Washington (AFP) – The US Supreme Court was expected to consider on Friday whether to accept the case of an elderly disabled veteran sentenced to life in prison after growing marijuana that he used to relieve chronic pain.
Under guidelines in Alabama for habitual felony offenders, Lee Brooker was given a life sentence without possibility of parole, the most severe punishment in the southern state short of the death penalty.
Brooker, born in 1939 and who according to US news reports is 75 years old, was convicted more than 20 years ago for armed robbery in Florida and served 10 years in prison.
In 2011, police investigating stolen bicycles stumbled onto three dozen marijuana plants behind the home in Dothan, Alabama that Brooker shared with his son.
Although Brooker said the marijuana was for his personal medicinal use, state law dictates that convicted felons in possession of more than 2.2 pounds (one kilogram) of marijuana receive life imprisonment without parole, regardless of whether there was intent to sell or distribute.
The marijuana collected at Brooker’s home weighed 2.8 pounds, when including unusable parts of the plant such as the stems.
Brooker has appealed his sentence to the high court, citing the Eighth Amendment that bans “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Supreme Court is expected to announce in the coming days whether it will add Brooker’s case to its calendar.