Michigan Dispensary Owner Loses Appeal After Trying The “I Didn’t Know That Was Illegal” Defense

Michigan Dispensary Owner Loses Appeal After Trying The “I Didn’t Know That Was Illegal” Defense

The federal conviction of Danny Trevino, owner of Hydroworld dispensaries in Grand Rapids, Flint, Jackson, and Lansing, was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals. Trevino was found guilty on five counts of maintaining a drug-involved premise, and multiple counts of manufacturing, distributing, possessing with intent to distribute, and possessing an excess of 100 plants of marijuana.

Trevino’s defense argued he was operating under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Because Trevino believed his actions were legal, he challenged the original decision in his appeal. 

Before the trial, at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s General Office, the judge excluded any evidence that Trevino’s conduct was because he did not know the law when he was selling marijuana. The opinion also said Trevino did not meet the narrow legal area where he can claim a lack of knowledge of the law.

“We have previously recognized that attempts to shift the blame for criminal conduct or to minimize one’s role in a conspiracy can be inconsistent with the acceptance of responsibility,” the opinion said.

The appeals court’s opinion stated Trevino had an attitude of “defiance” towards federal law during the trial. He could not account for the difference in records of the number of plants, and how many kilograms were sold, the opinion said.

Family members and pro-marijuana activists were upset at the length of Trevino’s prison sentence. Trevino’s mother, Berta Garcia, believes the prosecution was, in part, racially motivated.

“Another Mexican goes to prison and leaves his little girl behind,” Garcia said about her 3-year-old granddaughter. “She doesn’t understand, she keeps asking why. I keep asking why, the world is asking why him? I know why. … This is such an injustice.”

Trevino is serving 15 years and eight months in a federal prison in Lisbon, Ohio, according to records.

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