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San Diego, CA – Jose Calva a legal medical marijuana patient and his attorney, Michael Cindrich went before judge Jay M. Bloom downtown Wednesday to hear the evidence against Jose in a preliminary examination. Clayton Carr, who is a brand-new Deputy District Attorney, called two witnesses: the arresting police officer and a San Diego Police detective who appeared to have little patience for the display of wasted money by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
At issue is whether, as a patient, Jose Calva may transport medical cannabis lawfully or if doing so makes him guilty of possession of marijuana for sale and transportation for sale. The city had been grappling with how to ban medical cannabis retail delivery services but abandoned the issue as a state matter when Deputy City Attorney Shannon Thomas made a statement at a recent Public Safety meeting that delivery drivers delivering medicine to sick people have a defense for this action in state court and therefore the practice can not be banned by the city.
The arresting officer in Jose’s case, Kyle Fitchhorn testified to seeing Jose parked in the college area; making contact; flooding Jose’s car with light and spotting a bag of kief, some money and, after searching, found a couple of bagged cannabis products stapled with receipts. All together, office Fitchhorn found 39 grams of medical cannabis. There were also business cards and a ringing cell phone, the officer said he concluded that Jose was providing a delivery service.
In his cross, Mike Cindrich, questioned Fitchhorn if the officer knew the law allows for patients to carry up to 8 ounces of medical cannabis. He also questioned the officer as to Jose’s written medical cannabis recommendation, which Fitchhorn was presented with at the scene. The officer claimed to have attempted to verify Jose’s recommendation using the website SanDiegoEvaluation.com which he found on the document but the recommendation came back invalid. If Jose asked the officer to be allowed to enter the numbers into the verification system himself he was not allowed to and was instead taken to jail.
Also taking the stand was San Diego Police detective Brandon Gaines, who, amazingly testified that store front dispensaries are legal and that sales of marijuana are legal too. I don’t know why Gaines decided to speak the truth when so many other law enforcement officers have denied the legality of medical cannabis. I don’t believe detective Gaines will be called back to testify on behalf of the prosecution if the case goes to trial.
Perhaps the police are stonewalling and have decided the real criminal is our district attorney. Maybe our police and will be refusing to aid Bonnie Dumanis in court in her fight against patients in the future.
Even though the law allows for patients to transport and possess medical cannabis it is still only an affirmative defense. This means patients can still be arrested and taken to court. The district attorney hopes that patients will either be scared and will take a plea or that a jury of 12 will be so confused by the medical marijuana laws that a conviction will result. It is not justice. It is a colossal waste of money and precious resources perpetrated by our out-of-touch District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis.
According to Americans for Safe Access What’s the Cost - a report that shows the tax-payer cost of enforcing outdated federal cannabis policies:
• 34% of Americans live in states with medical marijuana laws and could increase to 39% this year
• Over 1 million Americans are legally using medical cannabis
• Nation-wide support of state laws has remained at around 70-80% for nearly two-decades
• The cost of the federal governments war on medical cannabis to date is nearly 600 million dollars
Bonnie Dumanis is waging her own war and what she is spending can be similarly calculated on a scale measured locally. She must be held accountable and patients must be free from her expensive harassment.
Jose Calva’s trial is set for September 23, 2014. SDASA says thank you to Jose and all patients who struggle every day facing the stigma and dangers of being a medical cannabis patient.
Please mark your calendars and come to court!
Since 2003, Terrie has been a volunteer in harm reduction and drug and prison policy reform in San Diego. She is an advocate of medical cannabis patients’ rights. Terrie is the Advisory Committee Chair of San Diego Americans for Safe Access and is focused on court support and building a bridge between the recovery and medical cannabis communities in San Diego and reducing stigma surrounding the therapeutic use of cannabis.