I woke up this morning feeling nervous and unsettled. My friend and colleague Michael Martin was to be sentenced [in Federal court]this afternoon [for his involvement in “Tainted Inc.” medical marijuana edibles]and I prepared myself for the worst. But after an emotional rally and lengthy sentencing hearing, I felt at ease because Mickey is not going to prison!
After pleading guilty in federal court to manufacturing marijuana edibles, with the government finding more than 400 plants, Mickey faced a guidelines range of 30 to 37 months imprisonment. However, due to the tension between state and federal law and the lack of any evidence that any edible produced by Mickey was diverted to recreational use, United States District Court Judge Claudia Wilkin exercised her discretion to sentence Mickey to 5 years probation, with one year to be served in a halfway house and one year to be served in home confinement.
The hearing was intense. Judge Wilkin asked several astute questions about state law and the interplay between state law and federal law. Clearly, she saw that the conflicting laws made medical marijuana cases unique. After Mickey’s attorneys spoke about state law and the need for a change in federal law, Mickey spoke for himself. He talked about the cancer patients that had been able to eat after using his edibles. He spoke about his loving family and his service to the community. He explained that he had only done what he did to help people, and never to profit. Half way into his speech, most of the dozens of supporters packing the court room were in tears.
His speech and the stack of support letter the judge had received made a difference. And after the judge announced his sentence, the entire court room of supporters stood up and clapped. Of course, Mickey never should have been prosecuted in the first place and deserves no punishment for providing medical cannabis edibles to ailing California patients. But this punishment was the best he could have hoped for. It means that he will not miss any years of his children’s lives and that he can continue to work and provide for his family. This sends another message by a federal judge that the federal government should not waste its time bring these cases.
– Article from Safe Access Now, Americans for Safe Access, September 3rd 2008
Pot-candy boss sentenced on federal drug charges
Henry K. Lee
Chronicle Staff Writer
The owner of an Oakland factory that produced marijuana candy with names like Buddafinga and Mr. Greenbud has been sentenced to a year in a halfway house and a year of home detention for conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana.
Michael Martin, 33, of El Sobrante was also sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland. Martin is the owner of Tainted Inc., which started as a boutique business that made chocolate truffles and grew into a large marijuana-candy maker that bought chocolate by the ton, authorities said.
Tainted Inc. employee Jessica Sanders was sentenced Wednesday to three years’ probation for illegally using a phone to distribute marijuana, a felony. Two other employees, Michael Anderson and Diallo McLinn – the son of longtime Berkeley activist Osha Neumann – were each sentenced in April to two years’ probation on a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.
Authorities said Tainted made candies with names that played off popular legal treats: Buddafinga, Mr. Greenbud, Stoners. The business also made pot-laced items such as cookies, ice cream, peanut butter, granola bars and barbecue sauce, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Martin’s attorneys, Sara Zalkin and J. Tony Serra, wrote in court papers that their client had been manufacturing the candy as a medicinal marijuana product. Martin, they said, “was not motivated by profit” and now has a “negative net worth of $147,000.” In a sentencing memorandum, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Keslie Stewart wrote that Martin “was not growing marijuana solely for his own use or for the use of a sick family member. He was running a profitable business and supporting himself and his family with the proceeds of marijuana sales.”
Martin said he joined the medical marijuana movement after seeing his father die painfully of prostate cancer in 2002 after a 10-year battle. His father refused to use marijuana because of a federal ban on all types of the drug, Martin said. Martin said he uses medical marijuana to ease pain after a fall left him with seven screws and a steel plate in his left heel. He said he also has degenerative cartilage in his right knee.
In September 2007, federal agents raided his factory on the 900 block of 61st Street in North Oakland and a building on the 300 block of 40th Street where marijuana was grown. The investigation bore similarities to DEA raids in Oakland in 2006 in which five people connected with a company called Beyond Bomb were convicted of making marijuana-laced treats with such names as Munchy Way, Rasta Reece’s and Puff-a-Mint Pattie.
In federal marijuana cases, defense attorneys are barred from telling jurors that companies supply medical cannabis products through licensed dispensaries to qualified patients. Proposition 215, the initiative approved in 1996 by state voters, legalized growing and using marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor’s recommendation. Under federal law, marijuana used for any purpose is illegal.
– Article from San Francisco Chronicle, September 5th 2008