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Brian Epis POW #09636-097

posted Jan 28, 2013, 5:43 AM by The Editor
Brian Epis #09636-097
FCI Terminal Island
P.O. Box 3007
San Pedro, CA 90731

Medical marijuana grower Bryan Epis has been caught in a legal nightmare ever since June 1997, when law enforcement agents seized 458 marijuana plants and various computer documents from his home in Chico, CA.  That raid occurred mere months after California voters legalized medical marijuana statewide, and Epis’s case quickly inspired outrage in the activist community.  Not only was he charged with criminal cultivation, prosecutors used documents taken from the search to charge him with conspiracy to cultivate over a thousand plants.  Epis was unable to mount a medical defense to his charges because he was prosecuted on the federal level, where state medical marijuana laws don’t apply. 

When the case went to trial in 2002, prosecutors relied heavily on out-of-context excerpts from the seized computer documents, which had been printed from different computer programs in a manner that made them appear as a series of separate documents involving various locations.  The jury ended up finding Epis guilty and he was given the mandatory minimum sentence: ten years in federal prison.  Epis was incarcerated for over two years before getting released on bail pending appeal in August 2004, a move that gave him five and a half years of freedom to spend with his young daughter. 

However, in spite of claims of prosecutorial misconduct and missing evidence, Epis lost round after round of his appeal.  By February 23rd, 2010, he had exhausted his legal options and was taken back into custody to serve the remainder of his ten-year sentence.