A Virginia man's 40-year sentence for sale and possession of marijuana, set aside last year as cruel and unusual punishment in what was seen as as unprecedented ruling, was reinstated yesterday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel held that the Southwest Virginia jury that sentenced Roger Trenton Davis, 32, of Wytheville, had sufficient evidence to view Davis as "an active drug dealer" who was selling drugs to prison inmates for profit.

The appeals court also noted that the term imposed on Davis, charged with possession and sale of less than nine ounces of marijuana, was "well within the limits" of the sentence provided by the Virginia General Assembly. State law authorizes a term of 5-to-40 years and a fine not to exceed $25,000 for sale of marijuana and for possession of the drug for distribution.

The Wytheville jury sentenced Davis to 20 years on both the sale and possession charges and fined him $10,000 for each offense. The state court judge in the case ordered him to serve the sentence consecutively for a total of 40.

Davis was convicted of making a sale to Danny Ray Eads, an inmate who had been furioughed from Virginia's Bland prison farm on the promise that he would help police investigate drug sales in Wythe and Pulaski counties.