What does the Jovan Jackson verdict tell us about our access?

September 29, 2010 in Legalization, Local Regulations

I was devastated yesterday after hearing that a jury convicted Jovan Jackson for providing medicine to sick and dying patients in California- in STATE court! How could this be? How could a provider in CA be railroaded into a conviction? It is a travesty of justice, and the good news is that there is a good chance he will be allowed to appeal it and get a new trial.

The big deal in this particular trial was the Judge’s decision to not allow Mr. Jackson a medical defense because the Judge deemed his actions were outside of the realm of what is allowed under the current medical laws. You see, the Judge’s interpretation of SB420′s allowing of “collective cultiuvation” is that only a situation such as a “community garden” were legal under law. Therefore, since Mr. Jackson SOLD cannabis to patients in a dispensing collective setting that he was outside of what is lawful and not worthy of a medical defense in court. The Judge even went as far as to disallow Americans for Safe Access t-shirts and logos in the courtroom. Amazing, right? In this day and age? Really?

But this is not a secluded incident and the ramifications could be far reaching. There are operators all over the state who should fear for their freedom if this decision is allowed to stand. Conservative and concerned District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and City Officials have long claimed that dispensaries were illegal simply because they sold cannabis to patients. This decision affirms many of those archaic interpretations and could result in further backlash as the opposition is bolstered by this decision. It stands to reason that many operators- from LA to Butte County- could be railroaded based on decisions like this. And what is worrisome is that most in the community do not see the writing on the wall.

SB420 and Prop. 215 do not clearly allow for a distribution system that involves the changing hands of money. Therefore, much like how we have been able to advance our cause based on this unclarity ion the law, also those who oppose cannabis collectives can use it to limit access and criminalize providers who are just trying to make a living. Many should be worried. But some believe that the current situation will last forever. That the opposition will continue to allow for loose interpretations of grey area to carry on with zero opposition- that is naive thinking.

It is already apparent that we are losing the hearts and minds of lawmakers and people in the community because the current system is simply more about being legal than it is about being medical. This is a big issue we all face, and we must move forward or be eaten alive standing still. We have an opportunity in November to pass a law that allows for the enjoyable users to separate themselves from the medical users- for there to be a law that allows for sales and distribution- and a law that adds another layer of protection to medical users and providers. This important step could never be more important than now. So I urge medical users and providers to consider the case of Jovan Jackson as a clear wake-up call that we are far from out of the woods and that we must act on 19 to advance the cause of cannabis freedom.

It could be your collective that is forced to defend themselves in court with your hands tied behind your back. It could be your organization that is targeted because you are more than a community garden. It is silly to believe that the current indifference to the law will last forever. Vote Yes on 19 and help protect providers like Jovan and countless others who are under attack for their right to provide cannabis.