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October 24, 2012

California appeals court rules defendant was wrongly precluded from presenting medical marijuana defense

This local article from California, headlined "Drug conviction reversed in medical marijuana case," reports on a notable intermediate appellate court ruling. Here are the basics:

An appeals court reversed the felony conviction of a former marijuana dispensary manager in Kearny Mesa Wednesday who was found guilty of possessing and selling the drug for profit. The court found that the trial judge erred by barring Jovan Jackson from arguing that his conduct was permitted under California laws, which allows medical marijuana patients to associate for the purpose of “collectively cultivating” the drug....

Jackson was convicted in 2010 of illegally possessing and selling the marijuana through the Answerdam Alternative Care collective. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to serve six months in county jail.

Before trial, the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion asking the judge not to allow Jackson to argue a medical marijuana defense. Prosecutors contended that Answerdam was not a collective as allowed by law, but instead a “retail business” that took in $1,000 to $1,500 a day....

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal voted unanimously to reverse Jackson’s conviction. The judges determined that the large membership of Jackson’s collective, very few of whom participated in the actual cultivation process, did not preclude him from presenting a medical marijuana defense.

However, the court stressed that when considering such a defense, a judge or jury has to determine whether an organization operates on a nonprofit basis. To answer that question, and organization’s large membership and system of management are relevant.

The full 20-page appellate opinion in this case is available at this link.

October 24, 2012 at 07:28 PM | Permalink


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