medical marijuana leaf.jpg
Federal prosecutors wanted it to be worse for Brionne Corbray, who in August pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deal drugs after a series of undercover

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Seattle Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner Brionne Corbray Sentenced in Federal Court, But Avoids Prison

medical marijuana leaf.jpg
Federal prosecutors wanted it to be worse for Brionne Corbray, who in August pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deal drugs after a series of undercover buys at the dispensaries he owned in West Seattle, White Center and North Seattle.

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Specifically, the feds were looking for a one-year sentence for Corbray, but on Wednesday U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez handed down five years of probation, a $25,000 fine and what the Seattle Times describes as "a warning to not screw up again." While it wasn't exactly the outcome the feds were hoping for, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi indicated that Corbray wont be the last medical-marijuana dispensary owner to feel his office's wrath.

The 48-year-old Corbray, who defense lawyers painted as a hardworking entrepreneur and family man, now becomes the first dispensary owner sentenced on federal drug-dealing charges. Corbray's White Center dispensary featured a smoking lounge, something that particularly rankled prosecutors, who said such an operation constituted a " a flagrant violation of state and federal law," according to the paraphrasing of the Times.

Not helping Corbray's case, federal agents say they also found a gun at his White Center dispensary, in addition to $1,700 and seven pounds of dried marijuana during a raid of his home in November 2011.

Not surprisingly, much of the legal maneuvering in Corbray's case focused on the hazy "grey area" created by the conflict between the state's medical marijuana law and federal drug laws.

As the Times reports:

Much of the sentencing Wednesday focused on the conflict between the state law allowing medical use of marijuana and the federal prohibition.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi said Corbray knew his dispensaries were clearly illegal under federal law and weren't consistent with "letter of state law ... or with even the spirit of state law."

"If we are going to have an intelligent discussion on (drug) reform -- a discussion about what is the right way and the wrong way to deal with marijuana -- you have to have consequences for people doing it wrong. And Mr. Corbray was doing it wrong," said Lombardi.

Corbray's attorney, Corey Endo, portrayed him as a devoted family man and an old-school entrepreneur operating in a legal gray area.

"Mr. Corbray doesn't need to bear the brunt -- any more than he already has -- for the mixed messages" sent by the local, state and federal handling of medical marijuana, he said.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from Corbray's sentencing comes via threats made by Lombardi at the conclusion of the case.

"Mr. Corbray will be the first to come before this court, but he won't be the last," the Times quotes Lombardi as saying.

On that note, Craig Dieffenbach and Jingjing Mo - former Seattle-area dispensary owners who have also pleaded guilty to federal drug-dealing charges - are scheduled to be sentenced in early January.

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