Second Trial Begins for San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensary Operator
San Diego, CA -- Opening arguments began today for the second trial in less than a year against Jovan Jackson, a San Diego medical marijuana patient and dispensary operator who was arrested in a multi-agency law enforcement raid in September 2009. Jackson was acquitted by a jury in December of marijuana possession and distribution charges stemming from a 2008 arrest. This time, however, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis convinced Superior Court Judge Howard H. Shore to deny Jackson a medical marijuana defense, seriously limiting his chances of a second acquittal.
"After the embarrassment of losing the first trial against Jovan Jackson, District Attorney Dumanis is desperate for a conviction," said Eugene Davidovich, head of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group. "Jackson should not have been denied a defense and should not be used as a scapegoat for the District Attorney's misguided position that medical marijuana sales are illegal." ASA filed an amicus 'friend of the court' brief last month in support of Jackson, and his right to a medical marijuana defense, although Judge Shore refused to consider it.
During jury selection last week, Judge Shore went so far as to order Jackson's supporters to remove articles of clothing that displayed an Americans for Safe Access logo, including tote bags carried into the courtroom. The Judge, however, denied the prosecutor's request to bar supporters from the courtroom altogether. "No matter how hard Dumanis tries, she won't be able to keep the truth from the jury," continued Davidovich. "The truth is that Jackson provided a much-needed medication to San Diego patients in strict compliance with state law." Jackson was the former operator of the San Diego medical marijuana dispensary Answerdam Alternative Care Collective.
Jackson's trial comes as both the San Diego City Council and County Board of Supervisors are developing local medical marijuana distribution laws that would regulate the same activity for which Jackson is being tried. A San Diego grand jury issued recommendations in June calling on city and county governments to implement the state's medical marijuana law. In particular, the grand jury called for the city and county to develop a "program for the licensing, regulation and periodic inspection of authorized collectives and cooperatives distributing medical marijuana."
As part of law enforcement's "Operation Green Rx," more than 60 people were arrested in several raids. Yet, of only two cases the District Attorney chose to take to trial, both resulted in acquittals. In addition to Jackson's earlier acquittal, Davidovich was also acquitted of similar charges in March of this year. "One would think that after two trials, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars wasted and her reputation damaged, that Ms. Dumanis would reconsider her approach," said Davidovich in a previous statement on the matter. Jackson's trial is expected to last at least two weeks.
San Diego grand jury recommendations on medical marijuana: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/grandjury/reports/2009-2010/MedicalMarijuanaReport.pdf
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