Speaking of our grotesque rates of incarceration in the US – here’s a guy in California who was legally growing legal marijuana for a collective of medical marijuana dispensaries, who has been sentenced to two years in the slammer.
Robert Duncan moved from Los Angeles to Northern California in 2010 to manage marijuana growing operations for a collective of medical marijuana dispensaries. Although California voters legalized medical cannabis more than 17 years ago, the plant remains illegal under federal law, and the Obama administration launched a renewed crackdown on marijuana in California in 2011.
That October, Duncan’s grow house was raided. A few months later, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner indicted him and others involved in the dispensary business on the grounds that it had grown too large. Despite California’s struggle with prison overcrowding, and despite new federal guidelines that say size should no longer be considered in prosecution decisions, Duncan, 31, was sentenced to two years in prison. He is scheduled to report to Mendota Federal Correctional Institution near Fresno, Calif., on Monday afternoon.
What is wrong with us?
Duncan reports his version:
I honestly had some stereotypes of what I expected to see when I got into the business — people who probably really didn’t need marijuana for medicinal purposes. But I was actually quite surprised to see people who were battling cancer, in wheelchairs, suffering from chronic pain from car accidents. It was quite justified. We had thousands and thousands of members of our cooperatives.
We hired lawyers from day one. We were entirely compliant with state law. It was shortly after the federal government said it would not intervene if people followed state law. We wanted to abide by the rules. None of us had criminal backgrounds. We’re all regular guys. The only reason we got into this was because the federal government said they wouldn’t intervene.
One of our stores in Sacramento, Medizen, was broken into once, and robbed once. Both times the police responded and police reports were filed, proving we were interacting with law enforcement like any other business would.
What’s the thinking here? Jobs for prison guards make this kind of thing totally worth it?