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Local Marijuana Collective Founder Faces Six Federal Felony Charges in LA

Aaron Sandusky, founder and owner of G3 Holistic that once had a store in Upland and Colton, has been charged with six felony counts.

The owner of an Inland Empire chain of marijuana stores is due to face trial next week in Los Angeles on charges of violating federal pot laws.

Aaron Sandusky, 42, of Rancho Cucamonga - founder and owner of G3 Holistic stores in Upland, Colton and Moreno Valley - is charged with six felony counts, including conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute the drug, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The trial, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Los Angeles before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, is expected to be watched closely by those on both sides of the medical marijuana issue.

A federal indictment alleges that the now-closed G3 Holistic chain was using California's Prop. 215 and other state laws regulating legal medical marijuana sales to cover for an illegal for-profit marijuana growing and sales operation that took in more than $3.3 million during an eight-month period last year.

An Internal Revenue Service analysis revealed that withdrawals from G3 accounts were almost equal to the $3.3 million in deposits and were designed "to maintain the facade of G3 Holistic as a non-profit organization," the U.S. Attorney's Office contends.

Sandusky's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, contends that his client was running a perfectly legal operation under California law.

Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug. Federal prosecutors in California said last year that they would begin investigating dispensary operations they believed were skirting Prop. 215 regulations.

A  2009 memo from former Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden details guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Diamond said he plans to use that memo as part of his defense. The so-called "Ogden Memo" gave some assurance to Sandusky and other providers in medical marijuana states that they would not be targeted by federal agents as long as they abide by state rules, Diamond said.

"It's a horrible situation," the attorney said. "There is no uniform national policy on enforcement of marijuana law. It's too arbitrary."

Sandusky's brother Keith and four other former employees of G3 Holistic were also charged and have pleaded guilty in the case. All five are awaiting sentencing and could be called to testify against Sandusky, Diamond said.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Sandusky ignored a series a warnings that his Upland store was operating in violation of the law. The warnings came from local officials, through letters from the Department of Justice, during the execution of search warrants and through civil lawsuits, federal prosecutors said.

Sandusky could face a life sentence if he is convicted on all counts.

The trial is expected to last through the end of the week.

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fedsskrewallthatarenotfeds October 07, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I agree! Taxation without representation.
Harry October 08, 2012 at 07:16 PM
The government actually holds patents for the medical use of the plant. Please peruse US Patent 6630507 titled "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants" which is assigned to The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services. Source info is: http://www.patentstorm.us/search.html?q=6630507&s.x=12&s.y=16 Also see: http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php and http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/257008
Harry October 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Some of you have said fight the power. WE THE PEOPLE are the power; government has somehow forgotten that. If you truly want to fight do so in the voting box. Vote for the ones who know WE THE PEOPLE put them there to represent us. The veil of fear and ignorance is lifting, WE THE PEOPLE are now thinking for ourselves and no longer believing what the government wants us to believe. The government is not a two party system. The time is now. To anyone who uses Marijuana or hemp in any way: Would you vote for someone that will use your tax money to put you in jail for doing so?
Harry October 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
WE THE PEOPLE need representatives like Gary Johnson; before the bill of rights becomes the bill of Privileges. The constitution and bill of rights seem to be just one step from being thrown in to the shredder! http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/257008
Harry October 08, 2012 at 07:35 PM
“It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” —John Adams Juries have the power to judge the facts and the law. If the law is a bad one, like marijuana prohibition, vote Not Guilty to acquit. We are attempting to change the bad marijuana laws. "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." Thomas Jefferson. Share this!

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