California medical marijuana dispensary’s criminal case shows need for aggressive defense when facing charges of possession or sales

Double jeopardy laws have long been one of the bedrock rights of a defendant — an assurance that he or she would not have to defend against the same criminal charges more than once. A guarantee that prosecutors could not simply try a defendant over and over again until they got the verdict they desired.

When it comes to medical marijuana dispensary defense in California, it seems nothing is guaranteed anymore. Nothing is sacred. The only rules are the ones the state or local governments make up on the fly, to best suit their needs at the time. Our Los Angeles medical marijuana defense lawyers urge you to stand up and fight. The only defense is an aggressive offense. If these absurd laws and rulings are not rejected at the trial court level, than we believe they will be struck down on appeal.
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Motion for a new trial has been filed in San Diego after a dispensary operator was tried for a second time in less than a year on the same charges of marijuana possession and sales. This time he was convicted. We trust that means prosecutors will not seek a third trial.

Americans for Safe Access reports that, after the district attorney was unable to secure a conviction the first time, she was able to block his use of a medical marijuana defense at the second trial, thereby virtually guaranteeing his conviction. Americans for Safe Access argues in the motion for a new trial that double jeopardy and denial of the medical marijuana defense were unfairly used in securing the conviction.

“Embarrassed by her earlier loss and desperate for a conviction, District Attorney (Bonnie) Dumanis manipulated the criminal justice system to unfairly try (Jovan) Jackson a second time,” said Joe Elford, ASA Chief Counsel. “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.”

Jackson had operated a medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego for years. He was raided in September 2009 and arrested along with more than 60 others as part of a raid coordinated by the district attorney and the Drug Enforcement Agency. He was one of only two defendants the D.A. chose to prosecute in state court. The other defendant was also acquitted at trial.

The basis for the arrest is a radical interpretation of the law held by a few powerful detractors, including Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley. Their theory holds that marijuana sales are still illegal and that patients must be involved in growing their own medicinal marijuana. They cling to this argument despite a California Attorney General’s ruling in 2008 that rejected the argument.

“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 Eugene Davidovich, who also heads the San Diego chapter of ASA.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP is representing more than a dozen dispensaries in lawsuits over local city and county ordinances in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.