Four months after a federal plea bargain, former West Seattle medical-marijuana entrepreneur Brionne Corbray has been sentenced.
According to online records from this afternoon’s federal court hearing, while prosecutors asked for a one-year sentence, Corbray’s sentence is for five years of probation plus a $25,000 fine; his lawyer had suggested three years of probation. He pleaded guilty last summer to conspiracy to distribute marijuana, stemming from a undercover sting in which the federal government said its agents had been able to buy it without medical-marijuana authorization. The sting was followed by raids in November 2011.
At the time, Corbray’s GAME Collective had a short-lived “lounge” in downtown White Center (where we photographed federal agents on the day of the raids) as well as its original location on California SW between Alaska and Morgan Junctions, and one in North Seattle. In documents submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez in advance of today’s sentencing, Corbray was vouched for by family, friends, and community members, and he submitted a letter in his own defense, saying he had talked to local and state authorities to get assurance that what he wanted to do was legal, while also saying the White Center and North Seattle locations were primarily run by others:
We all just wanted to make a living in a bad economy and since we followed the state law and were doing a business that hundreds of others were also doing in the city and state we thought we were legal.
The federal government, meantime, said there is nothing even in state law authorizing storefront dispensaries, much less the type of “lounge” briefly operated in White Center, and its document also contends, “… Defendant’s activities would still be illegal today, even after the recent passage of I-502,” though the state has not yet drawn up the guidelines and rules for sales of marijuana.
His lawyer pointed out that Corbray is one of just a few people prosecuted in our state for medical-marijuana businesses, noting that the federal government later sent warning letters to other dispensaries about operating too close to schools but did not prosecute any of them, and concluded, “Given the muddied and mixed messages that persist… sentencing Mr. Corbray to prison is neither an effective nor necessary means to end the medical marijuana industry or even storefront dispensaries.”
The final document from this afternoon’s court proceeding isn’t available online yet; if there is any additional information of note, we’ll add it to this story tomorrow.