Detroit, MI — Late last week, 53-year-old Michigan medical marijuana patient Jerry Duval received a Justice Department order to surrender to federal authorities on June 11thto begin serving a 10-year prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio. Although Duval is a kidney-pancreas transplant patient with coronary artery disease and a strict medication regimen, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ignored the recommendation of District Judge David M. Lawson at sentencing, that Duval be “placed in a Federal Medical Center or other facility deemed to be appropriate in consideration of the Defendant’s medical needs.”
“It’s bad enough that we’re throwing our frail and sick into federal prison with no evidence that they violated state medical marijuana laws,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “But to deny those patients the most basic medical needs in prison is beyond shameful.” The controversy over the BOP failure to place Duval in a medical facility comes less than year after Montana medical marijuana patient Richard Flor died in federal detention last August while serving a 5-year sentence for a similar conviction. The Justice Department also never provided evidence at any point that Flor had violated Montana’s medical marijuana law.
Duval and Flor are, unfortunately, only two out of scores of medical marijuana patients and providers targeted by the Obama Administration. Since President Obama took office in 2008, his Justice Department has aggressively prosecuted nearly one hundred medical marijuana cases, in which none of the defendants have an ability to bring a medical necessity or state law defense. Just in the past few months, several patients and dispensary operators have been sentenced to years in federal prison, including Montana cultivator Chris Williams (5 years); Michigan Cultivators Jeremy Duval (Jerry’s son, 5 years) and John Marcinkewciz (5 years), and California dispensary operator Aaron Sandusky (10 years).
Jerry Duval was convicted in April 2012 of “Manufacture with Intent to Distribute Marijuana,” “Conspiracy to Manufacture Marijuana,” and “Maintaining a Drug Premises.” Because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, federal defendants like Duval are prevented from showing relevant evidence to the jury. To make matters worse, Duval is being forced to undergo forfeiture proceedings. Apparently unsatisfied with Duval’s conviction and 10-year sentence, the Obama Justice Department is trying to seize Duval’s home and farm land worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Duval’s order to surrender came on the same day as a group of bipartisan members of Congress led by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced H.R. 1523, the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,” which would exempt from federal arrest and prosecution “any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.” The Act’s original cosponsors are Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Jared Polis (D-CO). Advocates are also lobbying at the Congressional level for passage of H.R. 689, the “States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act,” and H.R. 710, the “Truth in Trials Act,” federal bills that would reclassify marijuana for medical use, and provide a defense in federal court, respectively.
“The Obama Administration is deceiving the American public by making them believe that the federal government’s not going after sick patients,” said Jerry Duval. “But I’m living proof that we’re not only being targeted, we’re also being used to strike fear into thousands of patients across the country.” The Duvals, Marcinkewciz and Sandusky are all appealing their convictions, but it will likely take months if not years for their cases to be resolved.
Further information: Duval’s order to surrender: http://
With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.