Stop Federal Prosecutor from Increasing the Length of Marijuana Related Prison Terms


Target:  Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Goal:  Refuse to sustain U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter’s appeal to increase sentencing for non-violent marijuana offenses.

Montana legalized the sale, use, and cultivation of medical marijuana in 2004. But this hasn’t stopped U.S. attorney Mike Cotter from arresting growers, greenhouse workers,  book-keepers,  landlords, and spouses of marijuana farmers and threatening them with decades in prison and in some cases, with life sentences. In 2011, University of Montana quarterback Jason Washington was arrested and convicted of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.

Judge Dana Christensen sentenced Washington to two years in prison, followed by four years of supervised probation.  Cotter wants to keep Jason Washington in jail for another five to ten years.  There are many other distributors, providers, and growers of medical marijuana who were operating within the confines of Montana state law when Cotter had them arrested.  According to Eric Stern, senior counsel to the former governor of Montana,”when Cotter charged these citizens in 2011, he gave no credence to a very basic protest that they all made: they’d been assured in writing, by Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, that they could grow medical marijuana and the feds wouldn’t prosecute them.”

Both President Obama and  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have remained silent about Cotter’s overzealous prosecution of non-violent marijuana offenders in federal court.  52 percent of Americans believe that Marijuana ought to be decriminalized, if not legalized. We need to speak out against unjust sentencing for nonviolent marijuana offenses, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals needs to refuse to uphold Cotter’s ludicrous marijuana sentencing guidelines.


Dear 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

During the past two years, U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter has attempted to overturn Montana’s medical marijuana legislation. He’s largely succeeded; thousands of medical marijuana providers have gone out of business and the number of registered marijuana users in Montana has dropped by half.  However, this isn’t enough for Cotter: he wants “more punishment” for incarcerated growers, providers, and distributors of medical marijuana. Many of these inmates were, at the time of their arrest, adhering to federal policy for  medical marijuana cultivation as set forth by Eric Holder and the U.S. government. They therefore expected not to be prosecuted. Federal prosecutors had this to say about Holder’s policy of not investigating small-scale, state level marijuana producers: “A policy is not a promise”.  Mike Cotter disregarded Holder’s medical-marijuana policy and went after producers, distributors, and consumers of medical marijuana. Now he wants to increase the sentences of citizens imprisoned on marijuana charges.  Federal judges understand the folly of Cotter’s overzealous sentence recommendations and proffered lenient sentences to citizens arrested during Cotter’s “two year crusade against medical marijuana”.  52 percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be decriminalized, if not legalized.  Stand with them and refuse to impose harsh sentences on non-violent producers, providers, and distributors of medical marijuana.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: barnelbe via Wikimedia Commons

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