Former Corrections Officer Who Opened Medical Marijuana Cooperative Sentenced to Three Years in Prison
Michael Urziceanu, a former corrections officer who opened a medical marijuana cooperative with business partner Susan Rodger, on Tuesday was sentenced to three years in state prison for the sale of marijuana, the Sacramento Bee reports (Brown, Sacramento Bee, 10/22). In July, Urziceanu and Rodger were convicted in Sacramento Superior Court of conspiracy to sell marijuana. The defendants argued that they had opened a medical marijuana cooperative called FloraCare Network to provide marijuana to about 300 members under Proposition 215, a 1996 ballot measure that allows patients with chronic diseases to use marijuana to treat pain. State prosecutors alleged that the defendants used the state law to collect $3,000 in profit per day. Defense attorneys argued that FloraCare served as a primary caregiver under the law, but prosecutors said that the law defines a primary caregiver as an individual and not as a business. Urziceanu and Rodger were acquitted on felony marijuana cultivation charges, and a mistrial was declared on three other charges because of jury deadlock. Urziceanu also was convicted of receipt of stolen property and possession of ammunition and a firearm as a felon. He was acquitted of additional charges of possession of ammunition as a felon and marijuana sales (California Healthline, 7/31).
Attorney Victor Haltom, who represents Urziceanu, said that he plans to appeal the case and asked the court to delay the sentence until the appeal is resolved. According to Haltom, the jury in the case should have received instructions to consider Proposition 215 in deliberations. "I don't see how society is protected by incarcerating Mr. Urziceanu in state prison," Haltom said, adding, "He got into what he was doing in order to help people and address his own medical issues. I think he has already been severely punished -- he's been arrested multiple times, spent six months in jail and had his finances devastated." However, prosecutor Caroline Park said that Urziceanu had "ample notice" that his medical marijuana club was considered illegal because he was arrested a number of times for practices relating to the club, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 10/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.