Posted: May 8, 2013 3:32 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News
Updated: May 9, 2013 11:35 AM
For Steven Gordon, finding himself in trouble with the law was a distant thought when he started a mobile marijuana dispensary business, and even though he attempted to follow state guidelines, that's exactly where he ended up.
"It just blew me away. I'd never been arrested in my life. I'm in my 50s," said Gordon.
None the less, the prosecution felt they had a case.
According to court documents, undercover detectives with the SLO Narcotics Task Force set up a meeting with Gordon with the intent to purchase medical marijuana.
"Amy Dobson called me up, introduced herself as a patient from Dr. Reeses in San Luis Obispo," said Gordon. "I got her information, I called and verified it. The first time I met her she signed the agreement to become part of the collective. She gave me a copy of her recommendation."
But what Gordon didn't know, is that Amy Dobson wasn't Amy Dobson at all. Her real name was Amy Chastien, a San Luis Obispo Police officer.
According to the investigation, Chastien and another officer met with Gordon on three separate occasions and purchased $50 worth of marijuana each time.
"I felt sorry for her," said Gordon. "I met her and her boyfriend. He was unemployed, she was a student. I met them in San Luis at their apartment that they just moved into. Looking around, they didn't have anything. I felt kind of bad after the first visit."
After explaining to Dobson the ground rules of a patient's marijuana rights, Gordon had Dobson sign a three page collective agreement.
The final transaction between Dobson and Gordon happened on December 15th, 13 days before Gordon would be placed in police custody.
"I just never really thought about it," said Gordon. "She had a doctor's recommendation, she was legal and in need, and I never really evaluated her as doing something wrong."
Prosecutors felt differently and charged him with a crime.
The case against him began in early 2011, but a bomb shell left a gaping hole in the prosecution's case.
Remember that other person in the room with Amy Dobson? The unemployed boyfriend? It turns out his real name is Cory Pierce, a now former San Luis Obispo narcotics detective charged with corruption.
"The investigation centers on the individual actions of Officer Pierce," said San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell at a press conference the day Pierce was arrested.
Back in February, police arrested Pierce, saying he had stolen cash and drugs from police lockers, sold fake drugs to dealers, stole from them, and after an investigation, police discovered Pierce had become addicted to heroin and was using on the job.
But before Pierce could even be considered as a witness, the prosecution needed to prove to a judge there was enough evidence for this case to go to trial
Over the course of a year, the prosecution and defense went head to head.
"I'd never been in court," said Gordon. "I was flabbergasted, I didn't know what to expect. I'd never had to stand before a judge like that."
In a radical turn of events, the case was dismissed in January of last year at the request of the DA's office.
That request was made after Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera drafted jury instructions that the prosecution said would have made it almost impossible to get a conviction.
That decision set Gordon and five others free.
The DA's office immediately appealed its own dismissals to the state.
Those cases have remained stagnant since, though a number of the defendants have yet to receive their confiscated personal property, including bank accounts and other assets.
What we have here is a clear battle between state and federal law.
One says it's legal, one says it's illegal and until they sort it out, taxpayers, patients, dispensary owners, doctors, and law enforcement are all fighting a losing battle.
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