Pubdate: Thu, 29 Mar 2012
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Record Searchlight
Author: Janet O'Neill


RED BLUFF - A recent appellate court decision in a medical marijuana
case has prompted a judge to reconsider a defense motion he denied
last year, paving the way for a Tehama County jury trial in a case
dating back to 2009.

Red Bluff events promoter Joseph Froome, 49, and his son-in-law,
28-year-old Daniel Ludwig, are charged with cultivation of marijuana
and possession of marijuana for sale. Froome also faces eight counts
of money laundering.

In arguments Tuesday before Judge S. William Abel, the retired Colusa
County Superior Court jurist assigned to the case, Oakland attorneys
William Panzer and James Silva said two recent rulings support their
assertion medical marijuana patients are entitled to distribute
cannabis and exchange money in a collective. They cited February
decisions by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in People v. Colvin and
Lake Forest v. Evergreen in the 4th District, a case that played a
major role in a Redding judge's ruling to keep dispensaries open for

At issue Tuesday was Abel's rejection in September of a defense motion
that sought to bar testimony that patients could neither distribute
cannabis nor exchange money. That's "an incorrect interpretation of
the law and we don't want it argued or testified to at trial," said
Panzer, a co-author of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of

Froome and Ludwig maintain they were operating a legitimate medical
marijuana collective at the time of an Oct. 21, 2009, raid on a Baker
Road warehouse where agents seized more than 400 plants and 30 pounds
of drying marijuana. As recently as last month, Panzer said he would
seek a court trial to speed the route to an appeal.

But on Tuesday, Abel agreed to reconsider his earlier

"Based on the Colvin case it appears the ruling was incorrect," Abel

Also Tuesday, a hearing was set for 9 a.m. June 22 to consider what
evidence could be presented to jurors. In addition, a jury trial was
set to begin July 30 and run through Aug. 16.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Rogers said outside court Tuesday he
is "hopeful (the hearing) is going to help us sort out all these issues."
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