CALIFORNIA: In a grueling week-long trial, a superior court Judge prohibited defense counsel from bringing evidence to support that cannabis patients may lawfully collectively cultivate medical cannabis under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA). And so, a jury found one defendant with a valid medical cannabis recommendation from his doctor, guilty of cultivation.
Further, after a post-verdict informal polling of the jury, several of the twelve jurors expressed concern upon hearing they had been denied portions of the law in their jury instructions. Attorney Laura Sheppard, an independent contractor for the San Diego County Public Defender’s office and defense counsel for the convicted Robert Orlosky vowed to appeal the conviction on several grounds. Most egregious of these was the denial of the pre-trail MMPA motion.
Judge Peter C. Deddeh denied Ms. Sheppard’s request to defend her client under the MMPA, because the judge believed the MMPA doesn’t apply to individual users of medical cannabis. This even though Robert Orlosky’s roommate, David Jones, was assisting in the grow operation of the fewer than 20 cannabis plants and this collaboration clearly constituted a collective covered in the MMPA.
Taking full advantage of this ruling throughout the trial, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney, Jorge DelPortillo repeatedly objected to questions posed to witnesses about California’s medical cannabis collective laws. Each time DelPortillo objected, the judge went along with him and in sidebars admonished Ms. Sheppard that he himself would instruct the jury on the law as it applies to cannabis collectives. Yet, when it came time to add this language to the jury instructions just prior to jury deliberation, Judge Deddeh refused to do so.