A recent appellate court decision in a medical marijuana case has prompted a judge to reconsider a defense motion he denied last year, paving the way for a Tehama County jury trial in a case dating back to 2009.
Red Bluff events promoter Joseph Froome, 49, and his son-in-law, 28-year-old Daniel Ludwig, are charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale. Froome also faces eight counts of money laundering.
In arguments Tuesday before Judge S. William Abel, the retired Colusa County Superior Court jurist assigned to the case, Oakland attorneys William Panzer and James Silva said two recent rulings support their assertion medical marijuana patients are entitled to distribute cannabis and exchange money in a collective. They cited February decisions by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in People v. Colvin and Lake Forest v. Evergreen in the 4th District, a case that played a major role in a Redding judge’s ruling to keep dispensaries open for now.
At issue Tuesday was Abel’s rejection in September of a defense motion that sought to bar testimony that patients could neither distribute cannabis nor exchange money. That’s “an incorrect interpretation of the law and we don’t want it argued or testified to at trial,” said Panzer, a co-author of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
Froome and Ludwig maintain they were operating a legitimate medical marijuana collective at the time of an Oct. 21, 2009, raid on a Baker Road warehouse where agents seized more than 400 plants and 30 pounds of drying marijuana. As recently as last month, Panzer said he would seek a court trial to speed the route to an appeal.
But on Tuesday, Abel agreed to reconsider his earlier decision.
“Based on the Colvin case it appears the ruling was incorrect,” Abel said.
Also Tuesday, a hearing was set for 9 a.m. June 22 to consider what evidence could be presented to jurors. In addition, a jury trial was set to begin July 30 and run through Aug. 16.
Assistant District Attorney Matt Rogers said outside court Tuesday he is “hopeful ( the hearing ) is going to help us sort out all these issues.”