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Victor Layman was sentenced to 30 months for his latest conviction.
Monday, April 29, 2013
A Roanoke County man twice convicted of growing marijuana plants is headed back to prison.
Victor Layman, now 58, was imprisoned in 1996 for his leading role in an indoor drug cultivation ring that spawned the “Phototron” series of criminal cases. Defendants grew high-quality pot in a network of private homes.
Layman served nearly five years after a judge found that the one-time owner of several real estate businesses was responsible for producing 175 to 220 pounds of marijuana.
Monday, Layman faced the same judge who sentenced him 17 years ago on a new conviction. This time, according to Layman, he was trying to produce medical marijuana for personal consumption only to ease a litany of illnesses.
U.S. District Court Judge James Turk sentenced Layman back to prison for two and a half years on the new conviction. Layman was told to report to the lockup to which he is assigned on or soon after July 1.
Authorities said they found 132 plants at Layman’s Clearbrook home. Explaining his latest conviction, Layman said in an interview after Monday’s hearing that he suffers from a host of maladies and wanted to treat his symptoms with marijuana. He selected 10 varieties of marijuana that are legally dispensed for medical use in other states, ordered seeds online and had many seedlings going when authorities intervened, he said in the interview.
Layman, who asked for extra time to report to prison so he can have surgery, hoped to produce pot that would alleviate “nausea, arthritis, pain, weight loss and a host of other symptoms that I was experiencing,” he said in the interview.
But Layman, who said his conditions include osteoarthritis, didn’t have a chance to harvest or use any of his latest crop as the plants didn’t have time to mature, he said.
The Marijuana Policy Project in Washington tracks marijuana laws, including medical marijuana laws. The project believes 18 states’ laws and the law in the District of Columbia effectively “allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana” as long as they have a doctor’s recommendation, spokesman Mason Tvert said.
Virginia isn’t on the project’s list, though it does have a medical marijuana law, one specific to glaucoma and cancer. Would-be users of medical pot in Virginia need more than a doctor’s recommendation, though: They are required to have a physician’s prescription for pot. Tvert said the Virginia law furnishes no meaningful access to medical marijuana “unless a physician is prepared to write prescriptions that are clearly in violation of federal law” in that the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance deemed to have no accepted medical use.
Layman was charged under federal law with growing more than 100 marijuana plants and allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of manufacturing a measurable amount of marijuana, with his 30-month sentence spelled out in advance.
Defense attorney Robert Rider urged Turk to choose an unspecified lighter sentence, saying Layman is so ill he is facing “deterioration of the physical body completely.”
Turk said he was bound by the agreement. Turk called the sentence agreement the parties had reached a good deal for Layman, given that Layman is a two-time offender for pot cultivation and could have faced much more prison time.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bassford said: “If you break the law and you break it again, there is a consequence.”
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