Epis epic, cont’d

More news in the continuing saga of Brian Epis, the Chico man who occupies a historical niche as the first man associated with a cannabis collective to be sentenced to federal prison for pot cultivation: The judge overseeing his case has decided he should remain out on bail until his case is heard once again on appeal.

Epis was to go before District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. on Monday (Oct. 22) for a bail hearing, but Damrell cancelled the hearing at the behest, interestingly, of federal prosecutor Samuel Wong. Wong earlier had “reluctantly” stipulated that a 2004 appeals court order freeing Epis remained in effect until his case is finally resolved.

As detailed in the CN&R (“Caught in the middle,” June 21), Epis, 40, was arrested in 1997 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison for growing more than 100 plants in his Chico basement, based on the prosecution’s contention that he intended eventually to grow more than 1,000 plants. Epis served 25 months before being released pending resolution in a similar case being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

When that case was decided unfavorably for Epis, Damrell resentenced him to complete his 10 years, after which Epis’ attorney filed an appeal. No date has been set for his next hearing. Epis has said he is confident the court will rule in his favor.