Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Red Dog Green Collective in Vallejo Beats the Case

By David Downs
Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Last week we reported on the consequences of the California Supreme Court upholding an Appeals Court ruling in County of San Diego vs. Jackson.

In another example of those consequences, a third Vallejo collective, Red Dog Green Collective, had all charges dismissed against it by the Solano County District Attorney's office Friday.

According to Red Dog Green lawyer Joe Rogoway, the Jackson precedent has set at least three collectives free after a sloppy wave of wasteful raids by Vallejo police last year.

Voters in the bankrupt Bay Area city approved taxes on medical marijuana sales, and the city gave Red Dog Green a business permit. But that didn't stop Vallejo police from raiding a score of dispensaries in 2012. The Solano County DA's office charged operators with marijuana crimes, arguing that cancer patients in Vallejo collectives had to physically go farm some pot to be lawful members of a collective.

That "make 'em grow it" charge is a creature of San Diego, and later Los Angeles prosecutors, Rogoway said. It came from a misreading of state law that the California Supreme Court has straightened out for pot-hating prosecutors once and for all this January.

In the Red Dog Green case, the DA voluntarily dropped charges after Rogoway laid out the club's medical defense and cited Jackson. The dropped charges against Red Dog Green follow dismissals in cases against two other Vallejo clubs: Better Health Collective and Life Enhanced Services. In those two, a Solano County judge dismissed charges based on the Jackson precedent.

The next specious excuse cops will use to jack up clubs is the idea that a club was not acting enough like a non-profit. Clubs are recommended to act like non-profits, according to the California Attorney General's guidelines published in 2008.

But proving profitability won't be as easy as simply providing evidence of gross revenue. Lots of companies gross millions and never make a dime. Just ask Sony.

Because of Jackson and another case, Colvin, prosecutors can't substantiate the theory that these dispensaries are illegal just because they engaged in sales, Rogoway said.

"Revenue is not the same as profit," Rogoway said.

To make an illegal dispensary case stick now, "You have to have a forensic accountant," said Rogoway, then prosecutors will have to convince a judge and jury the club was acting for-profit.

Better Health Collective attorney Scott Candell said dispensary owners could use a clear definition from the legislature on what "non-profit" means. For example, the legislature could mandate marijuana collective non-profit salary parity with a non-profit industry benchmark.

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