Alert: PLEASE Write This Lady
Cannabis Political Prisoner Stephanie Landa Sentence
CA -- Medical cannabis political prisoner Stephanie Landa is having a rough
time of it in county jail and really could use your cards and letters of
appreciation and love.
Landa, medical marijuana activist, failed a recent drug test administered by
the Federal Bureau of Prisons and will have her sentence extended. Her new out date
is listed as June 9, 2009.
Landa tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which automatically
triggers investigations and hearings. The first of these was done within 48
hours of the incident. Ms. Landa was not allowed to have counsel present.
has accepted responsibility for this incident and is awaiting assignment to a
higher security prison.
Landa surrendered herself in January of 2007, she was carrying her prescription
for Marinol, which contains synthetic THC. Marinol is a prescription drug,
legal in all fifty states. The federal marshals at the courthouse confiscated
it before she even got to the prison, leaving her with no pain or nausea
the federal prison system allows only aspirin or Tylenol her doctor could not
provide her with pain medication appropriate to her level of need," her
spokeswoman explained. "He had prescribed the Marinol as a sort of back-up
plan, to help alleviate the nausea that chronic pain caused her, and to
stimulate her appetite, which tends to disappear when she's stressed.
shoulder injury has deteriorated markedly in the 18 months she's been inside,
and she is in unrelenting pain," Sarah Armstrong, founder of the Landa
Prison Outreach Program, continued.
surgery will fix the problem, so there really wasn't much the prison could do.
With a mere 90 days left to serve, I don't think she would have ingested
anything unless she simply couldn't stand it any more. Stephanie is tough, but
everyone has their limits.
last time I saw her she was stick thin and could not follow what I was saying,
she was so distracted by the pain. I had to twist the cap off the juice I
bought her because the right shoulder injury was affecting the lower arm and
hand," remarked Ms. Armstrong.
ten months ago, and recent photos don't show her looking any better.
When the medication was seized, Ms. Landa's safe access was cut off, and like
millions of Americans who live in places where medical marijuana is still not
legal, she was forced to engage in self-help to alleviate her pain.
the most difficult part of the extended sentence is the loss of privileges that
go with accepting responsibility for testing positive. Right now
Stephanie is in the hole, a tiny cell she shares with three other women. They
are not even allowed a pillow, much less access to a phone or any other
convinced the only thing keeping Stephanie sane at this point, is the love and
support she receives in the mail," Ms. Armstrong concluded. "She will
not be allowed any visits for six months, so mail is the only way she can stay
connected to the world."
parties can write to Stephanie at her new address: Stephanie Landa, Prisoner 09247-800, FCI Dublin - Special Housing
Unit, 5701 8th Street - Camp Parks, Dublin, CA 94568
Cannabis: Voices from the Frontlines, a Blog Archive
Visiting with Stephanie Landa
a medical marijuana activist and ASA volunteer in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
I joined fellow activists Ana and Chris to make our bi-monthly trek up the 5
freeway for a visit with our friend Stephanie Landa. Stephanie, a 61 year
old mother, is being held at the Dublin Federal Parks Camp, a decrepit women’s
minimum security federal prison. The prison, a former World War II Japanese
internment camp, sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling golden hills,
between a military base and the cookie cutter condo development built to house
prison, however, is not like what you’d imagine. There are no guard
towers, sweeping spotlights, and high barbed wire fences surrounding this
facility. In fact, there are no fences at all. A few inmates over the
years have literally just walked away, but most don’t because they hope to
reintegrate into society as soon as they are done clicking off days handed down
by an arbitrary Sentencing Commission. Everyone knows that if they escape and
get caught, the punishment is imprisonment just across the parking lot at the
infamous maximum security Santa Rita County Jail, a facility that very much
looks just as you’d imagine.
guard’s desk, we surrender our identification and empty our pockets. The guard
gives us a once over, to make sure we are dressed properly (no torn jeans or
open-toed shoes as we learned on a previous visit). We log our names as
visitors (having already undergone Federal background checks for approval) for
Stephanie Landa, Prisoner Number: 09247800, then wait patiently for her to be
called. She enters the room from a separate entrance, wearing blue prisoner
garb and always a smile, her right arm hangs limply at her side under the pain
of her ailing shoulder. We usually sit in the outdoor visiting area and
Stephanie fills us in on her life in prison.
prison, there is no privacy. Most women are housed in dormitories in lots of
40. Throughout the night, every two to three hours, guards barge into the dorms
for the nightly count, shining flashlights in the eyes of women attempting to
sleep. Stephanie was recently upgraded to relatively lavish accommodations: a
four bunk room, but she still hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since she
very little freedom and personal choices are usually limited to a cheese
burrito or a pepperoni microwave pizza from the vending machines. All her mail
is read and censored, all phone calls are listened in on, and she can trust no
one because everyone is a possible snitch. The wardens pit the women against
each other by rewarding any piece of incriminating information. All
conversations are subject to eavesdropping; even our conversation in the
outdoor visiting area is likely to be listened- in on. She is monitored like a
child, having to report to certain places at certain times. She must always
obey and behave according to the rules. If she rebels in any way, she will be
punished. Of course, this doesn’t stop her. Even in jail, she
continues to be an activist, for medical marijuana and for improved prison conditions.
all this, Stephanie jokes that she thinks she might be becoming
institutionalized. She doesn’t like it there, but she is getting used to
it. Eventually, Stephanie will be back in Los Angeles , but for now, it
is just a matter of waiting. Not surprisingly, Stephanie is making the best of
her time and keeping busy. She is the head of the Dublin Federal Correctional
Institute chapter of Toastmasters International (which has record attendance
since her takeover), she makes cards to answer every letter she receives, and
she has nurtured some amazing crocheting skills (I have a hat and bag to prove
we are able to take pictures with Stephanie, but today, the “picture lady” is
unavailable. The last time we took photos, four out of five photos were
confiscated by the prison officials. We had posed in front of various signs in
the visiting area (Keep of the Grass, the sign for the prison, No Smoking) and
apparently someone didn’t like the rare moment of personal expression. In fact,
now photos can only be taken in two designated areas. There was even now
a backdrop set up. Tighter control is constantly being placed on the
smallest of freedoms.
hours end at 2 PM. It’s always hard to say good bye. It’s hard to leave her
behind. Sometimes Stephanie will smile and ask a guard if she can come home
with us, and follow it up with an “OK, just checking.” While we leave to enjoy
a nice lunch before heading home, Stephanie must go back into the dormitories,
where her life is dictated. The injustice of her conviction is felt acutely.
She is eleven months into the forty-month sentence doled out to her for growing
medication (plants!) for sick and dying patients.
has been incarcerated since voluntarily turning herself over to federal authorities
on January 4th, 2007. In 2002, after receiving the full cooperation of the SF
Board of Supervisors, the SF Medical Marijuana Task Force, and San Francisco
District Attorney Terrence Hallinan, Stephanie, Tom Kikuchi and Kevin Gage were
turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency by a rogue narcotics detective in
the San Francisco Police Department, an action that was in a violation of the
city’s Medical Marijuana Sanctuary Resolution. Because they were not allowed to
present a medical defense in federal court, all three accepted a plea bargain
and plead guilty. Despite 8 SF Supervisors and DA Hallinan writing personal
letters to Judge William Alsup asking for leniency in sentencing, she was still
sentenced to 41 months, Alsup admitting the sentence was improper but claiming
his hands were tied.
is still a beacon of light and love, despite the circumstances. The one thing
that has helped through all of this is the mail she receives. She says that she
absolutely lives for mail call. Please, write to Stephanie!
Protest Stephanie Landa's Incarceration!
Medical cannabis patient and provider
Stephanie Landa surrendered herself over to federal authorities on Thursday,
January 4th, 2007 at 1PM.
HempEvolution.org and Axis of Love held
a rally and protest at 12 Noon at 450 Golden Gate Ave before Ms. Landa turns
herself in. They requested that folks bring flowers, cards, etc. to show their
appreciation for Ms. Landa's bravery in the fight for safe access.
Below is part of an article written
by Ann Harrison for the S.F. Bay Guardian entitled: "Waiting to
Exhale" on June 8, 2006.
" The risks involved in a
case-by-case approach are clear to Stephanie Landa, Kevin Gage, and Thomas
Kikuchi. In February 2002, they say, they attended a Medical Marijuana Task
Force meeting with Halloran and Capt. Kevin Cashman, then head of the SFPD
According to Landa, Cashman said at the meeting that the Board of Supervisors
had designated San Francisco as a medical marijuana sanctuary and police
wouldn't cooperate with federal law enforcement.
Landa told us Cashman explained that
as long as they used licensed electricians, kept their medical marijuana garden
within city limits, and sold only to medical marijuana dispensaries, they would
have no trouble. She said Cashman presented them with a handout noting that
there was no medical marijuana plant limit in San Francisco and told them if
they had any burglaries, they should call the police. Sullivan, who organized
the meeting, supports Landa's account.
After more assurances from
then-district attorney Terence Hallinan, Landa and her partners borrowed
$250,000, moved from Los Angeles, secured a business license, and began
creating a nonprofit medical cannabis collective. In April 2002 they rented a
warehouse for an indoor garden at 560 Brannan St., less than three blocks from
police headquarters, and began growing 40 strains of cannabis to treat
"We wanted to be near them so
they could protect us as promised," Landa told us.
Four months later a group of plainclothes San Francisco police officers burst
into the warehouse, threw Landa and Gage to the ground, and pointed guns at
their heads. Leading the raid was Halloran, whom Landa said denied ever having
When Cashman arrived, Landa told us,
he recognized her and ordered her handcuffs removed. They weren't arrested, but
Cashman asked Landa and Gage to give statements and come back the next day.
When they returned, Landa said, more than 1,000 small marijuana plants were
gone, $2,000 in cash was missing, and the entire growing facility had been
Two weeks later Landa, Gage, and Kikuchi were indicted on federal charges for
growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants with intent to distribute.
Landa charges that when they couldn't
make a state case, police simply turned over the evidence to federal
authorities who weren't present at the raid; police dispute that
"The federal authorities were on the scene that day, and they adopted the
case," Halloran told us. He said a citizen complaint prompted him to
investigate and secure a search warrant. Despite repeated requests, the SFPD
wouldn't make Cashman available to set the record straight, and he has been transferred
from his former post.
But Halloran told us Cashman never
made the statements Landa claims he did. "At no time did we give
assurances that someone who cultivated 1,500 plants two blocks from the Hall of
Justice would not be prosecuted under state and federal law," said
Halloran, who charges that the group didn't possess enough medical cannabis
recommendations to prove they were growing for a large group of patients.
"They can possess marijuana if they possess a recommendation, and if they
possess a recommendation, we said at that meeting that we handle all cases on a
Landa said the paperwork was
forthcoming and they hadn't yet sold any cannabis. Nevertheless, federal
prosecutor George Bevan threatened to put Landa in prison for life because of a
prior heroin-smuggling charge 35 years earlier and proposed 10-year sentences
for Kikuchi and Gage.
In a plea agreement written by Bevan, Landa said she and her partners weren't
allowed to mention the roles of Halloran and Cashman in the case and were
forced to sign away their right to an appeal. Bevan didn't return calls seeking
Landa says 10 San Francisco city
supervisors wrote letters to the judge on their behalf. But they were sentenced
last summer to 37 to 41 months in federal prison. Gage and Kikichi are now
eight months into their terms at a federal prison camp in Sheridan, Ore. Landa,
who was given a delayed sentence because she and Kikichi have a child, will
begin serving her 41 months in a maximum-security prison in about two years.
"When government officials gave
us permission to do this, this was not in the plan," said Landa, who
sobbed as she recounted the ordeal. "I can't figure out why they would
tell us something and then come in and destroy it. It doesn't make sense."
And it's particularly hard to
understand in a city that has taken the lead in tolerance of medical marijuana,
at least in the rhetoric of local politicians.
"The asylum resolution was a
great piece of showmanship, but it didn't impose any penalty for it being
violated by city officials," Landa's friend Michael Lee told us. He has
also been arrested for growing medical cannabis.
Lee worries that future medical
cannabis collectives encouraged by the city could be targeted by police.
"If the Board of Supervisors doesn't have any teeth in the
situation," Lee said, "they might be waving a flag and yet subjecting
people to criminal violations."
Source = http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/12/31/18342641.php
PLEASE write to Stephanie at:
FCI Dublin - Special Housing Unit
5701 8th Street - Camp Parks
Dublin, CA 94568
For more information, Visit - Stephanie Landa: Medical Marijuana Political Prisoner at - http://www.stephanielanda.com/, and tell everybody you know about it. And get them to write and spread the word, etc.
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