Pubdate: Mon, 05 Apr 2010
Source: Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Newspaper group
Author: Mike Cruz


Prosecutors have dismissed criminal charges against a 51-year-old 
medical marijuana patient, who lingered in county jail for months 
after being arrested for growing a dozen of the controversial plants.

Deputy District Attorney Rosa Clark announced the news Friday at an 
unscheduled hearing for Don Kevin Lawrence in San Bernardino Superior 
Court, the same day The Sun ran a story featuring Lawrence's case.

Prosecutors dropped three felony counts alleging Lawrence had 
cultivated and possessed marijuana for sale and maintained a place to 
sell the drug. He was released Monday, his family said.

"I think it was the right thing to do," said Lawrence's lawyer James 
Gass during a brief interview Monday.

Lawrence wasn't even in the courtroom to hear the news at the 
unscheduled hearing, Gass said. Prosecutors just brought in the case 
file and made a motion to dismiss the charges, he said.

Clark could not be reached for comment.

Lawrence's next scheduled appearance had been this coming Friday, at 
which time San Francisco-based lawyer Zenia Gilg had said she was 
going to substitute in as the defense lawyer on the case.

Gilg has represented clients from San Bernardino County in other 
medical marijuana cases. She recently represented 66-year-old Richard 
McCabe, who was arrested with his wife, JoAnn Cates, in August 2007 
after sheriff's deputies reportedly found a greenhouse with 120 
marijuana plants in various stages of growth on the couple's property 
in Johnson Valley.

Prosecutors dropped the marijuana-related charges against McCabe and 
Cates just before a preliminary hearing in March 2009 in Joshua Tree 
Superior Court.

Lawrence's supporters and family say he was a patient at THCF Medical 
Clinic in Riverside when San Bernardino police arrested him and his 
two sons in October at home. The defendant reportedly had 12 
marijuana plants, an amount police said exceeded state guidelines.

However, a doctor at THCF clinic reportedly gave Lawrence an "exceeds 
limit recommendation" to grow as much marijuana as he medically 
needed, beyond state guidelines of six mature or 12 immature plants 
and eight ounces of processed marijuana. Lawrence suffers nerve 
damage in his back and nephrosis of the kidneys, his family said.

Lawrence and his sons posted bail after their arrest, but the court 
later increased his bail to $500,000 after prosecutors alleged prior 
offenses going back to 1994 and 1987.

Activist Lanny Swerdlow questioned why county officials allow law 
enforcement to continue to pursue cases against medical marijuana 
patients and dispensaries in light of state law and recent court decisions.

"It's just unbelievable," Swerdlow said. "They never win these cases, 
so why in the world are they still pursuing this stuff?"

Swerdlow is director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, an 
Inland Empire-based medical marijuana patient support group and law 
reform organization.

Lawrence still has an unrelated misdemeanor case that Gass believes 
they will be able to resolve. 
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