Judge’s Denial Of Medical Marijuana Defense Enrages Activists


Photo: James Stacy
Federal medical marijuana defendant James Stacy leads a protest: “I tried to help people and now I face life in prison, even though I did not break the law.”

​Medical marijuana advocates are expressing outrage that former San Diego County dispensary operator James Stacy is facing federal marijuana prosecution.

After Stacy opened a medical pot shop called “Movement In Action” in Vista, he was charged with federal counts of illegally manufacturing and distributing marijuana after undercover buys made by a San Diego County sheriff’s detective and resulting raids by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents at his home and business, reports Peter Hecht of The Sacramento Bee.

U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz last week denied Stacy’s bid to dismiss the charges on grounds that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder publicly commented last year that they would no longer target medical marijuana patients and providers in states where the medical use of pot has been legalized.
The Obama Administration statements and policy directive on medical pot weren’t a promise that “the DEA would never raid medical marijuana dispensaries claiming to operate in compliance with state law,” Judge Moskowitz ruled July 12.
The judge also agreed with prosecutors that Stacy could not present a “medical marijuana defense” based on California’s Proposition 215 Compassionate Use Act that allows medical pot use in the state.

Photo: ASA
Caren Woodson, ASA: “It is unconscionable for the federal government to continue prosecuting these cases and ruining people’s lives”

​The ruling drew heated protests from Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana patients’ advocacy group.
“It is unconscionable for the federal government to continue prosecuting these cases and ruining people’s lives,” said Caren Woodson, director of government affairs at ASA.
According to Woodson, Moskowitz’s ruling “denied the accused of a defense in federal court, all but guaranteeing a conviction in spite of the defendant’s compliance with state law.”
U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) used the Stacy case to call for approval of HR 3939, the Truth in Trials Act, which he is sponsoring to allow defendants like Stacy to offer evidence in federal court that their use of medical marijuana was legal under state laws.
Farr said the legislation “would correct this aberration of justice and ensure than no one else will needlessly face years in prison.”
Stacy, whose trial is slated to begin on August 30, is the latest high-profile defendant resulting from high-profile medical marijuana raids by law enforcement in San Diego County.
Stacy called for marijuana legalization “so we do not have to suffer through publicity-seeking law enforcement and politicians that well re-interpret the law to suit their needs” in an appearance before the San Diego City Council after his arrest.
He called medical marijuana “a gift from God” for patients, including the sick and dying.
Officers confiscated 96 marijuana plants, cannabis edibles, business records and a loaded semi-automatic pistol after executing search warrants on Stacy’s home and business last September.
Stacy’s responds before the San Diego City Council on October 6, 2009 in the video clip below.