Pages tagged "San Diego Medical Marijuana"


Chula Vista Police Strong-Arm Medical Marijuana Patients

Chula Vista Police Strong-Arm Medical Marijuana Patients


By: Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Americans for Safe Access, August 14, 2011

Patients stand up in the face of threats, violence, and intimidation by Chula Vista Police Department during an illegal attempt to search Green Power medical marijuana collective in South San Diego.

Chula Vista – On July 12, at 10:45pm the Chula Vista City Council adopted an outright ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives and collectives within city limits. The late hour vote was intentional so as to prevent members of the public from speaking against the ban.

Leading up to vote, patients, concerned citizens and supporters of safe access had diligently attended Council meetings for over two years pleading with their local representatives to protect sick and dying patients in their community. Dozens of patients turned out to meetings and sent letters and emails asking for reasonable regulations rather than a ban.

The City Council ignored the pleas of sick and dying patients and decided to side with the reefer madness propaganda fed to them by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department as well as San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis who continue to claim that all dispensaries are illegal and attract crime even though actual data shows otherwise.

The vote as well as the Council Members’ comments on July 12th appeared to have given a green light to the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) to force existing safe access out of the City and to send a strong message of disregard to medical marijuana patients in Chula Vista.

Days after the vote was ratified and wasting no time, the CVPD posted police cars outside of existing dispensaries in Chula Vista and began pulling patients over as soon as they exited parking lots of the facilities. They questioned those pulled over, searched their vehicles, and in many cases confiscated their medicine issuing citations despite legitimate patient paperwork.

“They stopped me for no reason, asked what I bought at the dispensary, took my medicine, humiliated me and told me that medical marijuana was a joke” said Joe, a terminally ill cancer patient after experiencing an encounter with CVPD outside of a collective in Chula Vista. “I told them that I was legal, that I was using this medicine to overcome debilitating symptoms related to the chemo, but they wouldn’t hear it, the cop told me that the medical marijuana thing was a scam.”

The CVPD did not settle on simply harassing patients leaving the dispensaries, they decided to step it up a notch and go after the facilities themselves. Rather than follow the law and go through proper civil channels to start a dialogue with the collectives, the CVPD instead sent ‘patient eradication squads’ to beat the facilities into closure.

On July 26, the Green Power medical marijuana collective, almost fell victim to one of these ‘Chula Vista Patient Eradication Squad’. That day the collective had a locksmith at their location installing a new set of locks for the front door. At approximately 12:55pm as the locksmith was crouched over, installing the lock, several uniformed and plain clothed officers approached the door of the collective, pushed the locksmith aside, shouting, “Who is the owner here?!”

Long, a medical marijuana patient and member of the collective walked out of the medicine room into the front reception area where the police were huddled and said “How may I help you officers?”.

At first, they cops put on a friendly face and sat down on one of the couches as if to talk to Long. Within seconds of sitting down, two officers stood up and tried to rush the medicine room with the intent of searching the facility. Long stood up, walked calmly to the door of the medicine room and explained to the officers that because they did not have a search warrant, they could not go into the room.

At that instant the two officers turned angry and violent, they grabbed Long, slapped handcuffs on him and physically threw him on the ground. The cops were heard saying “Search Warrant, ha, don’t you know we are Chula Vista PD and can go anywhere we want?”

Long continued to remain calm and told the officers again that they had not showed him a search warrant, that he did not consent to a search, and asked them to immediately vacate the premises.

To everyone’s surprise, instead of continuing to strong-arm and physically assault Long the cops un-cuffed him and quickly scattered out of the facility.

The locksmith who witnessed the entire encounter was practically paralyzed with fear and shock after seeing the barbaric and brutal nature with which they interacted with Long at the collective.

The collective is currently consulting with their legal counsel about potential litigation or action against the Chula Vista Police Department as well as the officers themselves.

For more information contact sandiegoasa@gmail.com

DA Bonnie Dumanis Pushes on with Prosecution of Legal San Diego Medical Marijuana Collective

By: Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access


Legal cannabis patient Dexter Padilla was in court last week in front of Judge Albert T. Hartunian III as he and his attorney, Michael J. McCabe, of the Davidovich victory, fought it out with Prosecutor Ramin Tohidi over whether there was enough prosecutorial evidence to bind the case over for trial.

The Preliminary Examination of the evidence on one count of cannabis cultivation and one count of possession with intent to distribute came after a series of exhaustive disclosure meetings between attorneys for defense and prosecution where, the defense’ witness, Mark Wuerfel, Esq. Dexter’s civil attorney, laid open Dexter’s books, Articles of Incorporation papers, Bylaws and every other piece of evidence to show Dexter’s lawfulness in his cultivation and possession of medical cannabis.

The disclosure meetings proved both unusual and ultimately unsuccessful, based on the fact that Bonnie Dumanis’ office stubbornly refuses to drop this case against a shinning example of a patient citizen’s efforts to navigate the murky medical marijuana laws and her refusal to interpret the law in a manner that is fiscally responsible and logical.

Preliminary exam proceedings began with the prosecution’s first witness, Detective Paul Paxton of the San Diego Police Department. Paxton, cross-sworn as a DEA Agent and part of Dumanis’ expensive and politically conceived Narcotics Task Force (NTF), testified to having 12 years as a narcotics officer with training from various drug enforcement entities as well as “what he’s seen on TV” about drug enforcement.

Paxton denied training in medical marijuana but went on to explain his interpretation of plant yields. An interpretation which defense held him accountable for on cross as Mr. McCabe wrangled with Paxton to admit un-rooted cuttings have only a 30% survival rate and other contrived opinions about yields from Paxton’s testimony.

Mr. McCabe, in his cross also examined the details of the investigation which led to the search warrant and raid of Dexter Padilla’s legally grown cannabis. Of note is that Paxton’s surveillance, which took but one day, included the knowledge that Dexter was involved in a legitimate medical cannabis co-op and was in fact providing medicine to patients. Paxton, instead of attempting to verify the co-op, or contact it’s directors, went ahead and obtained the search warrant and raided the warehouse where Dexter grew for his patients, destroying the medicine which was intended to provide relief for those patients.

Mr. McCabe put forth a number of exhibits in defense of Dexter’s co-op, including, Articles of Incorporation with language about the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and signed by the Secretary of State, the co-op’s financials, prepared by a CPA, Bylaws and minutes from the Board of Directors meetings as well as patient and grower contracts, the latter of which included language for oversight of each grow as well as legal doctors’ cannabis recommendations for each grower.

In a fastidious but prickly move, Tohidi demanded the doctor recommendations be removed from each grower contract packet as he questioned the validity of the recommendations.

Arguments for the defense brought Mr. Wuerfel to the stand, who not only served as Dexter’s civil attorney but the Custodian of Records for the co-op. Tohidi fretted, in his attempt to eliminate Mr. Wuerfel as a witness, that he would opine on law and maneuver to school the judge. However, the judge allowed Mr. Wuerfel to take the stand.

Mr. Wuerfel a former federal law clerk, attorney of 33 years, law professor and founder of Redwood Law Group, testified to the lengths he advised Dexter to go to demonstrate lawfulness in his co-op and the methods of disclosure he recommended.

Among the advice Dexter followed were processes for board of director oversight, source/cultivation documentation, financial considerations and tax oversight, methods of facilitating the examination of these documents by co-op members and law enforcement and host of other mechanisms meant to exceed the most stringent view of the Attorney General Guidelines for Medical Marijuana. It was on Mr. Wuerfel’s recommendation that Dexter re-file his current Articles of Incorporation papers to include the CUA language.

In final argument Mr. McCabe referred to a number of cases including People v. Konow 2004, a case McCabe himself won, in which a patient/defendant may suggest that the court dismiss a case ” in the interest of justice”, and the court has the power to do so.

However, while Judge Hartunian admitted the prosecution had not proven unlawfulness, he, never-the-less, bound Dexter Padilla over for trial so his case could go before a jury.

I had the opportunity to speak with Dexter and Mr. Wuerfel about the climate of medical cannabis law in California, Mr. Wuerfel, who has had his own struggles with federal agents in defense of legal medical cannabis law, stated that often in these cases the procedure is the punishment but expressed confidence that Dexter had conducted his co-op with his i’s dotted and t’s crossed and it would likely not escape jury notice.

Dexter will be arraigned on July 28, 2011 in Department 11.

First Permitted Dispensary Receives Final Permit from San Diego County Sheriff



By: Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Americans for Safe Access

On July 1, 2011, Mother Earth’s Alternative Healing Cooperative Inc. received their final permit the “Medical Marijuana Collective Operations Certificate”, signed by Sheriff Gore himself, allowing the coop to operate in full compliance with the law.

Located at 8157 Wing Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92020, the grand opening will be held on Monday, July 4th to commemorate Independence Day and the coop’s regular hours of operation will be Monday through Saturday, 10am-8pm.

“We are very excited about providing safe, reliable access to patients in San Diego who suffer from seriously ill and in many cases debilitating conditions” said Bob Reidel, official spokesperson for the coop.

The ordinance regulating the coop was adopted by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (BOS) over a year ago, and allows dispensaries to open only if they are located in an industrial zone, 1,000 feet away from the most comprehensive laundry list of sensitive uses ever created in the history of our County’s zoning regulations. The list includes: parks, churches, residences, schools, libraries, youth service facilities and other dispensaries, etc.

On June 23, 2010, the day the ordinance passed, patients and advocates were convinced it would ultimately result in no access in the County. Several land-use experts commissioned by San Diego ASA examined the zoning restrictions and came to the same conclusion; it would be at least a year until a permitted collective would emerge and the chance of a complete ban and no access were high if not inevitable.

A year later, through perseverance, dedication and support of the community, patients have overcome the bureaucratic hurdles setup by the BOS and have come into full compliance with the new stringent requirements.

Situated in a 15,000 square foot commercial building in an industrial zone next to Gillespie Air Field, the coop includes a dispensing center with privacy booths where members receive consultations about their cannabis therapy from licensed pharmaceutical technicians and an onsite state of the art testing facility, where all medicine prior to being dispensed to patients goes through gas chromatography, mold and pesticide testing.

While some of the medicine will come from a small on-site grow, the majority, as required by law, will be cultivated by members at their homes and may go through an inspection by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

“Now, in San Diego County, we have safe, secure access, as well as additional protections for patients, especially those who cultivate their own medicine” said Bob Reidel. “At the end of the day, we want patients to stop fearing the police and to know that they can call 911 just like any other citizen.”

Aside from creating a safe place for patients to obtain their medicine the coop will be politically active in the community and is now the new home of East San Diego ASA monthly chapter meetings.

Further Information:
First Permitted Medical Marijuana Coop to Open in San Diego County Unincorporated Area

Imperial Beach to Ban Collective Cultivation; City Council Refuses to Implement State’s Medical Marijuana Laws

By: Eugene Davidovich and Marcus Boyd



Imperial Beach, CA - On June 15, 2011 at 7pm, the Imperial Beach City Council will discuss and vote to enact an outright ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and all collective cultivation efforts in the City of Imperial Beach.

Although the staff report compiled for the June 15th meeting states, “the ordinances would not ban medical marijuana in the city,” the actual wording of the proposed law goes much further than merely banning storefronts. If approved, medical cannabis patients in Imperial Beach would be banned from associating to collectively or cooperatively cultivate medical marijuana, an activity explicitly authorized and protected under State Law.

The proposed ban severely limits legal access for seriously injured, sick and dying patients and their caregivers. Those with no space to cultivate, those without the requisite gardening skills to grow their own, and most critically those who face the sudden onset of serious illness, would be forced to ‘plow the fields’ themselves.

“Is that legal?” asked John, a resident of Imperial Beach and supporter of local dispensaries when told about the City’s proposed ban.

“The proposed restrictions are absurd and would serve to undermine the will of the people, not to mention the 2010 Grand Jury recommendations”, commented Terrie Best Board Member of the San Diego Americans for Safe Access, a local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group.

In August of 2009 when the City first enacted it’s moratorium on dispensaries, City officials promised the community that they would be moving towards an ordinance regulating access rather than banning it. In December of 2010 however, after seeing a modern-day Reefer Madness, 'Smear with Fear' eradication show, presented by San Diego County Sheriff and self proclaimed medical marijuana expert, Detective Michael Helms from the Licensing Division, the City began to shift direction.

Recently, at the request of IB City officials Detective Helms once gain presented the County’s eradication show, this time to the Kiwanis Club of Imperial Beach. Following his presentation which was interrupted multiple times with questions and debate, it was clear that out of approximately ten Kiwanis members present at the meeting only one voiced opposition to well regulated dispensaries in the city.

IB residents and supporters of medical cannabis however, have not given up and have been busy writing and mailing letters to their Council members all urging them to adopt reasonable regulations instead of a ban.

“As part of the Imperial Beach Stop the Ban Campaign, volunteers have collected hundreds of letters all stamped and mailed to the attention of the City Council, Mayor, and City Manager” said Marcus Boyd, Vice Chair of San Diego Americans for Safe Access. “If the ordinances are approved as written, they will force sick and dying patients to obtain their medicine from illicit sources rather than from local, safe and regulated dispensing centers”.

One cannot help but wonder why the council members are favoring a ban at the expense of the City’s most vulnerable residents.

Concerned citizens and residents are urged to attend the June 15th City Council meeting no later than 7:00pm and speak out against the illegal ban. Sick and dying patients in the City of Imperial Beach deserve safe regulated access rather than a continued bias driven effort to overturn state law.

June 15th, 2011 – 7pm - Imperial Beach City Hall 825 Imperial Beach Blvd

Further Information:

Proposed Zoning Ordinance

Imperial Beach Proposed Ordinance Amending Business Licensing and Regulations

Staff Report for June 15th Meeting

Imperial Beach City Council Shifts Course on Dispensaries from Regulation to Eradication

First Permitted Medical Marijuana Coop to Open in San Diego County Unincorporated Area

















By: Eugene Davidovich























Mother Earth’s Alternative Healing Cooperative Inc, the first medical marijuana dispensing center officially permitted by San Diego County and in full compliance with the County Ordinance adopted almost a year ago, will open its doors in July 2011.

In order to truly grasp the importance and magnitude of the first permitted Coop opening in San Diego County and what this means for the safe access community, it is important to understand the background and history leading up to this day.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is made up of five elected officials all of whom have been in office for almost two decades and have uniformly been opposed to medical marijuana. The Supervisors’ opposition has not been all ideological. In fact, they have continued to ignore and refuse to implement any provisions of the State’s medical marijuana laws for years.

On February 1, 2006 after receiving multiple threats of lawsuits from the San Diego chapter of NORML for refusing to implement the state mandated Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program, the County Board of Supervisors (BOS) filed suit against the State challenging the law requiring them to issue the cards. The BOS claimed federal law prohibiting marijuana, preempted California’s requirement to implement the card program and if the County complied, they would be doing so in violation of Federal law.

In July of 2006, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Drug Reform Law Project (DLRP), and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) intervened in the civil lawsuit.

In the case now titled, County of San Diego v. San Diego NORML, ASA argued State law is not preempted by Federal law and that the County of San Diego was required to comply. Attorneys for ASA and the ACLU presented their arguments in San Diego Superior Court on November 16, 2006. Within a month in December of that year, Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. issued a decision rejecting the County’s challenge, siding with patients, and confirming California’s medical marijuana laws.

Despite the clear decision issued by Judge Nevitt, the BOS pressed on with their attempt to overturn State law and appealed the decision to the Fourth District Appellate Court, which on July 31, 2008 agreed with Judge Nevitt and denied the County’s challenge.

The BOS remained undeterred and County Counsel was directed to press on with the case to the California Supreme Court, which on October 16, 2008 also denied the county’s petition for review.

In a last ditch effort, the BOS filed a final appeal to the US Supreme Court and received their final denial on May 26, 2009. At this point the county had no choice but to start issuing ID cards.

Patients and medical marijuana advocates across the county celebrated this victory and were convinced the US Supreme Court’s decision would bring an end to the Supervisors’ war on the State’s medical marijuana laws.

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision and by this time, the new administration’s promise to stop raiding patients in compliance with State law, dispensaries began to open in the County.

True to their track record, the Supervisors did not give up on their bias driven fight. They shifted gears from focusing on the ID card program to targeting patients and their access directly.

On August 5, 2009 less than three months after the Supreme Court Decision, the BOS adopted an interim urgency ordinance enacting a moratorium on the establishment of medical marijuana facilities in the unincorporated areas of the County. This moratorium wrote into law a temporary prohibition on dispensaries in the County’s unincorporated areas.

In the meantime the BOS decided to deal with the already open dispensaries by allowing San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and the Narcotics Task Force on September 9, 2009 to conduct swat style raids on over 14 facilities operating within the County.

During the year long moratorium the BOS was intent on adopting an outright ban until their own legal counsel told them a ban may not be constitutional. To avoid another embarrassing loss in court, the BOS instead of enacting an outright ban, directed staff to craft a severely restrictive land use and public safety ordinance that would serve to accomplish the same goal.

On June 23, 2010 the BOS adopted their restrictive ordinance against the pleas of patients and advocates as well as a threatening letter from the ACLU.

The new ordinance allows Coops to open only if they are located in an industrial zone and are 1,000 feet away from the most comprehensive laundry list of sensitive uses ever created in the history of San Diego County zoning. The list includes: parks, churches, residences, schools, libraries, youth service facilities, other dispensaries, etc.

Leading up to the vote, a number of land use experts conducted an analysis of the zoning requirements in the ordinance and all reached the same conclusion; the majority of the ‘compliant’ properties were undeveloped and the remaining few made it practically impossible for facilities to quickly open. The chances of someone actually finding a property that met all the requirements were slim to none.

Patients and advocates were convinced the ordinance would ultimately result in no access in the County and following the passage of the new ordinance, San Diego ASA announced it as a de-facto ban.

Although the overly restrictive ordinance passed, patients still did not give up their struggle for safe access and many attempted to comply with the new rules.

A year later, only one Coop has been able to meet all the requirements. Situated in a 15,000 sq. ft. commercial building in an industrial zone next to Gillespie Field, once all construction is completed, the coop will include a small on-site cultivation area, a dispensing center, as well as a state of the art testing facility where all medicine prior to being dispensed to patients will go through on-site gas chromatography and mold/pesticide testing.

While some of the medicine will come from on-site cultivation, the majority as required by law will be cultivated by members at their homes and may go through an inspection by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Detective Helms, one of the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs in charge of licensing will conduct inspections, the purpose of which will be to insure patient cultivators are growing in a safe manner and with proper safeguards. If a problem is found during the inspection, Detective Helms will issue a notice to correct the violations and will re-inspect within 30 days.

Member cultivators may have no more than 6 mature and 12 immature plants per patient. If two patients are living together (i.e. married couple) and both have their recommendations and county cards, then they may posses 12 mature and 24 immature plants.

For those member cultivators whose conditions or the way they consume their medication require more than six and twelve plants, their physician recommendations will need to specify the amount of plants reasonable for their condition.

Source agreements issued by the coop will be kept with the plants as well as at the coop. The agreement will contain a phone number for a contact at the Sheriff’s Department in case any law enforcement encounter the cultivation effort and need to verify the legality of the source agreement.

“We have seen nothing but support and help from Detective Helms, Detective Hunting and others in licensing. While going through this process everyone has been focused on finally bringing safe access to San Diego County” said Bob Riedel, official spokesperson for the coop.

According to Bob, aside from creating a safe place for patients to obtain their medicine, the coop will be politically active in the community through support of Americans for Safe Access including providing a space for East County ASA meetings, financial support for the national organization, as well as support for other charities and local political efforts.

For more information or questions contact Bob Riedel at: motherearth434@live.com

40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days; Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process

40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days; Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process


Eugene Davidovich, May 26, 2011

In April of this year, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance that effectively denied safe access to thousands of patients in the city. If left as is, it would have negatively impacted the most vulnerable members of our community by cutting off access to their medicine.



As the ordinance is written, all locations where patients currently safely obtain their medicine, would be forced to shutter their doors and only a small handful would be allowed to open in far flung industrial areas of the City, only after coming into compliance with an onerous year-long conditional use permit process.

The City Council rather than considering amendments to the ordinance suggested by their own medical marijuana task force and thousands of concerned citizens who wrote letters as part of the City’s largest letter writing campaign, on April 12 approved the restrictions and ignored the unprecedented public opposition.

After the City Council’s ordinance took effect at the end of April and with only 30 days to circulate a petition to repeal the ordinance, a group of collective directors quickly organized and formed the Patient Care Association and Citizens for Patient Rights Political Action Committee. Comprised of over 50 local medical marijuana collectives, the association within days raised enough funds to hire the La Jolla Group, a professional signature gathering company, and undertook a massive effort to gather enough signatures to repeal the ordinance through a referendum process.

San Diego Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group, provided the association with direction and guidance on messaging as well as an alternative ordinance to propose to voters following the referendum. At the same time ASA’s legal department began to gear up for a lawsuit with the city and on April 28, sent a letter to the City urging them to ease up their restriction or face a challenge in court.

As announced by San Diego ASA on May 4th, the referendum signature drive was underway and in less than 30 days, the La Jolla Group as well as all the collectives involved, gathered over 40,000 signatures, proving yet again the medical marijuana community in San Diego to be a serious political force.

The signatures are expected to be turned in to the City Clerk’s office on Friday, May 26 and will effectively place on hold the overly restrictive ordinance passed by the council from becoming law in the City.

Once the Clerk’s office turns the signatures over to the County’s Registrar of Voters, the verification process will begin and as required by law must be completed within 30 days. If the registrar confirms there are enough valid signatures, the Council will be forced to make a decision; place their overly restrictive ordinance on the ballot for a vote of the people or repeal it at the next available council meeting.

If the City forces the referendum to a vote and decides against repealing the ordinance, depending on the date the signatures are determined valid by the Registrar of Voters, the City may have to call a special election costing millions, or instead place the ordinance on the June 2012 primary ballot for a vote.

As for the effort currently underway by Code Enforcement to shut the existing facilities down, according to the City Attorney’s office, the status quo will be maintained. Landlords will continue to be harassed, patients will continue to face threats of lawsuits and intimidation, and they City Attorney plans on continuing to wage their war on patients. Their official position remains unchanged; the facilities currently operating would still be doing so without a valid business license and with no zoning in the City’s municipal code to allow for their use.

The voting residents of San Diego overwhelmingly support safe and reliable access to medical cannabis for qualified patients in their neighborhood and are against the restrictions approved by the council as well as the effort to shut the existing facilities down. The San Diego community hopes the council will move forward with adopting the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Task Force and amend the overly restrictive ordinance.

If the City refuses to respect the recommendations of their own task force and continues on the path to shut access down without providing a reasonable alternative, they will face continued litigation and the medical marijuana community plans on quickly moving forward with a voter initiative which would once and for all, create reasonable rules and clarity for patients in the City to follow.

Further Information:

For more information about the Citizens for Patient Rights PAC visit: www.citizens4patientrights.org

SD ASA’s May 4 Announcement about Referendum: http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2011/05/patient-care-association-of-california.html

ASA threatens to sue City of San Diego: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/San_Diego_Demand_Letter.pdf

City Council Medical Marijuana Ordinance: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/City_of_San_Diego_Ordinance.pdf

For the latest information on medical marijuana in San Diego visit: www.safeaccesssd.org

Bonnie Dumanis Continues War on Collective Cultivation in San Diego








Benjamin Gasper
Cultivation charges re-filed against legitimate medical marijuana patient after being previously dismissed in the same courthouse by different Judge.

By: Terrie Best and Eugene Davidovich - San Diego Americans for Safe Access

SAN DIEGO – In the summer of 2009, Benjamin Gasper, along with two other seriously ill medical marijuana patients rented a warehouse space in the Sports Arena area of San Diego in a heavily commercial district far from residences and other “sensitive uses,” and began to collectively cultivate medical marijuana there, for their own personal medical needs.



In fact, all three members of the collective, as court documents have shown, signed an agreement which stated, “As qualified medical marijuana patients under California law, we choose to associate collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. All members of our medical marijuana collective will contribute labor, funds, or materials, and all will receive medicine.”

In November of 2009, several policemen entered the premises to conduct a “safety check”; according to the officers, they believed a burglary might have been in progress as the front warehouse roll up gate was slightly ajar. After over thirty minutes of searching, they happened on the entrance to the cultivation room which was completely isolated and sealed off from the main part of the warehouse.

After discovering and rummaging through the patient garden, even though the collective agreement, doctor’s statements and ID’s for all the members of the collective were present on site, they still arrested and charged Mr. Gasper with cultivation of marijuana.

In later court proceedings both members of the collective would testify on the stand they had signed the agreement and all actively contributed their labor, and money to the effort from the beginning all the way until the day of the raid.

Having gone through months of court proceedings and multiple hearings, Mr. Gasper’s charges were finally thrown out by a judge at 995 hearing in June of 2010.

Bonnie Dumanis the San Diego District Attorney (DA) however, did not give up persecuting Mr. Gasper. In line with her ‘fierce fight’ against patients and her commitment to waste precious law enforcement resources on investigating and prosecuting these cases; the charges were refilled and an entirely new case started.

Many thought that if the charges had been previously resolved in another case, re-filing the same charges would be ‘double jeopardy.’ This is unfortunately not the case. Through a technicality in the law, the prosecution circumvented the ‘double jeopardy’ clause, and filed the same charges against Mr. Gasper this time hoping for a different judge and a better outcome.

On Wednesday, May 18, Mr. Gasper was in court again, this time, for his second preliminary hearing this time in front of the Honorable William H. Kronberger.

Representing Mr. Gasper in his second case was defense attorney and San Diego Americans for Safe Access board member Melissa Bobrow. For Dumanis’ office, hand-picked by Bonnie Dumanis herself to oversee the prosecution in this case as well as all other medical marijuana cases in San Diego County, was veteran ‘chief patient prosecutor’ Steve Walter.

In describing how Mr. Gasper was identified to be arrested in 2009, at the hearing on Wednesday, the cross-deputized SDPD Detective/Federal Agent, John Joseph Tangredi testified that he and Skylar Voyce, another NTF agent on the scene, found Mr. Gasper’s contact information posted neatly on the wall, so they simply dialed him up, told him his place had been raided and arrested him on the spot as soon as he arrived a few minutes after their call. Tangredi went on to testify that only later did they obtain a search warrant for the premises via telephone.

The detective claimed they discovered “134 cannabis plants in various stages of development”, even though court qualified expert witness William J. Britt at the preliminary hearing in the first case had examined the plants and determined otherwise. At the first preliminary hearing, Mr. Britt testified that the majority of the plants discovered during the search were either dead branches the detectives seemed to have counted as individual plants, or un-rooted cuttings that had recently been planted and were preserved for a future harvest.

Mr. Britt also determined that the amount of actual usable medicine (plants, dried flowers, etc.) was absolutely reasonable for the collective to have, based on the patients’ individual conditions and size of the effort compared with other similar collectives across the state.

At Wednesday’s hearing the detectives true intentions and bias began to surface when Tangretti testified that he believed Gasper’s grow itself to be indicia of sales even though when cross examined by Ms. Bobrow he admitted to finding no scale, packaging, pay and owe sheets or any other materials indicia of sales.

Tangredi further testified that in his ‘expert’ opinion, backed up by his claims of a meager 1.5 hours of training, the 134 plants (mostly dead branches) would have yielded a whopping 150 pounds of dried flower had they been allowed to mature.

The defense’s expert witness, William Britt again testified that the amount was completely reasonable and would more likely have yielded five pounds of dried flowers at most. Compared with Detective Tangredi’s 1.5 hours, Mr. Britt’s training includes hundreds of hours of both in-class and hands on training in medical cannabis yields, dosages, cultivation techniques, and use of medical cannabis by qualified patients.

DA Walter’s cross examination of Mr. Britt was focused on the absence of a defined dosage amount on Mr. Gasper’s recommendation. Mr. Britt explained the lack of scientific data and the illegality of writing prescriptions for specific dosages as the primary reason why no amount was specified.

Also testifying for the defense at Wednesday’s hearing was one of the other members of Mr. Gasper’s collective. Prior to his testimony, in a thoughtful move, the Judge ordered an attorney be assigned to advise the witness of his rights and be on hand during Walter’s cross examination to specifically represent the patient. Walter’s cross examination of the collective member included a barrage of questions about what the patient’s specific task were in the cultivation effort along with personal questions into the patient’s medical condition.

In the end, even though there was overwhelming evidence of clear and unambiguous compliance with State law, Mr. Gasper second case was bound over for trial with the judge explaining that inasmuch as the 134 plants seemed to be above the safe harbor amount allowed, he would have required a physician to take the stand and testify to medical necessity in order to consider the charges for dismissal.

The Judge conceded however, that due to the lack of scientific research on recommended dosages, the law was difficult to understand even for him.

Adapting well, Ms. Bobrow, highlighted in her arguments that navigating this law for Mr. Gaper has been arduous as well and that aside from the many other reasons why this case should be thrown out of court, on the vagueness of the law alone the case should be dismissed.

The Judge disagreed and cited a lack of precedent in these sorts of cases as his reason. He sent Mr. Gasper on to face trial and set the issue for the jury to determine.

Following Wednesday’s hearing, attorney Melissa Bobrow said, “Although Judge Kronberger did come to reasonable conclusion based on the lack of precedent, it is unfair for legitimate patients and caregivers trying to follow the law to be dragged through the criminal courts. The DA’s office should provide clarity on the law through a guideline rather than through continuing to expand resources on cases like this, which should have never been pursued in the first place”.

Medical cannabis patients in San Diego continue to be in a situation where the only way for them to prove they were following the law, is to be dragged through criminal court proceedings and trials that ruin lives and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr. Gasper remains free on his ‘own recognizance’ and will be arraigned on June 2nd. At 1:30 in Department 11 of the San Diego Superior Courthouse.

For more information please email: sandiegoasa@gmail.com

Action Alert: Call The San Diego Mayor Today Urge Him to Veto


Earlier this month, over the most unprecedented public opposition to an ordinance the City Council has seen to date, they voted for a second time to approve an ordinance that the forces all collectives currently operating in the city to shutter their doors, taking away access to medical cannabis from over 50,000 patients.

The displaced and disenfranchised patients wishing to comply with the new rules, prior to reopening must apply for a Conditional Use Permit Process 3 and find a location only in a limited number of far flung industrial areas of the City that are 600 feet away from schools, churches, parks, child care facilities, youth service facilities, libraries, playgrounds, and other collectives.



The new ordinance did not address any compliance period for existing locations and zoned access out of the areas of the city containing the highest patient populations. City Council asked the Mayor to come up with a price tag for the new permits as well as to propose an enforcement and regulatory structure for collectives within thirty days.

Following the final legislative act by the City Council on this ordinance the Mayor has ten days to either veto the legislation or sign it into law. If he lets the 10 days go by without a signature, then the ordinance automatically becomes law and he is no longer able to issue a veto.

Call the Mayor’s office today at 619-236-6330 and urge him to veto this overly restrictive ordinance and fix the City Council’s mistake.

Use the sample script below:

"Mayor Sanders:
I am outraged at the San Diego City Council’s vote on the medical marijuana dispensary ordinance and the impact it will have on the community in San Diego. Medical marijuana patients and providers should not be zoned out of the city into far flung industrial areas and forced to go through an overly restrictive compliance process.

I strongly urge you to amend the ordinance with the following:

  1. Create a two year compliance period for collectives currently in operation.

  2. Add all commercial and industrial areas back in to the list of allowed zones.

  3. Reduce the proximity restriction to 600 feet away from schools as the only sensitivity use.

  4. Reduce Process three to Process one “By Right”, the same land use requirements imposed on pharmacies in the City of San Diego.

It is unnecessary and burdensome for patients and dispensaries, to restrict dispensaries to industrial corners, far away from public transit and other services. Depending on a city's population density, it can also be extremely detrimental to set excessive proximity restrictions (to schools or other facilities) that can make it impossible for dispensaries to locate anywhere within the city limits. It is important to balance patient needs with neighborhood concerns in this process.

Thank you for your time."

After calling, click here to send the Mayor an email:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/182/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6378

San Diego Americans for Safe Access | www.SafeAccessSD.org

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