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Judge Tosses Case Against Mmj Co-Op.


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JUDGE TOSSES CASE AGAINST MEDICAL MARIJUANA CO-OP

by Courtenay Edelhart, Californian Staff Writer, (Source:Bakersfield Californian)

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24 May 2011

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California

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A Superior Court judge has thrown out a criminal case against an Oildale medical marijuana cooperative that was shut down in 2009, saying the search warrant that led to the closure was based on incomplete information because it omitted a tape recording that seemed to indicate the cooperative was complying with the law.

 

Judge Michael Dellostritto Friday called the affidavit in support of the search warrant "false and misleading," and said he never would have issued the warrant had he heard the recording.

 

Defense attorney H.A. Sala said Tuesday the ruling validated the California Compassionate Co-op and was not only a victory for his client, but "more importantly, a victory for the rule of law and due process of law."

 

Sheriffs deputies identified themselves as law enforcement officers and interviewed the owner of the cooperative and several of her employees in May 2009, about a month before the warrant was issued. The interview was secretly recorded.

 

They later put together a written summary of the exchange and submitted that with the affidavit in support of a search warrant, but they failed to attach a copy of the recording or to disclose that the interview had been taped.

 

"That would not be in the normal realm of practice, to attach a tape to an affidavit and submit it to a judge," said Francis Moore, chief deputy in charge of the law enforcement bureau of the Kern County Sheriff's Department. "They're always summaries. There are often tapes and videos and things, but it would take judges days to wade through all that."

 

Moore said the District Attorney's Office and the defense attorney "still don't see eye to eye on whether it was a legitimate co-op, and that's the crux of the argument, but the judge makes his decision based on the evidence he's presented, and we respect the judge's decision."

 

Sala only learned of the existence of the tape during a cross examination, at which point he asked the Sheriff's Department to produce it.

 

On the recording, the co-op's owner, Deborah Lynn Dahl, and her staff are heard apparently showing sheriff's deputies articles of incorporation, telling them that they did not profit from canibus sales but only covered costs, and explaining that canibus was sold exclusively to co-op members who had been recommended by a doctor with a valid California medical license, Sala said.

 

The co-op had opened in April 2009 to sell marijuana only to co-op members whose doctors had recommended marijuana use for medical treatment.

 

The judge ruled to quash the search warrant and to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the search it authorized.

 

Dahl faced one felony count of selling/furnishing marijuana and one felony count of possessing marijuana for sale. Both charges are dismissed.

 

Criminal charges were filed in September 2009, and a civil suit was filed the same year. The organization seeks the return of $14,000 and more than four pounds of marijuana seized from the premises at 200 N. Chester Ave.

 

The civil suit is still pending.

 

Dahl, through her attorney, declined to comment.

 

 

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Share This Article delicious.gif digg.gif stumble.gif facebook.gif twitter.gif Pubdate: Tue, 24 May 2011

Source: Bakersfield Californian, The (CA)

Copyright: 2011 The Bakersfield Californian

Contact: opinion@bakersfield.com

Website: http://www.bakersfield.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/36

Author: Courtenay Edelhart, Californian Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

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That case shows something VERY important - not just being legal, but making sure that you have more weight of evidence of your legality - documentation, video, contracts, signs, and legal representation. If you never speak of illegal acts, no one will record you speaking of illegal acts, if you are rigid in your legal and security policies with MM - you will be harder to arrest and convict.

 

I suspect many of these bad cases of raids - are LEO that are not working with prosecutors and judges honestly. I still want to believe that judges will uphold the will of the people, the intent of the law we created.

 

While they talk about grey areas, we must work in the light.

 

-DN

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