California medical pot dispensary operator gets 10 years in prison

Aaron Sandusky, who operates three medical marijuana dispensaries in California, has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars for selling medical marijuana through his dispensaries. Selling pot through dispensaries for medicinal purposes is legal under California law, but federal authorities do not recognize any medical use for the drug. Federal authorities busted Sandusky "for distributing hundreds of pounds of marijuana," says the U.S. Attorney's Office. (LA Weekly)


  1. All of the useless federal employees’ jobs involved in this incident belong on the budget chopping block. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen.

    1. In this instance, and many more to come, the point of those laws is to protect/project the liberties of the governed, which it happens is the best avenue currently available for changing the federal laws.

      Imagine a Great Dane surrounded by a pack of 50 Chihuahuas. Mostly the walk along together, but occasionally a Chihuahua gets a wild hair up its butt and starts being all Chihuahua like with the Great Dane, tripping it and nipping it.

      The Great Dane can pluck up that Chihuahua, give it a shake, put the fear of teeth in it, set it back down and maybe it just walks along with the rest of the Chihuahuas and the Great Dane.

      But if 2 Chihuahuas start tripping and nipping, then the Great Dane has to try to get them both in it’s mouth. It can.

      Yet more Chihuahuas start being Chihuahuas. And more! Eventually, the Great Dane will have to decide on some other course of action, because even a large Great Dane will have trouble holding a dozen Chihuahuas in its mouth, let alone shaking them without some slipping free, and some would not even feel the teeth at that point.

      Eventually, the big dog has to see what the problem is and address that instead, if it ever wants peace again. Chihuahuas are seriously annoying.

      1. Your analogy is missing something.  Oh yes:  the big dog is always right, is  packing a LOT of heat, and if it gets a hair up its ass and decides to ruin the lives of other dogs, cats, whatever… it can and it will and there ain’t shit anyone else can do about it except …yip yip yip.

        What the marijuana lobby needs is some big dogs on its side.  Having voters and state laws is, obviously, not enough.

        1. The Prohibition of alcohol lasted 13 years, was hotly contested initially and throughout its duration and is also but one of the many examples of the big dog rescinding a federal law, constitutional no less, and leaving it to the states in a perfect analogy for marijuana.

          If alcohol prohibition took 13 years to defeat, imagine how bleak it looked in 1929 for the prospect of a legal alcoholic drink? Not that it stopped anyone from partaking, but a lot of people paid a price beyond a bar tab.

          It should come as no surprise that the mountain of stupid that is the War on Blunts would take longer and seem even more intractable during its slow but certain erosion.

          My own outlook is that when 2 or more states with shared borders legalize for recreation that the battle is won and that the fed will give in. Borders are a whole nother problem that if added to the mix make it an even bigger headache.

          1.  I just didn’t get it; but maybe I just do not track CA compliances (and/or forgivenesses for Jerry Brown) as all that Great-Dane sized v. MA, FL, OH…though should. Also, no need for UL listed vaporizers for teh EtOH…not counting throwing 2 bottles of merlot through a hot frying pan, which barely flavors the food but makes the room smell appetizing. And not rank. Hmm.
              So at least A. Sandusky’s friends (reckoning on that) will keep his stuff in good repair while J. Sandusky’s are turned to making amends and the Federal Administration cranks out a pardon or Order and a policy reform motion set to mob in Legends Of Congresscraft.

    2. Out of curiosity, how did you feel about Arizona vs the Feds when it came to immigration laws?  Arizona tried to argue their laws were a reflection of Federal law, and it didn’t fly.

      Federal vs State sovereignty is a double edged sword.  It doesn’t always cut where you’d expect.

      And the Feds could easily update laws in a way that recognizes pot as legal, but effectively bans the sale.  Taxed at $100/g?  Growers/sellers personally liable for any damages arising from use of their products if extremely strict guidelines aren’t met.  etc.

      1. Except that protecting the borders is explicitly delegated to the federal government in the constitution.

      2. The key difference is that the Arizona immigration laws were more restrictive than the Federal laws, whereas California marijuana laws are less restrictive. The Federal government is supposed to ensure baseline standards of freedom, so that whichever state you find yourself in you’re guaranteed not to be legally enslaved or have soldiers camping out in the guest room against your will (for instance.)

        1. So California auto emissions regulations should be overturned for being more restrictive?  I don’t think either of us believes that.

          Which was my point: there are always going to be conflicts between state and federal law.  Some are ok, so are not, some are irrelevant.

          Deciding which is appropriate law is more subtle that just saying “state law trumps” or “federal law trumps.”  Or that one is more restrictive than another.  And if one party makes a law, there’s not a simple rule that says the other has to accept it.

          1. California has to have stricter air quality laws than most other states in order for the state, on the whole, to meet the minimum standards for air quality set by the EPA under the Clean Air Act.  In this case, there is no conflict between state and federal law.

  2. How much do you want to bet that Republicans who scream “STATE RIGHTS” at the top of their lungs when it comes to Obamacare, fully support this guy going to jail?

    1. If not for the fact that every single U.S. Attorney has had a Democratic boss for the last four years, this post might have a particle of relevance.

    2.  I came here to say this, that State’s Rights is a big thing for many on the Right in US Politics, but not when it comes to things like this.

    1. pointed difference, it involved locking a man up, not setting him free.

      Man have times changed. You can tell because what you wrote makes sense now, but not so much then.

    2. Republicans are assholes and Obama is better than Romney, but this IS Obama’s doing. Obama could make this all go away without even speaking to congress.  Pardon non-violent drug offenders, or at least pot offenders, and reschedule pot to where it should be.  Problem solved.  

      Republicans are a problem, but they are not THE problem.  Federal democrats are THE problem until they do an about face and come in line with reality.  Now that Obama has his second term, that pot smoking hypocrite has no excuse.

      1. I quite agree. I’m very angry with Obama’s about face on his initial position of when he took office of not going after medical marijuana to this present day.
        Obama 2008: “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws [on medical marijuana]”
        Obama Justice Department 2013: 10 years for legally (at the state level) selling medical marijuana / illegally (at the federal level) selling marijuana. 

        Someone* should be calling him out on this. The someone should most obviously be the Republican Party, who ostensibly are for the right of states to set their own laws. Yet they seem to care about that only when the laws the state are setting align with their social standards.  

        *someone more than the blog-o-nets and so forth. Someone legislature like.

  3. “There is absolutely no altruistic component to defendant’s continued and sustained criminality.”  This is an important part of the article, it raises more questions as to what they mean by “altruism” and what he was really up to.  Just playing devil’s advocate here.  Don’t get me wrong, i don’t want them to take my dispensaries away.

    1. Also, since when are medication producers expected to be altruistic?  The pharmaceutical industry is all about charging as much money as they can for products that people can’t live without.

      It’s a double standard.  Authorities are proposing laws to ban dispensaries near schools, but with an epidemic of Oxycontin abuse, will they enact similar bans for pharmacies selling oxy?  Obviously they wouldn’t because pharmaceuticals have lobbyists.  The FDA knows there is far more oxy being produced than is prescribed but they seem not to care.

    2. Capitalism isn’t based on pure altruism. It’s based on people finding a way to prosper through helping other people. If every business, every farmer, every mom-and-pop shop were judged purely on their altruism, society would quickly fall apart and mass starvation occur.

      1. True capitalism is a socially oriented philosophy where those with capital invest it in their community in an effort to promote the general welfare while also generating a profit. Modern American capitalism is much more like piracy, where you collect all the booty you can, and you bury it where no one will ever see it again.

  4. Aaaaaaand…the Crime Against Humanity known as the War on Drugs continues. 

    Cannabis decriminalization threatens not one but *numerous* multi-billion-dollar businesses, from the Prison Industrial Complex (incalculably vast in the U.S.) to the criminal justice system and the expanding police & surveillance state. And of course the pharmaceutical industry, that many-headed hydra. Cannabis can be 100% safe and effective in alleviating over 200 physical and mental ailments and represents an existential threat to whole classes of toxic pharmaceutical drugs.

    It’s not an accident that a courageous caregiver who helps the sick and suffering within the constraints of California law is on his way to jail. 

    I would estimate that a large percentage of cannabis users derive medical benefit from their use, whether they are aware of it or not. At one time or another, I have used cannabis to alleviate back pain, post-op pain, muscular pain, ADHD, and mild depression and anxiety. 
    I encourage all cannabis patients to cast off their fear and make their voices heard as loudly as possible. 

  5. This is unfortunate, but it probably will accelerate the process of forcing state and federal governments to deal with their differing positions. I might be at odds with the Boing Boing community on this, but I’d rather a bad law (federal prohibition) be enforced, and thus be a visible, impossible-to-ignore topic of discussion, than have the rule of threatened by having unenforced policy on the books. 

    1. Obama could drop it to schedule 2 and pardon all nonviolent cannabis offenders without involving congress. its a tragedy that this goes on and on and on…

    2. There are a great number of kooky, completely unenforced laws on the books. The more states choose to either legalize or specifically remove cannabis laws from enforcement, the more the federal prohibition effort will be marginalized. Continued, heavy enforcement will just embolden the “It will remain illegal because I say so” attitude of the DEA.

  6. there are no facts left in an argument for maintaining the status quo.
    yet our leaders ignore that FACT.
    their frog legs twitch and they regurgitate nonsense.
    educated people, without a cogent argument ?!
    only a “ruled” people can be told,
    “despite my very poor justification, this is how it’s going to be !”
    perhaps the marijuana issue, as a microcosmic example, is the war to concentrate on.
    it is the vehicle for unwinding the “evil kings” powers.
    perhaps a job for “occupy +aclu+anonymous+citizens” ?

    10 years ,? shame………….inhuman

    to think that a judge thought it reasonable ?
    mind blowing !!

  7. Hundreds of “pounds”?!
    What a joke! There are hundreds of TONS flowing over the Mexican boarder and they can’t seem to do anything, so they apparently take out their frustration on someone with a legitimate business in the state of California. Way to go Feds- protecting people with chronic illnesses and dying of cancer from medicine to help them, even after Obama calls for a relaxed DEA stance on pot in states where it is legal.

    1. They gave him such a severe sentence because they want to make an example of him.  They know they don’t have the resources to bust and prosecute every single clinic operator so their hope is that they can deter some through intimidation.  Expect the punishments to become more severe as the decriminalization movement gains momentum and the cops become more overwhelmed.

  8. We need to shine more light on the groups who profit from prohibition, and the fact that it is all about them making Money.  For instance, I think most people would be shocked to learn that the Prison Industrial Complex has authored laws that put people in prison.

  9. Fuck your shit federal government. This is no surprise – if they can screw Emery (a Canadian) then they will be able to screw a Californian.

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