Third Trial Begins for San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensary Operator, After Winning Landmark Right to a Defense District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis desperately seeks a conviction after People v. Jackson overturned her legal strategy
October 21, 2013 | Kris Hermes
San Diego, CA -- The third trial against medical marijuana dispensary operator and Navy veteran Jovan Jackson began today in San Diego Superior Court, before Judge Louis R. Hanoian. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a staunch opponent of medical marijuana, has waged a years-long effort to rid the county of dispensaries, and Jackson has borne the biggest brunt.
After a 2008 law enforcement raid, Jackson was tried in 2009 for possession and sales of marijuana, but was acquitted by a jury. Dissatisfied with that result, District Attorney Dumanis tried Jackson again on the same charges stemming from another raid in 2009. At his second trial in 2010, Jackson was denied a defense and ultimately convicted. However, with the help of patient advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Jackson appealed and overturned his conviction with a 2011 landmark decision that gives dispensary operators the right to a defense in state court. Instead of admitting defeat, Dumanis is choosing to retry Jackson for a third time.
"The prosecutor's theory of the case -- that all storefront medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal -- was flatly rejected by the Court of Appeal," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford who litigated the appeal. "San Diego's District Attorney's Office is wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars in its vendetta against Jovan Jackson to scare dispensary operators throughout the state from providing marijuana to the qualified patients who need it." Jackson's case has become a symbol of the effort by Dumanis and other prosecutors across the state to criminalize storefront medical marijuana dispensaries.
A year ago, almost to the day, the Fourth District Court of Appeal for California issued a unanimous published ruling on October 24th in the case of People v. Jackson, reversing Jackson's conviction and establishing a clear defense for Jackson and other medical marijuana providers similarly prosecuted in state court. Dumanis appealed the decision, but the California Supreme Court refused to review the case, despite requests to depublish the appellate court decision from the League of California Cities and an amicus brief supporting the High Court's review from district attorneys in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Sonoma Counties, as well as the Los Angeles City Attorney.
The landmark appellate decision held that in mounting a defense at trial, "Jackson was only required to produce evidence which would create a reasonable doubt as to whether the defense provided by the [Medical Marijuana Program Act] had been established." The court further held that, "the collective or cooperative association required by the act need not include active participation by all members in the cultivation process but may be limited to financial support by way of marijuana purchases from the organization. Thus, contrary to the trial court's ruling, the large membership of Jackson's collective, very few of whom participated in the actual cultivation process, did not, as a matter of law, prevent Jackson from presenting an MMPA defense."
Numerous supporters greeted Jackson for the first day of his third trial, which is expected to last for at least a week. Jackson is being represented in his criminal case by attorney Lance Rogers. The trial will be held each day this week at Department 54 at San Diego Superior Court, 220 W. Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101.
Landmark appellate court ruling in People v. Jackson: http://american-safe-access.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/Jackson_Appeal_Ruling.pdf