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Bernie Ellis stands to lose his farm in the war on drugs

Bernie Ellis on his 187 acre farm. Good morning, all. It is now five days to the “Save Bernie’s Farm” benefit at the Belcourt (April 25) and 19 days until his release date (May 10). He hopes to see many of you at the Belcourt (though he has not yet received permission yet from the “house” director to attend the benefit). It is shaping up to be a fantastic evening of music and mobilization for medical marijuana in Tennessee. Please order your tickets today by calling 615/383-9140.

The media attention on his case will greatly increase in the next week. It appears that the (Nashville) Tennessean will make his case a story in their Sunday edition (published on April 21) and then next week, the Nashville Scene will make his case their cover story (on April 25) with a 3,000+ word article. As potentially risky as this considerable media coverage may be, he knows that his case provides an opportunity to inform Tennesseans (and Americans in general) about the harsh penalties associated with being involved with medical marijuana and about the double jeopardy that medical marijuana providers face with both criminal and civil penalties (including the still-unresolved potential loss of his farm).

For these reasons, he has cooperated fully with these local media (and with Robert Koehler, whose column published two weeks ago is now on 60+ Internet sites.) In that regard, the Scene writer, Jeff Woods, wrote to ask him to describe the day of the raid and the feelings that came with it. After he sent Jeff his response, he realized that many of you had not heard this story. So here it is – an encapsulated description of August 28, 2002 – truly the first day of the rest of his life. He would say “enjoy”, but there’s not much here worth celebrating. That is, until the very end. He has grown to love happy endings, and still hopes (with your continued thoughts, prayers and support) that this story will end well.

He hopes to hear from more of you about what his experience, and these “house” diary entries, have meant to you. Bernie will share your comments with each other on the day he is released from the “house”. So please share your thoughts with him, so that he can share them with the other 450+ of you who have been along with him on this ride.

Tennessean article on Bernie’s Situation

Pot grower who may lose farm says his only crime was caring*
Staff Writer for
The Tennessean
Bernie Ellis is an unrepentant soul.

“I remain unashamed of what I was doing,” he said on a recent afternoon, the first warm day since dogwood winter settled on the month of April. He sat on a deck at a West Meade home where he has been employed as a landscaper for several months.
When lawmen raided his farm in August 2002, this man of medicine — a professional public health consultant who has worked for anti-substance abuse programs across the country — told officers he was growing marijuana for medical reasons. He also gave it to friends and acquaintances suffering from AIDS, cancer or chronic diseases.

Now, with less than three weeks remaining on his 18-month halfway house sentence, Ellis is anxious to return to the 187 acres he’s owned in the Fly community of northwestern Maury County for the past four decades. But he’s not sure he’ll get the chance.

Federal prosecutors want to take away his farm under laws that let the government seize property used in the commission of a crime. (Click here to read the rest of this article…)

*Originally published in the Tennessean on Sunday, 04/22/07 and a portion has been used here without permission under fair use.  

Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.

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