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   First Federal Medical Marijuana Trial 
         in 3 Years Starts Tomorrow

FRESNO — The first federal trial of a medical marijuana patient since the high-profile 2003 conviction of
 author Ed Rosenthal starts in district court in Fresno tomorrow. Scores of other patients and providers
 are awaiting trial as a result of federal raids

       Guilty Verdict in First Federal Medical Marijuana Trial in 3 Years  

TAGS Medical Marijuana Onlinepot Marijuana Case Law Case Law Court Rulings California Legal Research Cannabis Law Suits Attorney General US Supreme Court District Court State Court Marijuana Court Rulings 9th district court US Department Of Justice DEA Drug Lawyers Legal Defenses Case Rulings Pot Legal Defenses

        For Immediate Release?November 6, 2006

The federal charges were brought against Dustin Costa, 60, a leading medical 
cannabis activist and former Marine, only after 18 months of state court 
proceedings made it clear to local prosecutors that California?s medical 
cannabis law would provide him a defense.

"Dustin Costa is a victim of the federal government’s refusal to respect medical 
science," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, 
the national advocacy group. "He and all the others being denied a medical 
defense at trial are the new targets in our government’s war on patients."

The original state marijuana cultivation charges stemmed from a March 2004 raid 
by Merced County Sheriffs on a greenhouse Mr. Costa maintained on behalf of the 
patients in his collective. Since being re-arrested by federal agents on August 
10, 2005, Mr. Costa has been held at Fresno County Jail. He is now facing 
federal charges of cultivation, possession with intent to distribute, and 
possession of a firearm.

In federal court, Mr. Costa — who was the head of the Merced Patients Group, a 
non-profit collective he formed based on legal advice — will not be allowed to 
present any evidence about his medical condition or anything to do with his 
compliance with the state?s medical marijuana law. This is the same situation 
that led to the conviction of Mr. Rosenthal and the subsequent revolt of the 
jurors, once they found out he was growing for patients. If convicted on all 
counts, Mr. Costa faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Mr. Costa represents the first of nearly a hundred patients and providers 
expected to go to trial on arrests that have occurred since the U.S. Supreme 
Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich. At least 91 patients and providers have been 
arrested and currently await trial in federal court.

WHO:     Medical cannabis patient and caregiver Dustin Costa

WHAT:   First federal medical marijuana trial since Ed Rosenthal in 2003

WHEN:   Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 9:00 am for jury selection. The trial will 
continue on November 8, but then recess until November 14.

WHERE: Courtroom of Judge Anthony W. Ishii, U.S. District Court, 2500 Tulare 
Street, Fresno, California

# # #

With more than 30,000 active members with chapters and affiliates in more than 
40 states, Americans for Safe Access is the largest national member-based 
organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned 
citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and 

Medical Marijuana: First New Federal Prosecution 
     in Three Years Underway in California

Drug War Chronicle
November 10th, 2006

The US Justice Department had not prosecuted a California medical marijuana patient since 2003, but that changed Wednesday as the federal trial of Merced County medical marijuana patient and provider Dustin Costa got under way in Fresno. Costa, a leading medical marijuana activist, was originally arrested on state charges, but Merced County prosecutors handed his case over to the feds when it became apparent that California’s Compassionate Use Act would make it impossible to convict him under California law.

The last federal medical marijuana patient and provider trial in California was the Ed Rosenthal debacle. In that case, Rosenthal was convicted on federal marijuana manufacture charges after the jury was not allowed to hear testimony relating to medical marijuana. Rosenthal was convicted, but when jurors learned the rest of the story, many of them publicly denounced the trial and the verdict, and the federal judge trying the case sentenced him to only one day in jail.

In Costa’s case, the 60-year-old retired Marine who headed the Merced Patients Group, a nonprofit cultivation collective, was originally arrested by Merced County sheriff’s deputies when they raided a greenhouse he was using to cultivate marijuana for patients in March 2004. But local prosecutors turned the case over to the feds, and Costa was re-arrested on federal charges in August 2005. Since then, he has been imprisoned at the Fresno County Jail. If convicted on the charges, he faces a mandatory minimum 20-year federal prison sentence.

Costa now faces federal charges of cultivation, possession with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm. As in the Rosenthal case, Costa will not be allowed to even mention medical marijuana or its legality under state law during the trial.

"Dustin Costa is a victim of the federal government’s refusal to respect medical science," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy group. "He and all the others being denied a medical defense at trial are the new targets in our government’s war on patients."

Costa may be the first medical marijuana patient to be tried by the feds since the Rosenthal trial, but he probably will not be the last. According to figures compiled by Americans for Safe Access, at least 91 other California patients and providers have been arrested on federal marijuana charges and are awaiting trial.