Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | 11:24 a.m.
Jolly Green Meds
As protesters stood with large signs on the street corner outside, six defendants and their attorneys crowded inside a Las Vegas courtroom today to begin what could be a lengthy court battle over Nevada's medical marijuana law.
“We’re hoping it shines light on the law that’s broken and hopefully we can fix it,” said Sean Kinshella outside the Clark County Regional Justice Center at the corner of Third Street and Lewis Avenue.
Kinshella, 29, is one of six defendants charged with multiple felony counts of breaking a state law regulating the way medical marijuana may be obtained in Nevada by allegedly operating a business that sold it for about three months.
The others are Daniel Kinshella, 50; Christine Kinshella, 24; Kimberly Simons, 26; Jesse Moffett, 33, and Ryan Bondhus, 27.
They were indicted by a grand jury on May 20 for 16 felony counts that included sale of marijuana, conspiracy to sell marijuana, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and maintaining a place for sale of a controlled substance.
They each pleaded not guilty today during their arraignment before District Judge Douglas Smith.
Smith said he wanted to be cautious "and not storm through" the case because it was the first time for the law to be dealt with in district court. The judge noted that all of the defendants are out of custody on bail.
Although Nevada's constitution was changed by voters in 2000 to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, Nevada law doesn't allow the the sale of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients or caregivers must grow their own marijuana in amounts not exceeding state laws. Smith told attorneys that his initial understanding of the law is that one can possess two adult plants and two juvenile plants.
"The problem is that you can't sell them," Smith said. "And that's what we're going to have to resolve in this trial."
Smith said his understanding is that the defendants were taking donations for the cannabis products at the business.
"Whether you say this is a donation or this is to sell, they are still marketing marijuana, apparently," Smith told attorneys. "This is for motion purposes and not for guilt. I want you to know I haven't formed an opinion."
Meanwhile, at the request of Chief Deputy District Attorney Tina Sedlock, Smith set a tentative date for the jury trial of 10:30 a.m. March 26, 2012.
Some of the motions that were filed while the case was in Las Vegas Justice Court will be transferred to district court and will be heard at 8 a.m. next Wednesday, Smith said. He told attorneys that the defendants themselves do not need to attend next Wednesday's hearing.
The case began on Nov. 23, 2010, when Metro Police raided Jolly Green Meds, 7710 W. Sahara Ave., a business Sean Kinshella, its president, described as an “association” that served about 500 owner clients.
In the raid, police found about 5 pounds of marijuana and more than 22 plants at the business, which police say allegedly sold food products laced with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Those products included butter and peanut butter, police said. Officers said Jolly Green Meds also offered their customers a delivery service.
Police also said they found nearly a pound of hash oil, a potent Cannabis that's sometimes as high as 80 percent pure THC. The 351 grams recovered at the store are worth about $21,000, police said.
After the hearing outside the court building, Kinshella, 29, joined the protesters, including one in a wheelchair.
They were holding large signs saying “NRS 453 A — 10 Years of Failing You,” in reference to the enacting legislation for a change voters made in the state constitution that allows for medical use of marijuana in the state.
Kinshella said NRS 453A was drafted with the intention of fulfilling a change in the constitution approved by voters that provides an appropriate means of supply of marijuana to qualified medical patients.
The law does allow people to grow their own marijuana, he said. However, because there is no access to plants or seeds, there is no legal way to grow your own marijuana without breaking the law, he said.
Kinshella said he and his partners set up their association so everyone was an equal owner of the facility.
“We had private consultations with members only, not in public, regarding cannabis and access to cannabis, ” he said.
“Some people can grow, some people can’t because of a landlord situation," he said. "A lot of patients are unable to grow at least medical quality cannabis. It is not an easy task to accomplish. Most people fail at it. Very few people are very good at it. It’s not an acceptable means of access for patients to grow their own, especially when they can have no access to buy seeds or plants. “
Kinshella said to provide better access, the Nevada Legislature would need to revise current state law.
“Hopefully that will happen and patients will finally have access and what the voters voted for will finally become reality,” he said.
“Three bills got shot down this last legislative session that were trying to fix this problem,” he said.
Kinshella said there were “hundreds” of people who are affected by the law.
“It’s a democracy and we all said yes. But there are certain government bodies standing in the way not wanting to allow it. So it’s come to a time where we have to change it. And every voter should be upset or concerned because if it’s not this law it could be another law. The point of laws is to uphold our constitution. If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job. “
Kinshella said he thought the judge presiding over the case was receptive to the defendants’ arguments.
“He's open-minded. He wants to look at every aspect of it,” Kinshella said. “The first impressions are obviously ‘take heed’ and everybody has a preconception of what everything is. I would hope we could keep the focus on what’s important and change the law so we wouldn’t be here in the first place. If there was a means for us to help patients without breaking any laws we would have done that. We’re wasting tax dollars. Voters aren’t getting what they want, what they wished to have 10 years ago. It’s been a decade, which is way too long."