Medical Marijuana Advocates Welcome Long Awaited Change in Banking Policy for Licensed Businesses

Advocates vow to continue pressure on Obama Administration to establish comprehensive medical marijuana policy

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 | Kris Hermes

Washington, D.C. — Medical marijuana advocates are applauding a new memorandum issued today by the U.S. Departments of Treasury (DOT) and Justice (DOJ) giving long-awaited guidance to financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, to provide services to marijuana-related businesses in states where it’s legal. A refusal to engage in these services has plagued medical marijuana businesses for years, dating back to the Bush Administration. Due to an aggressive accelerated policy under Obama Administration, States like California, Colorado, Washington, Michigan and others have been forced to deal in large amounts of cash.

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Judge dismisses case against head of marijuana dispensary… U-T San Diego

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.

Innocent Americans spent at least 10,000 years in jail

There are innocent Americans being convicted here in San Diego too. Many defendants are scared and have very little money so they are easy to convince to take a plea deal for less time and this leads to more convictions too. The DA’s office has a habit of over charging people in order to manipulate them into plea deals even if they are not guilty. This is another good reason why you need an attorney that is experienced, competent and is not afraid of a trial.

The US Constitution guarantees a fair trial, but the number of Americans that will argue otherwise is incredible. At least 2,000 people have been sentenced to prison for crimes in the last 23 years, only to eventually be exonerated by the court.

As shocking as it may be, until now there has been no official database of information pertaining to Americans wrongfully convicted of crimes only to be exonerated down the road. As a result, researchers at the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law took it upon themselves to change all that and have just now rolled out a database that examines exonerations in America and the findings are astounding. Taking into account as much information as obtainable dating back to 1989, more than 2,000 people have been sentenced to time behind bars for crimes that the court would later say they did not commit.

Scanning barely two decades of available info, researchers have found a trove of information detailing 873 well-documented exoneration cases. Of just those, the time spent behind bars totals to more than 10,000 years in prison. The creators of the database have found proof of roughly 1,200 separate exonerations during the same time span, although less information at this point is available.

So far the results offer an uncensored look at the falsities of the US justice system, and, sadly, the researchers feel like they are only just beginning to dive into the data.

“We know there are many more that we haven’t found,” University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross tell the Associated Press of his findings.

Although the database only contains a limited amount of information for now, Gross says that it is a critical starting point for reexamining the mistakes that mare the justice system in the United States.

 

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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.
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