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Man Gets Prison in Pot Trial

Tustin resident who said he had back pain gets 18 months and a $500 fine for manufacturing.

August 20, 2003|Denise M. Bonilla | Times Staff Writer

A Tustin man who said he was growing more than 100 marijuana plants to ease back pain has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Michael William Teague, 33, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter for manufacturing marijuana. Carter also ordered Teague to pay a $500 fine and serve four years of supervised release after his prison term. The judge refused defense attorney J. David Nick's request that Teague remain free on bail and he was taken into custody.

Acting on a tip, deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Department searched Teague's Tustin home in April 2002 and found 102 to 108 mature marijuana plants in his garage. The deputies also found a semi-automatic handgun in the pocket of Teague's jacket in a hallway closet. The gun was not registered to Teague, and its presence played a role in determining Teague's sentence, Assistant U.S. Atty. Andrew Stolper said.

Teague, who owns a pool-cleaning company, said he grew the marijuana for his own use, to assuage back pain from a high school wrestling injury. He said he was allergic to other pain relievers, such as aspirin, and had a recommendation from a doctor for medical marijuana.

Stolper said the doctor has since had his license suspended for writing medical marijuana recommendations without performing examinations.

Teague admitted to sharing marijuana with friends and accepting "donations" for it, Stolper said.

The prosecutor said Teague was growing the plants for sale, acting as a "small-time dealer" and that the gun was for protection from customers.

Teague's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Throughout Teague's hearings, more than 20 representatives from Americans for Safe Access, a national medical marijuana lobbying group based in Berkeley, showed up for support.

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