By: Don Duncan
The California Assembly just approved AB 2312, a bill by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) that will create a statewide board to regulate medical cannabis. The Senate will take up the bill next. Advocates are thrilled, and vow to build on this momentum to make sure the bill is also approved in the Senate and signed by Governor Brown. The campaign to adopt AB 2312 has already seen a dramatic expansion in the coalition for medical cannabis, including the influential United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and the largest medical cannabis citizen lobby day in state history.
Assemblymember Ammiano introduced AB 2312 in response to growing calls for statewide clarity from elected officials and the courts. The public wants legislation like this, too. A poll conducted by EMC research shows that 77% of Californians support the regulation, control, and taxation of cannabis. The nine-member appointed board created by the bill will be charged with developing, implementing, and enforcing statewide regulations – something that is already underway in other states where medical cannabis is legal. The Author and advocates anticipate that greater consistency will help to address ambivalence about the state’s medical cannabis program and prevent local officials from blocking implementation or calling for federal intervention.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and coalition members are proud of the growing support and increased grassroots participation in the campaign for AB 2312. We call on everyone who supported this important bill to keep working to make needed improvements and get the bill passed by the Senate. And we call on those who are undecided or oppose (including misinformed lawmakers) to take another look.
Thank you to the thousands of you who called, emailed, and wrote in support of AB 2312. And thank you to the hundreds of you who participated in our Citizen Lobby Day on May 21. We would not have made it this far without you. I also want to say a special that you to our partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana, Assemblymember Amminao, and his staff, who all worked tirelessly to pass this bill.
Don Duncan is ASA’s California Director.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
By: Don Duncan
Friday, May 25, 2012
Mistrial Declared in Medical Marijuana Trial; Judge Dismisses Refilling of Charges In The Interest of Justice
|Dexter and Mariesol Padilla|
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.
• DA Bonnie Dumanis Pushes on with Prosecution of Legal San Diego Medical Marijuana Collective
• Padilla Trial Brief
• More Problems at DEA: Agent Implicated in Theft of Attorney Client Records in State Medical Marijuana Trial
Thursday, May 17, 2012
More Problems at DEA: Agent Implicated in Theft of Attorney Client Records in State Medical Marijuana Trial
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis presses on with trial of medical marijuana patient in full compliance with state law even after feds refuse to prosecute and court records show DEA’s involvement in theft of attorney-client records. Press conference scheduled for Friday morning.
SAN DIEGO – Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected on Wednesday in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court, officially starting the criminal trial of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis v. Dexter Padilla a navy veteran, medical marijuana patient and president of Therapeutic Healing, a San Diego based non profit medical marijuana coop.
According to court records, it all started on June 17, 2010 when DEA agent Beau Bilek led a raid on the offices of the Redwood Law Group after his requests for a search warrant were denied by the Mendocino County Superior Court. Attorney and President of the firm raided that day was Mark Wuerfel, the business attorney representing Therapeutic Healing of which Padilla is President.
The trial brief submitted by defense attorney Michael J. McCabe this week states that on June 17, 2010 Agent Bilek “looted privileged attorney-client files”, as well as data from the law firm’s computers including information about the different medical marijuana patients and coops the firm represented.
After the raid, the Mendocino County Court actually intervened and ordered the DEA to return the stolen property as well as instructed the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office to help retrieve the records from the DEA. Still, the agency refused and only returned two of the original four stolen boxes.
Privileged information obtained from the unlawful raid on the attorney’s office, including the fact that Mr. Wuerfel represented a collective named Therapeutic Healing in San Diego, was distributed to various DEA offices throughout the state. In San Diego, cross sworn DEA Agent Paxton picked up the case and began shopping it around for prosecution.
On January 27, 2011, six months after Bilek stole the records, Padilla was arrested by Paxton.
The investigation leading up to Padilla’s arrest yielded zero evidence of criminal activity and proved quite the opposite. It showed Therapeutic Healing was operating in strict and unambiguous compliance with all state laws.
Padilla hired Mr. Wuerful as the coop’s general counsel, paid all the required taxes, and hired a tax attorney and CPA to ensure the coop’s financial records were all properly kept and in compliance with the law.
After Paxton failed to convince the US Attorney’s office to prosecute Padilla in federal court he appealed to Dumanis’ office which has a long standing record of chipping away at the State’s medical marijuana program through prosecutions of legitimate patients. Dumanis’ office happily picked up the case.
When Padilla was originally notified of the charges against him, his attorney’s immediately scheduled a time and sat down with the DA and opened up all the coop’s records for examination. They showed all the taxes paid, the board meeting notes, sales receipts, business records, etc.
According to the defense, every single request made by the prosecution for information, documents and evidence about Therapeutic Healing and Padilla was voluntarily provided by the defense.
The law requires that prosecutors prior to filing charges evaluate whether a defendant should be charged with the crimes at all. In the case of Padilla, the DA refused to consider all the evidence of compliance and along with the DEA failed to provide any explanation for the continuing prosecution of Padilla, even after overwhelming evidence was provided by the defense establishing immunity from prosecution.
The DEA’s behavior in this case as well as the refusal of the San Diego DA’s office to review all the evidence proves that this prosecution is nothing more than a thinly veiled agenda of the DEA to promote its federal goals of undermining the State law and sanctioned medical marijuana programs.
As a result of this bias driven effort to eradicate medical marijuana from California and continued effort to chip away at patient’s rights, it is now necessary for the court and a jury to do what should have been done previously by the prosecution in finding that Padilla is not guilty of committing the alleged criminal acts being asserted by them.
The trial is being held in Department 27 of San Diego Superior Court.
The attorneys have called a press conference for Friday, May 18, 2012 at 8:15am in front of the Hall of Justice – 330 W Broadway, San Diego CA
Friday, May 4, 2012
|Bruce, Steve, and Heidi, gathering signatures in Imperial Beach|
Patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, MS, Cancer, and other serious conditions are now forced with a difficult choice; either break the law and turn to local neighborhood drug dealers to find their doctor recommended medicine or travel a long distance, in some cases up to fifty miles to the nearest permitted dispensary in the remote eastern part of the county.
To protect safe access, stand up for patients' rights, and help implement state law in San Diego County, Canvass for a Cause (CFAC) a San Diego based non-profit with the largest gay rights field program in the county has partnered with San Diego Americans for Safe Access (SDASA), a local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group.
Starting at the end of March, on a daily basis a team of professional and well trained activists are sent out to different parts of the county to have face to face conversations with both supporters and non supporters. Through these face to face conversations with hundreds of voters on a daily basis they move more than 22% of those who don't support safe access to pledge their support in 2012. In addition to changing hearts and minds of non supporters on this issue, activists sign supporters up for monthly and one time contributions to the campaign as well as recruit volunteers.
While the educational teams are raising support and changing hearts and minds, another team of activists is assigned to IB for signature gathering to overturn the most egregious ban out of all seventeen municipalities in the county and replace it with reasonable regulations.
To place the Safe Access Ordinance of Imperial Beach on the ballot in November, 1,080 valid signatures are needed by June 1st. In the first five weeks of the campaign, more than 1,400 signatures from registered voters in IB have already been gathered.
With most of the required signatures in the bag, the joint effort is determined to continue sending teams to IB daily to ensure more than enough valid signatures are submitted for the initiative to qualify in November.
In addition to the over 1,400 signatures, activists have spoken to over 2,500 residents throughout the county about medical cannabis and have signed up over 200 of them to make a financial contribution to the campaign. To date, the campaign has raised over $15,000 in support of safe access in Imperial Beach!
The CFAC and SDASA partnership has created a real antidote to the reefer madness propaganda spread by prohibitionists in the county and has resulted in one of the largest medical cannabis field projects in the state. Together, the groups stand to overturn unfair restrictions and bans in all seventeen municipalities in the county starting with Imperial Beach (IB).
To celebrate the campaign’s progress and to raise more awareness and support for the IB effort, on Friday, April 20th, a fundraiser and celebration was held at the CFAC headquarters in Hillcrest. The evening was filled with education, entertainment, and great community building. Throughout the night over 200 guests were in attendance and of the $15,000 total raised in support of the campaign in Imperial Beach, $3,000 came from the fundraiser alone.
For more information about the campaign call 619-796-6215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Medical marijuana supporters seek end to ban in IB – San Diego UT
- Petition Filed to Put Fate of Medical Marijuana in Hands of IB Voters – Imperial Beach Patch
- Medical Marijuana Panel Convenes Tonight to Discuss Actions in City of IB – San Diego Reader
- Imperial Beach Medical Marijuana Advocates Unveil Proposed Ballot Measure – IB Eagle & Times
- Track signature progress, get more involved with the campaign and get more information about the IB initiative: www.SafeAccessIB.org and www.Facebook.com/SafeAccessIB