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Man Gets Prison Time for Transporting Medical Weed Between Two Legal States
news  |  Jan 23, 2020

Man Gets Prison Time for Transporting Medical Weed Between Two Legal States

Medical marijuana is legal in both Maine and Massachusetts, but bringing bud across state lines is still a federal crime, no matter what local laws say.

Medical marijuana is legal in both Maine and Massachusetts, but bringing bud across state lines is still a federal crime, no matter what local laws say.

54-year-old Massachusetts resident John Valdes will spend the next six months locked behind a prison cell after federal authorities caught him carrying 6 pounds of cannabis home across state lines from Maine. 

According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, Valdes suffers from Lyme disease, is a registered MMJ patient in his home state, and said that he uses medical marijuana to ease his sickness. Valdes also told law enforcement that he bought cannabis in bulk so that he could distribute it to other sick patients who lacked sufficient access to medical marijuana back in the Bay State. But despite his sickness and somewhat reasonable explanation, in the eyes of the DEA, FBI, and federal prosecutors, Valdes was nothing more than an interstate narcotics trafficker.

Valdes was arrested more than two years ago, after federal agents made two seperate stops of his vehicle and discovered 6 pounds of weed in the car each time. Because weed is legal in both Maine and Massachusetts, officers made sure to stop and search the car in New Hampshire, where cannabis is still very much illegal. Once the charges were brought against him, Valdes quickly pled guilty to two counts of Class-D felony cannabis distribution. At his sentencing trial this month, Assistant US Attorney David Joyce said that Valdes showed “blatant disregard” for Maine’s medical cannabis law.

“Hopefully, he’s gotten the message at this point: The behavior can’t continue,” Joyce said.

At Valdes's final sentencing decision, US District Court Judge George Z. Singal noted that Valdes was an upstanding citizen and dedicated family man, but also said that his actions could have jeopardized the future of Maine’s state-legal cannabis program. The judge handed down a punishment of six months in prison.

It is not yet clear how Valdes’s Lyme disease will be treated behind bars, but it is highly unlikely that he will have access to his current cannabis medication. But in the wake of his multi-year court ordeal and half-year prison term, Valdes told authorities that he is already looking for alternative methods to ease his constant pain.

“I definitely made a serious mistake,” Valdes told the judge. “I’m never going to use marijuana again.”

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.

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