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NY Cancer Patient Avoids Jail for Growing

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Jan.14, 00
Associated Press
Copyright: 2000 Associated Press
In a decision not intended to endorse the use of marijuana as a medical drug, Saratoga prosecutors let a confessed pot grower off easy. John Chestnut who claimed that he grew marijuana to treat discomfort from cancer was allowed to plead guilty in Malta Town Court to a non-jail sentence in a plea-agreement with the Saratoga County District Attorney's office. He faced up to four years behind bars but was given three years probation and ordered to undergo any drug treatment recommended by the court. Police seized 25, six-foot-tall plants grown by Chestnut. The prosecutor's office agreed to reduce Chestnut's felony charge ''in the interest of justice,'' citing Chestnut's lack of criminal record and his poor health. ''It's not a case where he was growing it for resale or anything of that nature,'' said Robert Chauvin, assistant district attorney. He added that Thursda's ruling was not intended as a green light to medicinal use of marijuana. Chestnut said that 75 percent of his stomach was lost to cancer and only marijuana proved effective in stimulating his appetite. He was arrested Sept. 8 after state police in a helicopter spotted marijuana growing in a swamp not far from his home and confiscated his plants. The former Schenectady bartender had until recently run a farm stand filled with vegetables cultivated with farm equipment and land donated by friends in the aftermath of his 1993 bout with a severe case of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma