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More MS news articles for June 2003

Medical Pot Advocates Face Prison Time, Don't Want Deal With DA

Couple Says They Did Nothing Wrong

1:54 p.m. PDT June 13, 2003
The Associated Press
Temecula, Calif.

Two medical marijuana advocates charged with cultivating 21 pounds of pot face more than two years in prison if convicted, but they aren't interested in any deal with prosecutors except for dismissal of the charges.

"We have done nothing, nothing, nothing wrong," said Martin Victor, 50, who said he suffers from cluster headaches because of damaged optic nerves.

Victor and wife La Vonne claim they are only adhering to the wishes of a majority of voters who approved Proposition 215, which allows for the "compassionate use" of marijuana for medicinal purposes. They face a maximum 32 months in prison if convicted.

Proposition 215, passed in 1996, grants Californians the right to "obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes" but it didn't set limits or guidelines about how much can be grown.

Prosecutors contend that the quantity seized during the October 2001 arrests of the Victors far exceeded the amount needed for medical treatment. The Victors say their crop yielded 6 pounds of marijuana buds, not 21 pounds, the total weight of the plants.

The Victors, who say they suffer from a myriad of health woes, say they acted in accordance with Proposition 215 because they received a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana.

Mrs. Victor, 47, was diagnosed in 1997 with multiple sclerosis and she suffers from emphysema, a compressed vertebrae in her back and panic attacks.

Attorney J. David Nick said Martin Victor "is never going to admit guilt" and will accept only a complete dismissal of charges. Mrs. Victor's lawyer, Zenia Gilg, said her client believes that "to take a plea would essentially be a lie and would be compromise her liberty."

District Attorney Grover Trask said his office reviews medical marijuana claims on a case-by-case basis but has taken a conservative view of Proposition 215. If a particular case appears questionable, Trask said, "we'll let a jury decide."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press