San Diego DA moves to deny medical defense

Posted on August 16th, 2010 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

CaliforniaDespite being acquitted by a jury late last year of charges stemming from a 2008 arrest on marijuana possession and distribution, medicinal cannabis patient and provider Jovan Jackson is being tried by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis for a second time in less than a year. However, for the second trial Dumanis is trying to deny Jackson, the former operator of Answerdam Alternative Care Collective (AACC), a medical marijuana defense—based on the claim that "sales" are illegal under state law. Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana patient advocacy group, filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in support of Jackson's defense, refuting the District Attorney's allegations.

"To deny a medical marijuana provider the ability to defend himself in court based on an argument that what he did was illegal, not only ignores relevant medical marijuana law, but also smacks of circular logic," said Joe Elford, ASA chief counsel and author of the brief. "Dumanis appears against the wall in trying to prove her ill-reasoned legal theory and is attempting anything that will give her the advantage at trial."

Dumanis has suffered two major losses related to medical marijuana trials within the last year. In addition to Jackson's acquittal in December 2009, Eugene Davidovich, another San Diego medical marijuana was acquitted of similar charges in March of this year. Both Jackson and Davidovich were arrested in a multi-agency law enforcement raid in September 2009. "One would think that after two trials, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars wasted and her reputation damaged, that Ms. Dumanis would reconsider her approach," said Davidovich in a previous statement on the matter.

The brief filed by ASA relies on three main pillars. First, the California legislature passed the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420) in 2003, exempting collectives and cooperatives from being prosecuted under the state's marijuana "sales" statute, or for "maintaining a place where sales occur." Second, California's Third District Court of Appeal affirmed in 2005 the newly established law. Finally, in August 2008, the California Attorney General issued guidelines which stated that collectives and cooperatives may "[a]llocate marijuana based on fees that are reasonably calculated to cover overhead costs and operating expenses."

In the lead-up to Jackson's first trial, Dumanis was embarrassed by the disclosure that San Diego Deputy District Attorneys James Pitts was a member patient of Jackson's dispensary, and had purchased medicine there on multiple occasions with the recommendation of his physician. The hearing on motions in limine to decide whether Jackson can use a medical marijuana defense is to take place Wednesday Aug. 18 at 9 AM in San Diego Superior Court, at which time Jackson's trial will also be scheduled. (Americans for Safe Access, Aug. 16)



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