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California high court denies review of landmark dispensary case

Posted on January 17th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

medical marijuanaThe California Supreme Court on Jan. 16 denied review of a landmark medical marijuana dispensary case. The Fourth District Court of Appeal for California issued a unanimous ruling on Oct. 24 in the case of People v. Jackson, reversing the conviction of former San Diego dispensary operator Jovan Jackson and establishing a clear defense for Jackson and other medical marijuana providers similarly prosecuted in state court. The state supreme court turned down requests to depublish the appellate court decision from the League of California Cities and an amicus brief supporting the high court's review of the case from district attorneys in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Sonoma counties, as well as the Los Angeles city attorney.

"Not only has the California Supreme Court rejected attempts to have it review the Jackson case, thereby affirming the legality of medical marijuana sales and distribution in the state, it also chose not to depublish this landmark ruling benefiting thousands of patients," said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access, who represented Jackson in his appeal. "Even though the appellate court decision garnered significant opposition, patients have prevailed in their struggle to protect safe access to medical marijuana."

Specifically, the appellate ruling held that in mounting a defense at trial, "Jackson was only required to produce evidence which would create a reasonable doubt as to whether the defense provided by the [Medical Marijuana Program Act, SB-420] had been established." The court further held that "the collective or cooperative association required by the act need not include active participation by all members in the cultivation process but may be limited to financial support by way of marijuana purchases from the organization. Thus, contrary to the trial court's ruling, the large membership of Jackson's collective, very few of whom participated in the actual cultivation process, did not, as a matter of law, prevent Jackson from presenting an MMPA defense."

ASA appealed Jackson's conviction in late 2011, and his case quickly became a symbol of the effort by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and other prosecutors across the state to criminalize storefront medical marijuana collectives. However, the decision by the high court not to review the case deals a significant blow to that effort.

Jackson operated his storefront collective without incident until he was raided by law enforcement in 2008. Jackson was tried for marijuana possession and sales in 2009, but was acquitted by a jury. Dissatisfied with that result, District Attorney Dumanis tried Jackson again on the same charges stemming from a September 2009 law enforcement raid. It was at his second trial that Jackson was denied a defense and ultimately convicted. San Diego Superior Court Judge Howard Shore, who referred to medical marijuana as "dope," and called California's medical marijuana laws "a scam," gave Jackson 180 days in jail, a sentence that was later vacated. (ASA, Jan. 17)

Graphic: Herbal Remedies

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