Christopher Diaz, a resident of Mendocino, California, could be facing up to 99 years behind bars for pot possession charges in Texas. Diaz, 22-year-old medical marijuana patient, 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.
Diaz was arrested on October 30th as he drove through Austin, Texas on his way to visit his great-grandmother who was very ill. He had less than a half-an-ounce of hash, and less than a quarter ounce of marijuana in the car when authorities pulled him over. He was arrested on possession with intent to distribute it.
After his arrest, Diaz left Texas and hightailed it to his home in California. He has now been indicted for bail jumping. He is currently being held on a $160,000 bail, but the judge in the case wants you to know that as a California official, she is required to comply with Texas authorities under the Uniform Extradition Act. Judge Ann Moorman said that she has no authority in the matter, and even the bail amount was set in Texas and outside of her jurisdiction. Advocates of Diaz and medical marijuana in general say that the waiting for extradition could have been done out of custody.
Diaz suffers from severe asthma and said his family moved to California five years ago so they could specifically pursue alternative treatments for his breathing ailment. The marijuana was found with his recommendation wrapped around it, along with religious documents from the THC Ministry that Diaz says his entire family belongs to and adheres to their belief about the religious rights of marijuana as a sacrament as well as a health treatment.
The Brown County District Attorney Michael Murray told media last week that while less than an ounce of pot isn’t a huge deal in California, it is in Texas. Murray said the case is a serious one and that he doesn’t believe Diaz needs marijuana for medical purposes.
Diaz faces a sentence of between five and 99 years in a Texas prison, if convicted. Murray told the Press Democrat. ”He needs to come back and face the music. There’s not much tolerance (here) for anybody distributing drugs for any reason.” Diaz could be extradited any day.