Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to you as a wife and mother of two young daughters, whose 34-year old husband, Matthew Davies, faces 10 years or more in federal prison for providing medical marijuana to sick people in California, even though he complied with state law concerning medicinal cannabis. My questions to you are simple:
What has my husband done that would justify the federal government forcing my young daughters to grow up without a father?
How can your Administration ignore the will of the California people and prosecute this good, law-abiding man for doing exactly what state law permits?
Mr. President, my husband is not a criminal and shouldn't be treated like one. Matt is not a drug dealer or trafficker. He's not driving around in a fancy car and living in some plush mansion--trust me. My husband is a regular guy, and we're a regular, middle-class family. Yet even though Matt took great pains to follow state and local law, he is currently facing a severe prison sentence. This all seems so surreal.
Last month you told Barbara Walters that federal law enforcement authorities would not go after people in Colorado and Washington for marijuana-related crimes because it makes no sense for the government to "focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that's legal." You said that the federal government has "bigger fish to fry."
If that's true, why are federal prosecutors in Sacramento threatening my husband, Matt, with 10 years to life in federal prison for providing medical marijuana to California patients who are legally allowed to possess and use it? Matt did nothing illegal under our state and local laws. He has no criminal record. He is a hard-working family man and a loving, kind husband and father.
We are confused and absolutely terrified.
I remember when Matt first told me about his hopes of providing medical cannabis to patients. At first, I thought he was crazy. But, we talked about how his grandfather wasted away from cancer and was in so much pain at the end of his life, and how medical marijuana could have helped him. We also talked about how it is perfectly legal in California to use marijuana for medicinal purposes and to provide it to people who have been legally prescribed the medication.
Matt explained to me how he wanted to do things right--to pay taxes, to provide good jobs, and to reduce the price of medicine for patients.
But I was still worried. Even though California has legalized medical marijuana, I was afraid that the federal government could still come after him. Matt had thought this through as well. He showed me an official memo from your Department of Justice saying that the federal government has no interest in prosecuting folks for using and providing medical marijuana so long as they comply with their state's laws. Just like you told Barbara Walters last month, the federal government, it seemed to us, had "bigger fish to fry."
So, Matt moved forward with his plans. To protect his family, Matt spent thousands of dollars on lawyers who would ensure that he complied with every part of state law. When I saw how careful he was, I eventually became comfortable with what Matt was doing. He felt like he was offering a valuable service to people in need, many of whom are vulnerable and terminally ill. Matt truly believed that he was doing a good thing.
And he was. My husband provided medical marijuana to patients for a little over one year. It was not his full-time job--he actually runs a local family-owned restaurant where he manages 30 employees--but it was a second job that he felt quite passionate about. Through his non-profit work, Matt employed dozens of people; all of them paid taxes. All of this was out in the open--he even had business permits from state and local governments. The dispensaries that Matt helped run made it possible for patients to safely and reliably access their legally prescribed medication. Many of them appreciated the fact that they didn't have to try to "hook up" their medication though some drug dealer on the street.
Despite employing dozens of people and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal, state and local taxes and fees, Matt kept his non-profit salary low: he made less than $50,000 total. He obviously didn't do it for the money.
We would have never gone down this road had we thought for a moment that the federal government would prosecute Matt for running a completely above-board operation that is perfectly legal where we live. Nothing is worth Matt's liberty. And I cannot even bear to think of our daughters growing up without their father. This is a nightmare.
Mr. President, I ask you, I beg of you, to convey the position you took on national television last month to your local law enforcement agents. Or, even better, come to Stockton, California and see for yourself. Sit down with Matt and hear our story. My husband is not the "bigger fish to fry." Please drop this case and put an end to our family's nightmare.
Yours with hope and sincerity,
January 14 2013