Officers of a defunct West Hollywood cannabis club were put on probation yesterday for growing and selling marijuana to hundreds of people with cancer, AIDS, and other serious ailments. The Los Angeles Times reports that when he imposed the minimum possible sentence, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz criticized the prosecution. “To allocate the resources of the Drug Enforcement [Administration] and the U.S. attorney’s office in this case … baffles me, disturbs me,” he said.
Scott Imler, Jeffrey Farrington, and Jeff Yablin were ordered to obey federal drug laws, undergo random drug testing, and complete 100-250 hours of community service. Each had pleaded guilty to one count of a little-used federal law: maintaining an establishment for the purpose of possessing, distributing and manufacturing illegal drugs.
The men ran the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center until October 2001, when federal agents seized their assets, including 559 marijuana plants. Imler said the men tried to abide by the law when they opened the center in 1996, after California voters approved an initiative that allowed sick people to use marijuana.
Despite state laws allowing marijuana use in some circumstances, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law banning marijuana trumps them. Eight other states – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington – have such laws. Since the high court ruling, 45 Californians have been arrested on federal charges for activities that are legal under state law, said the Americans for Safe Access, a Berkeley-based medicinal marijuana advocacy group.