May 2: Protest Imprisonment of MMJ Defendants Fry & Schafer

WHERE: Federal Courthouse, Sacramento – 501 “I” St.
WHEN: Monday May 2nd, 1:15 – 2 PM
WHAT: Press Conference and Rally for Federal Medical Marijuana Defendants Dr. Mollie Fry & Dale Schafer

SACRAMENTO – Medical marijuana supporters will be rallying to protest the imprisonment of Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer for five years on federal charges this May 2nd. The couple were convicted for growing marijuana for clients of their medical marijuana clinic in Cool, California, after being denied the opportunity to present a medical marijuana defense in federal court.

Both defendants are seriously ill and will require special medical attention while in prison. They will be leaving behind their family of five children aged 18 -35 and two grandchildren. Under federal mandatory minimum laws, they were sentenced to five years for growing over 100 plants, an amount commonly exceeded by many legal patient collectives and cooperatives throughout California under Prop. 215.

“It’s outrageous that the federal government is wasting taxpayers’ dollars to imprison a couple who never harmed anyone for a longer sentence than most violent criminals,” commented California NORML director Dale Gieringer. “Mollie and Dale had good reason to think that their activities were legal under Prop 215 and were misled to believe that their activities were approved by local law enforcement.”

Attorney Lawrence Lichter has filed a clemency petition asking President Obama to commute the couple’s sentence.

Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer were the first medical marijuana defendants to be arrested by the federal government after the 9-11 attacks, on Sept. 28th, 2001. Over 100 other defendants have since been arrested on federal charges for providing medical marijuana in California. Although the Department of Justice has declared a policy of low enforcement priority for medical marijuana, federal courts and prosecutors have continued to press outstanding cases.

Meanwhile, the administration has done nothing to revise the government’s obsolescent laws against medical marijuana. A petition to reschedule marijuana for medical use was filed by a coalition including California NORML in 2002, but has been languishing without a response from the DEA for nearly nine years. Meanwhile, the DEA has blocked efforts to establish a legal medical marijuana research garden so as to develop the drug for FDA approval. Nonetheless, dozens of studies have affirmed the medical value of marijuana since Mollie and Dale were arrested, showing that it can be a valuable alternative to more dangerous and expensive conventional medicines.

“It is a sorry tribute to the bankruptcy of federal policy that the government is wasting more resources to persecute medical marijuana providers than on reforming the law as to permit Americans to legally enjoy the benefits of this medicine,” says Gieringer.

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