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David Herrick

# P06857

Since I am housed in a dorm of 10 inmates, the copy you sent is now well "worn" since it was made its rounds.

I too am a "prisoner of war," from the war on drugs, having been sentenced to 4 years in state prison for "aiding and abetting" in the furnishing of marijuana to a 73-year-old, terminally ill cancer patient. I have been "down" since May 18th, 1997 and should parole on October 14 of this year.

I worked as a volunteer for a "Cannabis Buyers Club," and I am a bonafide patient who possessed a valid recommendation to use cannabis from my physician, as did the members of my club. The total amount of marijuana that I furnished was 3/4s of an ounce, or 2 grams.

The director of the club, Marvin Chaver, received a six (6) year sentence, for furnishing 1/4th of an ounce or 7 grams of marijuana to an undercover police officer, who produced forged documents stating that he was the caregiver to one of our patient/members.

So for less than one ounce, (28.5 grams) of marijuana, we are serving combined, ten years in prison. Marvin must serve 80% of his sentence while I will serve 29 months with 3 years parole.

Out of the 300 inmates on this yard, I would say that 70% are in for "drug related" crime. Nonviolent, slaves, transportation, or cultivation. And the number serving time for marijuana offenses is phenomenal.
Needless to say, the "war on drugs" is taking its toll. I would say the medium age in this dorm and on this yard is twenty-two years old. But we have inmates from 18 to 85 years old on this yard (minimum level security yard).

I guess it can be argued that drugs have played a role in most of the crimes that were committed, however, if you look at just drug activity with no other crime involved, (sales, possession, transportation, cultivation, manufacturing, paraphernalia, etc.), I would venture to say that the majority of this yard are here on "narcotic offenses."

As the first volunteer of a "cannabis Co-op/Buyers club" to be criminally tried and convicted since "Prop. 215's" passage, and the first to be heard in the appellate Court. (Just 21st, 1999 Div. 3, 4th Dist. court of appeal). Since I was not allowed to put on a "defense," (time trial judge ruled that 215 did not cover sales, and refused the medical necessity defense), I literally had no defense to present to the jury. I have argued that a necessity did exist, since no government sanctioned distribution for medical marijuana existed, (or exists as of this writing) and that a jury should be allowed to hear and decide the necessity issue, not the trial judge. I also argued that although Prop. 215 does not cover sales, small quantities of marijuana should be available to patients who can not cultivate their own, or purchase their own due to their illness or physical impairment.

Although no formal decision has come forth as of this date, (and the court has until the end of Sept. to render one), my attorney is not hopeful of getting a positive response, and frankly neither am I.

This issue has, and will continue to be a uphill struggle, but we are making progress. I hope we continue to do so! Thank you again, I look forward to receiving your very informative newsletter.

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