Laura Sharp and son Nelson with attorney Michael Cindrich outside Vista Courthouse. (SDASA)
Vista Prosecutor Dismisses Charges Against Laura Sharp and son Nelson on April 16
By Terrie Best / San Diego Americans for Safe Access
San Diego, CA – It has been a great day for legal medical marijuana patients Laura Sharp, her son Nelson and an unnamed co-defendant after a Vista prosecutor dismissed the charges against the trio in the interest of justice and the three walked out amid cheers and clapping from their supporters.
SocalPURE, a non-profit mutual benefit corporation and legal medical cannabis collective was raided back in October of 2013. Laura Sharp, a directing member, her son Nelson and a volunteer were all man-handled by the array of law enforcement who conducted the raid. Several patient members were thrown to the ground, screamed at and handcuffed for more than six hours. Law enforcement seized all assets and equipment and even Laura’s money from her wallet. Unfortunately, these raids on medical marijuana collectives are conducted without investigation into a collective’s legality or patient status so SocalPURE was victimized by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis via her Narcotics Task Force in much the way a common robbery would take place.
The family-operated collective began its life the way many do, an illness in the immediate family created a need for affordable medical marijuana and the desire to help others in the same situation. But for Laura and her family the decision became a nightmare as they began to realize the raid on SocalPURE was not a gross mistake but they would be charged criminally for running a legal medical marijuana facility. The family was shocked and terribly disappointed in the system. They reeled that in one swoop their collective was closed, their patients left to suffer and innocent people arrested causing thousands in personal debt. Further, while awaiting trial the three endured six months of fear of losing jobs and professional licenses and painful decisions over whether to take a plea deal for a misdemeanor and face probation and a waiver of rights. All refused the plea, due to their innocence.
Laura Sharp courtroom supporters outside Vista courthouse on April 16, 2014 – after the case was dismissed in the interest of justice. (SDASA)
Much of that torment officially ended today as the three stood before Judge Carlos O. Armour with their attorney, Michael Cindrich and the prosecutor told the judge she would dismiss the case in the interest of justice. This is not the first time we’ve been happily surprised at this prosecutor, Landy Spencer-Daly. Several medical marijuana cases she’s touched have come out well and her name keeps turning up as a dismissing prosecutor or one who readily offers misdemeanor pleas.
Even after we stood in the hall congratulating the newest defendants on their victory, we came across yet another medical marijuana case being dismissed by Ms. Spencer-Daly. Court support has its high points and one of them was watching cannabis advocates pile back into the crowded courtroom to witness this case being dismissed and cheering and clapping for this young man as well. I watched the judge’s reaction and saw a secret smile before he remembered himself – just as his clerk yelled at us.
It should also be noted that Landy Spencer-Daly was at the raid on SocalPURE. This is not typical for these raids so I asked Michael Cindrich about it. He agreed it isn’t typical and also wondered why the DA’s office is taking on the role of law enforcement.
Terrie Best – San Diego Americans for Safe Access Court Support Coordinator
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