Pubdate: Mon, 07 Feb 2011
Source: Calaveras Enterprise (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Calaveras Enterprise
Author: Joel Metzger
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


After more than a year of litigation, San Andreas resident and 
medical marijuana patients' rights advocate Jay Smith pleaded no 
contest Jan. 28 to one misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting 
another person in committing a felony.

Smith, 38, was initially charged with three felonies after he sold an 
ounce of marijuana to a member of the Calaveras County Sheriff's 
Office who was working undercover on Jan. 4, 2010.

According to Deputy District Attorney Seth Matthews, the initial 
charges were for sales, cultivation and possession of marijuana. 
"This still feels like a loss to me," Smith said. "To plead guilty to 
anything when you have not broken the law leaves a person feeling 
very sad and powerless."

In his defense, Smith said the undercover deputy used a legitimate 
medical marijuana recommendation to join Smith's K Care Collective 
and appear legitimate.

The recommendation belonged to Robert Shaffer of Ione, who was 
arrested in 2009 on drug charges. According to reports, Deputy Steve 
Avila had taken possession of Shaffer's recommendation and used it to 
convince Smith that he was in fact Shaffer in the weeks leading up to 
the sting operation.

Shaffer later filed an official complaint against the Sheriff's 
Office, stating that he had not given anyone permission to use his identity.

Smith adamantly denied that he had broken the law from the very 
start, claiming that he was legally operating a medical marijuana 
collective in compliance with state law when he sold the marijuana to 
the undercover deputy, who he thought was Shaffer.

Sheriff Dennis Downum said that Smith was executing a drug deal 
instead of operating a legitimate collective.

"Quite frankly, it doesn't sound like he was any part of a 
collective," Downum said in 2010. "With a collective there has to be 
a relationship of some sort. It can't be meeting somebody in a 
parking lot. In our opinion, you're just selling drugs."

Matthews summarized the case Wednesday by saying it came down to a 
basic difference of opinion about the intent of the law.

"My view is under the law you need a relationship between a member of 
the collective and a person  not simply meeting in a parking lot and 
saying, 'Sign my papers and pay market price for the marijuana,'" 
Matthews said.

"I didn't think he would go to state prison over this."

That being said, Matthews said that state prison was a possibility in 
Smith's case.

As to why Matthews was willing to make a plea deal for only one 
misdemeanor when the initial charges were three felonies, he said 
there were potential issues with the case.

"There were always potential problems of proof about Proposition 215. 
That was the reason for the deal." Matthews said he also considered 
that even if the case went to trial and the district attorney won on 
everything, the eventual sentence might not be that different than 
what he bargained for in the plea deal.

Smith will serve 90 days in jail and pay a $160 fine without being 
subject to probation.

When he adds up the money he spent to defend himself and the losses 
he sustained through K Care Collective, Smith said it's about $45,000.

"Had I had the resources, I would have taken this to trial," Smith 
wrote. "That said, I am certainly glad it's over."
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