Monday, February 21, 2011

New Threat to Medical Pot Dispensaries


On January 27, 2011, medical marijuana dispensary operator Jovan Jackson was given an additional two weeks to turn himself in to begin serving his sentence for marijuana sales.

Judge Shore agreed that Jovan Jackson could remain free on $150,00 bail pending appeal. He gave Mr. Jackson two weeks to raise the money.

When a case is heard on appeal, the resulting decision becomes law. The issue raised is whether retail sales of marijuana is legal under California’s medical marijuana laws. Although many counties have zoned to allow retail sales, where growers sell to a middleman operating out of a storefront, the actual wording of the laws allows for patients to grow together in group cultivation projects. While some medical marijuana patients are not in a position to grow, the law does exempt prosecution for sales when a patient compensates the actual grower or collective grow members.

In the case of Jovan Jackson, Judge Shore ruled that Mr. Jackson would need to have growers testify that they grew for a collective in order to present a medical marijuana defense.

Mr. Jackson’s attorney chose not to present any defense at all, and instead vowed to appeal this case to determine once and for all if retail sales are legal.

This is just the type of case San Diego’s District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has been looking for. I believe she is hoping to get a ruling that makes it illegal to sell marijuana from retail locations.

If the California Supreme Court chooses to hear this case and decides against Mr. Jackson, the resulting case law will allow for law enforcement to shut the hundreds of marijuana storefront collectives now in operation in California.