I Am Serving a 10-Year Mandatory Minimum for Marijuana in Colorado

FCI-florence-CO@2x

Photo of The Federal Correctional Institution in Florence, Colorado (FCI Florence)

Oh, the joy and heartbreak of being here in Colorado.

It is somewhat ironic that the Feds would send me here, to the only state that has made sales of marijuana completely legal, not only for its own citizens but also those just passing through.

I am serving a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for growing marijuana at low or no cost to whoever needed it in Northern California. I grew 30,000 plants out in the open to make sure anyone who needed medical marijuana got it, regardless of whether they could afford it. I am also a Rastafarian minister and using cannabis is part of our spiritual practice, and should be protected by the law. The judge in my case even stated she didn’t think I belonged in prison, but that she had to sentence me to the mandatory minimum.

I began my sentence in FCI Lompoc, in Southern California and was moved to FCI La Tuna near the Texas-Mexico border. I requested a move and here I am now at FCI Florence, in Colorado.

I have been confused about this for a long time. On the one hand, the Feds hold many patents on marijuana. They allow the program in Mississippi to grow and test medical marijuana. In Gonzalez v. Oregon, the Supreme Court stated clearly that in accepted state medical practices the Feds have no jurisdiction to interfere in a doctor’s decisions on how to treat their patients.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) clearly state the Feds have no right to interfere in our religious practices. The Supreme Court upheld this in the UDV (ayahuasca) decision. There are religious groups that drink poison, play with poisonous snakes and abuse children. There are those with priests who molest children. There are religions that refuse to allow doctors to attend their sick even if it means they may die. My religion did not.

I, and the many members of the church, believe that helping sick and dying people is a worthy thing. We were and still are shocked that the government could only see what we were doing as a crime. From the beginning I have accepted full responsibility for what we did. I have prayed often hoping that they would come to their senses and stop the lies about the sacred plant, which I believe is a gift from God.

The history of the cannabis plant goes back many thousand years. Cannabis has always been used for spiritual and medical purposes in all civilizations. In the early 60s, Jewish scholars translated ancient text and proved beyond any doubt that the sacred plant is in fact one of the main ingredients in the Holy Anointing Oil used in the Bible to anoint Christ himself.

With all the evidence supporting the many virtues of this plant, not only as a spiritual guide, but also as a medicine, it is hard to believe I am here for growing it. When it was made illegal, it was in 40 percent of all the medicines sold in America.

If inventors could use hemp freely it would be found in over 25,000 items we use every day.

When we look at this War on Drugs, which is a war against the people of this great country, we must look at the bigger picture and that is simply the numbers involved with other issues that we actually really face. We lose 88,000 people a year to alcohol and 443,000 to cigarettes as well as another 100,000 to prescription drugs. Marijuana has never killed anyone. We as a nation have spent billions arresting people who are addicted to illegal drugs, but people are still of course, addicted to drugs.

We know as a nation that prohibition does not work. It serves to only allow the black market to flourish, for gangsters and cartels who care not one bit about anything but profit. Sadly, that is the same incentive for the corporations that run our nation. The richer and more powerful these groups become, the less respect they show for our laws.

The wars in Mexico, just south of where I lived at FCI La Tuna, are crossing our borders more and more each day. These wars are about money, power and control. Death is the most common punishment given to those who cross the gang.

We must at some point begin to listen to those who would fight the problem of drug use in a much different way. It will only be through the end of prohibition that we as a nation can begin to rebuild our families, cities, lives and this great nation.

So, it is with a heavy heart full of hope for our future that I applaud those with the courage to change the laws here in Colorado, and those who fought to change them in Washington. Standing up to a government that refuses to hear the voice of “We The People” is never an easy task.

Have We The People become fed up enough to insist that those we have elected serve and protect us? That they honor our Constitution? Our rights as human beings?

Respect all. Hurt None. Love One Another.

Charles Edward “Eddy” Lepp 90157-011
FCI Florence Federal Prison Camp
PO Box 5000
Florence, CO 81226-5000

Eddy Lepp is a Rastafarian Minister and Vietnam War Veteran currently serving a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence in La Tuna Federal Penitentiary, in Southern California. Lepp grew 30,000 plants alongside a state highway, as if it were any other crop. Eddy’s Medicinal Garden’s provided low to no-cost medical cannabis to thousands of Californians. All local officials were notified. Lepp provided medicine at cost or free of charge to anyone in need and used any proceeds from medicine sales to support local organizations, provide food and shelter for whomever needed it, charities, and a church in Lake County. He was raided in 2005 and and sentenced in 2007 to ten years in federal prison.

11 Comments

  1. ElderRado

    March 18, 2014 at 1:36 am

    By any chance are you black? If so, this is just another case of institutionalized racism in American law. Perhaps you can get Obama onside here. Eric Holder has made it plain that he sees marijuana related incarceration as a race issue. Your pardon could be something that could be used as a wedge to get many more unfortunate people out of jail. A mass pardon for marijuana related offences is not unfeasible in the next few years if enough people start talking about it.

  2. Dam Spahn

    March 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Sorry to hear that you’ve fallen into the maw of our idiotic drug laws. I suggest you investigate Buddhism. While waiting for an act of sanity to free you, perhaps there’s a way to turn your prison time into a gift.

    • Danny

      March 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Sorry, Eddy Lepp, that you are in such dire straights. I have a feeling, though, that you will be set free soon, for your situation cannot stand anymore, legally, in Colorado.

  3. JymmiDp

    March 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Sorry brother. I wish the giants of those days would have just gone with the flo’. The Getty’s and Rockefellers, The Duponts and Anslenger’s no, sad to say as I’m a white man. They wanted their markets, they laid the blame on blacks, mexicans, jazz musicians and invented reefer madness. They knew their products were inferior yet used their “Blueblood good ol’ boy” connections to subvert the truth. You know “juice”.
    Now with the cartels teaming up with the DEA we see a completely clear picture of the subversive tactics of law enforcement to get the drugs on the streets, get the consumers and growers arrested and incarcerated in pay as you go private prisons or federal or state prisons. And the forfiture laws refinance their depts. and pockets.
    It is now and always has been as far as law enforcement is concerned “All about the Benjamines”
    Sadly these people that support the draconian laws that are in place now have a special place in hell. The no ganja hell. We however will be radiant. Blessed be, God bless. Ja love

  4. jahmela

    March 11, 2014 at 6:51 am

    You MUST be HIGH AS FUCK

  5. Hugh Yonn

    March 11, 2014 at 4:51 am

    It’s all about the money and where it goes.

    I traveled extensively in Colombia, South America in the 1970’s, and very early 80’s. My reason for being there: to buy the best marijuana I could find for shipment to the United States.

    The people I dealt with were not the killers depicted by our government.
    They were Moms and Pops with families. And some of the hardest working, most honorable people I have ever met.

    This is not a war ‘against’ drugs. This is a war for ‘control’ of the
    drugs.
    And the involved governments’ only concerns are, ‘Who gets the money.’

    Once these products are legalized, we can all live in peace. The quality of the product will determine its market.

    Just like lettuce and tomatoes.

    I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for my escapades involving marijuana.
    Mr. Lepp, I wish you the very best.

  6. Mark

    March 11, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Isn’t it sad,that someone who is supposed to be an evil awful person,not only shows more compassion but clearly shows more intelligence than our Government.As long as we have old decreped men and women running our country,we will continue to have laws that will not function the way that they we’re suppose to.I am no lawyer,but it seems to be common sense.One cannot use a law that had been written to be applied to people of that era and apply that law to a population that is not only MUCH larger,but much more scientifically minded in the area of medicinal plants.One would think,now seeing the tax dollars that are pileing in,that the Government would be the first to cash in on this bad boy.But then again they have most likely forgotten that marijuana is legal in one form or an other in 20 states.

  7. Demaris Carter

    March 11, 2014 at 3:41 am

    They only reason they did dat so dey can give it or sell it to more people to arrest…Dats how and y all drugz r bought and sold n da United States of Amerikkka… Its all a hug business…. Da media,da prisons,and knuckleheads r all incorporated wit each other wether we know it or not…. Man just stayed prayed up… Dey cant do but so much to u bra… It’s God’s call not there’s…

  8. soljanatty

    March 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Babylon must fall rasta…herbs a fi grow..no matter how harsh they treat u,Jah will never abandon u.. evil vs nature…sellasiae.

  9. Audra Roth

    March 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Hello, I’m the president of the Colorado chapter for The-Human-solution.org. Non profit organization for people who have been convicted for cannabis. Medical, caregivers and POW OF THIS DISGUSTING POT WAR!! If there is anything I can do to help? DO NOT HESITATE TO EMAIL ME! There are a lot of us that can show up with our green ribbons on our hearts for this situation!! You are in my thoughts and prayers of this disgrace that has been done to to this amazing and giving soul! #onelove

  10. blake

    March 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Wow I cannot believe how they did u like that. This country needs a new leaf to be turned. I’m a rebel either way Marijuana is my passion.

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