Marijuana Trial: Brave SoCal Pot Shop Owner Aaron Sandusky Fights Feds
If you run a medical marijuana dispensary, what do you do when federal authorities bust down your door, arrest you, and haul you into court on drug possession and distribution charges, as they've been doing in L.A. lately?
U.S. district courts have not recognized California's medical pot laws, so what you do is stick your tail between your legs and hope for a decent plea deal with prosecutors. But not Aaron Sandusky:
He's fighting his case starting today in downtown L.A. federal court. The cojones on this guy.
His Upland dispensary, one of three he ran in the Inland Empire under the G3 brand, was raided by agents in November, and he was indicted in June.
Prosecutors charged him and five others affiliated with the operation (the others took deals) with conspiracy to manufacture pot, possession of weed for distribution and running a "drug location."
The charges could carry life in prison if Sandusky, 42, is successfully prosecuted on all counts, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Jury selection in his trial downtown was scheduled to begin today. Even though he'll not be allowed a defense under California's medical pot laws, he's fighting the case, arguing entrapment and claiming that the number of plants agents say they seized (1,000) was actually far less.
The group Americans for Safe Access has come to his side, with spokesman Kris Hermes saying:
This trial is nothing more than a cynical attempt by the federal government to intimidate dispensary operators in Los Angeles and undermine the implementation of California's medical marijuana law. The Justice Department holds all the cards in federal court and uses that leverage to terrorize the medical marijuana community.
Interestingly, Sandusky sued the city of Upland over its own dispensary ban, and he won a small victory in state court-- a "stay" that expressly allowed his shop there to stay open while he fought the case.
ASA suggests that city officials might then have brought in the feds in retaliation just a day before the case was to be heard at the appeals level. It's now being reviewed by the California Supreme Court, according to the group:
Some evidence seems to suggest that city officials who were frustrated by Sandusky's legal success called in the DEA to permanently shut him down.