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May-18-2009 13:24printcomments

California Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Medical Marijuana

The courtroom burst into gasps and sobs as Patel pronounced her sentence. Lepp's attorney, Michael Hinckley, called it incredible and the judge responded with, "Incredible is what the law requires."

Eddie Lepp
Eddie Lepp
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(SAN FRANCISCO) - US District Judge Marilyn Patel sentenced Eddy Lepp to ten years mandatory minimum for having grown over 1,000 marijuana plants for a medical marijuana garden in Lake County.

Patel called the sentence "excessive," but said she had no choice under federal law. In addition, she sentenced Lepp to five years of supervised release with drug testing. She invited Lepp to file for a rehearing in case the law should change.

Lepp called it "very, very sad" that the government showed no compassion, saying "I've broken no laws of the state in which I reside." He asked that he be allowed to surrender himself voluntarily, noting that he had met every court date over the seven years of his case and that his daughter had health problems.

US attorney Dave Hall opposed the request, arguing that the government had new evidence of Lepp's involvement in a marijuana grow that was traced to a neighbor's property last week. Lepp's friends staunchly deny that he had any involvement in the grow.

Patel granted Lepp's request and set a surrender date of July 6th, while inviting the government to submit any additional incriminating evidence it might have to demand an earlier surrender.

Patel ruled that Lepp was ineligible for the "safety valve" exemption to the mandatory minimum on two grounds.

First, the evidence showed that Lepp had been a leader or organizer of other people in his activity. Secondly, the government claimed that he had failed give a full and truthful account of his activities. At his trial, Lepp had testified that he did not grow any marijuana, but simply let his land be used for cultivation by other patients.

The government had asked Lepp to recant this claim and admit that he grew the marijuana.

Lepp refused, saying he had testified truthfully.

"I've never seen a man work harder to get time in prison than Mr. Lepp," remarked Mr Hall.

"I would rather do ten years and be able to look myself in the eyes than never be able to look myself in the eyes again," said Lepp.

The courtroom burst into gasps and sobs as Patel pronounced her sentence. Lepp's attorney, Michael Hinckley, called it an "incredible sentence."

Patel responded, "Incredible is what the law requires." Patel noted that Lepp's driving passion appeared to be legalizing marijuana. "Maybe you want to be a martyr for the cause," she said.

California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer commented: "This case sadly illustrates the senselessness of federal marijuana laws. The last thing this country needs is more medical marijuana prisoners. Hopefully, we can change the law and get Eddy out of jail before he completes his sentence."

Source: California NORML

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christopherkreis July 16, 2009 5:49 pm (Pacific time)

Free Eddie!!!!

DITCH June 24, 2009 6:19 pm (Pacific time)

Come to Eddie Lepp's compound July 4th 2009 to honor him with a huge concert bash and festival. details all press is invited

susan smith June 20, 2009 11:30 am (Pacific time)


re: dustin May 20, 2009 11:27 pm (Pacific time)

What is that supposed to mean and does it have anything at all to do with this? Troll

Smart Girl May 20, 2009 6:45 pm (Pacific time)

Here's my story, along with others I am disgusted that Mr. Lepp is treated like a criminal by our government in my very own state. I was almost "exterminated" by the Medical Profession thanks to the FDA approving a horrible LEGAL PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION, developed by a popular pharmaceutical company. Who should go to prison for the lives they have destroyed? Ugh, wake up America! It always does take a martyr or a few to pave the way for change. Cannabis has been around for centuries...tried and true. All we ask is the right to take care of our health legally and not have to fear we will be jailed if we do so. An American taxpayer.

dustin May 20, 2009 6:14 pm (Pacific time)

Great lets go get drunk and behind a wheel

jason May 20, 2009 2:29 pm (Pacific time)

omg i feel so sad this man got ten years for a plant thats less harmful than a cigarette

Samantha May 20, 2009 11:48 am (Pacific time)

this is america? the same country founded by pot smokers, hemp farmers, freedom lovers? what is going on?

sarah smiles May 19, 2009 8:48 pm (Pacific time)

Marijuana is a incredible natural resource given to humanity. Its accomplisments are biblical proportions. No one should be imprisoned for this plant.No one should sit in judgement on it. Human disgrace

James May 19, 2009 4:07 pm (Pacific time)

Tim, This might not be the right place, but, I saw your article on the legislature re scheduling of methamphetamine to schedule I in Oregon. In that article you stated that marijuana was also in the process of rescheduling and that an article on that subject was forthcoming. I haven't seen any news. What's the word?

Tim King: You have me dead to rights.  I had a computer crash with an interview that hadn't been submitted.  I will call my legislative contact back and get that information as I said, thanks!

Anonymous May 19, 2009 11:26 am (Pacific time)


AcE42o May 18, 2009 10:46 pm (Pacific time)

Murderers get Less time N this guy used 4 medicaL purposes

John Chase May 19, 2009 2:01 am (Pacific time)

We all need to understand that pot prisoners don't automatically go free when pot becomes legal.

Mark Montgomery May 19, 2009 12:39 am (Pacific time)

Pot should be legal. Mexico just legalized possession of small amounts of all drugs. Switzerland just legalized heroin. Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001 and their experience has been positive. Now if you are caught with a 10 day supply of your drug or less you face an administrative court, not a criminal court, but in practice they are just not arresting people. A group of 10,000 very serious policemen, prosecutors, attorneys and citizens have formed a group to legalize ALL drugs, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( ) They see what happened when we legalized alcohol in 1932 as a good example of how drug legalization would work. This foolish war on drugs has lasted 37 years and cost us over a TRILLION dollars and we are not an inch closer to stopping drugs. How many millions of Americans are we going to lock up in prison for decades? Mark Montgomery

David Scott May 18, 2009 11:13 pm (Pacific time)

Marijuana prohibition has been a total failure and is perhaps this country's greatest mistake. Not only has it created criminals out of nearly a third of the country's populace, it costs our society billions of dollars every year, creates a strain on our prison system, and has little or no effect on marijuana use in the US. In some cases, prosecuting marijuana use has turned non-violent, middle class kids into violent and unpredictable, career criminals. Once a person has a criminal conviction on their record, they are far less likely to find a good job and become a useful member of society. Other countries with more liberal drug laws have much lower rates of drug addiction among their people. I invite you to my web-page devoted to raising awareness on the assault on our civil liberties:

succinct May 18, 2009 11:10 pm (Pacific time)

Bastards! There is no way that this travesty of justice should have been allowed. Mandatory minimum sentences (and their politically motivated proponents) have no place in the criminal justice system. Too much power inevitably ends up in the hands of prosecutors. The Judiciary is compromised. When the judge says that "Incredible is what is required", she is, perhaps understandably, explaining that the fault for the injustice is not necessarily her own.

fila907 May 18, 2009 8:52 pm (Pacific time)

That is sad that they made an example out of this case.It just shows the work still left to be done..Im pushen for them to tax Marijuana like beer an cigarettes then the feds have to back off cause then it pays there salary.An i think that a perfect ending to a life long battle..Keep smoken yo...

Daniel May 18, 2009 8:20 pm (Pacific time)

Judge Patel is a liberal judge appointed by Carter , Marilyn worked for NOW as a lawyer , at 71 she is out of touch with todays world . Judges Patel is also the one who ruled against napster . This problem against medical marijuana has to be changed on a federal level .

Voytek May 18, 2009 7:43 pm (Pacific time)

This is how f..... this world is.

halo May 18, 2009 7:42 pm (Pacific time)

rapists get probation, but if you grow some pot your getting 10 years. Sweet system we got.

Cody Sheets May 18, 2009 4:19 pm (Pacific time)

Phew! I can finally unlock my doors at night. I was getting scared here lately, but now that this monster is behind bars, I can finally breathe... On that note, WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING WHEN THEY MADE THIS LAW... 10 years? I think somebody was on something a little bit worse than mary j when they voted on this thing.

Matt May 18, 2009 3:48 pm (Pacific time)

I feel so much safer now that the Government has protected me.

smiles May 18, 2009 3:27 pm (Pacific time)


Good Karma May 18, 2009 3:00 pm (Pacific time)

No one should go to prison for marijuana... it comes from nature and the earth and its a crime against nature that one person has ever spent a day in jail or prison for it. We are not here to judge but to support each other. This plant was given to us for a reason. All of us who know about it have a mission to enlighten others.. It is the most beneficial plant on earth.

Mike H. May 18, 2009 2:21 pm (Pacific time)

Who knows the true details about this story but it sure seems it is not right. It sounds like he got a sentence for being a huge coke dealer or something. It's ridiculous. I think the people are having their voices heard though, I sense change in the near future. Hopefully I am right.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.