The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Second Trial Begins for San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensary Operator

Desperate to convict, DA successfully blocks use of medical marijuana defense


Opening arguments began today for the second
trial in less than a year against Jovan Jackson, a San Diego medical
marijuana patient and dispensary operator who was arrested in a
multi-agency law enforcement raid in September 2009. Jackson was
acquitted by a jury in December of marijuana possession and
distribution charges stemming from a 2008 arrest. This time, however,
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis convinced Superior Court Judge Howard
H. Shore to deny Jackson a medical marijuana defense, seriously
limiting his chances of a second acquittal.

"After the embarrassment of losing the first trial against Jovan
Jackson, District Attorney Dumanis is desperate for a conviction," said
Eugene Davidovich, head of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe
Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group.
"Jackson should not have been denied a defense and should not be used
as a scapegoat for the District Attorney's misguided position that
medical marijuana sales are illegal." ASA filed an amicus 'friend of
the court' brief last month in support of Jackson, and his right to a
medical marijuana defense, although Judge Shore refused to consider it.

During jury selection last week, Judge Shore went so far as to order
Jackson's supporters to remove articles of clothing that displayed an
Americans for Safe Access logo, including tote bags carried into the
courtroom. The Judge, however, denied the prosecutor's request to bar
supporters from the courtroom altogether. "No matter how hard Dumanis
tries, she won't be able to keep the truth from the jury," continued
Davidovich. "The truth is that Jackson provided a much-needed
medication to San Diego patients in strict compliance with state law."
Jackson was the former operator of the San Diego medical marijuana
dispensary Answerdam
Alternative Care Collective.

Jackson's trial comes as both the San Diego City Council and County
Board of Supervisors are developing local medical marijuana
distribution laws that would regulate the same activity for which
Jackson is being tried. A San Diego grand jury issued recommendations
in June calling on city and county governments to implement the state's
medical marijuana law. In particular, the grand jury called for the
city and county to develop a "program for the licensing, regulation and
periodic inspection of authorized collectives and cooperatives
distributing medical marijuana."

As part of law enforcement's "Operation Green Rx," more than 60 people
were arrested in several raids. Yet, of only two cases the District
Attorney chose to take to trial, both resulted in
acquittals. In addition to Jackson's earlier acquittal, Davidovich was
also acquitted of similar charges in March of this year. "One would
think that after two trials, hundreds of
thousands of taxpayers' dollars wasted and her reputation damaged, that
Ms. Dumanis would reconsider her approach," said Davidovich in a
previous statement on the matter. Jackson's trial is expected to last
at least two weeks.

Further information:
San Diego grand jury recommendations on medical marijuana:

Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.