10 Years to Life for Medical Marijuana: The Trial of Aaron Sandusky

"This is a Constitutional battle, and we're going to defend our rights," says Aaron Sandusky, the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Upland, California who now faces federal drug trafficking charges even though he was operating within California state law.

Reason.tv first profiled Sandusky in late 2011 in the midst of a federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries across California, which occurred despite repeated promises from the Obama administration to lay off operators compliant with state law (Incidentally, the city of Upland, which initiated the legal action against G3, admitted in court that Sandusky was operating within state law). During the production of that video, Sandusky's storefront and grow house were raided, his assets seized and his product destroyed. But Sandusky was undeterred and joined a lawsuit with several other dispensary owners, challenging the right of city governments to outright ban dispensaries. After a favorable ruling from an appellate court, Sandusky re-opened, and the city of Upland was powerless to stop him. But the Feds were not happy with this outcome.

Sandusky was arrested and charged with six counts of drug trafficking, some of which could carry a life sentence. He's spent the last seven weeks in a county prison, just awaiting a bond hearing. He finally was granted bail last Friday and is now out on house arrest, where he awaits an October trial to decide his fate. He agreed to sit down with Reason.tv for an interview to discuss his case, the state of medical marijuana in this country, and why this is a cause for which he's willing to risk it all.

"If I have to go to jail for 20 years defending this, then so be it," says Sandusky.

About 6 minutes

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Tracy Oppenheimer.

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  • Jeff||

    I'm for legalizing drugs, but what he did to all them kids was just plain WRONG.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    That's the first place my brain went, and I'm so glad it was the first comment.

  • sarcasmic||

    Couldn't find a better example of an opportunity to stick it to the feds with jury nullification.

    Will it happen?

    I doubt it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If I was a federal prosecutor I would arrest and charge any juror who tried it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Charge them with what?

  • ||

    Failure to convict the way I want them to.

    THIS IS WHAT PROSECUTORS ACTUALLY BELIEVE

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Obviously I don't care about an ultimate conviction. Inconveniencing a juror into possible bankruptcy serves my purpose for the next time someone tries to nullify me.

  • Duncan20903||

    Fist of Etiquette, you are on the wrong website no doubt. You'll be more at home at www.goosesteppingandsiegheiling.com.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    I think FoE is explaining the mindset of the prosecutor, not what he thinks is right.

  • kinnath||

    I hope Obama a lives a very, very long life while suffering from an extremely painful and debilitating illness.

  • Pip||

    Does being married to an overbearing shovel-face count?

  • kinnath||

    No. Top-Men just ignore their wives and fuck their interns.

  • R C Dean||

    Good enough for Castro and Chavez, good enough for their compadre, I say.

  • kinnath||

    Castro and Chavez got off easy in my opinion.

  • sarcasmic||

    That might happen if there was a god or if karma existed, but it won't.

  • ||

    The sick irony is that a real drug dealer who sold pot to kids is now the President whose administration is most likely gonna put this man behind bars for life for trying to alleviate the suffering of others in need. Wrap your head around that folks.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Did Obama really sell weed to anyone, or did he just drive around in the Choom Wagon, solving mysteries like "where can we get some tacos at this hour?"??

  • ShagNasty||

    most people who smoke frequently at the very least hook their friends up with sacks sometimes, and alot of them will buy bulk and sell to their buddies sometimes. I'd be pretty suprised if Obama has never sold weed once, but it hasn't been proven.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    For all the narrow-minded fascists that voted for and still support Obama (who, in his extra-planetary existence, still believes he unites rather than divides) this is what you get for the rest of your lives.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    May Obama pass a kidney stone every hour for the next 60 years, while suffering from genital warts, diarrhea, a slipped disk and hemorrhoids the whole time. May he have alternating bouts of Pancreatitis and shingles. May he suffer from alternating bouts of Michelle and Hilary sitting on his face.

  • MoreFreedom||

    May he long suffer from an ailment, only to learn when he's 80 or so that marijuana would have relieved his symptoms. That would be justice to some degree. Real justice would be to lock him up for 10 years for his admitted law breaking, not so much for breaking the law, but for locking up others who do, including those adhering to state law (but in violation of federal law).

    Didn't we need a constitutional amendment to make alcohol illegal? If so, shouldn't we need one for other drugs as well? Oh wait, the SCOTUS says it's no longer necessary and not a protected freedom anymore. May they also suffer as a result.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Meanwhile

    Prosecutors say that the case is a straightforward matter of illegal drug distribution and are trying to ban any mention of medical marijuana and state laws as a defense, not just in this but other similar pending lawsuits.

    “The intertwined subjects of medical marijuana, Montana law and medical necessity have no relevance to determining whether the government has proven the crimes charged in the indictment,” U.S. Assistant Attorney Joe Thaggard wrote in a legal brief. “Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law … and can’t be dispensed under a prescription.”

    But defense lawyers counter that their clients only became medical marijuana providers after statements by federal officials – including President Barack Obama – saying that patients and caregivers were a low priority for prosecutors. Those statements, the defense attorneys alleged, enticed caregivers into the rapidly growing field.

    “It’s unprecedented that the United States has filed a motion trying to prohibit a defense, but in these medical marijuana cases that’s their line of thinking,” said Michael Donahoe, a federal defense attorney. “I want to be frank – the government is wrong here. This was entrapment.”

    "Hey, you fucked up. You trusted us."

  • aelhues||

    Maybe he should be fined for being stupid. However, when the laws governing, are clearly contradictory, it is just plain wrong to be prosecuted for either.

  • $park¥||

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the little Obamas get caught with some pot.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Good point, Sparks. We all know the answer to that one!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the little Obamas get caught with some pot.

    "Ordinary fucking people. I hate 'em."

  • Concerned Citizen||

    I'd challenge jurisdiction. "Under the common law, if there is no victim, there is no crime. If I am not being prosecuted under the common law, what law are you using? And how am I subject to it?"

    Simple, straightforward questions the prosecutor should have no problem answering.

  • ||

    He's being prosecuted under Federal Statutory law. Did you miss that?

  • Romulus Augustus||

    But Mitt Romney was cruel to his dog, and let a woman die of cancer
    in order to squeeze another dime out for his vampire venture Kapitalist firm. Oh, and Ryan is a foaming at the mouth extreme teabagger who wants to dismantle government and put the Koch brothers in charge.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Thanks, now I don't have to watch the MSM evening news.

  • Rich||

    Serious question: Can prisoners suffering from approved diseases use MMJ?

  • Duncan20903||

    Nowhere in the US of which I'm aware. I wouldn't be shocked if it can happen in Israel. It wouldn't be that shocking because Israel treats it like an actual medicine.

    How about modifying your question to "Can patients in hospitals suffering from approved diseases use medicinal cannabis?" Israel is the only country that explicitly allows and accommodates that stripe of medicinal use.

    You've got to understand that even though so many people think that State law authorizes medicinal use it isn't true. The State laws carve out protection from prosecution for certain people. They are more accurately called medicinal cannabis patient protection laws. But people are lazy and label them in concurrence with their flawed perceptions. To date only Oregon, Iowa, Montana, Alaska, and DC have actually recognized cannabis as a valid medicine by moving it to schedule II at the State level. Yes, every State maintains its own version of the Federal naughty lists under a law usually called the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. E.g. in Oregon and Mississippi pseudoephedrine is in schedule III and requires a prescription.

  • bacon||

    Does this guy have a legal defense fund to donate to?

  • numnumnum||

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