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Cannabus Visits Detroit To Support Monroe County Medical Marijuana Patient Headed For Prison

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DETROIT — Since Michigan legalized marijuana for medical use in 2008 it has been a contentious and complicated issue.

State law allows a patients with a debilitating condition and a doctor recommendation to possess up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana — or the same amount per patient up to 5 patients for a caregiver — yet federal law lists marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance without any medical benefit. 

It is within the realm of that huge contradiction that Gerald "Jerry" DuVal Jr., 53, of Monroe County's Petersburg found himself indicted on felonies that will keep him imprisoned for 10 years, based on the sentence he's received. 

He said he followed state guidelines when he became a patient and allowed his daughter, Ashley DuVal, 28, and Jeremy DuVal, 31, both registered caregivers, to grow up to 144 plants in an enclosed, locked facility on his 82-acre property several years ago.

Gerals DuVal Jr. said Monroe County sheriff's inspected the property in 2010 and even gave him advice — which he followed — to ensure he was in compliance.

Jeremy DuVal was also convicted in the case and is serving up to five years in a Morgantown, W.V. federal prison

Although the family doesn't understand why, Ashley DuVal was never charged. 

Gerald DuVal Jr.'s mother Sharon DuVal now lives in Palmetto, Fla. with her husband, 74-year-old Gerald DuVal Sr., but recalls the raid of her son's property June 16, 2011 and the three subsequent searches. She lived on the adjacent four acres. 

Police and agents came through with air support, "big tanks" and military weapons that they aimed at her, she said during a protest outside the federal courthouse in Detroit Tuesday. 

"I told them to go ahead and shoot me," she said. "I don't care." 

Sharon DuVal joined several dozen marijuana advocates, including CannaSense, an organization that is traveling the nation in a green hemp-adorned bus, the "CannaBus," promoting medical marijuana education and the end to federal attacks on medical marijuana operations that don't violate state laws.

As of May, there were 18 states that allowed use and possession of marijuana as medicine.

On the rear of the bus is a painting of a U.S. flag with cannabis leaves replacing the stars. Protestors carried signs with statements like, "farmers not felons" and "stop arresting patients."

Several advocates spoke to the crowd.

"I don't know if I'll ever see him again," said the Sharon DuVal from aboard the bus with hemp moisturizer, green indoor-outdoor carpet and a large dozing German shepherd. "I don't know if he'll die in there." 

The senior has never smoked marijuana herself — and doesn't condone its recreational use — but has witnessed it benefit her son. He suffers from glaucoma, has had 18-20 eye operations, endured a kidney and pancreas transplant and quadruple bypass. 

Gerald DuVal Jr. is still fighting to keep his land and property worth about $240,00, which he says the government intends to seize.

At the time of the raid, police seized two vehicles — a 2010 SS Camaro and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee — electronics, computers and marijuana growing lights and other materials worth in excess of $150,000 DuVal claims.

DuVal, with his son, was convicted in April of 2012 on charges of manufacturing marijuana, over 100 plants; manufacturing marijuana with intent to deliver; distribution of marijuana; and maintaining a drug property.

He'll turn himself into the federal detention center in Ayer, Mass. on June 11.

"This is an example of the federal government's war on drugs; it's misguided and needs to change," said Matthew Abel, founder of the Detroit-based Cannabis Council which defends those arrested for marijuana crimes "The DuVal case is a tragedy, but we see those tragedies all around the country and what we need is people to put pressure on Congress.

"Prohibition is over, the government just doesn't know it yet; this is notice. It's time to end the war on marijuana."

Abel said there are several federal bills that would allow state's to enforce their own medical marijuana laws with the respect of federal agencies and all allow patients and caregivers to raise issues related to state laws during federal trials. 

Currently, because state medical marijuana laws are not recognized federally, compliance with state law is often not admitted into testimony. The fact that DuVal and his children had complied with Michigan law was never heard by his jury, he said Tuesday.

Gerald DuVal Jr. holds out little hope that he'll often see his family when he is imprisoned over 900 miles away.

He's optimisic that an appeal will overturn his conviction, or that federal overseers will apply a "compassionate release," reserved for inmates suffering serious medical problems behind bars.



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