By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
It's a glaring misuse of our legal system against Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and her husband, civil attorney Dale Schafer. After more than half a decade of litigation and three years of appeals, the couple have been given until May 2 to turn themselves in to authorities to serve five years in a federal prison.
It started when the police raided their Sacramento home in 2001, finding 34 plants. Well below the 90-plant limit established by the local city ordinance for cardholders such as themselves, the couple thought they were on safe legal ground.
Dr. Fry, having gone through a radical mastectomy, decided to grow her own cannabis to offset the many complications she was experiencing from chemotherapy. Schafer suffers from hemophilia and a wrenched back, and is under constant care. He has also chosen to treat himself with medical marijuana.
Fry and Schafer also grew for patients of Dr. Fry's, who also sought the relief provided by cannabis. The couple never grew more than 44 plants at one time. Trying to be transparent and forthright during this time, they tried to enlist the aid of local officials, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and the Eldorado Sheriff's Department, to show the local law enforcement community the positive aspects of their endeavors and of medical marijuana.
This was all well and good, but in the process, their staff was charging TEN WHOLE AMERICAN DOLLARS for the delivery fee. The couple was raided again.
"We fired anyone who wasn't following the code of the law," Schafer said.
"We weren't selling the medical cannabis to my patients," Dr. Fry said. "We had staff and were charging $10 for delivery only, and that's a common practice today."
Then the absurdity of their trial kicked in.
"The judge wouldn't allow any medical evidence. They wouldn't let us tell the jury I was sick, or that I was a doctor," Fry said. "They wouldn't allow that I was helping sick patients.
"Ironically, two years before the raid, local authorities asked me to tell them who of my patients were 'really' sick, and who wasn't. I told them it wasn't my job to police my patients, and when I was in the thick of helping people, I knew it was the right thing to do," she said. "Cannabis helped me immensely when I was going through cancer."
Dr. Fry is a product of seven generations of doctors in her family tree. Her grandfather, Dr. Francis Marion Pottenger, played a part in curing tuberculosis in the early 1900s and her grandmother studied under Carl Jung in the 1950s. Her mother was also a physician.
"Cannabis is proven medicine," Fry said. "Why would the state of California create laws based on what the people want, and then allow the federal government to override them? I had cancer; we were growing medicine. I was helping people."
On Thursday in California, Governor Jerry Brown, in an effort to stop the state from financially bleeding to death, slashed somewhere between seven and TEN BILLION dollars. He still needs to find another $14 billion so California doesn't have to send their kids to Arizona for an education.
Last year, around 6,500 prisoners were released due to overcrowding and not having the bucks for our rising correctional costs. Not to get too sensationalized in print, that creep, Phillip Garrido, who had kidnapped a young lady and was discovered in 2009 that he kept her hidden in his backyard for 18 years? That guy was let go under a similar release program. But police didn't follow his activities or scrutinize his movements, because he apparently wasn't a dangerous lawbreaker like Dr. Fry and Mr. Schafer.
The United States has the highest documented rate of incarceration in the world.
A governor doesn't need the permission of the state's governing boards to let out prisoners. He already has that power; it's called a pardon. Like in the old time movies where the tension built as the warden waited for a call from the governor to commute Humphrey Bogart's sentence.
Jerry Brown could pardon this couple tomorrow if he wished. Our governor has made it clear that he is not jumping on the cannabis movement in any form or shape. That wouldn't be prudent. Howard Zinn says, "You can't be neutral on a moving train."
This isn't an issue of medical marijuana or state budgets; it is a matter of common sense. Dr. Fry and Mr. Schafer are not criminals, but are now defined as such by the State of California. We have spent millions prosecuting a couple, that if they lived 50 miles to their west, might not have the complications they are experiencing in the state's capitol city.
No one's ever going to hand you your freedoms; sometimes, you just have to take it.
Call the governor, your state person, the people in Sacramento, wherever your voice or dollars can make a change.
Dr. Fry's license to practice has been revoked for some time now, as has her husband's license to practice law. The couple's grown children with grandkids have moved back home to help with finances and save the family home. A PayPal account has been set up for donations.
Donations and correspondence of support can also be sent to the family at PO Box 634, Cool, CA 95614.
California Governor Jerry Brown can be reached at (916) 445-2841.
This article is based on the writings and research of Sharon Letts.
Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.
Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.
His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.
He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.