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United States v. Ford

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
839 F.3d 94 (2016)


The federal government (plaintiff) successfully prosecuted James F. Ford (defendant) on various charges related to his operation of a sophisticated industrial-grade marijuana-growing operation in Maine. Ford had previously pleaded guilty to running a similar operation in Massachusetts. In sentencing Ford, the judge noted that several states had recently legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Nevertheless, the judge sentenced Ford to 120 months' imprisonment, in accordance with the mandatory minimum penalty provided by 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(vii). Ford appealed his convictions and his sentence to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Ford argued that, in light of the public's evolving acceptance of marijuana use, and the federal government's general policy of not prosecuting marijuana cultivation and distribution in states that legalized marijuana use, his sentence was grossly disproportionate to his offense, and therefore violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Mastroianni, J.)

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