Despite two deadlocked juries and a dismissal of criminal charges, a judge Thursday refused to return a pound of marijuana to a Rohnert Park man accused of trying to sell it for $2,700 on Craigslist.
Judge Ken Gnoss ruled that 44-year-old Krish Singh was attempting to make a profit, in violation of recent case law, and failed to show that it was for his personal use, as required by the state's Compassionate Use Act, which legalizes pot for medicinal purposes.
“You weren't acquitted,” Gnoss told Singh in court. “It was a hung jury.”
Singh, who represented himself, pointed out that prosecutors later dropped the single felony count of possession for sale, but Gnoss responded it was Singh's burden to prove the marijuana was something he was entitled to.
“Whatever I did was within the letter of the law,” Singh told the judge.
The decision, which was being watched by defense lawyers and prosecutors, showed in part the effect of a precedent-setting appellate court decision released earlier this month that forbids medical marijuana collectives from turning a profit.
Under People vs. Sandercock from San Luis Obispo County, the Second District Court of Appeals found the Compassionate Use Act does not allow for retail sales of marijuana. Prices for marijuana charged by collectives must not exceed the actual cost of cultivation and distribution, it said.
The ruling by Gnoss also brings to a close a local case that made headlines when police said Singh tried to sell pot on Craigslist in 2012.
His posting offered top-shelf marijuana, described as “crystal-laden” and “very distinctly scented,” for $2,700 a pound. The ad came under a banner citing Proposition 215, the voter-approved initiative allowing Californians with a doctor's recommendation to possess and use pot.
“If you're looking for the best, don't waste your time on cheaper meds,” read the ad, which was accompanied by a picture of the greenish weed and a phone number.
Undercover officers wasted no time in calling the number to set up a purchase. They met Singh in the parking lot of Target on Santa Rosa Avenue, where he was arrested.
He was charged with felony possession for sale, which carries a possible prison sentence. But juries in two separate trials were unable to reach a guilty verdict.
Singh thought that meant he would get his marijuana back, but he was wrong.
Gnoss's ruling supported the prosecution's argument that it was contraband that should not be returned.
(You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)