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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Charges have finally been dismissed against a former dispensary operator who was arrested in court after testifying for a member of his collective in 2011.

In a rare move announced Monday morning, the Butte County District Attorney’s office is dismissing all charges against former San Diego dispensary operator Jeff Sanford. Sanford is the former director of 30th Street Patient Collective, a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in San Diego and a former California law enforcement officer, with no prior criminal convictions.

Sanford originally traveled to Butte County to testify on behalf of Timothy Skytte, who was a member of Sanford’s collective. Skytte was prosecuted after the Butte County Sheriff’s Office raided his home in August 2011. During the raid the Sheriff’s’ investigators found documents demonstrating that the cannabis being grown on Skytte’s property was for the members of Sanford’s San Diego collective.

Even though Skytte was found in full compliance with state law when the Butte County Sheriff investigators later confirmed that the other members of his collective garden were valid patients as well, he still was charged with felony marijuana charges and prosecuted by Jeff Greeson of the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.

On October 18, 2011 Sanford testified at the preliminary examination that his collective obtained all of its cannabis from patients like Skytte, who grow in small gardens. He also testified that the 30th Street Collective was a in full compliance with state law, paid all of its state and local taxes, and had never received any complaints from law enforcement or the San Diego community.

In an unprecedented act of witness intimidation, the D.A.’s Office had pre-arranged for Sanford to be arrested after he testified. As Sanford was walking out of the courthouse he was taken into custody and charged with felony marijuana and conspiracy charges for the documents found at Skytte’s house.

“It is obvious that Butte County is using this oppressive tactic to suppress people from testifying in defense of medical providers and it is this type of behavior that challenges the fabric of our democracy,” said Mickey Martin of the website Cannabis Warrior in 2011.

After Sanford was arrested in court by deputies, Skytte’s attorney, Jodea Foster, said he would challenge the Butte County District Attorney’s Office action as prosecutorial misconduct. “The people in this county should be outraged that that’s the way our District Attorney’s Office handles issues,” Foster said at the time.

Skytte later took his case to trial and was acquitted of all marijuana charges. Despite this, the D.A.’s Office irrationally pressed on with its prosecution of Sanford.

For the past 18 months, Sanford and his attorney, Lance Rogers, have been fighting this case in the Butte County Courthouse. On Tuesday, March 26, the District Attorney’s Office has finally decided to dismiss all charges against Sanford.

As a result of this case, the collective was forced to close, Sanford lost his job and his family, and he has incurred considerable legal expenses defending his innocence. After all this, he is left wondering why was he arrested in the first place.

 

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