Story by Greg Moran Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Union Tribune San Diego
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego judge has dismissed all charges against the president of a medical marijuana dispensary following a weeklong trial that ended with a hung jury.
After declaring a mistrial, Superior Court Judge Laura Parsky took the unusual step on Thursday of dismissing the case against Dexter Padilla.
Padilla was charged with possession and cultivation of marijuana in January 2011 in his role as president of Therapeutic Healing Corp., which was on Holiday Court in La Jolla. The drug was grown at a San Marcos warehouse.
The jury said it was hung 7-5 in favor of guilt.
Parsky said she dismissed the charges in the interest of justice because the defense had presented enough evidence that Padilla was complying with the state’s medical marijuana law.
He argued he was immune from the charges under the state’s medical marijuana law, which allows growing and using the drug by qualified patients and caregivers for medical purposes.
Before launching his cooperative, Padilla took steps to assure it complied with the state law, said his lawyer, Michael McCabe. Padilla had consulted with lawyers, accountants and tax professionals, and set up the dispensary as a licensed, nonprofit medical marijuana cooperative.
McCabe said that prosecutors argued Therapeutic Healing Corp., with some 3,000 members, was too large to fit the legal definition of a nonprofit. The prosecution also contended the state guidelines for medical marijuana cooperatives require that anyone claiming to be a member has to participate in some way in the growing, cultivating and distribution of the marijuana.
McCabe argued that a February appeals court decision in Los Angeles said that kind of participation by patients is not required under the law. The state Supreme Court affirmed that decision on May 23 — when Padilla’s case was going on — by declining to review the decision.
A spokeswoman for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Tuesday the office has “no intention” of appealing Parsky’s decision, effectively ending the case.
Padilla’s dispensary no longer operates, McCabe said. Almost all medical marijuana outlets in the county have closed following a federal crackdown on them. Marijuana is not legal under federal law for any purpose.