State legal Medical Cannabis Patient Remains in Federal Detention as U.S. Attorney Pressure for Plea

By: Terrie Best

San Diego, CA – Ron Chang, a state legal medical cannabis patient, remains in federal custody after a motion to modify his pretrial release was denied by Judge Michael M. Anello in the United State District Court for the Southern District of California.


On July 30th, 2012, in front of Ron Chang’s supporters and patient advocates, Michael J. McCabe, attorney for Ron, presented a motion requesting a release from federal detention on (Ron’s) own recognizance (O.R) when his attempts to satisfy collateral for a 200,000 dollar bond were not met and the bond was pulled.


The local bond company first issued the bond but then took Ron into custody last month pointing to an audit by their underwriter as the cause for the bond pull and his re-arrest.


Both U.S. Prosecutor, Paul Starita and U.S. Pretrial Services Officer, Tammy Riedling argued vigorously against the motion for O.R. release. Starita, claiming to know nothing about the audit at the bond company which led to the arrest, was also dismissive of a heartfelt letter from a physician treating Mrs. Chang, Ron’s elderly mother.


The physician’s letter to the court requested Ron be released to resume the care of his mother. Pleas from Ron’s employer and assertions of his good character were also met with indifference by the Prosecutor and Pretrial Services Officer.


Judge Arnello called the aim of the motion a “humanitarian issue” but Riedling listed a host of petty violations such as low batteries in the tracking device used to monitor Ron previous to the June arrest as her reason for opposing the motion.


Starita, knowing that a man in custody is strategic positioning for his office to force a plea bargain, insisted the unsecured bond was his main objection to the O.R. release. Starita also argued that “anybody who used the care of their mom to get out of trouble” is problematic and clearly a flight risk, showcasing the U.S. Attorney’s utter disdain and lack of compassion for medical cannabis patients.


“This amounts to a vindictive prosecution,” said San Diego Americans for Safe Access Vice Chair, Marcus Boyd. Boyd pointed to a 2010 civil action in the City of San Marcos where MMSC, a collaboration of medical marijuana patients including Ron, successfully fought off an emergency injunction by the city. In his statement Boyd cited this article as basis for his view.


After hearing the arguments, Judge Arnello denied the motion to modify Ron’s pretrial conditions without prejudice and gave the defense two weeks to secure the pulled bond with collateral.


The next hearing for the motion to modify Chang’s release will be held at 2:00 on August 21, 2012, in Department 5 of the US District Court at Front St. San Diego, CA 92101.


Ron Chang and his co-defendants James Brand, Gary Maddox, Hal Pilotte, Peter Suhan and Amanda Ventura (allegedly connected to Club One Collective/ Extreme Holistic Care) will also be in court with their attorney’s Michael McCabe, Paul Turner, Knut Johnson, James Dicks and Mark Bluemel, this time to argue motions challenging the legality of the wire tap used in this case.


The illegal wire tap hearing is scheduled for September 10th, 2012 also in Department 5 of the San Diego Federal Court Building at 940 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92101.


Additional articles on this case:


For more information:

Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator

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.

Judge Parsky, after declaring a mis-trial, dismissed the case in the interests of justice under PC § 1385

Criminal Defense Attorney San Diego CA Michael J. McCabe

After a 7-day trial before Judge Laura Parsky on charges of possession for sale and cultivation of marijuana, the jury hung 7-5 for conviction. Judge Parsky, after declaring a mis-trial, dismissed the case in the interests of justice under PC § 1385. Judge Parsky stated that she believed that the evidence presented had established a reasonable doubt, and that the rebuttal argument of DDA Deborah La Touche “bordered on dis-ingenuousness.” Ms. La Touche immediately ordered a transcript of the trial, and will undoubtedly lobby her supervisors to appeal the dismissal.

Client was the president of a non-profit medical marijuana cooperative with 3000 members as of the time of his arrest on January 27, 2011. The prosecution followed the same old script, maintaining that the coop was too big to be legal; that each member had to participate in some aspect of the cultivation or preparation of the marijuana it grew for the benefit of the members; that the coop could not pay employees; and that since the balance sheet of the coop showed gross receipts of over $1 million, it was, in reality, an illegal, for profit organization.

All of those contentions were rejected by the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One, in a published opinion issued on February 23, 2012 – People v. Colvin (2012) 203 Cal App 4th 1029. In spite of this opinion, Judge Parsky allowed the prosecutor to argue the usual script over my objections which, I believe, was the reason the jury hung.

-Mike McCabe

Mistrial Declared in Medical Marijuana Trial; Judge Dismisses Refilling of Charges In The Interest of Justice Dexter and Mariesol Padilla

By: Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Americans for Safe Access

Another devastating blow to San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ fierce fight against medical marijuana patients; Judge Parsky declared a mistrial after the jury was hopelessly deadlocked.

SAN DIEGO – On May 16th, twelve jurors and two alternates were selected in the trial of DA Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla, navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing, a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.


The jury began deliberations on Tuesday, May 22, after a long week of arguments and testimony from experts and the defendant, Dexter Padilla.


Two notes were turned in by the jury less then an hour after deliberations. The first was a request for the defendant’s testimony to be read and the second was a concern from all the jurors about juror #10 being hostile, refusing to participate, and preventing everyone from working towards a verdict.


After hearing from both sides about this issue and interviewing the foreman of the jury, Judge Parsky decided to admonish the jurors to be courteous to one another and sent them back to the jury room to continue deliberating. Within nineteen minutes of the second attempt at deliberations another note came in from the jury raising the same concerns about juror #10. Once again the judge interviewed the foreman, heard from the defense and prosecution, as well as disruptive juror #10. This time however, both sides were asking for the juror to be replaced with an alternate. The judge agreed and an alternate was selected.


Judge Parsky then brought the entire panel into the courtroom, dismissed juror #10 and instructed the new panel to start deliberations from scratch. By the time jurors began the second round of deliberations it was 3pm, and less than an hour to reach a decision was not enough.


Deliberations resumed yesterday at 9am. By 2:15 pm the jurors once again sent a note to the Judge. Everyone including the attorneys, defendant, his family and all the supporters rushed to court to find out what the note stated.


By 2:45pm court was in session and Judge Parsky revealed that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked and could not reach a verdict. After a few brief questions the Judge dismissed all the jurors, thanked them for their service, and proceeded to declare a mistrial, concluding the two charges would be dismissed.


Before the judge could finish uttering the word ‘mistrial,’ Deborah LaTouche, the deputy DA assigned to the case, was falling over herself to announce she would be re-filing both charges.


Michael McCabe, attorney for the defense, urged the court to dismiss the new charges in the interest of justice, citing the prosecution had not come close to reaching their burden of proof, and Padilla had been in full compliance with State’s medical marijuana laws.


Judge Parsky agreed, and in a very rare move dismissed both counts in the interest of justice citing the prosecution was bordering on ‘disingenuous’ in the way they presented their arguments in this case. The defendant, supporters, and everyone in court aside from the DA were overjoyed at the decision.


“Today, justice was served and Dumanis’ bias driven effort to chip away at the states medical marijuana program saw yet another defeat” said Terrie Best, court support coordinator for San Diego Americans for Safe Access


Dumanis tried Padilla on the basis he did not have all the coop’s documents together, which was the reason LaTouche used in her closing arguments in an attempt to prove guilt. The most outrageous part about LaTouche using the documents in her closing is all the records she claimed were not present, were the very records offered to her prior to trial, and the very records looted by the DEA in an unlawful raid on Mark Wuerfel’s office, the general counsel for Therapeutic Healing.


The fact that Judge Parsky dismissed the case in the interest of justice sends a strong message to Bonnie Dumanis’ office that Padilla is immune from prosecution as matter of law, and it would be impossible for them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was out of compliance.


“The Judge’s ruling shows this case never should have been tried in the first place and that Dumanis has a vendetta against qualified patients coming together in a lawful manner,” said Mark Wuerfel. “It underscores the malicious way in which the tax payers money is being squandered to try and put innocent people in prison where all they are trying to do is follow the law”.


After the conclusion of the trial, Deborah LaTouche was seen requesting transcripts from the court recorder signaling Dumanis’ office was considering an appeal, further proving the vindictive nature of Dumanis’ war on patients.


Bonnie Dumanis’ complete disregard for state law is a slap in the face to the will of the people, as well as all the patients who use Prop 215 and the State’s medical marijuana laws to protect themselves from overzealous prosecutors like Dumanis.


As a result of the amazing work of Michael J. McCabe, the criminal defense attorney representing Padilla, attorney Mark Wuerfel and his willingness to stand up for his client, and the dedication of patient advocates with San Diego Americans for Safe Access, the community saw justice served in court yesterday.



For Immediate Release: PRESS CONFERENCE – 5/22/2012 – 12:30pm – Hall of Justice

Medical Marijuana Trial of Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, has arranged a press conference on behalf of the defense, in front of the Hall of Justice at 330 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:30PM.

Last week on Wednesday, May 16th in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court, before The Honorable Laura Parsky, a jury was selected and the trial began.

Throughout the last week, the Prosecution presented its side of the criminal trial of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla a navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing Collective (THC), a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.

The Prosecution’s entire case consisted of two witnesses from Dumanis’ Cross Jurisdiction Task Force. The Task Force is an entity Dumanis strongly supports which was formed to commandeer local law enforcement in effort to help the federal government circumvent the state’s medical marijuana laws.

In the DA’s case, San Diego Police Officer Paul Paxton and DEA Agent Lindsay Bellomy testified exhaustively to the existence of THC, a fact not disputed by the defense. Paxton also testified to the existence of marijuana at the collective’s two sites, another fact not in dispute. The Prosecution then rested, having failed to prove the illegality or even raise one instance of where Padilla was out of compliance.

Dumanis’ contention is that marijuana existed therefore a crime was committed, a position held by the federal government not the state of California, where the case is being tried.

The defense represented by attorney Michael J. McCabe, included expert witness Chris Conrad, who testified to the nature of THC’s crop, the expected yields and his expert opinion of the collective’s needs.

Also, taking the stand for the defense was THC’s General Counsel Attorney Mark Wuerfel. According to Mr. Wuerfel’s testimony, on June 17, 2010, DEA agent, Beau Bilek, led a warrant-less raid on the offices of the Redwood Law Group, Mr. Wuerefel’s firm in northern California and stole attorney client privileged records of THC’s patient files.

In his testimony, Mr. Wuerfel described, the theft, the Mendocino Superior Court’s subsequent Court Order to the DEA to return the documents, the return of the documents and their destroyed condition.

Also described by Mr. Wuerfel, were the great lengths THC went through to comply with state law in the forming of the coop. During his testimony Mr. Wuerfel introduced THC’s Articles of Incorporation, the organization’s board meeting minutes, CPA reports, tax records and the only complete patient file returned by the DEA.

On Monday, May 21, 2012, Dexter Padilla will take the stand.

Media Inquiries: Eugene Davidovich – 619-755-2093

Further Information: * More Problems at DEA: Agent Implicated in Theft of Attorney Client Records in State Medical Marijuana Trial – * DA Bonnie Dumanis Pushes on with Prosecution of Legal San Diego Medical Marijuana Collective – * Padilla Trial Brief – 0BzB7GtZTkQ0GaXZDcm9KQWFxaW8