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Pot clinic manager sentenced to prison

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – The manager of a medical marijuana clinic in Southern Oregon was sentenced Monday to 16 months in prison for growing and selling the drug.

Josephine County Circuit Judge Pat Wolke told Brenda Thomas he was imposing the sentence on her to show people that using the Oregon medical marijuana law to cover up illegal drug dealing will be punished.

“The majority of people in the Medical Marijuana Program are obeying the law,” Wolke said. “There is a substantial minority who are not. They are overgrowing, and they are selling. … I think the Medical Marijuana Program is hurt by people who thumb their nose at the law.”

Thomas was led away in handcuffs and in tears to begin serving her sentence immediately.

Thomas was the manager of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation office in Grants Pass, part of a chain of medical marijuana clinics owned by marijuana activist Paul Stanford.

After turning down a plea bargain with an offer of probation, typical in medical marijuana cases in Josephine County, she went to trial, trying to throw the blame on grower Thomas Bletko, who had turned state’s evidence.

Thomas was convicted in July of possessing, manufacturing and selling marijuana. She was sentenced to 16 months on each count, to be served concurrently, fined $500, and ordered to remain under court supervision three years after her release.

Under Oregon’s medical marijuana law, patients can have someone else grow pot for them, but growers cannot charge patients for the marijuana they produce. They can only collect for expenses, such as electricity and fertilizer.