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January 7, 2013

California medical marijuana provider gets 10-year mandatory-minimum federal prison term

As reported in this local story, headlined "Medical marijuana: Aaron Sandusky sentenced to 10 years in federal prison," a high-profile case from federal court in California has resulted in a significant prison term today as a result of federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws.  Here are the basics:

Aaron Sandusky has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.  The former G3 Holistic Inc. medical marijuana dispensary president was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley.

"In this case, as the defendant was warned, the court's hands are tied," U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said. "Whether you agree with the defendant's position or not."

Sandusky was found guilty in October of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana plants, to possess with intent to distribute marijuana plants, and to maintain a drug-involved premises; and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana plants, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.... 

"I want to apologize to those with me and their families who have been victimized by the federal government who has not recognized the voters of this state," Sandusky said in court.

State voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing medical marijuana in the state, while state Senate Bill 420, which details the amount of marijuana a person can possess for medical purposes, prevents cities and counties from banning marijuana dispensaries. But federal law says marijuana -- medical or otherwise -- is illegal. "I want to apologize to the families who are suffering and who have to go through this," Sandusky said.  "There are no winners here.  Not the state, not the federal government, not the patients who need medical marijuana."...

Sandusky turns 43 on Tuesday.  "It's not going to be a real happy birthday," G3 Holistic patient Christopher Kenner said.  "I hate to think this is the last time I'll see him."

Federal authorities in June arrested Sandusky and additional operators of the Inland Empire chain of marijuana stores and others associated with a warehouse, where marijuana was cultivated for the stores, on federal drug trafficking charges.  A six-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury charged three owners and operators of G3 Holistic stores. The indictment also charged three people who allegedly worked at a large grow operation in an Ontario warehouse that supplied marijuana to the three G3 stores.

I presume that Aaron Sandusky has preserved all of his potential appellate issues concerning his trial and sentencing and that he will pursue an appeal in the Ninth Circuit. Consequently, I doubt today's federal sentencing is the last chapter in his federal prosecution story.

January 7, 2013 at 07:27 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"I presume that Aaron Sandusky has preserved all of his potential appellate issues concerning his trial and sentencing and that he will pursue an appeal in the Ninth Circuit. Consequently, I doubt today's federal sentencing is the last chapter in his federal prosecution story."

It may not be the last chapter, but is there a reason to believe the story ends any differently? If he has an argument that hasn't been rejected many times before, the article does not hint at what it is.

P.S. Simply being indignant, superior and certain is not an argument.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 7, 2013 10:17:23 PM

Heck, I just read an article in Counter Punch about Joe Biden - essentially how a guy who has been a senator for 36 years learns to make saussage.

There are some aspects about the coming appeals for Aaron Sandusky that can educate the public about the criminal justice system. The bar is so high after a guilty verdict that being struck by lightning is more likely than Sandusky receiving relief.

These cases do however move public opinion toward legalization as the public watches how sausage is made.

Posted by: beth | Jan 7, 2013 11:16:36 PM

The federal government has no business imprisoning people for supplying a substance that a state has determined to be a legitimate medicinal substance.

What are the feds. gonna do next in this wretched war on drugs? Go after state officials/regulators in Washington (state) and Colorado who try to implement their recently passed laws.

The constitutionality of the CSA should be revisited.

Posted by: Roll Tide | Jan 7, 2013 11:48:35 PM

Bill said:

"P.S. Simply being indignant, superior and certain is not an argument.

Bill might want to follow this maxim himself.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 8, 2013 9:51:40 AM

The fact a single state declares something medicinal alone doesn't take away federal power here even if you accept the dissent in Raich.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 8, 2013 11:40:29 AM

'Sandusky' is an unfortunate name.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 8, 2013 11:55:23 AM

Anon --

I have a decently good idea what makes for an argument, having presented more than 100 of them in the federal courts of appeals. Unlike you, I didn't use anonymous, ad hominem stuff. I used precedent. That's why I have a successful record. What's yours?

BTW, could you tell us a single issue Sandusky is going to present where he has precedent on his side, then give the citation to that precedent?

Doug was glad that Mr. Sandusky preserved his appellate rights, which is fine with me, but what's the point unless he has at least some argument that hasn't been rejected before? From what Sandusky said at allocution, I don't see any, just attitude.

I argued against a few opponents who had just attitude. When I did, my presentation consisted of one line: "May it please the Court, unless there are questions, the government will rest on its brief."

In 20 years, I never lost a case that way. So if you, Mr. Sandusky and other belligerent druggies want to be that way, have at it. The effect won't be that you make yourselves into heroic martyrs. The effect will be that the Court will have a quick morning and we'll all get to go to lunch earlier.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 8, 2013 12:37:55 PM

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