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Will Joe Fortt be the next Medical Cannabis Martyr?
by Mark Stout (marks [at]
Sunday Jan 22nd, 2006 12:00 AM
Please do what you can to keep Joe Fortt out of harms way.
Dear Dr. Moreno, Supervisor Anderson, and Supervisor Perea,

My friend Jamie and I both went to visit Joe Fortt
(former Director of the American Kenpo Kung Fu School
of Public Health, Kern County's first medical cannabis
dispensary) today. Joe is now held in Fresno County
Jail on Federal trial for "conspiracy to manufacture
marijuana" and related charges.

I am happy to hear that Joe has recently hired a
competant, local defense attorney, Daniel Harralson,
Esq. to represent him. Daniel comes with a very
positive recommendation from Bill McPike, Esq, and I
was also a strong proponent of Joe's decision.

Unfortunately, Joe is not doing as well health-wise.
Joe didn't make his status hearing on January 17th
because he was in the hospital. While he was there, he
found out his current t-cell (CD4) count, after seven
months of incarceration waiting for trial, is now down
to 154, a "Late Symptomatic HIV Infection". From what
I have read this sounds like a very dangerous immune
level to be at, particularly in a stressful, hostile
environment like jail:

Joe was taken into custody in July, 2005. When his
t-cell (CD4) levels were taken in September, Joe's
t-cell count was 366 (he mailed me a copy of this
record). A level over 500 is considered asymptomatic.

If you would like to have a look at some of the
unpleasant looking skin conditions springing forth on
Joe, here is a shot I took today of his stomach
(regrets for the low resolution):

Jamie and I are very concerned whether or not Joe will
even make it to trial if his immune system continues
to plummet due to incarceration in Fresno County Jail.
Som much for innocent until proven guilty. Joe and his
previous public defender were pursuing access to the
non-cannibis parts of his herbal regimine (see below),
but this was denied to Joe. We are working on a
renewed effort at posting a property bond for Joe, but
this will be very difficult due to the perceived
flight risk of Joe's Canadian citizenship.

Joe was dignosed HIV-positive in 1991 and had managed
to maintain good health despite a bad reaction to
conventional HIV medicine. According to his physician,
Dr Donald Abrams, UCSF, who last saw him in February
4, 2003: "He was using a self prescribed herbal
treatment that consisted of cannabis, garlic, walnut,
wormwood, ginseng, ginko, aloe vera and multivitamins.
He was quite convinced that this regimen was
maintaining his CD4+ cells and HIV RNA levels on a
safe zone." We greatly appreciate Dr Abram's
willingness to correspond with the Fresno County
Department of Community Health regarding Joe.

It is ironic that the Kern County Department of Public
Health has recently begun issuing State of CA medical
marijuana ID cards (, and the
Fresno County Department of Community Health has
suggested starting their ID card program this spring
to keep in line with the State's timetable. An article
I recently wrote for the Community Alliance newspaper
has information on the proposed Fresno County medical
cannabis ID card implementation, as well as contact
information for Joe and two other Federal medical
cannabis prisoners in Fresno's jail:

After her visit with Joe, Jamie treated my girlfriend
Laura and I to lunch downtown. Jamie told us about how
Joe, through his application of naturopathic medicine
lifted his ill mother's health in a way that was
inexplicable by conventional medicine. During our
visit today, Joe mentioned that area of health care
was recently recognized by the State of CA. Jamie told
us that several members of her family suffer from MS,
and that she suffered significant symptoms herself
before meeting Joe, but she has had a dramatic
reversal. Laura asked if she thought Joe's medical
care was effective in turning things around. Jamie
said, "Yes, Joe's treatment was effective. I no longer
had any symptoms of MS, I was cured."

I would hate to think that our Federal government is
turning Fresno County Jail into an accomplice in the
manslaughter of compassionate caregivers, but that
appears to be one outcome of the "War on Drugs".

Canada plans to sell government-certified marijuana in
drugstores (of course paid for by universal health
care) by early this year,
and already allows the prescription and
pharmacy-distribution of liquid cannabis

Meanwhile in Fresno we incarcerate a recently healthy,
15-year-diagnosed HIV-positive Canadian citizen for
implementing California state law (Assemblyman Leno's
SB 420/Prop 215) by assisting medical cannabis
recommendation-carrying patients, a man who first
proposed a Kern County medical cannabis ID card
program two years before actual implementaion, with
charges of "conspiracy to manufacture" a naturally
occuring medicinal flower.

We then deny him access to even the "legal by any
measure" herbal therapies that have kept him healthy
for 15 years (without the chemical medicines that he
reacted adeversely to), watch him drop to a "AIDS
defining" illness level of CD4+ cells, and then claim
he is a risk to society (perhaps he might grow more
medical cannabis without detection by Federal
pre-trial services/probation, one has to wonder) and
can't stand trial out of custody.

If we could only deport him to Canada and let them
punish him for his "crime", perhaps they would grant
him an honorary MD, or at least ask him for assistance
in finding a cannabis grower able to consistently
supply the entire Canadian government-supplied
cannabis market. Seriously, the Canadian Federal
government is finding purchasing at that level to be
quite a challenge.

Joe was frequently quoted as a Kern County medical
cannabis dispensary operator in the Valley press,
making him an tempting target for prosecution. Before
the June, 2005 Raich decision, he had submitted a
proposal to open a second dispensary in the City of
Clovis (Fresno County). Several newspaper articles

There is a Federal bill, H.R 4272, officially dubbed
"The Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act". The bill
is named in memoriam of San Diego medical marijuana
patient and life-long activist Steve McWilliams, who
used marijuana to relieve the severe, chronic-pain he
suffered resulting from a series of auto accidents.
Facing federal prosecution for growing 25 marijuana
plants in his yard for a small collective of very sick
and terminally ill patients, Steve was barred from
testifying to federal jurors that his use of marijuana
was for legitimate medical purposes and in accordance
with state law. Facing federal prison, and unable to
use the medicine that eased his suffering, McWilliams
committed suicide on July 12, 2005.

Please do what you can to keep Joe Fortt out of harms
way, so that there will never be a "Joe Fortt
Reschedule Cannabis Act". Joe is HIV positive, has a
plummeting immune system, reacts poorly to chemical
"cocktails", yet has stayed healthy for over 15 years
after diagnosis with his own self-prescribed
naturopathic care. Don't let inadequate medical
treatment of this far-from-typical inmate, an
unfolding human rights violation, become another
international travesty.

Best Regards,

Doctor's Signature, Long Application Required Before
Drug Sold to Users
Amy Hilvers, Bakersfield Californian staff writer
Wed, 26 May 2004

Clovis considers marijuana ordinances (quotes by Joe
Published on February 27, 2005, Page B1, Article 2 of
2 found, 1184 words.

Clovis is considering a break with other Fresno
County communities that would make it easier for
medical marijuana patients to receive their drug.

Planning commissioners are examining several
alternatives to temporary ordinances approved by
Fresno County and the cities of Fresno and Clovis that
would make it easier to supply and acquire marijuana
for prescribed patients. The ordinance now limits
marijuana sales to no more than two patients, permits
cultivation only in locked structures and...

Court ruling stuns Valley medical pot users
Published on June 7, 2005, Page A1, Article 1 of 2
found, 1005 words.

San Joaquin Valley advocates of medical marijuana
reacted with disappointment and anger Monday at the
U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow federal
prosecution of people using marijuana for medicinal

"We had 400 patients who are going to have to
suffer because of the American government -- the
federal government," said Joe Fortt, who operates a
Bakersfield-area medical marijuana dispensary. Fortt
said he will decide in a couple of weeks whether...

PS: Many thanks to Nick Osborne with the Merced
chapter of the Compassionate Coalition
( for drafting a
petition in support of Joe. This is being circulated
in several counties throughtout the Valley:

--- Richard Lake <rlake [at]> wrote:
> *********************PLEASE COPY AND
> DISTRIBUTE*************************
> DrugSense FOCUS Alert #321 - Saturday, 21 January
> 2006
> Today two large newspapers published articles about
> Steve Kubby... (including Globe and Mail and LA
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