Navy Veteran Sentenced for Running Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Jovan Jackson is accused of making $160,000 from marijuana sales at a medicinal pot shop in Kearny Mesa

By Monica Garske and Elena Gomez
|  Friday, Dec 13, 2013  |  Updated 1:27 PM PDT
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NBC 7's Elena Gomez reports on the sentencing of Navy veteran Jovan Jackson, convicted for running a retail marijuana store in Kearny Mesa.

NBC 7's Elena Gomez reports on the sentencing of Navy veteran Jovan Jackson, convicted for running a retail marijuana store in Kearny Mesa.

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A Navy veteran convicted of running a medical marijuana retail store in San Diego will serve about four months in sheriff’s custody for charges stemming from the sale of marijuana.

Jovan Jackson was sentenced Friday to 180 days in sheriff’s custody, plus three years of probation. Jackson has earned credit for past days served in custody, bringing his final sentence down to 132 days.

Jackson’s sentence begins on Jan. 3, after the holiday season.

Jackson’s attorney, Lance Rogers, and prosecutor Chris Lindberg both spoke before a judge in San Diego Friday, pleading their cases one final time.

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Navy Veteran Convicted of Running Retail Marijuana Store

The San Diego jury's decision in the Jovan Jackson case is sending a strong message to people on both sides of the medical marijuana debate. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.
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In the courtroom, the judge asked Jackson to choose between being sentenced to prison or serving probation time. Jackson requested to see the conditions of his probation, and his attorney asked for a recess to discuss those conditions.

Jackson’s case has been a long, five-year process with two separate court cases dating back to 2008 and 2009.

In 2009, Jackson was accused of managing and profiting from a medical marijuana dispensary in Kearny Mesa called Answerdam Alternative Care.

Currently, California’s medical marijuana law protects people from prosecution is they form non-profit collectives or cooperatives.

However, in this case, prosecutors argued that Jackson made $160,000 from the sale of marijuana in 75 days, meaning his dispensary was not a non-profit operation.

“He didn’t comply with the medical marijuana laws,” said Lindberg during a November court appearance when a jury announced the guilty verdicts against Jackson for sale and possession of marijuana.

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The sentencing judge said there was no proof from either party on where the money in question actually ended up.

TIMELINE: Medical Marijuana in San Diego

In 1996, Prop 215 was passed in California, making it legal to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. Since then, issues stemming from the sale of medicinal marijuana have been anything but simple.

While the California state law allows for medicinal marijuana, federal law does not.

Dispensaries were shuttered two years ago after the U.S. Attorney’s Office warned landlords to stop renting to dispensaries or risk losing their property.

However, in August, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would not block state laws legalizing medical marijuana.

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