A 22-year-old medical marijuana patient is set to be extradited to Texas in the coming days to face pot possession charges that could land him in prison for up to 99 years.
As 22-year-old Mendocino resident Christopher Diaz sits in a Ukiah jail awaiting extradition to Browns County, Texas. His case has caught the attention of medical marijuana advocates throughout the state, who are holding the case up as an example of the failings of national marijuana law.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman said Tuesday she couldn’t slow Diaz’ extradition to allow his attorney, Sebastopol defense attorney Don Lipmanson, time to file a writ of habeas corpus alleging his clients rights are being violated. Because extradition warrants are controlled by the Uniform Extradition Act, California officials are required to comply with them.
”I can’t stay the governor’s warrant,” Moorman said Tuesday. “I have no authority.”
Amid about a dozen marijuana advocates, friends, family and supporters pushing for Diaz’s release, Lipmanson explained outside the courtroom that had he filed the writ, it could potentially have led to the young man’s temporary release while he waited to be extradited.
”Some of this waiting could have been done out of custody,” he said.
Diaz was stopped and arrested at around 2 a.m. on Oct. 30 as he drove through Browns County on his way to Austin, Texas, to visit his great grandmother, who was very ill, according to Diaz’s mother, Rhonda Martin of Mendocino.
Diaz allegedly had a little less than half an ounce of marijuana hashish and a little less than a quarter-ounce of marijuana with him in the car. Texas authorities arrested him on suspicion of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
After his arrest, Diaz allegedly fled the Lone Star State for his Mendocino home and has since been indicted on charges of “bail jumping.”
Moorman said Diaz is now being held on $160,000 bail, but said that amount was set in Texas and not under the discretion of her court.
A medical marijuana patient, Diaz claims to use the drug to treat his asthma. In a jail house interview posted on YouTube.com, Diaz states that his family moved to California about five years ago specifically to pursue alternative treatments for his breathing ailment. He said his marijuana was found by police wrapped in his physician’s recommendation and religious documents.
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