Marijuana Dispensary Owner Given Minimum Sentence; Might Not Ser - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Marijuana Dispensary Owner Given Minimum Sentence; Might Not Serve Any Time

SPOKANE, Wash. – A Spokane Judge sentenced the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary to the lowest possible jail term as legislators in Washington continue to wrangle over attempts to clarify an initiative passed by voters more than a decade ago.

Scott Shupe was convicted in March of three drug charges related to a medical marijuana dispensary he operated in Spokane, one of the first in eastern Washington.

Shupe told a judge he read the initiative passed by voters in 1998, "at least 20 times" and thought he was complying with the terms of the law.  He said he wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary after seeing stores in western Washington.

Judge Tari Eitzen said she believed Shupe did not intend to break the law by dispensing medical marijuana, but she felt bound by the work jurors did last month in convicting Shupe of three charges.

She sentenced Shupe to six months plus one day in jail, the lowest possible amount, before immediately staying her sentence while Shupe appeals.  Shupe walked out of the courtroom minutes later.  As long has he posts a $5,000 bond, he won't have to serve any jail time in the case until the end of his appeal.

The state House and Senate have recently passed similar laws that would legalize medical marijuana dispensaries after voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998.  Governor Chris Gregoire has not announced whether she would sign either bill.

An attorney for Scott Shupe said they plan to appeal Shupe's conviction and, "we plan to win."

Shupe was arrested in Oregon on drug charges in 2009 and still faces felony charges in that case.

KHQ Local News Reporter Anthony Gomes contributed to this report.

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