News Release
March 23, 2010
Contact: Sarah Pullen
213-621-6827

Man Who Operated Los Angeles-Area Marijuana Dispensaries Sentenced To Six Years In Prison

MAR 23 -- (LOS ANGELES) On March 22, 2010, the owner-operator of six Los Angeles-area “medical marijuana” dispensaries was sentenced to six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to violating federal law by selling the drug. Virgil Edward Grant III, 42, of Carson, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.

At the sentencing hearing, Grant claimed that he was operating within California law and that he was running a not-for-profit business, assertions that Judge Wilson determined to be “not credible.” Judge Wilson said he believed that Grant was simply trying to use state laws governing medicinal use of marijuana as a shield from federal drug laws. Judge Wilson concluded by saying that Grant’s “interpretation of the California Attorney General’s Guidelines [on the distribution of “medical marijuana”], if he ever consulted it, is incorrect and is an unrealistic view.”

The investigation into Grant’s The Holistic Caregivers (THC) outlets in Compton, Gardena and Los Angeles, as well as Western Caregiver Group in Los Angeles, MedXnow.com in Los Angeles and Southern California Caregivers in Van Nuys, started after a accident in which a CHP officer was critically injured and the driver he had stopped was killed.

On December 19, 2007, CHP Officer Anthony Pedeferri was conducting a routine traffic stop on the shoulder of Highway 101 near Faria Beach, just north of the city of Ventura. Officer Pedeferri was speaking to driver Andreas Parra at the driver's side window of Parra's car when a pick-up truck drifted onto the shoulder and struck Parra's vehicle. Parra was killed, and Pedeferri was gravely injured. The driver of the pick-up, Jeremy White, acknowledged being under the influence of marijuana when the accident took place, saying he had purchased the marijuana from a “medical marijuana” dispensary in Compton, which investigators later determined to be THC.

In September 2008, White was sentenced in Ventura Superior Court to 15 years in state prison after pleading guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and selling and transporting marijuana. Investigators later linked Grant to THC, one of six dispensaries he operated, three of which were within 1,000 feet of schools. After a number of undercover buys at several of Grant’s dispensaries – including a $5,700, one-pound transaction facilitated by one of Grant’s employees – Grant was indicted and arrested.

Grant pleaded guilty last June to a drug conspiracy count, admitting that he distributed marijuana. Even after pleading guilty, Grant continued to operate two of the storefront marijuana dispensaries. On December 2, investigators arrested Grant and a federal judge subsequently revoked his bond and remanded him into custody.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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