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I Am Serving 20 Years For Opening a Medical Cannabis Dispensary

Luke Scarmazzo and his daughter, taken during a visit at FCI Lompoc.
Luke Scarmazzo and his daughter, taken during a visit at FCI Lompoc.


I Am Serving 20 Years For Opening a Medical Cannabis Dispensary

February 5, 2014

I grew up in Modesto, Calif., and like many of the low income neighborhoods in our state, street gangs were prevalent. Although I was never involved in any gangs, I did find ways to get into trouble growing up.

I probably caused my mom a lot of grief. Sports kept me from getting into any serious trouble. I played football in high school, which gave me the desire to pursue the sport into college. I attended the junior college in Modesto and then after my freshmen year I was transferred to Mesa College in San Diego.

After two years of college I dropped out to pursue my music career. I started to put my time and limited finances into producing my first album. This is also around the time I began putting forth serious efforts into growing cannabis.

I had grown since my freshmen year of high school, but it was more of just a hobby than an actual craft. I still hung out with some of my friends from the old neighborhood and in 2002 it finally cost me my freedom.

I was present during a fight at a bar where someone ended up dying. Even though I didn’t have anything to with the death, I still sat in jail for two years because I wouldn’t testify against my friends.

I was finally released but I had to plead out to an assault that I never committed. I was released in 2004 and that’s when I met up with a friend from school who was working at a dispensary in Oakland.

I got very involved in the medical cannabis movement at that time and shortly after Ricardo [sic] and I started a dispensary in Modesto called California Healthcare Collective.

In my haste of recounting this timeline for you I left out the most important event of my life. In 2002, months before I went to jail, I became a father to an amazing little girl, Jasmine. She is the light of my life and also the must difficult part about being incarcerated.

Everything else has been fairly well documented. California Healthcare was extremely successful and shortly before we were raided by the DEA, our sales had reached $1 million a month. We went to a trial that was a sham and were convicted of federal marijuana offenses.

The judge sentenced Ricardo and I to over 20 years in prison for operating our dispensary and we have exhausted all of our appeals, our only hope now is a presidential [pardon].

February 20, 2014

They said I tested positive for marijuana. I am now in the dreaded hole. I will be here for 70-90 days. I have also had my visits taken away for 12 months and my phone for six months.

Writing letters will be my only form of communication for the next three months or so. The hole back here is pretty inhumane, absolute solitude. The sanctions handed down by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for a marijuana use violations are very harsh, the same as crack cocaine and heroin.

I hope one day the BOP and our federal government realize they are wrong.

Write to Luke Scarmazzo:

Luke Scarmazzo 63131-097
FCI Lompoc
3500 Guard Road
Lompoc, CA 93436

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