Friday, January 14, 2011

Local Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group Training Public Defenders

San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access conducts certified continuing legal education training for the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office.

SAN DIEGO - Successfully defending medical marijuana patients in court was the focus of Thursday’s certified continuing legal education (MCLE) training for the San Diego County Public Defenders.

About sixty public defenders, court-appointed attorneys, and private attorneys were on hand at the main San Diego training facility with over sixty others joining through an internet broadcast courtesy of the Public Defender’s Office.

“This was our most well attended training”, said Gary Gibson, Training Coordinator for the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office and local Law Professor.

Proposition 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, established the legal right of patients to use, possess and grow marijuana with a doctor’s authorization in California. In January 2004, SB 420, a bill passed by the California legislature and signed by the governor, gave patients, collectives, and cooperative dispensaries additional rights and directing counties to afford better protection to patients and caregivers.

Since SB 420 in 2004 the appellate courts have issued many decisions directly affecting medical marijuana patients and caregivers in California including County of Butte v. Superior Court, a landmark appellate court ruling that protects the right of medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers to collectively cultivate.

“No California medical marijuana patient or caregiver should ever have to go to jail or accept a plea bargain again,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “Once defense attorneys understand the changes in the law and the defenses available to them, they’ll be able to fight every prosecution to acquittal.”

The training sessions will count for continuing legal education credit (MCLE) for the participating attorneys and were provided to the Public Defenders Office at no cost. The training was taught by two trial lawyers, Bahar Ansari San Diego ASA board member and Lance Rogers, both of whom successfully defended medical marijuana patients at trial in San Diego and are experts in the field.

“This training helped arm the Public Defenders in San Diego who typically represent the most vulnerable in our community, those who cannot afford private counsel, with the knowledge and resources to successfully defend legitimate patients at trial”, said Eugene Davidovich San Diego Area Liaison for Americans for Safe Access who introduced the two instructors at today’s training. “It is our hope that programs like this one will help reduce the amount of cases where patients accept plea deals when they are in fact compliant with State law”.

Americans for Safe Access is the nation’s largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

Further Information:

Watch the News Brief about the training: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4tujH3mvkI
San Diego ASA: www.safeaccesssd.org

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To see all the San Diego ASA News Briefs visit: YouTube.com/SafeAccessSD