Advocates Want New Trial In San Diego Pot Dispensary Case


Photo: K.C. Alfred/Sign On San Diego
The court deprived Jovan Jackson of the medical marijuana defense that was used to gain an acquittal in his first trial

​Medical marijuana patient advocates on Wednesday will argue for a new trial in the case of dispensary owner Jovan Jackson, who was convicted on September 28 after he was tried for the second time in less than a year on the same charges of marijuana possession and sales.

After District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis failed to convict Jackson the first time, she was able to block his use of a medical marijuana defense at the second trial, virtually guaranteeing his conviction, according to patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

ASA will move for a new trial at Jackson’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday, December 15 before San Diego Superior Court Judge Howard H. Shore on the basis that double jeopardy and the denial of defense was used to unfairly convict Jackson.

Photo: ASA
Joe Elford, ASA: “District Attorney Dumanis manipulated the criminal justice system to unfairly try Jackson a second time”

​”Embarrassed by her earlier loss and desperate for a conviction, District Attorney Dumanis manipulated the criminal justice system to unfairly try Jackson a second time,” said Joe Elford, ASA chief counsel and the attorney who will argue Wednesday that Jackson deserves a new trial.
“To make matters worse, the court deprived Jackson of the defense that was used to gain an acquittal in his first trial, and a defense to which he’s entitled,” Elford said.
In December 2009, Jackson was acquitted by a jury of marijuana possession and sales charges stemming from a 2008 arrest. By denying Jackson a medical marijuana collective defense at his second trial, the court virtually assured his conviction.
If Jackson loses his bid for a new trial, ASA is prepared to appeal his conviction and sentencing.
For years, Jackson had operated Answerdam Alternative Care Collective, his San Diego medical marijuana dispensary, before being raided in September 2009 by a multi-agency task force dubbed “Operation Green Rx.”
Although more than 60 people were arrested in several raids coordinated by Dumanis in collaboration with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Jackson was one of only two defendants Dumanis chose to prosecute in state court.
The case against the other defendant, Eugene Davidovich, resulted in a jury acquittal on similar charges earlier this year.
Much of the opposition to local marijuana distribution from Dumanis and other detractors like Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who recently lost his bid for attorney general, is based on an interpretation which holds that patients cannot use money to obtain their medical cannabis, or that “sales” are somehow illegal under state law.
This interpretation that patients must take part in the cultivation, must “till the soil,” is still strenuously held by a few rogue officials despite guidelines issued in 2008 by California Attorney General (and now Governor-Elect) Jerry Brown’s office and legal case law to the contrary.
“Jackson should not have been denied a defense and should not be used as a scapegoat for the district attorney’s misguided position that medical marijuana sales are illegal,” said Davidovich, who also heads the San Diego chapter of ASA.
In an effort to keep medical marijuana out of Jackson’s second trial, Judge Shore ordered people in the audience to remove articles of clothing that displayed an Americans for Safe Access logo, including tote bags carried into the courtroom.
Notably, the San Diego City Council has been working for more than a year on a local medical marijuana distribution law, which would set a legal framework the same activity for which Jackson was convicted.
A San Diego grand jury issued recommendations in June calling on city and county governments to implement California’s medical marijuana law, which was approved by voters in 1996 and expanded by the Assembly in 2003.
In particular, the grand jury urged development of a “program for the licensing, regulation and periodic inspection of authorized collectives and cooperatives distributing medical marijuana.”
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