A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction and the 10 year prison sentence for medical marijuana advocate Eddy Lepp. He was accused of growing 32,000 marijuana plants that he insisted were for medical patients and his fellow Rastafarians. The cannabis was grown on his own land in lake County California. Charles, “Eddy” Lepp was sent to prison in 2009 by a federal judge, but because a legend after using the courtroom as a platform for protesting cannabis laws.
His 10 year sentence was the least amount of time that the federal judge could give him in the case since he was growing at least 1,000 marijuana plants, which holds a required mandatory minimum sentencing of 10 years. US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco said that she was bound by the law and the sentencing requirements, and now the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with her.
The three panel judge review in the appeals court found that the statutory minimum sentence was neither cruel or unusual as a punishment for the crime. This case stretches back to 2004 when Federal Agents arrested him for growing the field of marijuana that could be seen from Highway 20 where he lived. Lepp said, as a medical marijuana patient he had the right to grow and use cannabis, and also as a Rastafarian minister where they celebrate marijuana as a sacrament, that he was growing the cannabis to share freely with his 2,500 members of his church. He was barred from using his religious views as a defense to the charges in court, but said at his sentencing that his prosecution served the governments compelling interest in preventing diversion of sacramental marijuana to non-religious users.
Michael Hinckly, Lepp’s lawyer, argued that the 10 year prison sentence for the 57 year old veteran in ill health was disproportionate for the crime. He was deeply disappointed by the appeals court decision and called the thought of Lepp spending 10 years in a prison cell tragic. Please support Eddy Lepp by sending him a card in jail, and fighting for the rights of all cannabis users.