Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jan 2008
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Record Searchlight
Author: Jim Schultz
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The former owner of a holistic herbal medicine store in Redding that 
catered to medicinal marijuana patients is facing up to 90 days in 
jail under a plea bargain that was reached the day before he was due 
to begin standing trial.

Ron Dixon, 55, the ex-owner of Dixon Herbs on Merchant Street, 
pleaded no contest Tuesday to maintaining a place for the sale of a 
controlled substance, a felony.

He is due to be sentenced March 11, said Deputy District Attorney Curtis Woods.

Under the terms of the plea bargain, Dixon would serve no more than 
three months in Shasta County jail and would be on probation for one 
year, Woods said.

Woods thinks that the successful plea bargain is the first state 
marijuana conviction of its kind in California, adding that Tuesday's 
agreement was a fair disposition.

"Law in the (medicinal marijuana) arena is pretty unclear," he said.

Eugene Denson of Humboldt County, one of Dixon's two attorneys, 
voiced mixed emotions Tuesday evening about the plea bargain.

Although he said he doesn't think that his client is guilty of the 
charges against him and was ready to go to trial, one is never sure 
how a jury might decide a case.

And, he said, his client could have gone to prison if convicted.

"As a plea agreement, it was pretty agreeable," he said.

Dixon, as well as four others, were due to begin standing trial today 
in Shasta County Superior Court for illegally possessing and selling 
pot at the business.

But plea bargains were struck Friday for the other four defendants, 
who once worked for Dixon at the business, Woods said.

William Brandon Williams, 26, and Christopher Wayne Lee, 26, pleaded 
no contest to possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, a 
misdemeanor, while Jacob Edward Wallace, 25, and Kristopher Dale 
Hutsell, 30, pleaded no contest to possession of less than an ounce 
of marijuana, also a misdemeanor, he said.

All four men were ordered, among other things, to pay fines and 
penalties, but they are not required to spend any time in jail, Woods said.

Attorneys for the four men were unavailable after business hours Tuesday.

The five men were arrested after a two-month investigation in 2005 
that saw the seizure of more than 20 pounds of processed marijuana at 
the shop, as well as scales and packaging materials, police have said.

Williams has said that the shop, which also sold herbs and teas, was 
only open to medicinal marijuana patients and that valid 
identification, such as a driver's license, was needed along with a 
doctor's prescription or state cannabis card.

But Redding Police Chief Leonard Moty has maintained that Dixon Herbs 
was using the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 to justify selling 
marijuana and described the store's actions as "no different than 
selling (marijuana) on the street."

Dixon's attorney, Denson, took great exception to that statement, 
adding that his client had received a city business license to run a 
marijuana dispensary clinic.

"It wasn't at all like selling on the street," he said. "There was 
nothing done secretly."

The Compassionate Use Act gives seriously ill patients the right to 
obtain and use the otherwise illegal drug.

Redding police investigators, along with Shasta County sheriff's 
deputies, a U.S. Treasury Department agent, FBI Safe Streets 
investigators and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents, 
served the search warrant at Dixon Herbs in December 2005, and 
investigators also searched Dixon's home on Hurst Lane in Redding.
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