California Medical Marijuana Patient Finally Released from Federal Prison

Bryan Epis was arrested in California in 1997 after approved the voters approved medical cannabis. His daughter has stood by him this whole time, and after his release from a federal prison this week, Ashley, now 19, was there to celebrate with her father.

By Sam Sabzehzar  |  June 17, 2013

Ashley, now 19, has been supporting her father throughout his federal legal battles ever since they began, when she was only 8 years old. (Photo credit:

For those who believe the federal government when they say that no one is going to jail for medical marijuana, we invite you to meet Bryan Epis.

Bryan began growing medical marijuana in 1997, just one year after California voters approved the plant.

That same year Bryan’s legal battles with the federal justice department also began, when his daughter Ashley was just 8 years old.

Today, Bryan walks out of a federal prison in Long Beach, California where he was serving a 10-year sentence for growing marijuana in a state where it is legal to do so.

Bryan will drive up to San Francisco with his family and remain under supervision but is glad to be out and excited to start to rebuild what he lost.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) have helped shed light on patients and families caught in the crosshairs in the War on Drugs, where ASA estimates the Obama Administration has spent a staggering 300 million dollars enforcing federal marijuana laws in medical marijuana states alone.

“The Department of Justice has already spent nearly a half a billion dollars fighting medical cannabis… the Obama Administration spent over half of that money on medical cannabis investigations, paramilitary-style raids, prosecutions, incarceration, and civil asset forfeiture lawsuits,” says Steph Sherer, Executive Director for ASA.

Ashley Epis when she was just 8 at a rally for her father.

The irony is, because this happened in a medical marijuana state, Bryan is now, if he wasn’t already, a qualified medical marijuana patient due to PTS (it’s hardly a disorder when it’s a reaction to such an extreme injustice) from the actions the federal government took to enforce their marijuana laws in Compassionate Use states.

So is Ashley and while neither one are medical cannabis patients, they are certainly qualified according to the state laws the live under.

Actions candidate Obama said was a waste but as President, has ramped up such wasteful policy enforcement.

Ashley is living near her father, and, like many children who had their families ripped apart in the drug war, hopes to get some of the time back with her dad that she lost while he was in prison.

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) held a press conference to introduce the Truth in Trials Act that would help protect people like Bryan and Ashley from being ripped apart. As of now, medical marijuana laws are not allowed to be introduced into federal marijuana trials and this bill would change that.

Congressman Sam Farr with Ashley Epis while he held a press conference to highlight the needs for Truth in Trials.

This bill does have bipartisan support and as Obama’s Drug War wages on, more medical marijuana defendants going up against federal charges may find better avenues to argue their case and that may result in a less aggressive War on Drugs, or possibly a policy shift altogether.

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