LAST CHARGE DROPPED IN S.J. POT CENTER CASE

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Date: Sat, 02 Dec 2000 13:59:22 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>
To: restore@crrh.org
Subject: CA: Last Charge Dropped In S.J. Pot Center Case
Message-ID: <5.0.0.25.2.20001202135910.04f39510@mail.olywa.net>

Newshawk: M & M Family
Pubdate: Fri, 01 Dec 2000
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Jose Mercury News
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Address: 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
Fax: (408) 271-3792
Website: The Mercury News - Bay Area news, sports, business, entertainment, lifestyle and commentary
Author: ANN E. MARIMOW

LAST CHARGE DROPPED IN S.J. POT CENTER CASE

A Santa Clara Superior Court judge on Thursday dismissed a misdemeanor
conviction against Peter Baez -- the last vestige of a high-profile case
involving the founder of one of Santa Clara County's first medical
marijuana centers.

The charges stemmed from Baez's operation of the Santa Clara County Medical
Cannabis Center, which provided marijuana to AIDS and cancer patients for
about a year until it closed after his arrest in May 1998.

Reached at his home in Gilroy, Baez said he was grateful for the judge's
decision.

``Even though it was a badge of courage,'' said Baez, an advocate for
medicinal marijuana for the sick and dying, ``I'm glad to get rid of it.''

Baez, cousin of folk singer Joan Baez, initially was indicted by a grand
jury on seven felony counts, including five counts of illegally selling
marijuana and two counts of grand theft. Prosecutors accused Baez of
running the center in violation of police department regulations requiring
him to check doctors' prescriptions for marijuana.

Last May, in a deal worked out with prosecutors, Baez pleaded no contest to
one misdemeanor charge of maintaining a place for the sale of marijuana. An
appeals court had thrown out his original indictment, citing irregularities
in how the county district attorney's office keeps transcripts of grand
jury proceedings.

The agreement resulted in the dismissal of the felony counts. Baez was
ordered to pay a $100 fine, perform 50 hours of community service and spend
a year under supervised probation.

Despite opposition from the district attorney on Thursday, Judge Diane
Northway ended Baez's probation early and dismissed the single misdemeanor
charge.

Baez's defense attorney Tom Nolan said he initially requested an end to
Baez's probation in August because Baez is terminally ill with cancer and AIDS.

But prosecutors wanted Baez to complete the year probation and 14 more
hours of community service.

``We thought our bargain last spring was a very humane one, and this went a
little bit further than what we had wanted,'' said assistant district
attorney Karyn Sinunu, who supervised the case.

Still, Sinunu said her office won't appeal the judge's decision.
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