Trial Begins For Former Pot Collective Manager

September 19, 2010

, 10 News (San Diego)

The manager of a Kearny Mesa medical marijuana collective illegally sold the drug to whoever walked into the store last year, a prosecutor said Monday. Jovan Jackson, the 32-year-old former operator of Answerdam Alternative Care, is charged with three felony counts, including possession of drugs for sale.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Lindberg said in his opening statement that medical marijuana was not a defense in the case.

"What we have here is selling drugs and making money -- nothing less and nothing more," the prosecutor said.

Lindberg said Jackson would sell drugs to whoever walked in the door with a medical marijuana card.

"It was a business," the prosecutor said, telling the jury that Answerdam sold between $1,000-$1,500 worth of drugs per day last year.

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 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.

Defense attorney Lance Rogers deferred his opening statement until the conclusion of the prosecution's case.

The attorney has said that 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 -- himself a medical marijuana patient -- 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.

The latest case against Jackson is payback by the District Attorney's Office, alleged Eugene Davidovich, head of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group.

"After the embarrassment of losing the first trial against Jovan Jackson, District Attorney (Bonnie) Dumanis is desperate for a conviction," he said.

Davidovich -- also a medical marijuana patient -- was acquitted of possession for sale of drugs earlier this year.

Prosecutors said they are going after people who are selling drugs for profit that the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act of 2003 were not designed to protect.

Jackson faces more than five years in prison if convicted.

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