Bryan Epis was arrested for managing a marijuana caregiver operation under Proposition 215. He grew the plants in his basement for the needs of himself and other patients. Epis, at the time, was a 35-year-old man who was using the drug to treat neck injuries he sustained in an auto accident.
Since his case was tried in Federal court, which doesn't recognize the state law, he was not allowed to use Proposition 215 as a defense. Out of fear that it would slow a decision, the severity of the sentence was kept secret from the jury as well. The Feds wanted to ensure that they did not feel compelled by the marijuana activists or Prop. 215. After the Butte Alliance for Medical Marijuana and others protested and distributed literature outside the courthouse, the first jury was dismissed from fears of tampering. BAMM argued that since it was a Proposition 215 case, the federal government shouldn't have been brought in to prosecute it.
Since the plants were grown near a school, the charge carried an enhanced penalty, a minimum of 10 years in prison. He was sentenced on Aug. 26, 2002.
Epis was the subject of a protest in front of the White House on September 23, 2002. About 2 dozen protestors demanded a pardon for Epis, and 2 men were arrested for handcuffing themselves to the fence.
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