Federal
1997-2004



The following chart notes federal government actions, from 1997-2004, against individuals and/or organizations who have claimed their actions constituted legal medical marijuana activities. Actions are presented in reverse chronological order - most recent first.

[Editor's Note: We have ceased adding new cases to this chart effective Dec. 31, 2004. Existing cases will be updated as necessary. As the number of medical marijuana dispensaries increases, so too does federal actions against them. Keeping this chart current would be too time-consuming and would not advance our goal of presenting the best pros and cons on the medical utiliy of marijuana.]

Key Information Summary
29. Defendant(s): Charles "Eddy" Lepp

Location: Lake County, CA

Date: Aug. 18, 2004

Action By: U.S. DEA, Ca. Bureau of Narc. Enforce, Lake Cnty Sheriffs, Cal. National Guard

"On Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2004, Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, with the assistance of the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wolf Team of the California National Guard, executed a federal search warrant on four properties in Upper Lake, California, owned by Mr. Charles Edward Lepp. The addresses where the search warrants were served are as follows: 9175 and 9176 Upper Lake Lucerne Road, and 941 and 975 East State Highway 20, all in Upper Lake, California.

Approximately 32,500 marijuana plants were found and seized during this operation. Some of the marijuana plants were knee high, while others were in excess of 10 feet tall. In addition, the following were also seized during the execution of the search warrant: a loaded Beretta .32 semi-automatic pistol, plastic bags containing what appeared to be dried/processed marijuana, canning jars containing a dark brown substance mixed with liquid suspected to be hash oil, a digital scale, computer CPUs and other items.

State authorities arrested fourteen individuals who will be charged in State court. Mr. Lepp was arrested on federal charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, conspiracy, and establishing of marijuana manufacturing operations in violation of 21 United States Code, Sections 841, 846, and 856. Mr. Lepp had his initial appearance in front of US Magistrate Bernard Zimmerman on Thursday 08/19/2004. During the court hearing, defense attorney Dennis Roberts praised in open court the compassion and professionalism of the DEA Agents that arrested and transported Mr. Lepp. Magistrate Zimmerman imposed a $200,000.00 bail, and Mr. Lepp posted a bond."
Drug Enforcement Administration - Aug. 18, 2004

 


"In an unpublished interview with the Record-Bee earlier this year, Lepp said he is seeking $67 million from the DEA for taking 1,700 kilos of ostensibly legal marijuana plants off his property two years ago.

The DEA warrant used Wednesday [Aug. 18, 2004] to arrest Lepp and destroy a marijuana crop that is easily visible from Highway 20, [DEA Special Agent Richard] Meyer asserted, supersedes California statutes which Lepp believes give him the right to legally grow medical marijuana...

Lepp has claimed that he and his wife Linda have 'been personally responsible for helping 4,000 people' who use marijuana for numerous medical reasons...

Lepp maintains he has never sold marijuana. In the interview earlier this year, he described how, for a $500 contribution to his ministry, he will grow up to six plants for a patient who is disabled and has a valid doctor's recommendation for marijuana."
Lake Country Record-Bee -Aug. 19, 2004

Key Information Summary
28. Defendant(s): David Davidson, Cynthia Blake

Locations: Sacramento, CA

Date: Jan. 13, 2004

Actions by: Tehama Cnty Sheriff's deputies, acting on federal authority under the U.S. DEA

"In a stunning display of duplicitous double dealing, federal agents yesterday seized two medical marijuana patients from a California state courtroom after the local prosecutor lured the couple's defense counsel into the judge's chambers to dismiss the state charges filed against them.

David Davidson and Cynthia Blake were in state court on a motion seeking to have charges of marijuana cultivation and distribution dismissed, based on the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 which made medical use of marijuana legal in California. Both Ms. Blake and Mr. Davidson have doctors’ authorizations to use marijuana for medical conditions. Fewer than 30 plants, little more than a pound of dried marijuana and some cuttings were seized by the Tehama Sheriff’s Department during the July 29th raid on the Red Bluff home of Ms. Blake that resulted in her and Mr. Davidson’s arrest."
Americans for Safe Access - Jan. 14, 2004



"When the prosecutor, who requested the meeting in chambers, left the courtroom with the defense attorneys and the judge, sheriff's deputies ordered the defendants into the hall, handcuffed them and told them they were under federal arrest.

At the same time, the county prosecutor informed the judge and defense attorneys that the pair had been indicted five days earlier by a federal grand jury in Sacramento. When the defense attorneys rushed back to the Corning courtroom, their clients were gone and they were informed by a deputy that the pair were on their way to jail in Sacramento.

Deputies had taken Davidson and Blake out the back door of the courthouse and placed them in an unmarked car. As he was being handcuffed, Davidson said, he told a deputy he wanted to see his lawyer. "He told me, 'You don't have a lawyer. Your case was dismissed.'" Davidson said Friday at a news conference in front of the U.S. courthouse in Sacramento shortly before he and Blake were arraigned on the federal charges.

The pair are charged in the federal indictment with conspiring to grow at least 1,000 plants, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, and manufacturing at least 100 plants."
Sacramento Bee - Jan. 14, 2004

Key Information Summary
27. Defendant(s): Somayah Kambui

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date: Oct. 8, 2003

Action by: U.S. DEA

"In a resumption of the federal government's war on medical marijuana, DEA agents raided the backyard garden of a well known Los Angeles patient advocate, Sister Somayah Kambui, who was acquitted in a high-profile Prop 215 jury trial last year.

Somayah, who uses marijuana to treat severe pain from sickle-cell anemia and runs a sickle-cell patients' group from her home, has been the target of repeated police raids by the LAPD despite her legal status under Prop. 215.

This time, it was DEA agents who destroyed her garden, taking away a dozen robust plants nearly ready for harvest. No charges have been filed so far."
California NORML - Oct. 8, 2003

Key Information Summary
26. Defendant(s): Travis Paulson

Location: Portland, Oregon

Date: Oct. 2, 2003

Action by: U.S. DEA

On Oct. 2, 2003 agents from the U.S. DEA "confiscated 104 plants from [Travis] Paulson's home, despite his state license [for medical marijuana]. DEA agents said they were simply enforcing federal laws against growing pot."

"...DEA agents confiscated 48 mature marijuana plants and 56 immature plants, far more than what Paulson is allowed under state law. By law, residents who are licensed to grow marijuana for medicinal use can have three mature plants and four immature plants. Paulson concedes his 48 plants, which measured 10 to 12 feet high, exceeded that amount. But he said he cultivates marijuana to maturity only in the summer and harvests that crop for his entire yearly use. The 56 immature plants were clones he intended to plant next spring, he said, and he anticipated becoming a caregiver for another patient.

Paulson was not arrested. DEA reports were forwarded to the U.S. attorney's office for possible criminal charges.

Brian Blake, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said federal drug agents are not targeting Oregonians who grow medical marijuana but are going after what he called 'the marijuana threat.' And medical marijuana, he said, 'is part of the marijuana threat.'"
Associated Press - Oct. 12, 2003

Key Information Summary
25. Defendant(s): Gary Barrett, Anna Barrett

Location: San Bernardino, CA

Date: May 21, 2003

Action by: DEA arrest on a federal grand jury indictment

"The Barretts had been involved in a series of marijuana cultivation cases in state court, the most recent of which was dismissed by a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge on May 9th. The court had ruled that the Barretts were 'legitimate medical marijuana users under the Compassionate Use Act and entitled to grow the marijuana they were growing.'"
San Bernardino County Sun - May 22, 2003

"The seven-page federal indictment charges the couple with five counts of conspiring to cultivate and cultivating marijuana, and providing a place to cultivate the drug. Between 9/6/01 and 2/14/03, the pair cultivated 550 marijuana plants at their home in Paso Robles, 134 plants at their Victorville home and 34 plants at their home near Helendale, the indictment alleges."
California NORML - May 22, 2003.

Key Information Summary
24. Defendant(s): Shelter From The Storm, Steve McWilliams

Location: San Diego, CA

Date: Sep. 24, 2002

Action by: 10 members of a regional drug enforcement task force using a federal warrant

"California NORML is sad to report that San Diego medical cannabis patient activist Steve McWilliams has taken his life. McWilliams, who had been fighting federal charges for growing a modest home garden for the Shelter from the Storm Collective, was depressed over the Supreme Court decision and in terrible pain, having been denied access to medical marijuana since his arrest in 2002. Steve was a courageous fighter for the cause and will be sorely missed. Our deepest sympathies to his partner, Barbara MacKenzie."
7/12/05 California NORML

26 plants & 10 lbs marijuana seized, no arrest. Patient claimed to be growing for six patients.

DEA agent Donald Thornhill Jr. said "This has been on the agenda for a while. It's the politics of the time. He claims this is medicine. From our perspective, there's no medical use for this."

Steve McWilliams plead guilty on Feb. 7, 2003 to growing 25 plants. Was sentenced on Apr. 28, 2003 to 6-months home detention.
San Diego Union-Tribune - June 4, 2002

Key Information Summary
23. Defendant(s): Genesis 1:29, Robert Schmidt

Location: Petaluma, CA

Date: Sep. 12, 2002

Action by: U.S. DEA

Sentenced on Julyu 6, 2005 by Judge Stephen Breyer to 41 months in federal prison and 3 years supervised probation.
Americans For Safe Access - July 6, 2005

3,000+ plants seized, one arrest. Patient claimed to be growing for several S.F. cannabis groups. The name of his organization was Genesis 1:29.

Schmidt "was held on suspicion of assaulting a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. One agent, who insisted on anonymity, said Schmidt was arrested after he tried to strip another agent of his firearm."
Americans For Safe Access - Feb. 24, 2003

Key Information Summary
22. Defendant(s): Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), Valerie Corral, and Mike Corral

Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Date: Sep. 5, 2002

Action by: 20+ U.S. DEA agents

Garden destroyed, 167 plants seized, three patients arrested, then released.

"The U.S. Attorney's office said no indictment or criminal complaint had been filed against the Corrals, and declined further comment.

An official source elsewhere said federal prosecutors had declined to file charges." Defendants filed lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

On mar. 31, 2004 U.S. Judge Jeremy Fogel "gave the government one week to file a letter stating that it did not intend to raid WAMM again. Based on the hearing, WAMM supporters are optimistic that Judge Fogel will issue an injunction in a couple of weeks."
California NORML - Apr. 1, 2004

Key Information Summary
21. Defendant(s): Charles "Eddy" Lepp, Linda Senti and six unnamed individuals

Location: Lake County, CA

Date: Aug. 27, 2002

Action by: Lake County Narcotic Task Force and 8 U.S. DEA agents

266 plants seized. "Lepp was acquitted of Lake County's first medical marijuana case four years ago."
Press Democrat -Aug. 31, 2002

Key Information Summary
20. Defendant(s): Alan MacFarlane, growing for 10 patients.

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Date: Aug. 15, 2002

Action by: U.S. DEA

Garden destroyed. The DEA raided MacFarlane after he had been acquitted by a local jury under state law for planting a 128-plant, 10-patient cooperative garden.
Orange County Register - Sep.9, 2002

Key Information Summary
19. Defendant(s): Diane Monson, growing 6 plants for self.

Location: Oroville, CA

Date: Aug. 15, 2002

Action by: U.S. DEA and Butte County sheriff's deputies

Garden destroyed. DEA seized patient's six plants despite pleas from a state D.A. to leave her alone.

"I was told that [the federal government's] policy is to not recognize any medical excuse for marijuana," D.A. Ramsey said. "... I was very angry that they were going to [take the plants] and questioned the necessity of it. I told him this was going to bring bad publicity, and [U.S. Attorney Vincent] said he'd take the heat, but the plants needed to be taken and destroyed."
Chico News & Review - Aug. 22, 2002

Key Information Summary
18. Defendant(s): Michael Teague

Location: Orange County, CA

Date: Aug. 2002

Action by: U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)

Patient, following dismissal of his medical marijuana cultivation case in state court, is arrested by ATF for legally owning a handgun, stored in a closet, while possessing marijuana. Sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, fined $500, with a 4-year supervised release program.
California NORML - Apr. 1, 2004

Key Information Summary
17. Defendant(s): David Arnett & caregiver David Kephart

Location: Mendocino County, CA

Date: Aug. 2002

Action by: Federal Prosecutors

Fed. Govt. filed charges for cultivating 27 plants after case was dismissed by local D.A.
California NORML - Apr. 1, 2004

Key Information Summary
16. Defendant(s): Lynn & Judy Osburn, growing 32 plants for self Location: Ventura, CA

Date: Aug. 13, 2002

Action by: U.S. DEA

Garden destroyed, Osburns arrested. Federal charges filed "that could land them in prison for up to 40 years."

Pled guilty on Oct. 7, 2003, sentenced on Apr. 13, 2004. The 32-plant case was dropped due to Raich v. Ashcroft. For the remaining charges, Judy Osburn sentenced on Apr. 13, 2004 to one year probation, including 6-months house detention. Lynn Osburn would have received the same sentence, but due to felony gun possession, he was sentenced to 12 months, 1 day in jail. An appeal was denied.
Los Angeles Times - Sep. 18, 2002

Key Information Summary
15. Defendant(s): Mike Foley, Robin Few

Location: Sonoma County, CA

Date: June, 2002

Action by: FBI

Charged with 95 plants, also charged with 300 other plants grown two years prior that SF authorities refused to prosecute.

Mike Foley "has been forced to make a deal to plead guilty to cultivation of 95 plants." Sentenced 3/31/04 to six months home detention and 3 years probation.
Americans For Safe Access - Feb. 24, 2003 and California NORML - Apr. 1, 2004

Key Information Summary
14. Defendant(s): Aiko Compassion Center(serving 100+ patients). Arrested were Ed Bierling, Dan Nelson

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Date: May 29, 2002

Action by: 6+ DEA agents

Two arrests, both with less plants than Sonoma County Guidelines permit.
Press Democrat - May 30, 2002


Next hearing for both Bierling and Nelson is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2003. Both are facing felony cultivation charges.
Americans For Safe Access - Feb. 24, 2003

Key Information Summary
13. Defendant(s): Mark Whitney

Location: Sonoma County, CA

Date: Mar., 2002

Action by: Task force included local & federal agents.

Whitney is accused of cultivating 200 plants and 300 small clones, for 10 patients. Facing felony cultivation charges.
Americans For Safe Access - Feb. 24, 2003

Key Information Summary
12. Defendant(s): Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center, Ed Rosenthal, Ken Hayes (Canada), Rick Watts and James Halloran

Location: San Francisco, CA

Date: Feb. 12, 2002

Action by: DEA

8,300 plants seized. Three individuals indicted by Grand Jury following raid on Center.

Rosenthal was tried and convicted on Jan. 31, 2003. Sentenced June 4, 2003 to "one day in prison and fined $1,000," along with "three years of court supervision." At the hearing, "Judge Breyer said it was reasonable to conclude that Mr. Rosenthal had believed he was acting legally."
New York Times - June 5, 2003


The U.S. government filed an appeal of the sentence on 7/3/03. Hayes is in Canada seeking political refuge status.
San Jose Mercury News - Feb. 13, 2002

Key Information Summary
11. Defendant(s): The Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, Scott Imler, Jeffrey Farrington, Jeff Yablan, City of West Hollywood, Wells Fargo Bank

Location: West Hollywood, CA

Date: Oct. 25, 2001

Action by: 32 U.S. DEA agents

Garden destroyed, club closed, no arrests. Medical records of 3,000 current/former patients seized. City Council showed up at raid to protest.

"Our city is going to stand with our residents and this club," said Councilman John Duran, who also provided legal representation for the center. "These people will be forced once again into the streets to deal with drug dealers."

All pleaded guilty, sentenced on Nov. 24, 2003 to one year Probation, and community service. The judge cited a "lesser harm doctrine" in departing downward from a recommended 24-30 month sentence. Click here to read more.
Associated Press - Oct. 26, 2002

Key Information Summary
10. Defendant(s): Mollie Fry, M.D., Dale Schafer

Location: Cool, CA

Date: Sep. 28, 2001

Action by: DEA and West El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team

Office and home raided. Operated a clinic that had dispensed more than 6,000 medical marijuana recommendations. 32 plants seized at home. Medical records seized at office.

Schafer is an attorney, ran for El Dorado County district attorney, finishing 3rd in Nov. 2001, with 15% of the vote.

Dr. Fry's license to prescribe was revoked by the DEA. in Dec. 2002.
California NORML - Apr. 1, 2004

Key Information Summary
9. Defendant(s): Lynn and Judy Osburn, growing for The Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center

Location: Ventura, CA

Date: Aug. 10, 2001

Action by: 24 U.S. DEA agents and Ventura County sheriff's deputies

200 plants, garden destroyed, no charges filed at this time, see subsequent action in case No. 13, above.
Los Angeles Times - Oct. 4, 2002

Key Information Summary
8. Defendant(s): Salmon Creek Patients' Collective, Chris Giauque

Location: Humboldt County, CA

Date: Aug. 1, 2001

Action by: Humboldt County Sheriff & DEA

200 Plants and 100 lbs dried cannabis & hash oil seized. Case turned over to federal prosecutors by local police. pleaded guilty Dec. 6, 2001 to felony possession of 90 plants; sentenced to 15 months for possession.
Eureka Times-Standard - Aug. 7, 2001 & Dec. 6, 2001

Key Information Summary
7. Defendant(s): Robert and Shawna Whiteaker

Location: Placer County, CA

Date: May 10, 1999

Action by: Placer County narcotics task force

When the judge stated inclination to dismiss, local DA turned case over to feds. Still pending, facing 10-40 years if convicted.

"The Whiteakers believe dishonest police work led to their arrest, as well as four dozen other raids on customers of a Sacramento nursery called Green Fire ("Search Unwarranted," SN&R, Jan. 20, 2000)."

According to a report in the Sacramento Bee (Jan 24, 2003); "A federal judge has found there is evidence of vindictiveness on the part of the U.S. Attorney's office in obtaining a marijuana and weapons indictment. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd ordered the U.S. attorney's office to turn over to the defense documents reflecting its communications with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office regarding the referral of the case for federal prosecution."
Sacramento News & Review - Feb. 28, 2002

Key Information Summary
6. Defendant(s): Peter McWilliams, Todd McCormick, Kirill Dyjine (aka Hermes Zygott), Andrew Scott Hass, Christopher Carrington, Aleksandra Evanguelidi, Renee Boje and Gregg Collier.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date: July 23, 1998

Action by: DEA raid following Grand Jury Indictment

6,000+ plants claimed, grown in a mansion in Bel Air.

McWilliams, unable to discuss medical need/use at trial, plead guilty. He died on June 14, 2000, prior to sentencing. Aleksandra Evanguelidi and Renee Boje fled to Canada in 1998.

Since Feb. 2000 Boje has been seeking status of political refugee from Canadian authorities, per the L.A. Times.

McCormick, unable to discuss medical need/use at trial, plead guilty. He was sentenced on Mar. 24, 2000 to a 5-year prison term. Released in Dec., 2003.
New York Times - June 26, 2000

Key Information Summary
5. Defendant(s): S.F. Cannabis Cultivators Coop, Flower Therapy, Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop, Santa Cruz Cannabis Buyers' Club, Marin Alliance, Ukiah Cannabis Club

Location: Northern California

Date: Jan. 9, 1998

Action by: Suit filed in federal court against six clubs - U.S. Atty Michael Yamaguchi

S.F. closed by state D.A., Flower Therapy, Santa Cruz and Ukiah closed voluntarily. Oakland closed by court order.
Los Angeles Times - Nov. 10, 1998

Key Information Summary
4. Defendant(s): Dennis Peron and San Francisco cannabis providers Location: Lake County, CA

Date: Sep., 1997

Action by: U.S. DEA

150 plants seized from farm, 14 people detained. No arrests. Replanted next day.
California NORML - Apr. 1, 2004

Key Information Summary
3. Defendant(s): Todd McCormick, Renee Boje

Location: Brentwood, Los Angeles County, CA

Date: July 29, 1997

Action by: West Hollywood Sheriff and DEA

4,116 plants seized. McCormick, unable to discuss medical need/use at trial, plead guilty. He was sentenced on Mar. 24, 2000 to a 5-year prison term. Boje, a Canadian citizen, fled to Canada in 1998. Extradition proceedings are in process.
Associated Press - July 31, 2002
New York Times - June 26, 2000

Key Information Summary
2. Defendant(s): Bryan Epis, growing for Medical Marijuana Caregivers' organization

Location: Chico, CA

Date: June 25, 1997

Action by: U.S. DEA

"Epis is accused of conspiring to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants near a school - Chico High School - a crime which carries a mandatory 10-year prison sentence. He is also accused of manufacturing 100 plants, which carries an obligatory five-year federal prison term."

Federal trial forbade mention of medical use or Proposition 215. Found guilty on July 11, 2002. Sentenced on Oct. 7, 2002 to 10 years. Appeal filed.
Chico Enterprise-Record - June 27, 2002

Key Information Summary
1. Defendant(s): Flower Therapy; for 1,000 patients

Location: San Francisco, CA

Date: Apr. 21, 1997

Action by: U.S. DEA

331 Plants and equipment seized. No arrests, club reopened.

Raid initiated after DEA saw club's plants on local television news.
Reuters - Apr. 22, 1997

[Editor's Note: Laws and positions of plaintiffs and defendants can change without notice. Recent events may make some of the following information "old news." If you have an interest in any of the cases above you should probably contact the court or the attorneys involved for an up-to-date status.]

Thanks to The Drug Reform Coordination Network’s (DRCNet) and Dale Gieringer of California NORML, Ryan Landers of The American Alliance For Medical Cannabis and The Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center for all their assistance.