A judge revoked the probation of a medical marijuana advocate Thursday, sending him to prison for selling the drug to medical marijuana patients.
The 12- to 34-month sentence that 35-year-old Pierre Werner must serve might pale in comparison to the amount of time he will face if convicted of an additional marijuana charge for which he was arrested last month.
In March, police obtained a warrant and searched a southwest Las Vegas home that Werner had been leasing. Officers found 96 marijuana plants, a violation of the probation he had received last year after he pleaded guilty to felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He has been in jail since his arrest and he has 53 days credit for time served that will be subtracted from his prison sentence.
Werner said last year that he grew the plant to sell to patients with medical marijuana licenses, in part to protest state law which he said is too restrictive for disabled patients who have trouble safely obtaining the drug legally.
State law allows licensed medical marijuana patients to grow the plant or choose one person to cultivate it for them, but that caretaker cannot provide the drug for any other patients.
Werner pleaded guilty to that first charge in August and was placed on probation in November. He was arrested again in December. He admitted he had smoked pot before driving to meet his probation officer for the first time. His medical marijuana license had expired at the time.
District Judge Valerie Adair placed him back on probation in January, giving him one last chance.
On Thursday, Werner made no argument and through his lawyer, Ryan Mortier, acknowledged he had violated the terms of his probation by growing the plants in a house he was leasing for medical marijuana patients.
"He will not, obviously, admit to any wrongdoing," Mortier said.
Mortier also said Werner is ineligible to receive another medical marijuana license because he has a felony on his record.
The new plants have resulted in Werner’s third charge of drug possession. If convicted he could face three to 15 years in prison, prosecutor Roy Nelson said.
"There are people coming forward saying Pierre would rent a house, he would have their name on the lease and provide them with equipment and plants to grow," Nelson said.
Then Werner would take some but not all of the marijuana for his operations, Nelson said.
At the house police searched on Broken Hunter Way last month, police found not only that Werner’s name was on the lease but also that at the house there were T-shirts with "Medical Marijuana Referral" printed across them and a phone number that matched Werner’s.
Police are still investigating Werner and there could be additional charges filed against him, Nelson said.
Mortier said Las Vegas police also are questioning some of Werner’s clients and have found all to be medical marijuana licensed patients.
"There’s absolutely no allegation of any recreational users," he said.
He said Werner is cooperating with the police, but Mortier said he believed authorities were building a bigger case against Werner.
He said Werner was involved in growing operations prior to his sentencing.
"Once he was sentenced, he started to pull away," Mortier said. "But I guess he didn’t pull away enough."