By Terrie Best – San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator
San Diego, CA – Well-known medical cannabis defense attorney, Michael J. McCabe and his client Alexander Ayres were in the Vista courthouse in San Diego County today to accept a plea deal and bring an end to the months-long ordeal for Ayres, a legal medical cannabis patient.
Alex Ayres 24, suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, a condition he seeks cannabis treatment for in lieu of the addictive, side-effect laden pharmaceuticals he has tried in the past. His mother, Joyce, who has been by his side in court since his arrest, said Alex’s mental state is so improved by his cannabis use it was like a miracle for him. Joyce, a pretty and articulate woman in her 50s said she began advocating for Alex to use medical cannabis, when, in his late teen years, she discovered how beneficial it truly was for Alex. She says the stigma of cannabis is an issue but what really baffles her is why the District Attorney would drag her son through the courts when he is a legal patient.
San Diego District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis has exhibited a perplexing lack of compassion toward medical cannabis patients. Refusing to craft direction for her investigators and failing to honor patient status, Dumanis’ strategy has been to send all patients through the courts as drug offenders and let judge and jury decide their fates. The difficulty with that is it is very expensive, clogs the courts with victimless cases, is cruel to sick and injured patients and goes against California state laws: Proposition 215, SB 420 and the CA Attorney General Guidelines.
Alex, a resident of Santa Barbara, CA, held a medical cannabis recommendation which expressly allowed him to possess 11 pounds of cannabis at a given time but when Border Patrol officers stopped him at a boarder check point on his way home from San Diego they confiscated 174 vaporizer cartridges, a ¼ pound of wax concentrate and his electronics. The County Sheriff was called and Alex was taken to jail for nine days, had to pay bail to be released and was charged with transportation of a controlled substance.
Defense Attorney Michael McCabe said he was fully prepared to take Alex’s case to trial and had a very good defense for the transportation charge. Mr. McCabe, cited California’s AB 721, passed this year, which made a change to the California Penal Code to re-define “transportation” to mean “transportation for sale” in the law. In other words, the District Attorney’s Office would be required to prove Alex had intended to sell his medicine in order for him to be found guilt of transportation of a controlled substance.
The Deputy District Attorney in the case, Landy Spencer-Daly, apparently wasn’t so confident of a win in a jury trial and offered Alex a possession of marijuana misdemeanor charge with summary probation. Wanting the nightmare behind him and worrying about the possibility of other charges being levied, Alex signed the misdemeanor deal today in Department 5 of the Vista County Courthouse.
Alex and his attorney will be seeking a judge’s order to allow Alex to continue using his medical cannabis while serving his probation term – a strategy which has been successful, according to testimony from probation officials in other medical cannabis cases.
New Mayor of San Diego, Former Congressman Bob Filner Offers Humanitarian Path to Safe Access – Calls For Action Against DA & Feds. Mayor Filner took questions and addressed many concerns of the medical marijuana community. This is the first time a sitting Mayor in San Diego attended an Americans for Safe Access meeting.
Mayor Bob Filner told some current defendants facing legal action that he would appear and speak at their trials if the court allow him to speak in favor of legal medical marijuana.
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 http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2010/10/san-marcos-sues-for-emergency.html 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.
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Terrie Best, San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
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.