Michigan: Thousands Demand Release Of Patient Imprisoned For Medical Marijuana

GeraldDuvalAndMotherAtProtest

An online petition is helping medical cannabis prisoner Jerry Duval’s request for Compassionate Release gain some traction. Duval is serving a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for marijuana, even though he was legally registered and strictly complied with Michigan state law.

Duval’s prison sentence has become the focus of a media firestorm in recent weeks, including an article in Huffington Post that highlights the $1.2 million dollar price tag, just for Duval’s medical costs while incarcerated. The 53-year-old organ transplant recipient surrendered to a Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts on June 11.

Duval has filed for relief under the Bureau of Prison’s Compassionate Release program. In addition to his serious medical conditions, Duval points to sentencing disparities among similarly situated defendants.

Just this week, Edwin Schmieding received two years' probation after being convicted of growing 8,000 plants less than 30 miles from the Duval farm. A federal judge felt that Schmieding “deserves a break.” The indictment against Schmieding’s wife was dismissed by U.S. Attorneys.

Despite their strict compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, Duval and his son, Jeremy, were given no such breaks. The pair was convicted after deciding to stand trial and fight the charges, even though state law is traditionally not allowed as a defense in federal court. Jeremy is serving a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.

A Change.org petition to support Duval’s request for Compassionate Release has gathered more than 2,000 signatures. Each time that a name is added to the growing list, an email is sent out to President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Michigan’s Congressional delegation, as well as the Director of the Bureau of Prisons and the Warden of the medical prison where Duval is presently locked up.

Organizers said they hope the public pressure will convince leaders to favorably respond to Duval’s request by granting his immediate release.

(Photo of Gerald Duval and his mother: Bill Laitner/Detroit Free Press)