Related story: Sandusky still supported by patients, employees

Inside the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles, the former president of an Inland Empire medical marijuana dispensary, G3 Holistic Inc., now gets up at a certain hour, eats within a certain time and is told what to do.

"It's a very controlled environment and it's a large adjustment from being able to live outside the walls and what you have to do inside these walls," Aaron Sandusky, 41, said in a recent phone interview from the jail.

Sandusky, convicted in federal court of operating medical marijuana dispensaries in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley, will be sentenced Jan. 7 in Los Angeles.

His potential sentence is 10 years to life.

Sandusky's girlfriend, Darlene Buenrostro of Rancho Cucamonga, said she wants to get as much attention to Sandusky's case to show that the "American public" wants changes in the federal marijuana law.

"I want awareness out there on Aaron's specific situation so that citizens are informed on how an individual's freedom and civil rights were stripped away from him in an unjust application of law," Buenrostro said.

Sandusky opened G3 Holistic in Upland in November 2009, six months after President Barack Obama, in an interview with the Oregon Mail-Tribune, said the federal government would not aggressively pursue medical marijuana cases in states that had legalized it.


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But the Obama administration increased enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, which makes it illegal to sell or possess marijuana, including in states that have legalized medical pot.

In 2003, the state's Medical Marijuana Protection Act was signed into law. It created an identification card system for medical marijuana patients. But federal law says marijuana is illegal, and Sandusky was convicted in October.

Sandusky said he believed the federal government targeted him.

"Yeah, absolutely," Sandusky said. "You can't stand up without getting knocked down once or twice especially against the federal government, so they took what they saw as me thumbing my nose at them.

"I see it the other way. I see it as the Department of Justice thumbing their noses at the president and Eric Holder who said we're not going to do this and yet they're doing it anyway."

Sandusky said he was shocked he was found guilty.

"I'm pretty much an optimist," Sandusky said. "The moment I was standing up and looking at everybody there, the jury, and I remember it just my stomach was kind of thumping feeling, just wanting to hit the floor there."

Sandusky said he doesn't regret not taking a plea deal like others involved in the case because it was "not acceptable."

"It was one that required me to be an informant for them," he said, "and I don't know anybody that they want to arrest, and people that I know were patients who supplied our cooperative, and what am I going to (do), ruin their lives?

"Being an informant will not be a benefit for anybody. I don't know anybody that would be of interest to them. It wasn't an option for me."

Sandusky said he has met some "very interesting people" in prison and is able to watch television, play cards and work in a program.

"You get the opportunity to participate in a work force that the prison offers," Sandusky said. "You can work in the kitchen laundry room cleaning facility, so you can participate. They also have many different programs, drug programs, rehabilitation programs. It's controlled living."

The jail environment is safe, Sandusky said.

"I think most of the problems you see or hear about or are done where you have people that are involved in the same cases that may be bickering over issues," he said. "That's where most of the issues I think arrive from here. I haven't seen any issues like that. No fights. No problems. Nobody gets hurt."

Sandusky said he has seen a lot of immigrants being deported as well as people locked up for drug possession.

Sandusky said he wasn't sure if he would make a statement at his sentencing hearing. 

"I don't know what to say," Sandusky said. "I can't imagine myself saying anything that will help me. I'm torn because there's many things I want to say, but I don't know if the things I want to say really will benefit me getting sentenced on the low end of the sentencing report.

"So I'm kind of torn between what I really want to say and what I should say, and like I said, nobody really wins in this kind of a case."

Roger Diamond, Sandusky's attorney, said his client has remained "the same person" going through the judicial and incarceration system.

Diamond said he did not want to discuss his strategy for the Jan. 7 sentencing.

"I cannot," he said, "because the government...is clearly monitoring all media, all statements made by Aaron."

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, said Sandusky's three-month wait before sentencing was not uncommon.

Mrozek said it was possible Sandusky could go to a prison with other people involved in his case. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons determines the prison, Mrozek said.

All of the other defendants who pleaded guilty in the case will be sentenced next year after Sandusky, Mrozek said.

"I don't see myself as doing anything wrong," said Sandusky, "so I'm not afraid of anything because I don't feel like I did anything wrong.

"There's nothing to fear. I think this issue will pass and if I have to sit here for ten years until it passes, hopefully I don't pass (away) before the time does."


Reach Wes at via email, call him at 909-483-8549, or find him on Twitter @ClaremontNow.
Reach Wes at via email, call him at 909-483-8549, or find him on Twitter @ClaremontNow.