San Diego DA Moves to Deny Medical Marijuana Defense in Second Trial of Jovan Jackson
Patient advocates file amicus brief, challenging the prosecution's assertion that sales are illegal
San Diego, CA -- Despite being acquitted by a jury late last year of charges stemming from a 2008 arrest on marijuana possession and distribution charges, medical marijuana 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 amicus brief filed today. "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.
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The brief filed today by ASA relies on three main pillars, which establish the legality of medical marijuana sales. First, the 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 as well as "maintaining a place where sales occur." Second, California's Third District Court of Appeal affirmed in 2005 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 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 will occur on Wednesday at 9am in San Diego Superior Court, at which time Jackson's trial will also be scheduled.