Update: Victory for Defendants in Two Medical Marijuana Cases
April 16, 2014 | Terrie Best
San Diego, CA – Over a handful of weeks three state legal medical cannabis patient defendants have had charges dropped against them in two different courts. Congratulations to Andrew Turner and his attorney, Mark Bluemel and Daniel Gregg with co-defendant, Donna and their attorneys Lance Rogers and Logan Fairfax.
Andrew Turner’s preliminary exam was heard before judge Herbert J. Exarhos in the El Cajon Courthouse on April 1st, but the legal patient’s ordeal began back in August of 2013 when a fire outside of his Santee residence brought the local fire department. After the fire crew was admitted to Andrew’s house for a safety check, the fire chief tipped off the San Diego Sheriff to Andrew’s medical cannabis grow of 83 plants in the garage. When Sheriffs demanded admittance to Andrew’s garage, Andrew demanded a search warrant. After an hour the Sheriff returned with the warrant, the medical grow was discovered and Andrew was arrested on sales and cultivation charges. The only evidence of sales was pure assumption based on the amount of cannabis plants found in Andrew’s garage.
However, when the case came before the court for a preliminary examination of the evidence against Andrew, in an unprecedented decision, the judge found there was no evidence to show sales and the case could not move forward. Judge Exarhos declined to bind Andrew over to endure a jury trial, citing lack of evidence and clarity in the law. Helping the judge in his decision were defense expert witnesses, Eugene Davidovich and Michelle Sexton, ND.
I spoke with Andrew over the weekend and congratulated him on knowing his rights as regards search warrants and his very welcome exoneration in the El Cajon courthouse. Andrew is still reeling from embarrassed at having been arrested in front of his neighbors and navigating the trauma at what this could have meant for his future. He has since sold his home and moved away to Virginia to rebuild his life.
In the case of Daniel Gregg and his co-defendant, Donna - also both state legal patients – The nightmare began in March 2013, when after some surveillance the Carlsbad Police Department and DEA entered Daniel and Donna’s home while they were not there. The two arrived in time to see law enforcement find and destroy their 47 medical cannabis plants. Both were arrested and released on bail but on March 19th, 2014, a year later, a Vista court prosecutor simply dropped all charges before the preliminary exam even began. This was a huge victory for the two traumatized patients who just want to get back to feeling safe again.
Perhaps deputy district attorneys have taken note that it now takes more than a full court day of juror questioning to seat jurors who are still willing to convict on cannabis charges. Or, it may be that District Attorney and failed mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis realizes wasting money and persecuting legal medical marijuana patients will hurt her in June as she battles candidate Robert Brewer for her job. Whatever the case, clearly San Diego citizens are voting in favor of medical cannabis user rights at the polls and in jury boxes.
With organizations able to raise money on the issue and readily investing in opposition campaigns against politicians who fail to follow the will of the people, medical cannabis patients will be safe in San Diego very shortly. Please watch your local representatives closely and remind them patients are a voting block.
This post originally appeared on the San Diego Safe Access Blog