Prison for pot patient

Chicoan Bryan Epis ordered to back to prison after a 13-year battle with feds over marijuana

A Chico man who was the state’s first medi-pot grower convicted under federal law for marijuana cultivation was remanded to prison after an epic battle.

Bryan Epis was originally arrested back in 1997 by Butte County sheriff’s deputies for growing several hundred marijuana seedlings in the basement of his home. That was a year after the passage of California’s landmark Proposition 215 that legalized cannabis for medicinal use.

Epis had a doctor’s recommendation and insisted the plants were meant for sick people, himself included. The Drug Enforcement Agency did not recognize Prop 215 and charged Epis with manufacturing with the intent to traffic the drug. He spent two years in prison before being released about six years ago as the U.S. Supreme Court tackled another medical-marijuana case.

In 2005, the court ruled that federal drug laws trumped state regulations. Epis stayed free on appeal until Monday (Feb. 22), when federal District Court Judge Frank Damrell Jr. ordered him to serve the rest of his 10-year sentence.