Today Eddy Lepp called me at about 10:30 a.m. and said they were getting ready to pass through Pismo Beach. I hopped into my car and caught up with them on the freeway and followed them to Lompoc.
There was a traffic jam on the way down and I figured that in Eddy's mind there was probably no big rush as he was on his way to serve a 10 year mandatory sentence in Federal Prison for growing Marijuana.
Eddy had a farm where he was growing over 25,000 plants when he was raided by the DEA in 2004.
The feds prosecuted Eddy in Federal Court and he was convicted of growing more than 1000 marijuana plants which has a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Eddy tried claiming medical and religious protections but the arguments were not allowed in Federal Court.
It was a sad moment as Eddy his wife and followers realized he was only minutes from a long sentence in Federal Prison.
I was angered to think that Eddy was being taken from his family for marijuana. Eddy and his clan were a classic hippie family.
They were dressed in tie die outfits and many of them had tattoos of marijuana leaves. Some talked about some strong religious beliefs they had.
It was here I understood the importance of freedom of religion. Although I might not have had the same beliefs as Eddy and his followers, I thought how people have to 'tolerate' other peoples beliefs even if you don't understand what they are talking about.
So Eddy with swollen eyes from years of battling the Federal Government and a strong conviction that he had done the right thing hopped into the van for his final ride as a free man.
During that last mile, Eddy stated that he was not afraid of jail as his camera man and others listened in great admiration and sorrow.
They passed around one more cigarette of the sacred herb and Eddy drank a Dr. Pepper as his camera man recorded Eddy's testimony.
I fought back tears as other grown men cried outwardly.
I asked Eddy about his release on bail pending appeal and he said the judge didn't even read the motion and denied it.
As we drove up to the penitentiary I just couldn't stop thinking how wrong this is to put people away and to break up families for marijuana.
It just seemed so cruel to take Eddy from his wife, his friends, and from society.
They were not hurting anybody, they are just living the kind of life that makes them happy, the kind of life that millions of Americans live on a daily basis.
We walked Eddy into the building, and my internal outrage boiled quietly as the self-righteous Federal Agents did their jobs, as did the Nazi Prison Camp Guards, and took Eddy into custody and told everybody to leave.
As we turned and left the American POW camp I couldn't stop thinking what a cruel nation America can be to it's 'Marijuanan American' citizens.
I realized with great appreciation that I was a lucky man as I am out on bail pending appeal for a one year sentence for 'marijuana crimes'.
I was really lucky compared to what was happening to Eddy Lepp.
Two men, separate lives, separate life styles, separate beliefs, separate destinies but one common cause.
Eddy whispered to me as he held back his emotions 'keep the message alive'.
Once we got to Lompoc we pulled over for a
photo opp under the signs pointing to the Prison.
The last walk in freedom.
Eddy's wife is comforted
by the Minister of his church.
Photos by Charles C. Lynch
News Hawk: User: http://www.420magazine.com/
Author: Charles Lynch
Copyright: 2009 Salem-News.com
Website:Walking the Last Free Mile with Eddy Lepp - Salem-News.Com