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Name: United States v. Albino
Case #: 05-10146
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/08/2005

An offender’s statutory-minimum ten-year term for growing marijuana was not unconstitutional. The defendant argued the federal statute which classifies 1,000 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight, as being equal to 1,000 or more kilograms of harvested marijuana for purposes of the ten-year minimum term violates the Fifth and Eighth Amendments. The Ninth Circuit panel disagreed, noting that prior caselaw holds that there is no Fifth Amendment requirement that the penalty for an offense involving one marijuana plant be equal to the penalty for an offense involving the quantity of dried marijuana that the plant would yield. The panel also rejected the Eighth Amendment claim, finding that the sentence disparity was not grossly disproportionate. Courts give great deference to the legislature’s power to set sentencing terms, and thus the Eighth Amendment is generally implicated only when a sentence exceeds statutory limits.