Drug War POW updates; several recent releases
Several notable medical marijuana providers have been released from federal prisons recently. One was Kenneth ‘Kena’ Affolter, whose company, Beyond Bomb, supplied dispensaries with a wide array of medicinal edibles. A tripped burglar alarm at an Oakland warehouse in 2006 led to a raid and federal charges for Affolter and his employees. All the defendants took plea deals, but Affolter’s 70-month prison sentence was the longest by far. A naturally deep thinker, he spent much of his incarceration reading, writing and meditating. He finished serving hard time this spring.
Former medical grower David Davidson also finished off a federal sentence this spring, ending a seven-year ordeal. Davidson was initially busted by local Tehama County authorities in 2003 but disappeared after they turned his case over to federal prosecutors. He was captured in New Mexico in 2007, after his co-defendant revealed his whereabouts in exchange for leniency in her sentence. With remarkable fortitude, Davidson waited in Sacramento County Jail for three years for his case to be resolved. When he finally accepted a plea deal for a 41-month sentence, he had already served all but a few days of that time. Davidson was released this spring and is now living happily with his girlfriend in Iowa.
After serving time in prisons across the country, former San Diego dispensary operator John Sullivan was released to a halfway house this summer. Two of Sullivan’s dispensaries were hit during massive federal raids on San Diego’s medical marijuana facilities in 2006. Sullivan was then indicted on federal charges for cultivation and distribution, and he ultimately accepted a plea deal for five years in prison. He served that sentence in Oregon and in Florida, but is now glad to finally be back with his wife and two daughters in southern California.
Sadly, many medical marijuana providers remain in federal prison, and still more are being sent there. This past May, former San Diego dispensary operator Joseph Nunes began serving a year-long sentence at a federal detention center. Two dispensaries associated with Nunes were raided during a crackdown in San Diego in September 2009, leaving him with a long list of federal charges.
Nunes accepted a plea deal and was taken into custody at his sentencing hearing.
Former dispensary operators Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes both turned 30 in separate prisons this summer. They’ve been locked up since May 2008, when a federal jury convicted them on charges related to the California Healthcare Collective in Modesto.
One of those charges, a continuing criminal enterprise, carries a mandatory minimum 20 year sentence, so the judge had little choice but to sentence them to decades in prison. They filed their appeal this summer, and hope for a ruling that will change their fate and reunite them with their young children. If not, it’s likely they will spend their birthdays in prison for the next fifteen years.
Another option is a campaign for President Obama to issue clemencies for people who qualify under his 2009 policy memo on medical marijuana.
Medical MarijuanaofAmerica.comBy Vanessa Nelson
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