Every month, medical marijuana growers are sent to federal prison despite having complied with state marijuana laws. And although in 2008 Obama promised to stop raids on medical marijuana growers, his Department of Justice has stepped them up.
"Obama is averaging 36 medical marijuana prosecutions a year, compared to 20 a year" under Bush, according to Reason.com, who base those numbers on a report published by pro-marijuana group NORML in June. "153 medical marijuana cases have been brought in the 4 ¼ years of the Obama administration, nearly as many as under the 8 years of the Bush administration (163)," according to NORML's report.
Some of those sentenced suffered from serious medical conditions for which they were themselves using the drug. Montanan grower Richard Flor died in August 2012 while serving a 5-year prison sentence in federal prison, after suffering two heart attacks and renal and kidney failure, according to Montana's Billings Gazette. Flor was using medical marijuana to treat conditions including depression, diabetes, and osteoporosis. He was a co-founder of Montana Cannabis, which provided marijuana for about 300 people with medical prescriptions for the drug. His attorneys argued that he had complied with all state laws.
Another grower sentenced to 10 years, Jerry Duval, was eventually allowed to serve his sentence in a prison that can treat his medical conditions, which include glaucoma and a kidney and pancreas transplant he required after suffering juvenile diabetes. "The DOJ originally sentenced Duval to standard federal prison despite a judge's recommendation that his medical condition be taken into account," according to the Huffington Post. Duval followed the marijuana laws in his home state of Michigan, according to court documents. He was sentenced along with 5 other Michigan growers.