Medical Marijuana’s Lost Man: Bryan Epis

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director March 7, 2010

    One of the best (or worse, it depends on one’s perspective and physical location!) indicators of the total failure of a law, is when it is woefully and subjectively applied.

    When trying to answer inquiries from reporters, columnists, policymakers and medical cannabis patients regarding as to ‘why specifically has Bryan Epis been compelled to return to federal prison–at great taxpayer expense during a steep recession–when there are thousands of cannabusinesses operating at the retail level in states like California, Colorado and Montana?’, there are no satisfactory (or logical) answers to provide them.

    Suffice of to say, Bryan Epis’ case is both a dinosaur of sorts as well as a badge of shame for the current, and somewhat medical cannabis-supportive Obama administration in that his was one of the first federal arrests in 1997, and after a hotly contested legal battle, Bryan was one of the first medical cannabis primary caregivers to be sentenced under federal law, to ten years. After serving 24 months in prison from 2002-2004, with the greater social and political acceptance of medical cannabis blossoming around Bryan’s prison cell, he was able to procure an appeal bond, leave prison, argue his case in the appeals court again, re-start his successful business, pay taxes, take care of his mother, be a parent to his child, develop a loving relationship–all with the notion that he’d unlikely have to return to federal prison.

    What, in the era of 24/7 medical cannabis vending machines, law enforcement having to return back hundreds of pounds of seized medical cannabis to patient-growers and caregivers, insurance companies paying on medical cannabis crop failure and insuring  dispensaries with standard business liability coverage and President Obama implementing the first steps of recognizing medical cannabis’ safety, utility and need to change its legal status specifically-tailored for medical use?

    Could the federal government be so arbitrary and capricious so as to seek his re-incarceration for eight more years to be served in prison, for the ‘crime’ of growing over one hundred medical cannabis plants?

    Yes. On April 08, 2009, a three panel judge on the 9th Circuit ruled against Epis and ordered him back to prison.

    Bryan may have been arrested under the Clinton administration, prosecuted and incarcerated under the Bush 2.0 administration, but the Obama administration’s Department of Justice can ‘do the right thing’: stop wasting taxpayer’s money, stop being subjective in the application of the law and reason, and stop making the average person seriously question the priorities of government institutions and bureaucracies by immediately reducing his sentence, freeing him from a cage, and allow him to return to his family–and the tax rolls.

    Below is a communication from Bryan’s partner regarding the two primary things citizens can do to support Bryan and help end this kind of insanity in the war against cannabis consumers:

    1) Sign and distribute the petition necessary to appeal to the federal government to reduce Bryan’s sentence;

    2) When booking lodging online, please use a search engine called LodgingSite, which not only benefits its owner (Bryan Epis!), but the company will donate 10% of their profit to public interest groups like NORML.

    March 4, 2010

    Dear Allen,

    My name is Monica and I am writing you on behalf of Bryan Epis. As you know they recently took him back in to serve the remainder of a ten year prison sentence.  He wanted me to contact you in hope that you can help us. I have attached a printable petition. Our goal is to come up with 100k signatures within 4 months.  The lawyer he has is filing a 2255 to try to get his sentence reduced. Bryan is hoping you will put this petition on your website, anyone can print it. It holds 25 signatures per page, once a page is complete, at the bottom of the page is our address. We ask that they send them back to me and I will take them to his lawyer.

    We have found a way to raise money for your non-profit organization as well as help Bryan.

    We have a website called lodgingsite.com powered by Priceline.  It is a hotel reservation web site.  I would assume that all of your members, book at least one hotel a year, if they go to lodgingsite.com and book a hotel room under the “special rates” section.  We offer 10% cash back to any non profit organization of their choice (as long as when they get their confirmation info and send it to cashback@lodgingsite.com along with a designated non profit organization of their choice. They must include the name of the organization of their choice, plus their confirmation number, their name address, the hotel name and city). BTW, 10% equates to about $20 per reservation. If you multiply that by how many members and supporters NORML has it is potentially a lot of money NORML could get for the cause, as well as to help and promote Bryan’s defense.

    If you have any questions please contact me at: monica@lodgingsite.com

    Monica Focht
    (in care of Bryan Epis)

    26 responses to “Medical Marijuana’s Lost Man: Bryan Epis”

    1. Jed The head says:

      When will the madness end????????

    2. Cory M Russell says:

      this is just absurd..to think that our current presidents views on medical cannabis wouldnt stop this from happening,isnt this a double jepordy sort of deal anyway?i dont know, i think obama should pardon this guy.

    3. Toby says:

      what state was this man convicted in?

      [Editor’s note: California.]

    4. fireweed says:

      Can someone help me understand why this guy gets 10 years for hurting no one, and who in a lot of people’s minds is a hero and healer, and that convicted child molester that killed that 17 year old girl this past week in San Diego was let out after serving only 3 years on an already watered down sentence for attempting to do the same to a 13 year old girl and word has it he molested at least 10 other little girls?

      If that ain’t fucked up I don’t know what is.

      How does this happen?

    5. WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison says his arrest in Kansas on suspicion of marijuana possession is “not what it seems.”

      The 41-year-old said Friday it all started Thursday night when he was sitting outside a Wichita gym, reading his Bible and meditating, before going in to lift weights. He suspects someone thought he looked suspicious and called police.

      Morrison told The Wichita Eagle he let police search his car, which contained items from a recent move. Inside a box was a pipe that police said contained marijuana residue.

      Morrison says he didn’t know what he had in the box.

      He says he spent about two hours in jail. He was released on $4,000 bond and ordered to appear in court on March 6.

      Morrison defeated George Foreman in 1993 to win the WBO heavyweight title.

    6. I normally don’t do petitions, but I am seriously considering it. I will do whatever I can to get the word out. I will find a way to help somehow!

    7. ol tex says:

      This really sucks.

    8. kevin says:

      Let the President know we tired of these harsh laws regarding marijuana.vote here on change.org http://www.change.org/ideas/view/legalize_the_medicinal_and_recreational_use_of_marijuana

    9. Cory says:

      you know the more and more i think about it things just dont add up. i seem to notice the impurites of the goverment more and more or maybe its not the goverment and my thinking it just totally distorted. how is it that i can go to war fight and die for my country at the age of 18? why is it that we were promised the unalienable rights to life liberty and pursuit of happiness but yet my life is restricted these liberties i had been promised have been taken away from myself as well as thousands of americans and my pursuit has came to a screachign halt because of the laws. why is it that i can drink at the age of 21 and become a victum of the bottle lose my wife and kids my home and everything i own. why is it that i can smoke at the age of 18 and harm myself and those around me. why is it that i have the right to vote at 18 to decide “my” countries future but most of the time those peopel who i vote for and represent dont follow through with anyhting. but why is it that i cant smoke a plant that will stop the war and fighting to bring the world together as one why cant i smoek a plant that will help me reach my dreams and wont make me lose my kids and wife i dont know any more whats wrong with this ? something has got to give

    10. lisa says:

      Why isn’t this an electronically signed petition?