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South Sacramento Medical-Marijuana Dispensary Owner Sentenced to 6 Years

SOUTH SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A medical-marijuana dispensary owner was sentenced to 6 years in prison a year and a half after one of the first big federal raids.

Bryan Smith was caught with more than $250,000 in cash and 139 pounds of marijuana while operating what was once R & R Wellness in south Sacramento. He accepted a plea deal from federal prosecutors.

His attorney claims federal agents were out to target his client at the beginning of a large crackdown in October 2011.

"[The U.S. Attorney's Office] said they were going to make examples and issue indictments and sent people to federal prison who are operating these dispensaries, and this is one of those examples," said attorney Mark Reichel.

But U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner said this wasn't a typical dispensary operating under state and local rules.

"It's been very clear from the beginning that this case … was not about sick people, but about money," he said.

Marijuana advocate Lanette Davies agrees with Wagner's assessment, saying cases like Smith's hurt the reputation of other medical-marijuana shops.

"It was a good chance he was committing a crime," she said. "You have one person do wrong, it makes the entire industry look bad.

With 19 states passing medical-marijuana laws, the highest branch of government may be forced to change as well. And a nationwide law may offer more clarity on who prosecutors should go after.

For now, Wagner says he will continue to go after those selling to recreational users.

"We are trying to go after the most egregious cases—like the Bryan Smith case—but there who are engaging in similar activity and they should be concerned."

Smith will not be able to appeal his federal case as a condition of the plea deal, but his lawyer hopes that the former pot shop owner will be let out early on good behavior.

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