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Name: People v. London
Case #: E057249
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/30/2014

Although the jury instructions misstated the defense under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) related to medical marijuana collectives, defendant was not entitled to instructions on this defense. Police discovered 100 marijuana plants in a grow room in London’s home. London, who was a qualified patient and had a medical marijuana card, told officers that he was lawfully cultivating the marijuana for a medical marijuana collective, the Green Galleon collective, and expected to be paid $20,000 once he returned the fully grown plants to the collective. London was found guilty of cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale (Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11358, 11359). On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on his lawful cultivation defense under the MMPA (Health & Saf. Code, §§ 11362.765, 11362.775). Held: Affirmed. The appellate court determined that the MMPA and the Attorney General’s medical marijuana Guidelines allow qualified patients and other specified persons “to form nonprofit groups, and through those groups, pay each other and receive compensation and reimbursement from each other in amounts necessary to cover the ‘overhead costs and operating expenses’ of cultivating and providing medical marijuana to the qualified patient . . . .” This includes reasonable compensation for the labor or services rendered in cultivating the medical marijuana. The jury instructions in this case, which were based on the more narrow Compassionate Use Act, were contrary to the MMPA and misstated the law. There was no reversible error, however, because London’s evidence fell short of raising a reasonable doubt that he was lawfully cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale, on a nonprofit basis, to a lawfully operating medical marijuana collective.

The trial court properly limited the testimony of the defense’s cannabis expert. London sought to introduce expert testimony concerning compensation lawfully paid to and expenses reasonably incurred by persons who grow marijuana for medical marijuana collectives. Relying on a pre-MMPA case, People ex rel. Lungren v. Peron (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 1383, the trial court excluded the testimony. Even though the MMPA abrogated Peron and subsequent case law has recognized that qualified patients may be paid reasonable compensation for cultivating marijuana for other qualified patients, the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The expert had no evidentiary support to offer an opinion that defendant was not earning an unlawful profit for cultivating and distributing his marijuana. He also admitted that he could not competently opine that the Green Galleon collective was lawfully operating under state law.