Medical marijuana patients are scheduled to surrender to federal authorities on May 2nd, both forced to serve 5-year prison sentences. Fry, who is a physician and breast cancer survivor, and Schafer, an attorney, maintained full compliance with state law, but were arrested and convicted without a medical marijuana defense under President George W. Bush. They appealed their sentence under the Obama administration, which it vigorously fought in the Ninth Circuit. Fry and Schafer’s sentences were upheld in November and in March they were ordered to surrender to federal authorities on May 2nd.
“It’s unconscionable that President Obama would force medical marijuana patients like Fry and Schafer to go to prison for 5 years despite not violating any state laws,” decried Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana patient advocacy group. “Fry and Schafer should not be spending one day in prison, let alone 5 years, for what they did.”
Fry and Schafer, who live with their family in Cool, a small town in El Dorado County, California, were raided by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2001, despite approval from local law enforcement to cultivate medical marijuana. Nothing happened in the case until June 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that federal marijuana laws could be enforced even against state-compliant patients. Two weeks later, Fry and Schafer were charged with manufacturing and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Both defendants were denied a medical defense despite their adherence to state law and were ultimately convicted in 2007. In order to obtain the mandatory minimum 5-year sentence, the government added up multiple years of harvests to arrive at more than 100 plants.
A clemency petition was filed last week and sent to President Obama in an effort to avoid or shorten their imprisonment. “On behalf of Dr. Fry and her five children,” read the petition filed by Fry’s attorney Laurence Lichter. “I beseech you to release Judge Damrell and others from participating in this tragic result not by pardoning her behavior but by commuting her sentence to one that does not involve the brutality of incarceration.” The government has already harshly punished Fry and Schafer by revoking both their licenses to practice. “My parents don’t deserve to go to prison,” said Heather Schafer, the couple’s oldest daughter and a mother herself. “It’s incredible that President Obama would spend precious taxpayer dollars to lock up patients despite their compliance with state law.”
Despite his commitment to not use Justice Department resources “to try to circumvent state laws on this issue” and a formal policy change in October 2009, President Obama has conducted more than 100 aggressive SWAT-style raids in at least 5 states, resulting in more than 30 new federal prosecutions. President Obama has also continued to vigorously prosecute his predecessor’s cases — like Fry and Schafer — rather than remanding them to state court where defendants have a chance to defend themselves.
A coordinated day of action is planned for Monday, May 2nd, when Fry and Schafer are scheduled to surrender to federal authorities. In Sacramento, their family and supporters will rally at the federal courthouse. A press conference will be held in front of the courthouse that day at 1:15pm, preceding Fry and Schafer’s scheduled 2pm surrender. A rally will also take place at Noon the same day in Washington, DC outside the Justice Department.
Available For Interviews: Dr. Mollie Fry & Dale Schafer 530-333-1607
From now until their surrender date of May 2nd, Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer will be available for interviews
Background on Dr. Mollie Fry & Dale Schafer: AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Fry_Schafer_Background.pdf
Clemency petition: AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Fry_Clemency_Petition.pdf