Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 1999
Source: Auburn Journal
Copyright: 1999 Auburn Journal
Contact:  1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603
Author: Dena Erwin, Journal Staff Writer


Dentist And Wife Still Face Sales Accusation

By Dena Erwin, Journal Staff Writer

An Auburn judge dismissed marijuana cultivation charges against a
Rocklin dentist and his wife Wednesday, ruling their 146-plant garden
complied with a 1996 state initiative allowing use of the drug for
medical purposes.

Michael and Georgia Baldwin, however, still face charges of selling
marijuana, and the defense began presenting its case Wednesday
following the favorable ruling on cultivation.

The Baldwins, arrested Sept. 23 at their Granite Bay home, each
possessed physician recommendations for using marijuana to treat
migraine headaches and other ailments.

In making what could turn out to be a landmark ruling, Superior Court
Judge James D. Garbolino said Proposition 215 makes a patient exempt
from prosecution for cultivation once he obtains a physician's

"Investigators verified the existence of the (doctor's)
recommendation, and admitted as much at trial," Garbolino wrote in his
ruling. "Under these circumstances, it is clear that the defendants
are proven to be exempt from the operation of statutes prohibiting
possession and cultivation if the marijuana cultivated is for personal
medical purposes."

The Baldwin's jury trial began April 13 but Garbolino called for a
one-week recess after the prosecution rested its case April 21,
allowing him time to research the complex legal issues surrounding
medical marijuana.

Garbolino announced his decision to halt the cultivation trial when
proceedings resumed Wednesday.

Michael Baldwin said he wasn't surprised with the judge's

"We knew it would be dismissed or we would have won (had it gone to
the jury)," he said. "We didn't break the law and the prosecution
doesn't have a case."

Placer County District Attorney Brad Fenocchio declined to comment
after the ruling whether his office will appeal Garbolino's dismissal
or how the ruling could affect upcoming cases. Fenocchio said the law
forbids him from commenting on a case that's still before a jury.

One of the cases that could be affected is that of Steve and Michele
Kubby, who were arrested at their Olympic Valley home in January on
suspicion of marijuana cultivation and sales. Steve Kubby, 52, openly
espoused the use of medical marijuana during his Libertarian-party bid
for the state governorship last year.

The Kubbys also possess doctor recommendations for using medical
marijuana. Steve Kubby said the drug has kept symptoms of his rare
adrenal cancer at bay for 23 years.

"This certainly paves the way for our case," he said

News of the dismissal was also encouraging to some of the medical
marijuana users who regularly attended the Baldwin

Robert Ames said he was strengthened by the news and planned to use
Garbolino's ruling in his upcoming trial on similar charges. Police
found 32 plants growing in his Sacramento home, he said, but claimed
he has a doctor's recommendation for using marijuana for gastritis.

"I'm very excited, very encouraged that the judge had the wisdom to
dismiss," Ames said. "It allows me to establish that patients are in
fact covered and it's for the police to prove otherwise."

Defense testimony on the marijuana sales charge resumes this morning
at Auburn's Historic Courthouse. 
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