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San Diego, CA – Three medical cannabis patient defendants were sentenced on felony manufacturing and possession charges after butane canisters and hash oil were discovered in their home - the friends were free to go yesterday when the judge sentenced them to summary probation and a couple weeks of volunteer service.
The case began when one of the defendants, Jason Lujan, member of the Higher Love Cooperative delivery service was pulled over by a San Diego sheriff deputy for “intermittent brake light failure.” During the encounter, deputy Nicklo noticed a hemp bracelet on Jason’s wrist and questioned him. Based on facts that came out later, it is believed that surveillance, such as trailing and viewing electrical usage at Higher Love Cooperative, began from that questioning.
A search warrant was issued on the three’s Poway home but the affidavit used to obtain it was incomplete with regard to probably cause which was attributed to a “concerned citizen’s report.” During the preliminary examination hearing in December, 2013, defense attorney Nathan Shaman attempted to get the warrant overturned base on the questionable probable cause but Judge Louis Hanoian bound the defendants over for trial.
Following that, other counsel was obtained and the newest team, Allison Margolin and Pamela Tedeschi began to negotiate a plea deal. The three friends were in court yesterday to be sentenced and Judge Timothy R. Walsh asserted he would adhere to the terms of the plea negotiated by the parties. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ Assistant Chief Narcotics Officer, Steve Walter negotiated on behalf of the district attorney’s office in the case and he did not have much to say in court.
I have always been deeply perplexed by the conduct at the DA’s office as regards medical cannabis. I’m grateful we are seeing fewer and fewer cases in court and the one’s we’re seeing are not ending families and freedoms. Still, Bonnie spends an obscene amount of money at these smash and grab style raids she conducts. The common thread is the violence of raid and the expense to tax payers.
Higher Love was a non-profit cooperative providing healing medicine to their legal patient members. All three of the victims of the raid were patients and they knew the law and were conducting the cooperative lawfully. It is unconscionable that they would be subjected to military-style force in their own home when clearly a knock on the door would have been sufficient. Law enforcement groups are so concerned with this misuse of office, most refused to back Bonnie Dumanis’ re-election campaign this year.
The Higher Love trio of defendants are shaken but will continue to fight for their rights as patients. They have scheduled a hearing on July 7, 2014, at 1:30 in Department 31 to file a request to use medical cannabis while on probation. One of the patient’s health is suffering as her migraine pain has gone untreated since the ordeal began. Please join us in wishing Higher Love success at their next hearing.
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.