Medical Marijuana Storefront Owners Found Guilty of Possessing Drug For Sale

The owners and operators of The Healing Center, a medical marijuana storefront in Santa Barbara, were found guilty Monday of possessing marijuana for sale, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office announced today.

In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa held that it is illegal to sell marijuana and for anyone to be compensated for "dispensing" marijuana. The court stated that there is no valid "medical marijuana" defense to a charge of possessing marijuana for sale, and rejected the claim by defendants Juan Solis, Sintia Martinez and Jose Lopez, that their customers were members of their cooperative.

The case stemmed from arrests made in 2010 following an investigation by narcotics detectives from the Santa Barbara Police Department, according to the DA's office. The owners of the marijuana storefront, which was operating in a commercial building located at the intersection of San Andreas and Micheltorena streets, were arrested for marijuana sales activity on Feb. 17 that year. At that point the business was closed down, but the owners reopened it a short time later.

They were arrested again on June 23, 2010 and a third time on Oct. 26, 2010, each time for selling marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale.

The defendants all served jail time and were then placed on felony probation with standard felony drug terms and conditions, including that they will be prohibited from working in any marijuana business.

The ruling made clear that individuals can legally grow, and use, their own medically approved marijuana and that it is legal for individuals to join together to collectively cultivate their marijuana, which they can divide among themselves.

- Article originally from Santa Ynes Valley News.

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