According to a recent news article form Review Journal, a Las Vegas jury has just acquitted a medical marijuana patient of the felony drug charges prosecutors pressed. This case, including the trial itself, has garnered a substantial amount of national attention due the fact the general public does not support such a prosecution.
Witnesses say the defendant wept as the clerk of court read the jury verdict. He had been found not guilty of both charges. Witnesses say a few members of the jury itself were actually crying following a reading of the verdict. One of the two charges he had faced for more than three years could have resulted in his being sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in state prison.
Defendant is a 65-year-old medical marijuana patient, and his trial lasted nearly a week. It took jury around one hour to find him not guilty on all counts.
The specific charges filed against defendant were possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to sell. While both counts are actually felonies in that jurisdiction, it was the marijuana with intent to sell charge that could have resulted in significant prison time.
While medical marijuana possession is legal in the jurisdiction, he was charged with having more marijuana than the law allows, so prosecutors were able to treat this as intent to sell based solely on quantity. During his trial, his defense attorneys called three of his neighbors as witnesses, including an active firefighter, retired police sergeant, and school board employee. All three of these witnesses testified they did not believe defendant had any intent to sell marijuana to anyone.
It should be noted that after defendant was arrested, but before he was tried, state legislatures in that jurisdiction legalized medical marijuana dispensaries to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. However, this did not cause prosecutors to dismiss the charges then pending against defendant.
As our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys can explain, even in California, where the state left it up to counties and cities to decide whether to allow dispensaries, and some have not, we have a situation where people cannot legally sell something that people can legally purchase. In other words, the government has essentially facilitated the need for a black market marijuana economy in some areas, and this can result in unjust arrests.
This is similar to the recent law in the District of Columbia, where the voters approved a ballot referendum to legalize possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, but when the city council sought to introduce legislation to allow for licensed dispensaries, Congress stepped in and prevented this by adding a very small rider to a trillion dollar spending bill. Essentially, it is legal to buy and possess marijuana, but it is entirely illegal to sell it. Again, this partial effort to legalize has resulted in a black market economy being strengthened.
If you have been charged with a crime involving possession or distribution of marijuana, you should make sure your attorney has experience dealing with these specific types of issues, as they may different than other criminal defense cases in light of the ever-changing laws.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Jury acquits medical marijuana patient of felony charges , May 29, 2015, Review Journal
More Blog Entries:
San Diego’s First Legal Marijuana Dispensary Opens Doors, April 5, 2015, Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Lawyer Blog