Weed Grower Freed: Cancer Patient, 61, 'Deserves A Break'

Bernard Friedman, a 69-year-old federal judge in Detroit who joined the court back in 1988 as a Ronald Reagan appointee, has plenty of experience distinguishing between hard-core lawbreakers and defendants posing no danger.

So he applied discretion and compassion when a rural farmer, also in his 60s, stood in U.S. District Court to be sentenced for growing 8,000 pot plants at his Lenawee County farm and greenhouse. The defendant, recovering from throat cancer, hoped to tap into the medical marijuana market.

"You've lived a good life," Judge Bernard Friedman tells accused drug trafficker.

“This is one that most screams out: This man deserves a break,” AP reporter Ed White quotes Friedman as telling Edwin Schmieding, 61, who faced a possible prison term. “It’s a bad thing that’s happened to you but you’ve lived a good life.”

Friedman on Tuesday placed him on two years of supervised release, court jargon for probation.

Though Michigan voters in 2008 legalized medical marijuana, only licensed caregivers and users can grow it in relatively small quantities.

Prosecutor Barbara McQuade, whose office used its discretion to make a federal case out of the 2011 bust, originally also charged the farmer's wife as a drug trafficker.

Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Barrington Wilkins, who recently dropped charges against Linda Schmieding, acknowledged in court Tuesday that the farmer “wasn’t intending to be Pablo Escobar,” says AP's dispatch in the Free Press. 

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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