Marijuana advocates will be watching what they're calling a test case Wednesday as a San Diego County pot shop owner was expected to be court to argue that he was complying with the law despite his prosecution on federal drug charges.
The group Americans for Safe Access states that proprietor James Stacy's case will be the first federal pot-shop prosecution in the nation to go to trial after the administration of President Obama ordered the Drug Enforcement Administration to stop raiding dispensaries in states where medical weed was legal.
His Vista dispensary, Movement in Action, was raided by a multi-jurisdictional task force on Sept. 9. In October, the Justice Department directive was issued. Stacy is expected to argue that "he's entitled to admit evidence of state law compliance" as part of his defense.
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More than a dozen pot shops were raided during "Operation Endless Summer," but only two owners eventually faced with federal charges: Stacy and Joseph Nunes, who pleaded guilty and received a one-year prison sentence..
"With a new enforcement policy on medical marijuana, the federal government should not be trying this case at all," said Joe Elford, ASA's chief counsel. "At the very least, Mr. Stacy's case should be tried in state court where he's guaranteed a defense against his charges."
Stacy was charged with cultivation of marijuana, conspiracy to cultivate and sell marijuana, and possession of a firearm. He could see 20 years behind bars if he's convicted.
Another pot shop operator caught up in "Endless Summer," Jovan Jackson, was acquitted by a local jury after he was brought up on state charges.