredible men and women of LEAP could even highlight this case in their discussions with officers and lawmakers, to help display the consequences of our idiotic laws, and underline the urgency of the matter.

There is no doubt that we've gained a lot of ground in the past few months, and there are now more people than ever who understand the failings of our current system. Even some of what's left of the mainstream press is calling for a public debate on the issue. Now is the time to start an open conversation with the President, and this case--along with the ongoing extradition of Marc Emery--offers a perfect display of the problems we are trying to fix.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 3:39pm Permalink

Let us never forget that Republican "Christians" (such as those who rule states like OK, TX, VA, etc.) are equally as evil as Islamic Fundamenatlist zealots. The only difference is, is that the former use "law" and the force of the state rather than random murder, mayhem, and vandalism to inflict human misery.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 3:40pm Permalink
doinggood (not verified)

Sounds like you just think MJ is a narcotic in which it is not. The man had some plants growing he was not manufacturing anything. I am going to write the Governors now because of your stupid and un educated comment. Wondering if you are one of the "law enforcers" that hides behind the law and is probally manufacturing narcotics or robbing dealers. for your own gain. And as the information goes he moved to CA and completed his parole. Sounds more like you just want revenge that OK let him move to CA and they noticed that he is now a law abidding citizen and OK cant stand for that. My Gosh look how stupid the first sentence OK gave him 93 years for a few plants (Gods gift to this earth and humans) and to be penalized for growing plants HMMMMM how stupid does that make Law Enforcement? We are waking up to the Control over us Humans that Law/Government doesnt like it. Maybe OK should stand down. With the population seeing that Law/Government is just trying to Control every thing in a persons life. Like Freedom of choice.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 3:57pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

This is a very upsetting case. First off, I am willing to accept everyones' beliefs and everyone is entitled to an opinion on this subject, however I find that the continued harrassement of Will is very un-American.

The thing that law enforcement (in response to the law enforcement post above) needs to understand is that they are there to enforce existing laws, and not to decide what is right and what is wrong for everyone else. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; if you believe marijuana is toxic and poisoness, don't smoke it, but at the same time do not attempt to tell other people how to live their lives. For as much as these people despise marijuana, there is an equal amount of people who have benefitted from its uses (even calming people down in otherwise hostile situations).

All I'm asking is that people stop being so one-dimensional and closed minded; everybody is different.

I would like to wish Will and his family the best of luck getting out of this ordeal, as he is obviously the victim of failed attempts to control by closed minded authority figures.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 5:29pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I personallly have three options for airports in my area. I will not be taking advantage of the Tulsa option from this point forward. This poor guy is a fine example of why Rep. Webb's new bill on justice reform is bound for passage. Jeez what a travesty! Just ignore that LEO from OK, it has to be a troll.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 5:47pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

Whether it is Oklahoma Senator Inhofe positioning himself as the last senatorial holdout who denies the reality of global warming, or some frivolous Oklahoma prosecutor revisiting a senseless marijuana cultivation bust from 1993, Oklahoma continues to embarrass itself in front of the nation and the world with issues such as the Will Foster case.

Oklahoma’s governor should place greater emphasis upon his state’s relationship with those outside the state.  Public relations are critical for attracting new people, businesses and tourism to Oklahoma.  No one is attracted to states with nut-bag judicial systems.  That’s why such places are called “flyover states”.

The governor should consider focusing on real problems, such as the fact that Oklahoma ranks 42nd among states in median income and 10th among states for those living below the poverty line (15.3% of the population).  Despite the presence of a strong religious right wing influence in the state, or perhaps because of it, Oklahoma ranks 5th among states with the highest divorce rate.

Given the poverty and cultural deprivations of Oklahoma, made much worse in the current recession economy than the previous statistics indicate, the idea that such a state would blow $100,000 on a sixteen-year-old marijuana case is insane.  Oklahomans desperately need to rid themselves of some incompetent bureacrats and replace them with reasonable professionals who will watch the state's purse strings. 


Sat, 06/27/2009 - 3:06am Permalink
Fortuenti (not verified)

In reply to by Giordano (not verified)

I have absolutely NO INTENTION of EVER visiting Oklahoma and contribute to their economy and tax base anymore than I do for traveling to similarly evil nations such as Singapore and Malaysia.

Sat, 06/27/2009 - 12:30pm Permalink
One who knows... (not verified)

One of the most important concerns in this case is the fact that Will Foster is in chronic pain. The marijuana he was growing was for the purpose of alleviating that pain. What many people do not realize is how awful things are for chronic pain patients. So much of the "approved" medication and therapy do very little to help people who suffer day in and day out with relentless pain. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen and many others are routinely prescribed to pain patients, but these drugs cause thousands of deaths every year from internal bleeding.

"In fact, serious side effects of NSAIDs, such as stomach bleeding, result in more than 100,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths each year in the U.S. " (direct quote from the American Gastroenterological Association,

NSAIDs, along with surgeries that don't work, painful injections, endless physical therapy, psychological counseling -- this is what the government approved medical treatment for pain looks like. But, natural medicines which actually work, such as marijuana and opiates, are criminalized.

Remember, when you are writing to the governors about Will Foster, that he is in very real, horrible pain and that marijuana gave him some relief from that pain.

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 11:21pm Permalink
budtender707 (not verified)

In reply to by One who knows... (not verified)

Sure he is in PAIN> but to grow 1000 plants in more that 1 location....

Helping others grow and sell  !!!! 

And with a small child involved in that !  Hello

read the real story of his last arrest. omg


It is one thing to grow a dozen or so plants, go to the club and buy some to he was an all out grower and dealer in it for the MONEY !!!!!   He never even smoked it in the day time otherwise he would not be able to get things done.

Mon, 12/27/2010 - 8:23pm Permalink
Francis (not verified)

From Old Europe (labeled by Donald Rumsfeld!) I feel with what is said. However, you voted for inadequate educated individualities from legislative, executive, judiciary. Reason too why you expose highest prisoner rate (probably apart from Russia) among developed democracies. It's really high time Senator Jim Webb and his task force make the change so you are not labeled Happy Sentencing.

Mon, 06/29/2009 - 10:15am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I dont think anyone can deny public opinion supports the end of Marijuana Prohibition.

Drug laws are an abuse of law, freedom, and individual rights.

If prohibition didnt: create jobs in the hunting, bondage, and containment of humans,
reinforce high black market drug prices, or keep cheap viabel natural medications out of competition with big pharma synthetics, prohibition wouldnt even exist.

I believe in nature and God given gifts. I also firmly believe marijuana has spiritual/religious benifits as do many native cultures.

End the persecution turn your attention to the real social deviants on wall street who are causing real harm to the population at large.

Mon, 06/29/2009 - 8:30pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Perhaps the name Oklahoma should be erased from the map, after all that state is a complete disgrace to humanity.

Let's call it "Indian Country"

Thu, 07/02/2009 - 1:37pm Permalink
Mark W. Laszlo (not verified)

OK became a state following invasion by settlers allowed
by treaty violation. It was a ghetto for displaced native tribes
who it was given to "forever". The backward fundamentalist
protestants never had a right to take it away. No matter how
established the state has become, it is illegitimate as a
political entity, since it was founded for land-avarice on a
lie. The land belongs to native peoples, not to life-hating
religious fanatics. All pretentions of legal and political
power from the "state of oklahoma" are as illegitimate as
itself and must be defied.

Sat, 07/04/2009 - 5:11pm Permalink
TheSouthSucks (not verified)

Dear Oklahoma, Did you know that the average I.Q. in your state is lower then Texas, lower then Texas! Oklahoma your number 1 and Texas number 2.

Thu, 08/27/2009 - 8:57pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

law enforcement in OK said: We do not like being made to look like ignorent fools in the drug're just supporting another drug war criminal posing as "medical marijuana" please dont buy into that.he volatied preol and needs to be punshied to the fullest.and what about those young children living in thaT house? he was endangering those poor children with toxic posioness plants.u should be ashamed of this you need to support your law enforcement not the criminals .

I keep re-reading this and thinking about traffic tickets being misspelled in OKC. That and the Aggie joke "Did you hear about the Aggie that moved from Texas to Oklahoma and raised the IQ of both states?

He didn't violate preol (parole). The state of Oklahoma turned it over to California, but didn't like the way California did it. Gee, my father was like that all the time. So Oklahoma is committing double jeopardy and violating the civil rights of someone who is legal within the borders of the state law in which he is a legal resident. He's not a citizen of the Nation of Oklahoma, Webster.

I wonder what Oklahoma would do if he moved to Tijuana, where even the heavy drugs are legal for personal use?

Just remember that God made the plants, Sherlock. Not Esteban.

What a maroon!

Sat, 09/19/2009 - 3:36am Permalink

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