Richard has been released. Welcome home. Richard was sentenced to 20 years in prison for marijuana.
Richard Ruiz Montes ─ Escalon, CA
Offense: Conducting a continuing criminal enterprise; manufacture of marijuana and aiding and abetting; possession with intent to distribute marijuana and aiding and abetting; possession with intent to distribute marijuana (two counts); Eastern District of California
Sentence: 240 months’ imprisonment; 60 months’ supervised release (November 21, 2008)
Commutation Grant: Prison sentence to expire on May 19, 2017.
RICHARD RUIZ MONTES # 63130-097 'Ricardo'
RESIDENTIAL REENTRY OFFICE
501 I STREET, SUITE 9-400
SACRAMENTO, CA 95814
20 YEAR MARIJUANA SENTENCE
May 2008, a federal jury found Montes guilty on cultivation and possession charges, as well as a count of continuing criminal enterprise. Because Richard provided safe access to cannabis via a collective and was DENIED his state affirmative medical marijuana defense the Federal Jury was bullied by the Judge to find Richard Guilty.
California Healthcare Collective distributed marijuana exclusively to members who were valid patients that provided valid recommendations from qualified physicians, in accordance with California’s medical marijuana act. Still the U.S. government refused to recognize California’s law Prop. 215 and SB 420 regarding medical marijuana, arguments about the CHC’s compliance with state law were strictly limited at trial. At sentencing, however, the matter became a key issue of debate.
“I did run the medical marijuana dispensary,” Montes said. “I accept responsibility for breaking the federal law, but I wouldn’t be here without the state law. That’s pretty much it.”
Judge Wanger gave Montes a sentence of 240 months for the continuing criminal enterprise conviction. That was the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime, but the judge was careful to note that the sentence would have been only slightly shorter if not for the mandatory minimum. True, the offense level was quite high, and it was enhanced by increases for the firearms and for being a leader. However, due to reductions for his acceptance of responsibility and his non-existent criminal history, as well as a reduction the judge granted for being “less exploitative in the use of funds,” the guideline sentence was knocked down to 210 months.
In Judge Wanger’s view, a harsh sentence was appropriate for purposes of deterrence. “There is enough controversy and enough misunderstanding with people who would engage in these activities because they believe they’re immunized by state law,” the judge said after pronouncing Montes’s sentence. “One other reason for the strict federal sentence is to make understood, to say, ‘Look at this law.’ As long as the U.S. Attorney classifies marijuana as schedule I, they run this risk.”
On January 4, 2011, the 9th Circuit sealed Richards fate. Appellant Montes was sentenced to the statutory minimum of twenty years. Are you kidding me? For selling marijuana at a dispensary? Write to Richard today and thank him for providing safe access to cannabis.
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