US CA: Effort to Free Bryan Epis Continues

Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Robert Speer

Back in the Slammer


For a time Bryan Epis was a hero among medical-marijuana activists. Now he’s more like a martyr to the cause.

That’s because, after an epic legal battle lasting since his arrest for marijuana cultivation nearly 13 years ago, in June 1997, the Chico man is now back in prison, ordered in February to serve out his original 10-year sentence. More precisely, he’s in the Sacramento County Jail, waiting transfer to a state prison.

To his longtime girlfriend, Monica Focht, and his 16-year-old daughter, Ashley, it seems terribly unfair that, at a time when anyone can go online and find the addresses of hundreds of collectives and dispensaries selling marijuana up and down the state, he’s in custody facing several more years of confinement for growing medical marijuana.

And they’re at a loss to understand why he’s being held in the notoriously grungy county jail. He’d been on probation and bail for more than five years and never missed a court date, so he clearly wasn’t a flight risk. Why, they wonder, wasn’t he just ordered to report directly to federal prison, as most nonviolent federal offenders are, rather than put in jail?

And they’re still trying to get him set free. Money is a big problem. Epis and his family have spent more than $200,000 on his defense, and his current lawyer wants cash on the barrelhead. He is preparing a habeas corpus writ and also a pardon petition to be sent to President Obama; his current fee is $35,000.