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West Michigan Man Sent To Prison For Purported Medical Marijuana Grow Operation

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI – One of the two leaders of a medical marijuana grow operation has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.


Phillip Joseph Walsh, 54, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo. Betty Jenkins, described as his "life partner" in court records, will be

sentenced June 29.


The Kent County residents were convicted at trial of running a marijuana grow operation that prosecutors say brought in $1.3 million.


Related: Two convicted of conspiracy in $1.3 million medical marijuana operation

Related: Medical marijuana-related charges filed against Grand Rapids doctor, others in alleged drug ring

The two, along with eight others, including a doctor who authorized patients for use of medical marijuana, were arrested last year for growing marijuana in multiple places in West Michigan.


The government contended that much of the marijuana grown was sold outside of Michigan.

Jenkins was considered the leader of the organization.


The defendants argued they acted within the guidelines of Michigan's medical marijuana law but were not allowed to use the law as a defense to the federal charges.

Kent County Area Narcotics Team and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration used multiple search warrants to raid numerous properties, including apartment buildings in Gaines Township. Police seized 467 marijuana plants and 18 pounds of processed marijuana.


Defense attorney Joshua Covert said his client, a father of four daughters, was "very nervous" after reviewing advisory sentencing guidelines that called for 151 to 188 months in prison. He said that Walsh has been a good, caring father and a hard worker and has led a productive life.


"Mr. Walsh and his life partner, Ms. Jenkins, lived a comfortable but certainly not lavish or extravagant life that was financed by rental income from property Ms. Jenkins obtained through her divorce," the attorney wrote in a sentencing memorandum.


"The endeavor of manufacturing marijuana was not particularly successful for Mr. Walsh from a financial standpoint because it proved to be difficult and expensive to manufacture marijuana," he wrote.

He said his client understands the seriousness of the offense. It has hurt his family and friends.

"Not witnessing his youngest daughter's graduation from high school is just one of the many things Mr. Walsh will likely miss out on in the coming years."

He said his client "is not seeking sympathy or pity" but asked for leniency "given the relaxed attitude toward marijuana nationwide and specifically Michigan in regards to marijuana."


Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Courtade said Walsh and Jenkins began manufacturing marijuana on Forest Hill Avenue SE in 2010. Walsh hired a man to help with the grow operation before both were convicted for their roles. The other man quit, "but Walsh and Jenkins carried on, unfazed," Courtade said.

"Defendant Walsh developed the 'marketing scheme' that ensnared many of the codefendants in this case," the prosecutor wrote.


"In exchange for building a marijuana manufacturing room in their homes (or apartments) and providing all the materials needed to grow marijuana, Walsh and Jenkins were entitled to the fruits of the first twelve harvests and the 'right of first refusal' at a set price for all subsequent harvests," he wrote.

He said that Walsh tried to insulate himself by staying he was only "'building grow rooms' ... his real motivation was far more nefarious."

He said Walsh grew marijuana for profit, with some sold in Ohio, some in Rhode Island. 


Courtade also said that Walsh could not document wages he earned – he reported remodeling and roofing homes – but he managed to hired his own attorneys, pay for a co-defendant's expert witnesses and build numerous manufacturing operations.

He recommended a sentence within guidelines.




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14 years for pot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


I wonder why our roads and bridges are crumbling beneath us? 



How do we have money to incarcerate people for nonviolent crimes for extreme lengths of time while letting our own infrastructure deteriorate?  I remember in 2007 when I was traveling the US and watching the Minneapolis bridge collapse on the news. 

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So how bout we Decriminalize Cannabis...problem solved   No Jail


As far as the roads,  whats with all the potheads for potholes?  Give it a rest.  Every other program just got diverted anyways.  If you think it will be different this time,  Your High


Medical Marijuana  Stands on its own merits...it dont need no gimmick

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Noam Chomsky describes the USA as a 'failed state'.  I tend to agree.






We drive on roads that beat the crap out of our cars and on bridges that are close to failure while the top 1% pays millions for Picasso paintings to hang in their yachts. Something is wrong with this picture.


Hopefully this guy will get out when pot is legalized and everyone in jail for it will be set free. Seems only fair.

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