Prosecutor says medical marijuana manager hid behind law

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    Prosecutor says medical marijuana manager hid behind law

    The manager of a medical marijuana collective hid behind a law designed to help patients legally obtain the drug so he could make money, a prosecutor said Friday, but a defense attorney said the prosecution would not be able to prove the charges against his client.

    Jovan Jackson, 31, was arrested after a pair of raids at “Answerdam Alternative Care” on Convoy Court in Kearny Mesa last year. Jackson is charged with selling marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana and possession of ecstasy. Deputy District Attorney Chris Lindberg told jurors in his opening statement that the case against Jackson was not about medical marijuana.

    “This case is about making money, plain and simple,” the prosecutor said.

    During the raids, officers found credit card receipts for more than $150,000 in sales at Answerdam, Lindberg said. The prosecutor said the case was not about marijuana patients but was “about profits.”

    “He (Jackson) was running a business,” the prosecutor told the jury.

    Lindberg said an undercover San Diego police officer was able to get a medical marijuana recommendation from a doctor and then bought marijuana on two occasions at Answerdam, which, according to its records, had 1,649 members.

    The prosecutor said the undercover officer paid $20 to join Answerdam and immediately was able to buy the drugs. A raid on Aug. 5, 2008, at Answerdam turned up five to six pounds of marijuana and a receipt in Jackson’s name for a $100,000 transaction to an investment company, Lindberg said.

    Agents also searched the defendant’s home and found some marijuana by his bed and 17 ecstasy tablets, according to the prosecutor. Lindberg told the jury that Jackson took advantage of a law that allows medical marijuana patients to legally buy the drug from a collective that grows it to meet those needs.

    But defense attorney K. Lance Rogers told the jury that the undercover officer signed up for the medical marijuana collective under false pretenses, using a fake name and getting a false medical recommendation.

    Rogers said Lindberg wouldn’t be able to prove that Jackson “stood out” from other members in the collective.

    “This is about Answerdam. This is not about Mr. Jackson,” the defense attorney told the jury.

    Jackson, an eight-year Navy veteran, faces up to five years in prison if convicted, Lindberg said. Two months ago, 31 people were arrested during raids at 14 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County.

    District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the collectives appeared to be run by drug dealers trying to make a “fast buck.”

    The number of medical marijuana dispensaries went up recently, in the wake of San Diego County’s failed attempt to overturn the state’s 1996 medical marijuana law and U.S. Attorney Eric Holder’s directive that federal agents only target medical marijuana storefronts when operators violate both state and federal laws.

    Kelly wheeler
    City News Service.
    November 20th, 2009

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