Friday, April 9, 2010

Sacramento judge sentences medical pot traveler to jail

A medical marijuana user convicted of transporting 3 pounds of pot at
Sacramento International Airport was sentenced to 120 days in jail
Thursday and ordered not to travel in California with more than 1 ounce
of pot.

In imposing sentence on Matthew Zugsberger, 34, of Mendocino County,
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Roland Candee settled for well less than
the maximum of four years in prison.

Zugsberger has been in custody for 33 days and could be out in 27 days
with time off for good behavior.

A former deep-sea diver, he was convicted March 9 of illegally
transporting pot duct-taped in a scuba suit and packed in a metal
dominoes container. He also was carrying a stash of pot in his pants as
he prepared to board a flight to New Orleans in December 2008.

Candee said Zugsberger was carrying an amount that exceeded any
reasonable personal use.

"It's really clear from the testimony that this is not a personal-use
case," Candee said.

The judge ordered Zugsberger placed on five years' probation and said he
must seek approval from his probation officer to carry more than 28
grams of marijuana.

Candee also barred Zugsberger from transporting any marijuana into or
out of California.

His order means that Zugsberger cannot carry the same amount in the
state as other medical pot users.

In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis signed a law permitting people with medical
marijuana recommendations to possess six mature or 12 immature plants
and 8 ounces of dried marijuana.

Those limits were thrown out last month by the California Supreme Court.
However, local authorities still can detain patients found with more
than 8 ounces if they suspect illegal activity.

Aaron Smith, California director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which
advocates rolling back marijuana laws, said he was surprised that the
judge set a standard for Zugsberger well below the 2003 state limit.

"It seems kind of arbitrary and capricious," Smith said. "I would think
the figure should at least be more consistent with what his medical
needs are and at least be set at the state threshold. I haven't heard of
anything like that."

Zugsberger, who suffered crushed vertebrae and other injuries while
working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, entered court using a cane
and limping badly.

His attorney, Grant Pegg, said Zugsberger had "lost a lot of weight"
while in custody. He requested that Zugsberger be released immediately
on "medical furlough."

Candee denied the request.

Zugsberger didn't speak in court, other than to answer, "Yes, sir," to
the judge.

Pegg said his client will appeal the conviction on grounds that the
amount of pot he was carrying was allowed under the recent Supreme Court

Zugsberger said he was taking the marijuana to Louisiana to have it
mixed into food and ice cream for his use by two Louisiana master chefs,
including his ex-wife.

He had a medical pot recommendation from Dr. Milan Hopkins, a Mendocino
County physician. The operator of a "alternative medi-spa," Hopkins'
standard referral says patients "may need to grow 25 mature plants and
possess 5 pounds of cannabis" for yearly needs.

Zugsberger also faces an upcoming trial in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana,
on charges of illegally shipping 2 pounds of pot to a former residence.

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539. Read his California
marijuana issues blog, weedwars.

1 comment:

crash said...

Matt is not a real 215 user. He fakes a limp for the public. anyone who reads this need to look up Matt's name and see all the cases and comments from people who know this guy.....hell even his own brother posted saying how matt is the biggest liar in the world and how matt is hurting his own mother by keeping up these lies.....matt is nothing more then a street dealer trying to get off by saying he is a real patient.