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Medical marijuana co-op manager's conviction overturned

Ruling may set protective precedent for controversial storefront medical marijuana dispensaries.

A California appeals court yesterday reversed the 2010 conviction of medical marijuana dispensary manager Jovan Jackson, who was sentenced to six months in jail in 2010 for possessing and selling cannabis for profit.

The Reader first reported on Jackson’s intent to appeal last November.

The appeals court overruled Judge Howard Shore, who refused to allow Jackson to mount a defense based on state medical marijuana law, referring to cannabis as “dope” and state law as “a scam” during the trial.

San Diego Superior Court now has the option to re-try the case, unless the state Supreme Court chooses to intervene.

“This landmark decision not only recognizes the right of dispensaries to exist and provide medical marijuana to their patient members, it also grants a defense for those providers in state court,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, who represented Jackson in court.

In an additional finding that medical marijuana advocates are applauding, the court wrote that “the collective or cooperative association required by the act need not include active participation by all members in the cultivation process but may be limited to financial support by way of marijuana purchases from the organization. Thus, contrary to the trial court’s ruling, the large membership of Jackson’s collective, very few of whom participated in the actual cultivation process, did not, as a matter of law, prevent Jackson from presenting an [Medical Marijuana Program Act] defense.”

The court’s dismissal of the notion that all members of a collective should be involved in marijuana cultivation could prove a boon for other “storefront” dispensaries facing charges. Over 100 such cooperatives have been shuttered throughout the San Diego region following raids and threats to landlords renting space to the operations led by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

The cities of Imperial Beach, Del Mar, and Solana Beach are all considering propositions to allow and regulate storefront dispensaries within city limits.

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A California appeals court yesterday reversed the 2010 conviction of medical marijuana dispensary manager Jovan Jackson, who was sentenced to six months in jail in 2010 for possessing and selling cannabis for profit.

The Reader first reported on Jackson’s intent to appeal last November.

The appeals court overruled Judge Howard Shore, who refused to allow Jackson to mount a defense based on state medical marijuana law, referring to cannabis as “dope” and state law as “a scam” during the trial.

San Diego Superior Court now has the option to re-try the case, unless the state Supreme Court chooses to intervene.

“This landmark decision not only recognizes the right of dispensaries to exist and provide medical marijuana to their patient members, it also grants a defense for those providers in state court,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, who represented Jackson in court.

In an additional finding that medical marijuana advocates are applauding, the court wrote that “the collective or cooperative association required by the act need not include active participation by all members in the cultivation process but may be limited to financial support by way of marijuana purchases from the organization. Thus, contrary to the trial court’s ruling, the large membership of Jackson’s collective, very few of whom participated in the actual cultivation process, did not, as a matter of law, prevent Jackson from presenting an [Medical Marijuana Program Act] defense.”

The court’s dismissal of the notion that all members of a collective should be involved in marijuana cultivation could prove a boon for other “storefront” dispensaries facing charges. Over 100 such cooperatives have been shuttered throughout the San Diego region following raids and threats to landlords renting space to the operations led by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

The cities of Imperial Beach, Del Mar, and Solana Beach are all considering propositions to allow and regulate storefront dispensaries within city limits.

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