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Producers ask help funding cannabis activist Jon Peditto's 8-year sentence appeal


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HOLLYWOOD (January 31) The producers and stars of the independent gonzo comedy film High There have issued an urgent plea to fans, friends and colleagues to help fund the appeal for jailed New Jersey cannabis activist Jon Peditto.

Peditto's family and friends are asking for contributions at the FundRzr site: JonPedittoDefenseFund.com.

Peditto, a New Jersey photographer and gardener, was convicted in October of maintaining a drug production facility for growing 17 marijuana plants in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Under New Jersey sentencing guidelines, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

On Friday, sentencing Judge James Blaney, agreed to handle the first-degree conviction as a second-degree offense "in the interest of justice." Even so, he sentenced the 54-year old Peditto to eight years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after about two years.

"He no longer falls under Christie's mandatory minimum sentence, but it's still bad," Peditto's father, acclaimed, award-winning journalist, television producer and filmmaker John Parsons Peditto said after the sentencing. "Growing ten plants is a misdemeanor. That means he's getting about a year per plant."

Peditto was arrested in 2012 and admitted growing the plants for his personal use. He rejected offers of a plea deal, and used his trial to challenge New Jersey's outdated drug laws.

"Jon Peditto is a gentle man. He does not belong in a prison, especially not for a nonviolent crime that would be rewarded in other states," said High There producer Burt Kearns. "I'm really surprised and disappointed that the news media don't find this to be a major story -- especially since Jon's father was a mentor to and influence on so many people in the news business today."

High There director and star Wayne Darwen, who stars as "Dave High" in the BRINKvision film, called on his fellow celebrities to support the Jon Peditto cause. "More than few celebs from New Jersey like to flaunt their 420 credentials," Darwen said. "I challenge these stars, including Bill Maher and Kevin Smith, to open their mouths, raise their voices, and open their wallets and raise money to make this right."

"New Jersey's marijuana laws are cruel and unusual, archaic and draconian," said High There executive producer Sam Peters. "Every casual or occasional marijuana user -- every person relying on marijuana for medical reasons-- is at risk. You could be next."

In New Jersey, marijuana is classified in the top tier of dangerous drugs, on the same level of heroin. New Jersey's governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie has said he considers marijuana to be a "gateway drug" and vowed that if elected president, to vigorously enforce the federal marijuana ban in states where it has been legalized.

Darwen and Kearns are longtime colleagues of Peditto's father and, along with fellow director and co-star Henry Goren, have championed Peditto's cause since his conviction.

High There is rooted in activism, focusing on the case of Roger Christie, the founder of Hawaii's THC Church, who was arrested on marijuana possession and trafficking charges and jailed for four years without trial. Christie was released to house arrest days after High There's premiere.

Contributions to the John Peditto Defense Fund can be made at
jonpedittodefensefund.com or
The Jon Peditto Defense Fund
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