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SAMM Medical Marijuana Update

May 1, 2003

Dear Folks,

Sonoma County patient, Michael Foley, was sentenced in federal court to five months in prison and five months home detention for cultivation of 95 plants. He was operating within the Sonoma County Medical Marijuana Guidelines that allow cultivation of up to 99 plants. Mike was forced to make a deal to plead guilty to cultivation. One of the things about this that makes me so angry is that they used his partner Robyn's case against him, saying if he didn't agree to a plea bargain, then they would prosecute her. Robyn was arrested on other charges. That investigation led the feds to Michael. Mike and Robyn have been valuable friends to SAMM, ASA, and to the MMJ community for many years. They have been at nearly every federal hearing in SF supporting other patients/defendants.

Interestingly, Judge Chesney stated that because the federal law was not negotiable, the only choice left to defense was to argue that the law was unfair and seek jury nullification! The prosecutor, George Bevan, protested that defendants are not allowed to make this argument in court. Mike is slated to go into custody on June 9. Mike Foley & his partner Robyn Few, for those who are unaware of their work, are some of the most energetic and loving ASA activists there are. If you wish to contact Mike or Robyn, you can write them at: foleyfew@msn.com

You may recall that Michael was tried in 2001 in a Sonoma County Court along with Ken Hayes for cultivation 899 plants for 1,200 patients being served at a dispensary in San Francisco. The jury acquitted Ken and Michael. The successful resolution of that case led to the passage of the Sonoma County's Medical Marijuana Guidelines.

The difference between the verdicts of the two courts clearly illustrates the dilemma faced by patients and caregivers operating under two different sets of rules regarding medical marijuana. In state courts medical marijuana testimony is allowed. Mike would never have been convicted for cultivating 95 plants in a California court. In federal court where that testimony is not allowed, it's going to be a guilty verdict every time.

SAMM will have a very special speaker for our May 19th Public Forum (see announcements). Godfrey Lehman has authored four books concerning jury discretion and independence. "The only thing a judge should tell a jury is 'Good Morning' ", says he. His books include, "We, the Jury: the Impact of Jurors on our Basic Freedoms" (1997), "Is This Any Way to Run a Jury?", (2002) and a historical novel "The Ordeal of Edward Bushell" that he hopes will be a major motion picture. Come and hear this engaging man speak. Jury discretion may be the only defense a cannabis-using patient has against the present tyrannical stance of the federal government and federal court system.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Monday May, 19th, 6:30 - 8:00 PM. Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana hosts a public meeting at the Santa Rosa Library (main branch) on the corner of 3rd and E Streets in Santa Rosa. Wheelchair accessible. SAMM members will stay till 8:45 PM to meet with you personally. Items to be covered are the federal court sentencing of Sonoma County resident Michael Foley on cultivation charges, jury discretion in marijuana charges in federal court, spring garden tips and garden safety, and the San Francisco NORML conference. Also, we have a special guest speaker, Godfrey Lehman, to speak on jury discretion and independence. Info: (707) 522-0292.

Sunday June 1, Noon till 4:00 PM, Julliard Park, Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa (just South of Sonoma Avenue). The Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County invites the community to the second annual "Day In The Park". There will be speakers, music, food, and tables from various social justice organizations. SAMM will have a table there. This event is free. Call Kumari to volunteer: (707) 823-9644.

Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15, 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Highway 12 in Santa Rosa. The 25th Annual Health & Harmony Music and Arts Festival. For a number of years SAMM has had a booth at this festival, the largest of its kind in Northern California. This year there will be a designated smoking area for physician-approved patients. In order to pay for the booth we need volunteers to donate 21 hours to the Fair, which can be worked off before and during the Fair. In addition we need volunteers to staff the SAMM booth on both days. This event is an important community outreach by SAMM and we need many folks to help so this is a positive experience for all. Please call and volunteer if you can. Call Kumari to volunteer: (707) 823-9644.

Friday, September 19, 7:30 midnight. Sebastopol Community Center. SAMM presents our 5th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert. We will have two bands and Educational Rooms with displays, books and information, as well as medical, legal, and cultivation consultants. We encourage you to attend this unique and popular event. The benefit is SAMM's main annual fundraising event. The several thousand dollars we raise pays for our operating expenses with a little left over for SAMM to help low income patients pay for attorney fees. This year the very able team of Susan Church and Robin Latham-Ponneck are coordinating is the benefit.

COURT DATES:

Ed Bierling, patient and caregiver. Thursday, May 22, 9:30 AM, Federal Building San Francisco, 15th Floor. Ed was cultivating 176 plants for two patients. He is Peer Reviewed and was in compliance with the Sonoma County Guidelines. In March 2002 the DEA raided his home seizing the plants. He was arrested in May and is charged with cultivation of more than 100 plants, an alleged crime that could get him more than 5 years in prison. The effect of this is devastating on his health and family, he has a wife and two small children. In addition to attending the court date, Ed's family can use lots of support. They have already paid his attorney a lot of money and they are struggling to come up with rest of the money needed for his defense. Call Ed at (707) 586-6631 for updated information.

Dan Nelson, patient and caregiver. Thursday, May 22, 9:30 AM. Federal Building, San Francisco, 15th Floor. DEA agents with federal warrants, raided AIKO Compassion Center in Santa Rosa, seized 83 plants, and 2 pounds of marijuana. AIKO served around 300 Sonoma County medical marijuana patients. DEA also raided Nelson's home, seized 3 plants, less that I oz. marijuana, and impounded his wife's car. Dan's physician approval was verified by the Sonoma County Medical Association's Peer Review process. He is facing felony cultivation charges. Dan was within the County Guidelines for cooperative gardens. Call Kumari for info: (707) 823-9644.

Robert Schmitt, patient and caregiver. Wednesday, May 28, 2:15 PM. 19th Floor, Judge Breyer. Motion for dismissal. For info call Kerry Mitchell (707) 829-8544.

Mark Whitney, patient and caregiver. Wednesday, May 28, 2:30 PM. 19th Floor, Judge Hamilton. Sentencing hearing. This cooperative garden was operating within the Sonoma County Guidelines. Mark was cultivating 200 plants and 300 small clones, for 10 patients. The canopy was less than 500 square foot (half the square feet approved by the guidelines). The cooperative was raided by Sonoma County Sheriff Department and was headed by Detective Steve Gossett. The case was appropriated by the DEA, and Whitney, an amputee, was arrested. He is currently facing felony cultivation charges in Federal Court in San Francisco. For info call Mark - (707) 526-5143.

Thank you for your support,

Doc Knapp & Mary Pat Jacobs

SAMM Spokespersons

A LETTER OF THANKS FROM ED BIERLING (HOWLING):

I wish to say a huge word of thanks to all whom contributed to a wonderful benefit show on the behalf of my legal fund.

First I can't say enough about all that Ian and Glorya of IT Studio and productions did toward making it all happen. They put many hours of their time and much of their personal budget into making it all successful. THANK YOU!

I would also like to thank in a big way Bill Bowker and all at KRSH radio for the publicity they put out for the show. Then of course all the organizations who helped publicize and showed up for the event: SAMM, ASA, CANORML. And also GREEN AID SCV 215 for their tax shelter benefits. The Bands and Artists who donated their time and energy for making this all possible and profitable: Sonny Lowe and band as well as special guest Myra and Sweetharp Santana, The Bluesburners, Levi Lloyd and the 501 Band, The Aces. And especially All who came out, old friends and new. It was a real joy for me to see so many smiling faces and everybody out there having FUN!

I am happy to say that thanks to all we did well enough to proudly say that 39 more such events and bills would all be paid! It can be honestly called an overwhelming success!

Once again from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU ALL!!!

aho, yours in peace, ed howling

ED'S CONDITION & A PLEA FOR DONATIONS:

Money raised so far is $500 from SAMM and $1500 from benefit, with cost being $50,000 to trial, then up from there, so that is my financial statement.

The feds are claiming 176 plants, which gets me into the 5-20 year mandatory sentence. I am, as you may know, the primary caregiver for two lovely children ages now 2 and 5 years old. I have a home business, which would be ruined with any time away since I am the sole employee. Green Aid has an account set up for donations for me under the name "Green Aid SCV 215" so donations made to them with that title would go for me and get donators tax shelter credit.

My health is up and down. I am taking part in a Kaiser chronic pain program where I am getting acupuncture, acupressure classes, spinal alignment work. I will be taking restorative yoga, chi gong, as well as being treated and seen by several doctors, taking many pain drugs and counseling for depression which has followed me since my arrest.

As part of my bond agreement I am also subject to random drug testing which I have to call in for every day. I am under the watchful eye of a federal handler with whom I must keep in constant contact. He may stop by at any time to check up on me and go through my house at will.

That is about it for now, I hope it answers all your questions.

Thank You for all your help!!!!!!!

aho, yours in peace, ed howling

     
   

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