New Indictment Filed in Stacy Federal Medical Marijuana Case

San Diego, CA – Last week, days before trial was to start, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Schopler filed a second superseding indictment in Federal Court against James Stacy. The indictment includes two new charges and the modification of one of the previous charges. The paperwork was filed with the court on Thursday afternoon giving the defense less than 24 hours notice and no time to prepare a response.

James Stacy, a San Diego-area medical marijuana provider was raided in September 2009 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz denied a defense for Stacy who was raided a month before the Justice Department issued a new policy on medical marijuana in October, deemphasizing federal enforcement in medical marijuana states.

Despite the new policy, the Obama Administration is continuing its prosecution against Stacy, who was originally supposed to go to trial on August 30th as the first such trial under the new DOJ policy.

“This new indictment makes it a third round of charges against Mr. Stacy and is a clear sign of the vindictive and biased nature of the prosecution in this case”, said Terrie Best, a long time patient advocate and member of San Diego Americans for Safe Access.

These underhanded prosecutorial tactics surprised everyone in the courtroom last Friday, including Judge Moskowitz, who in light of the new charges being so close to the trial date, in a rare move, offered to sever the new charges from the current case. According to Judge Moskowitz in the last fifteen years he has only offered to do this once and he believed that the circumstances of the Stacy case called for such a move if requested by the defense.

Stacy’s supporters present in the courtroom that day were shocked and outraged at Schopler and the distance he was willing to go to get a conviction.

Mr. Stacy’s Attorneys asked the court for time to consider the offer to sever the new charges, as well as more time to prepare for the case now in light of the new indictment. The judge agreed and asked everyone to come back on Tuesday, August 24 at 2pm to further discuss the new trial date and any motions the defense may wish to bring forward in response to the new indictment.

The denial of Stacy’s medical marijuana defense in federal court as well as the vindictive nature of this prosecution has attracted the attention of some Members of Congress who are working to end this unfair practice. “Despite a new Justice Department policy on medical marijuana enforcement, James Stacy was still denied a defense in federal court,” Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), author of HR3939, the Truth in Trials Act, said in a previous statement. Farr also said the Truth in Trials legislation would allow defendants like Stacy to use evidence of state law compliance in federal court, and “would correct this aberration of justice and ensure that no one else will needlessly face years in prison without the means to defend themselves.”

“After the most recent Grand Jury report urging our local government to stop obstructing the implementation of state law and adopt a sensible medical marijuana policy in San Diego, the Stacy persecution — his denial of a defense and the new indictment — undermines the will of California voters who overwhelmingly support Proposition 215 and patient’s rights to access the medicine that helps them,” said Marcus Boyd of San Diego ASA. “The new indictment against Stacy is clearly a vindictive attempt to instill fear into the medical marijuana community, rather than try a case according to law.”

The Stacy trial and recent DEA raids come as the City and County of San Diego are both deliberating local regulations on distribution of medical marijuana. Advocates argue that federal actions in collaboration with local law enforcement aim to undermine efforts to regulate the same activity that’s being criminalized. San Diego has historically been hostile to medical marijuana, filing a lawsuit against local advocates and the State of California to avoid implementing the state-mandated ID card system and conducting more than 50 DEA raids during the Bush Administration. Yet, patients and advocates have been supported by two San Diego Grand Juries that have issued strong recommendations to fully implement state law at the local level.

Stacy will be back in Federal Court on Tuesday August 24 at 2pm in Courtroom 15, where the new trial date and other details of the case will be resolved.

Further Information:
Second Superseding Indictment
Ruling by federal judge denying Stacy’s defense:
http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Stacy_Ruling.pdf
October 2009 Justice Department policy directive on medical marijuana:
http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/192

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