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SSF Man Found Guilty, Defense Expert Witness Who Founded Pot Religion

A South City man was found guilty Tuesday in a marijuana case, and will be sentenced this fall.

South San Francisco man Thanhhoa Van Nyguen, 31, was found guilty  yesterday after the defense brought in an expert who founded a pot-centered "religion."

The defendant was found guilty on five counts: sell/furnish/transport marijuana, posession of marijuana for sale; posession of MDMD, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

According to the District Attorney's Office, the expert, Chris Conrad, said that he thought the defendant posessed the marijuana for his personal use. During cross-examination, prosecution learned of  Conrad's religion, called Cantheism.

Part of the creed of the religion is: "The cultivation and dissemination of cannabis are honorable professions. Therefore I shall act with absolute integrity and honesty to protect the Cantheist community. I will not betray anyone for acting in accordance with these beliefs.”

According to the website, Canthesism is "a mystical religion based on the inherent goodness of the Cannabis plant."

Closing statements  were given Tuesday. The jury deliberated for just over an hour and found the defendant guilty. 

Probation report and sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 9:00 a.m.

The defendant remains out of custody on supervised own recognizance.

Background

According to the District Attorney's Office, on January 29, 2012, at around 9:30 p.m., a Daly City Police officer stopped Nguyen for running a stop sign on Callan and King Street. The defendant appeared nervous, and a car search revealed methamphetamine pills, which he said he took to stay awake at raves and "last longer" for sex.

The officers also found three cell phones and a large bag of marijuana. Nguyen said he had a medical marijuana license and grew 24 plants in his apartment, 10 more than he was supposed to. He said his girlfriend also had a license.

Police found text messages on his phone indicating sales. The subject consented to an apartment search, which revealed multiple pot plants, lights and an air conduit, bags of marijuana up to a pound in weight, some cocaine, ecstasy pills, hash oil, packaging materials, and scales.

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