US Attorney Benjamin Wagner is seeking a mandatory minimum five years federal prison for Matthew Davies, a 34-year-old Stockton father of two who operated a dispensary there since 2009. Davies has no criminal record, and set the dispensary up as a lawful entity in the state of California, which has immunized medical pot growers and collectives. He holds a master's degree in business, paid state and local sales taxes, and employed 75 people.
As the New York Times reveals today, a break-in at Davies' pot-growing warehouse led to police attention, and eventually a federal raid that netted 1,962 pot plants and 200 pounds of bud. Davies was indicted on his wife's birthday.
“If I had believed for a minute this would happen, I would never have gotten into this," Davies told the New York Times.
Such a situation is becoming more and more common, cannabis attorney Bill Panzer has told me last year, as straight-laced people enter the quasi-legal medical cannabis business. Old-school marijuana traffickers knew imprisonment was always a possibility, Panzer said, but under Prop 215 and SB 420, new entrants in the market think they have rights.
They don't. The federal government can easily press its case — just ask Aaron Sandusky, a dispensary operator in Southern California who was sentenced to ten years federal prison this month.
Sadly, the New York Times headline writers contribute to the confusion by headlining the story 'In California, It’s U.S. vs. State Over Marijuana'.
That's not true. The State of California — especially Attorney General Kamala Harris — hasn't lifted a finger to protect lawful Californians from federal gendarmes. Hundreds of collectives with storefronts have been closed, and thousands have lost their jobs or have been arrested, or both.
In California, it's the U.S. vs. Californians over marijuana — and the feds are grinding Californians to dust.