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Medical Marijuana Policy

DEA Agents Don’t Lie, Says San Diego Judge In Medical Marijuana Case

dea emails marijuanaBy Terrie Best – San Diego Americans for Safe Access

San Diego CA – In one of the most depressing statements from a judge I’ve heard, Judge Jay Bloom of the San Diego Superior Court vilified cannabis patient witnesses from the bench while at the same time insisting DEA agents are bound to tell the truth on the witness stand or risk arrest and conviction.

The criminal case of Ernest James Knight and co-defendant Sandra began Wednesday with the preliminary examination. It was a two day affair and very expensive.  The prosecution called two DEA special agents to make her case. There were no local cops called. The first of the special agents, DEA Special Agent, John Gieson testified to 17 years of training in Virginia but when eventually questioned about California cannabis law, had no knowledge.  That is because the federal government does not recognize the truth of our cannabis laws.

Geison took us through the knock and forced entry on the first of two properties raided by the nine special agents who participated. The occupant of the first house, Sandra, was home alone in Oceanside February of this year and, according to Geison, marijuana was being grown illegally inside and in a shed in Sandra’s backyard. Geison counted 286 cannabis plants in various stages of growth. Sandra was arrested and interrogated and Geison claims she confessed to her crimes.  But, Sandra only told the special agent she was growing for a very ill woman and several other patients. All were medical cannabis patients. Sandra was not, but in her hospice and caregiver duties she provided medicine. From the stand, Gleison claimed statements which Sandra says she never made. It is a common thread in all testimony from all DEA special agents in these cases.

It should be said, Sandra is a lovely woman with a huge heart. Michael Cindrich is her attorney. In his cross of the special agent we heard Geison say that back at the DEA lab Sandra’s plants and processed cannabis were chopped up and weighed. It came to over 11,000 grams. Cindrich questioned if stems were included, yes they were, Geison was asked if stems are typically sold, in his illegal drug experience, no they aren’t.  Cindrich asked if stems are weighty, yes they are. The attorney stopped short of asking the special agent if the 11,000 gram figure was dishonest. Instead Cindrich asked if him if he had ever read the local or state cannabis law, no he had not.

Nathan Shaman is Ernest’s attorney. Ernest’s San Diego home was also raided but in his cross of special agent Geison, Shaman wanted to know why the two raids were connected.  The agent testified he was told they were but could not release the name of the confidential informant who had told him.

The prosecutor then called DEA Special Agent Chad Plennes. He testified to a lot of what he thought were suspicious text messages on Sandra’s phone.  A phone he could not find himself so had to release Sandra from handcuffs to go get for him. The messages in Sandra’s phone amounted to texts of various logistical matters for getting medicine to patients. When DEA Special Agents read “I need a quarter, can I come over,” they can’t help but believe there’s a crime because, right or wrong, their job requires that they ignore state law and punish medical cannabis patients.

Chad Plennes was also at the raid on Ernest’s house. He claimed witness to statements Ernest made, which Ernest never made. According to Plennes, Ernest confessed that he was not even a cannabis patient but only sold cannabis for profit. Plennes found a number of what he said were illegal plants in Ernest’s home and garage. Later from the stand Ernest told us he was diabetic with several painful neurological conditions and grew cannabis for himself and several other patients. He said he told the DEA special agents this but they arrested him anyway.

In cross examination, Plennes described Ernest as cooperative.  Ernest told the truth at the scene but the special agent only heard “I grow cannabis.”  Plennes is not allowed to hear that growing cannabis for medical purposes is lawful in the state of California so he does not hear it.

The defense case was very good.  Several witnesses took the stand as well as Ernest himself. The patient witnesses were able to confirm they were in a collective together with either Ernest or Sandra. The first witness, Sarah, was very frail and on crutches.  She testified that Sandra was her caregiver and helped her with shopping, doctor appointments and sometimes bathing. One of Ernest’s witnesses, David has cancer and would help Ernest trim, for that he obtained cannabis. In her cross, Deputy DA Deborah LaTouche drilled the witnesses about their medical conditions and focused on impeaching them as lying to help the defendants.

The next day Ernest took the stand.  Ernest is an articulate thoughtful man and his testimony was very good.  Nathan Shaman came armed with Ernest’s past electric, hydro store and water bills to show his cultivation expenses.  Latouche tried to prevent the bills from being entered, claiming hearsay.  The judge shut her down.  If bills are already paid they are an exception to the hearsay rule, he said.

Ernest testified to having 25 years of pain but what began his cultivation effort was his police officer brother whom he helped as the man died from cancer. It is obvious Ernest is a kind, gentle person.  He grew for six other sick people with recommendations and Ernest himself uses cannabis juice which requires a lot of plant material. He was not making money, we saw the shut off notices he deals with from the power and water companies.

The expenses we were shown exceeded the proceeds from monetary contributor estimates but in her cross examination of Ernest, LaTouche could not grasp that even though money may be coming in, if it’s also going out at a faster rate, there’s no profit to be gotten. Ernest was prepared to tell the truth but LaTouche would not allow him to elaborate on certain facts. She is interested in winning and her version requires she suppress state law, inline with her DEA special agents.

The two parties each had closing arguments. LaTouche misstated evidence and had to be corrected by the defense attorneys as well as the judge. She claimed the defendants were drug dealers because there were no formal incorporation papers drawn up for the collectives. The judge then cited the People v Orlosky ruling that collectives can be informal but LaTouche argued on.  She wanted pay/owe sheets to prove the collective was legitimate.  It should be noted, this was hugely disingenuous since pay/owe sheets are always used to prove illegal drug dealing.

Deborah LaTouche is a big woman and she stretches, ignores and stomps on the truth in order to win. It should be noted she has a history of ignoring justice and excluding exculpatory evidence in a shameful manner. She is no representative of the People and she once tried to keep me out of performing jury consulting by lying to a judge. She told him I have a felony record and I don’t. Judges have humiliated her for this cheating but she continues to ignore truth in favor of victory.  Still, she now does so with a shake-y voice. I hope she will refuse medical cannabis cases from now on.  If she and her special agent assistants from the federal government have to lie to win, they are bad for her soul.

In his closing argument Michael Cindrich cited a lot of case law to support the clients’ cases. Both attorneys pointed out that DEA special agents don’t know the law at all and Nathan Shaman highlighted that People v Orlosky was crucial to the case.  He asserted from Orlosky that in a small collective there are too few transactions to warrant formal incorporation and bylaws.

I have never seen a medical cannabis case get dismissed at prelim. I thought I might see my first one.  I couldn’t get a read on the judge. He seemed interested in hearing the law and, if he was citing Orlsoky – he was up-to-date – as that case is from 2015.  I was terribly disappointed to hear him call Sandra and Ernest drug dealers.  I knew we were going to have to go to trial.  Then he asserted that the defenses witnesses were not neutral but the DEA special agents were. Judge Bloom said DEA agents have no reason to lie and further, they risk jail if they do lie. A shocking statement to me since I am of the opinion that the whole special gang of them are liars.

So, in a disheartening ruling Ernest and Sandra were bound over to stand trial even though there is very little chance a jury will convict on this case.  Trials are expensive but the San Diego District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis likes to punish medical cannabis patients with court proceedings as a weapon.  This particular punishment is going to be expensive for we tax payers.  Not only will it take days to seat 12 people who don’t know and love a cannabis patient onto a jury but Sandra’s first language is not English.  She requires an interpreter which costs 800.00 daily.

Ernest and Sandra will be arraigned on September 10th with trial scheduled at that hearing. Please follow San Diego ASA on Facebook to get updates on future court dates.

  • Johnny oneye

    NOT GUILTY
    $BIGGER fish

  • knowa1

    We are now going on a half a century of the bullying of Nixon’s medical adviser Dr Egerberg to agree to a 6 month temporary scheduling waiting on studies!!!! So half a century of Fraudulent Lies the judge is either to stupid of just bought and paid for.

    • Mooster75

      My money is on stupid.

    • Tim Sanders

      ALL elected officials in this country are bought and paid for from the National level down to the County level, with the States’ elected officials being the pawn of the National elected, like Senators and Representatives, following party lines. SCOTUS guaranteed that in Citizens United. All politicians are bought and paid for and use the revolving door of politics and corporate jobs, ALL subsidized by you, the American Middle Class Taxpayer. You can’t remain uninformed with just an opinion and expect to get anywhere. You must participate in this democracy or go on living in a rapidly evolving fascist Plutocracy. There is just no other outcome.

  • Another lost soul

    Cops don’t lie? I’ll believe that when my shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbert. Maybe the judge should open up his law books, there are shit tonnes of cases where cops were busted lying. I wonder how the cops would feel if all of us Americans would grow some balls and start cuffing them and throwing them in cages. Actually that sounds like a hell of a plan

  • Brad1

    While I wish these two the best, all of this whining will not get us anywhere until federal law is changed. This will keep happening as long as marijuana is a Schedule I substance with mandatory minimums and the federal government does not recognize state’s authority to govern themselves with their drug laws.

    • Brad1

      All I hear from this story is “bawww big angry mean federal judge!” Newsflash : that is the law, and all judges will act this way. The DEA judge doesn’t have to know or recognize California’s MMJ laws. Don’t like it? Change the law, don’t be satisfied with Obama’s meaningless memos, that have no real change or effect to the laws in place.

      • Kajira M

        It appears the case is in state court, not federal, and it’s a state judge. So, assuming it is in state court, this judge does have to be knowledgeable of state MMJ laws.

        We’re all for changing federal law! Just as we’re all for hearing ways to accomplish that goal.

        • Terrie Best

          : )

        • Tim Sanders

          It’s called non-violent, civic protest. It starts with all (ALL) pro-cannabis delisting, decriminalizing, and deregulating proponents of growing marijuana to get on their phones twice a week, (I would suggest Tues. and Thurs. to avoid holidays) and call their ELECTED Federal Congressional members and crash their phone centers. Then on Wed. crash their email and FAX systems with 100,000 calls, emails and FAX’s EACH DAY. Then do the same with your STATE Elected officials. The U.S. has 330 million people plus, surely this is not too much to ask and should be more in the range of 1,000,000 people who are for marijuana legalisation and could participate if they wanted to do something positive for the movement. The phone numbers and emails are on the net and in your telephone book at the front under “Elected Officials”. Next you form a monthly rally at the State Capital when the legislature is in session. Then you attend ANY local protest or national protest you can afford to go to go to. You prepare yourself for pepper spray and water cannons and being drug to a paddy wagon but you call the news affiliates in your area first. Find a reporter and state your EDUCATED opinion. DON’T go in there with a “…well I think (believe) that marijuana is my right to consume.” Although that is true, you must have one or two FACTS to state that you know are TRUE, like the medical value of marijuana, or your right to change the law just as it was changed during prohibition of alcohol. Every president has tried marijuana, and they have said so. No one smokes one joint and doesn’t inhale. Then you repeat this every couple of weeks until the press and people on the street take notice of you and your signs. It will take awhile but like voting, if you don’t do it you get the laws you deserve, you don’t deserve the laws you get but if you do nothing you deserve nothing. At least sign an online petition or write a $5 check to NORML. If 1 million people did this, this whole thing would be over by now. John above did his part and gave you ammunition by citing links with evidence that DEA agents lie all the time. They plant evidence, they illegally seize money without a count and half of it disappears, eat edibles in raiding dispensaries thereby breaking laws of being under the influence while on duty…the list is endless. PROTEST PEOPLE and make it loud. Getting arrested is just a misdemeanor, not a felony. But allow this to go on and we will live in a POLICE STATE FOREVER.

      • Terrie Best

        This was a San Diego Superior Court judge, not a federal judge.

  • John
  • Kajira M

    Who is paying for the prosecution of this case, considering federal funds are not to go towards these types of things.

  • kelley davis

    Well this judge just proved to me he doesn’t live in the same world with the rest of us.

    He lives in Rainbow Land were everyone is honest and Unicorns frolic xDLOL

    • Jordan Shorette

      just make sure you keep the gays out and Rainbow land haha sounds like the perfect Christian getaway all full of unicorns and pretend stuff. I betcha that’s where jesus has been hiding out

      • darthhillbilly

        lol…My thoughts exactly…had I seen this post I probably wouldn’t have bothered…

    • Ham’Diya Lane

      Ooo..unicorns frolic and Elvis is still alive!

  • Collin Nonapplicable

    This is some sad shit. Leave the fucking potheads alone already for fucks sake they aren’t hurting anyone.

  • WineO

    There are a lot of republican conservative regressive buttheads in San Diego County. You should expect nothing less from a local area law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. Oh…and any politicians, too. The state of CA needs to slap them down….

  • jimheffner

    It seems most legalists are trapped in their law before justice world. Too many judges are hanging out with MDs, they’re catching that ‘I am God’ disease. When the lawyers and judges of the world realize that they don’t share their priorities with the rest of us we may see more actual justice. Willie Shakespeare said it well: “First let us kill all the lawyers.” I still say that the worst addiction in the world may be the need to control other people’s lives.

    and it harm none, do what you will

  • jason

    JURY NULIFICATION!!!

  • The DEA has an established record of violating the law in pursuit of enforcing the drug war. This individuals have a conflict of interest relative to State laws on marijuana. Jury nullification is the only way to send a message to the feds.

  • darthhillbilly

    I want to tell the judge to pass that shit…he must be high as groceries to even claim such a ludicrous statement as fact. He must have a completely different idea of how the world works. In his “happy place” all cops are honest, that gaudy rainbow flag is nowhere to be seen, and the system actually helps more than it hurts. Just watch out for the unicorn shit…because it just wouldn’t be complete without unicorns.

  • Ham’Diya Lane

    The judicial system…Judges knows first hand about lying Cops… But its not about justice but the bottom line.. Taxpayers pays “their” salaries as well..

  • TOPDOG1

    Perhaps he was making a joke or where did this judge get his law degree. A blue light special at K.MART.This is one example of the serious problems within our justice system. Until we can get these incompetent idiots removed things will not get better. I say incompetent because no one can be that naive. Another obvious liar this one wearing a judge’s robes.

  • knowa1

    Florida it won’t legalize it self we only have till Feb.1 to get over 680,000 even $5 helps time to step up lets legalize and end this madness.

    Print it out pass it out send it in.

    http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/fulltext/pdf/64864-1.pdf

  • Miles Monroe

    As noted elsewhere: “Cops, prosecutors, and judges are all fingers on the same fist, and the fist has only one function … Our justice system isn’t about administering justice, it’s about securing convictions.”

  • rsteeb

    Earth to Judge Jay: DEA agents don’t lie? Really? They are enforcing the Damned lie that is “Schedule I Cannabis”. And by suppressing the “Whole Truth” in your kangaroo court, you are aborting Justice. Get fncking REAL, Judge Jay Bloom.

    • Tim Sanders

      Not only do they lie, they steal, they assault, there is no transparency in the amount of money or cannabis product they seize. No verification, no quantification, no qualification…it’s just put into an evidence locker and sits there (maybe) until lawyers ask for it before trial. That period of time could be many, many months. What happens to all that product, money and to the people that had their businesses and lives destroyed. Who is in charge of the inventory assessment? YES! take cannabis in all forms off the Schedule I list. There is NO rational scientific evidence that indicated it should be on that list or any list. It is an herb and considered an invasive weed if not tended. Cannabis is just a political football but because the Republican Party has destroyed our economy as of 2008 at least, you will find more and more red states, starving for capital to maintain their bases’ basic social needs, like schools, roads, medical etc., pushing for legalization. Never trust the establishment anymore. We are a once democratic nation in a state of sharp decline. Most people are just too damn lazy to get out there and protest or even make a weekly call to their elected officials. AMERICA we are pathetic in our political apathy!!