JUDGE SKILLMAN: IT'S MARIJUANA NOT MEDICINE.
"It is judges and prosecutors like this that are abusing the law. The judge clearly said the law doesn't apply and then slandered Dr. Mikuriya, one of the foremost research scientists in the country."
Judge Bill Skillman had just sentenced Frank Kortangian to 16 months in prison, with most of it suspended for growing marijuana.
The speaker was Steve Kubby, Libertarian Party candidate for Governor who attended the sentencing as a potential expert witness.
"The law is very simply written. The law doesn't say judges may practice medicine; it says if you have a letter from a doctor recommending or approving the use of marijuana for a medical condition, it is legal to use it."
Kortangian pleaded no contest to growing seven marijuana plants near the Plumas/Sierra County line. Refusing to weigh the actual plants, District Attorney Sue Jackson relied on a police "expert" and concluded the plants would have yielded seven pounds.
Other witnesses, more familiar with marijuana cultivation and use of marijuana, believe four ounces of smokable marijuana were harvested.
"I remember that one," scoffed one local peace Officer. "That's one where there were more cops than plants."
At the time Kortangian was growing the weed, state medical doctors were under a threat by the federal government to pull the license of any actually prescribing marijuana. When a federal court lifted that ban, Kortangian obtained a letter from a doctor approving the use.
Judge Skillman refused to believe the plants were for medicinal purposes.
"As a finder of fact in this case, I don't believe he was growing for medical purposes. The (medical marijuana) law was not written to cover these facts," Skillman said.
Skillman went on to describe the manner of examination he believed a physician must give before being justified in prescribing marijuana.
"I have heard that Dr. Mikuriya has been fairly liberal in passing out these letters," Skillman said.
"I believe there will be some question about the man's license," agreed D.A. Jackson.
When the dust settled, Kortangian, a 61 year old disabled veteran of the Korean War with an otherwise spotless record, found himself a felon for growing a plant the people of California have decided has beneficial medicinal qualities.
He will pay a fine of over $800, spend between 30 and 75 days as a guest in the county jug, spend 30 days with a monitoring bracelet under house arrest, and remain under formal probation for three years.