Court Upholds 10-year Term in Eddy Lepp Case

A federal appeals court upheld the conviction and 10-year sentence Wednesday of a medical marijuana advocate who grew 32,000 pot plants for patients and fellow Rastafarians on his land in Lake County.

The federal judge who sent Charles “Eddy” Lepp to prison in 2009 criticized the federal law that required a 10-year term for growing at least 1,000 marijuana plants. But U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of San Francisco said she was bound by the law, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

“The statutory minimum sentence is not cruel and unusual punishment,” the three-judge panel said.

Federal agents arrested Lepp in 2004 after finding the marijuana plants in gardens near his home in Upper Lake, most of them in view of Highway 20.

He said the plants were for patients who had a right to use marijuana with their doctors’ approval under California law. Lepp also said that he was a Rastafarian minister, for whom marijuana is a sacrament, and that he was growing the plants for 2,500 members of his church who were sharecroppers.

Federal law strictly bans marijuana, however, even in states that allow its medical use. The appeals court upheld Patel’s refusal to allow Lepp to invoke his religion as a defense to the charges, saying his prosecution served the government’s “compelling interest in preventing diversion of sacramental marijuana to non-religious users.”

Lepp’s lawyer, Michael Hinckley, had argued that the 10-year sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crimes. Hinckley said that he was disappointed by Wednesday’s ruling and that “the thought of him spending 10 years in prison, in circumstances like these, is tragic.”

– Article from San Francisco Chronicle.



  1. Paul Pot on

    What clever idiots these judges are. They think their so smart. But their actions constitute ‘crimes against humanity’. Harassment and persecution of groups in the community resulting in the suffering and deaths of members of the community. And plenty of people have suffered and died without their medicine, suicide or murdered in prison and gang violence which has all resulted from the intolerable mismanagement of our leaders and social engineers. The people who lead us are the real criminals and they will take Eddie’s place in prison when prohibition inevitably ends.

  2. guitarod on

    not cruel and unusual punishment.
    american prisons have 2 purposes 1. punish 2. create jobs.
    this is outrageous. this guy is no threat to anyone.

    maybe the authorities should get off the booze & try a toke before they judge pot smokers.

    Eddy: chin up. with any luck you might run into Marc Emery during your stay in the Gulags. this is morally wrong as there are no victims here.

    Concerned Canadian