District Judge Dave Gamble ordered a 25-year-old drug offender to write a report on what the judge called “the nonsensical character” of California's medical marijuana program.
On Tuesday, Gamble told Matthew Palazzolo to submit a paper within 90 days to him and to his counselor also discussing the defendant's realization that marijuana was a gateway drug that led to use of more powerful narcotics.
Palazzolo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. He was arrested at a Stateline casino parking lot in February after he sold a quarter-pound of marijuana to an informant for $1,060.
Palazzolo, who lives in Sacramento and works for a law firm, admitted he grew the marijuana after obtaining a medical marijuana card.
“I had a sore back,” Palazzolo said. “I used records from my chiropractor who had diagnosed I had regular back and neck pain.”
He told Gamble he developed the pain through activities like snowboarding, wakeboarding and martial arts.
“I was never laid up or in bed,” he said.
“So you decided to grow your own?” Gamble asked. “If this isn't testimony to the absolute asininity of medical marijuana laws in California and the path Nevada is choosing.
“Here's a young man with a bachelor's degree and a rosy future and now is a potential felon. It's just the height of stupidity,” Gamble said.
Palazzolo's attorney Derrick Lopez said the arrest and substance abuse treatment convinced his client he had a drug problem.
“He's been abusing drugs for a long time,” Lopez said. "He changed roommates, got rid of all his marijuana, and asked California to void his medical marijuana card."
“He would benefit from diversion. He has never been in trouble before except the marijuana. He is really embarrassed about this situation,” Lopez said.
Palazzolo admitted he obtained the card for recreational drug use.
“I have a drug problem, and I would not have said that a month and a half ago,” he said. “Alcohol and marijuana are gateway drugs that led to harder drug use.”
He said drug use had taken him down “a path that is a very ugly place” and he intended to stay sober.
Gamble allowed Palazzolo to enter a diversion program in California and ordered quarterly appearances before his court and random drug testing.
He also told the defendant to contact “the quasi-bureaucratic outfit in California and tell them you want them to cancel the card.”
Gamble told Palazzolo he had one chance.
“You have the ability to have a very good life,” Gamble said. “If you're back here, you don't get two chances.”
Thursday, August 19, 2010
by Sheila Gardner