MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Club Leader Gets Six-Year Sentence
In what medical marijuana advocates are calling a "major setback," the head of Orange County's medical marijuana club was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison for selling and transporting marijuana. The Los Angeles Times reports that the "stiff sentence caps a closely watched case that focused attention on the issue of who is entitled to legal protection under Proposition 215." Marvin Chavez was found guilty last November of felony charges for selling marijuana to undercover Orange County District Attorney prosecutors and transporting the drug by mail, but received a misdemeanor -- downgraded from felony -- conviction for giving away marijuana. He was barred from using the primary caregiver defense by the trial judge, who ruled that he did not fit Prop. 215's definition (see CHL 11/23). J. David Nick, lead attorney for Chavez, said, "Marvin Chavez felt that he was operating under the law," but for "political reasons ... the powers that be were convinced he was not." Calling Chavez a "sophisticated drug dealer," prosecutor Carl Armbrust said, "Marijuana is still an illicit drug in the United States. And California is still part of the United States." Armbrust added that Prop. 215 makes it legal to "grow and possess" marijuana for medical purposes but it does not "imply you can sell" it (Yi, 1/30). "If nothing else, this case should send a signal to government officials and legislators that clarification of these cases is necessary," said James Silva, another attorney for Chavez (Gerber, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/31). Click medical marijuana for previous coverage of this issue.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.