California -Religious, Medical Defenses Go Up in Smoke as Pot Farmer Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

May 20, 2009-Northern District of California Judge Marilyn Hall Patel might have anticipated some tears from ganja guru Charles “Eddy” Lepp’s supporters when she handed down a 10-year prison term.

But the crowd of medical marijuana activists ventured into unruly territory Monday after Patel refused to imitate Judge Charles Breyer and sentence below the mandatory minimum in a pot case.

Indeed, the most vocal protest over Lepp’s sentence came from Ed Rosenthal, the activist who received a one-day sentence from Breyer a few years ago.

“She’s a criminal! She’s a drug war criminal!” Rosenthal shouted as Lepp and his supporters filed out of the courtroom. Patel stared back, stone faced. Rosenthal also screamed at Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hall, saying that the prosecutor would one day be charged with war crimes, “just like Cheney.”

The feds indicted Lepp in 2004 for operating a vast marijuana farm visible from the highway in Upper Lake, just east of Ukiah, Calif. Patel refused to allow Lepp to mount a medical marijuana defense, as well as a religious one.

The defendant had obtained a corporate charter to operate Eddy’s Medicinal Gardens and Ministry of the Rastafari; he has acknowledged smoking at least 12 to 15 pounds of pot a year and ingesting a similar amount. A jury convicted Lepp last year of cultivating nearly 25,000 plants.

Lepp, who has a gray beard and a pot leaf tattoo on the top of his left wrist, appeared in court in sandals, jeans and a pin-striped suit jacket. He told Patel he notified law enforcement of his activities and complied with state law. Full article here.

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