In a surrender ceremony turned rally, an El Dorado County California medical marijuana physician and her attorney husband turned themselves in Monday to serve five years in federal prison.
Dozens of people massed outside the U.S. courthouse in Sacramento, demanding that President Barack Obama grant clemency to Dr. Marion P. "Mollie" Fry and husband Dale Schafer.
"Free God's medicine!" Fry shouted.
"We love you Mollie!" the crowd hollered back.
Fry, a breast cancer survivor who ran a medical clinic in the rural town of Cool, and Schafer, an attorney who counseled marijuana patients, were convicted in 2008 for conspiring to produce and distribute marijuana.
Medical marijuana activists have portrayed the couple as heroes for healing who legally provided pot under California medical marijuana law.
Federal prosecutors said Fry and Schafer played on sympathy over Fry's illness as they built a million-dollar enterprise, with Fry issuing medical recommendations and Schafer selling pot, using couriers and even the United Parcel Service.
While the couple were convicted on the basis of 110 marijuana plants between 1999 and 2001, prosecutors said they raked in $750,000 to $1 million selling marijuana recommendations.
Activists Monday also condemned their imprisonment in protests over U.S. marijuana policy at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.
"Today is really an affront to justice," said Don Duncan, California director for Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group for medical marijuana users. "We're demanding clemency for Dale and Molly. And we're demanding an end to the war on the rest of sick and dying patients."
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