|Photo: San Diego City Beat
|San Diego County D.A. Bonnie Dumanis: Despite a pledge to respect California’s medical marijuana laws, she has waged an urelenting war against cannabis patients and providers
Despite being acquitted by a jury late last year of marijuana charges stemming from a 2008 arrest for possession and distribution, medical 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, former operator of the Answerdam Alternative Care Collective (AACC), a medical marijuana defense based on the claim that “sales” are illegal under California law.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA
), a medical marijuana patient advocacy group, filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of Jackson’s defense, refuting the D.A.’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 amicus brief filed on Monday.
|Joe Elford, ASA: “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 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,” Elford said.
Dumanis has already suffered two major losses related to medical marijuana trials in the past year.
In addition to Jackson’s acquittal in December 2009, Eugene Davidovich, another San Diego medical marijuana defendant, 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,” Davidovich said.
The brief filed Monday by ASA relies on three main pillars which establish the legality of medical marijuana sales.
First, the California Assembly passed the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420) in 2003, exempting collectives and cooperatives from being prosecuted under the state’s marijuana “sales” statute as well as “maintaining a place where sales occur.”
|Jovan Jackson was already acquitted on medical marijuana charges. Now D.A. Dumanis wants to try him again, with different rules.
Second, California’s Third District Court of Appeal in 2005 affirmed the newly established law under the MMPA and that sales were in fact legal under state law.
Finally, in August 2008, the California Attorney General issued guidelines which said that collectives and cooperatives may “allocate 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 Attorney 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 will be Wednesday, August 18 at 9 a.m. in San Diego Superior Court, at which time Jackson’s trial will also be scheduled.