Jovan Jackson Gets Jail Time, Fine

December 14, 2010

, City News Service

The former manager of a now-defunct medical marijuana dispensary was sentenced today to six months in jail and fined $5,000 for selling the drug for profit to undercover officers. Jovan Jackson -- himself a medical marijuana patient -- was convicted in September of three felony counts, including possession for sale of marijuana.

Judge Howard Shore said Jackson -- now a barber -- could report for custody on Feb. 1.

Jackson's attorneys, Lance Rogers and Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access, said the case is not over.

"We'll be appealing this decision immediately," Elford told reporters outside the courtroom. "This judge erred in excluding the defense, he erred in not dismissing this case on double jeopardy grounds. He had a chance to clean up his errors today. He didn't do so. So now we move on to the Court of Appeals."

As part of Jackson's three years on probation, the judge said the defendant couldn't use medical marijuana, which he had taken for lockjaw.

"This hasn't been easy," Jackson said in court. "When I started Answerdam, I didn't expect it to come to this. I didn't try to escape the law. At this stage of my life, I'm ready to move on."

A jury found that Jackson twice last year sold marijuana to undercover officers who went to Answerdam Alternative Care in Kearny Mesa.

Shore ruled before trial that Jackson could not use the state's medical marijuana law as a defense and upheld that decision today in denying a motion for a new trial.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Lindberg said Jackson's actions exceeded the bounds of the medical marijuana law in opening up a retail medical marijuana store.

During trial, Lindberg said an undercover officer was able to get a medical marijuana card after complaining to a doctor about back pain.

The officer went to Answerdam on July 16, 2009, and bought 1/4-ounce of marijuana for $130, the prosecutor said.

Jackson, 32, appeared to be in charge of the business when the officer was there buying drugs, according to Lindberg.

He said officers seized drugs and other business records during a raid at the business, but Jackson was not there. According to some of the records seized, drug sales totaled $14,000 for the months of June and July 2009, Lindberg said.

In all, Jackson took in about $62,500 during the three months Answerdam was open, the prosecutor said.

Rogers said part of the problem is the vagueness of the state law, which allows medical marijuana patients to grow the drug for medicinal purposes.

The California Attorney General's Office issued guidelines in 2008 on how medical marijuana could be grown and distributed, but those guidelines are interpreted differently in different counties, Rogers said.

Another problem is "cross-sworn officers" who are charged with enforcing both state and federal law, because all marijuana possession is illegal under federal law, he said.

Jackson was acquitted last year of similar charges stemming from a raid at the Kearny Mesa collective in which an undercover detective bought marijuana in the summer of 2008.

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