Pot trial on hold, judge awaits state ruling | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Pot trial on hold, judge awaits state ruling

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury pushed back a trial of a South Lake Tahoe man Wednesday, in part to wait for a California Supreme Court decision.

Matt Macosko, arrested in October for allegedly furnishing marijuana to minors, describes himself as a provider of medicinal marijuana to the sick. Prosecutors say he’s a drug dealer.

During the pretrial motions, Kingsbury decided to cancel the trial to allow litigation on the issue of whether medical marijuana applies to the case.

Often cited during the pretrial motions was a pending decision in the California Supreme Court in a case called “People vs. Mower.”

The decision, expected Sept. 4, will determine whether it is the defense or prosecution’s burden to deal with the medical marijuana issue, said Mike Atwell, deputy district attorney.

“Mower may or may not be important to what’s going on in this case,” he said. “It relates to what the obligation is going to be on the various parties.”

On Oct. 2, authorities arrested Macosko on a warrant for supposedly furnishing marijuana to minors and found a substantial amount of marijuana in his car.

The defense will attempt to establish the marijuana in the car is for medicinal purposes, and Macosko was transporting it. However, Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act passed by California voters in 1996, does not mention transportation and several court cases had conflicting decisions on the issue.

“If the judge determined he is able to use a medical marijuana claim for the defense then the prosecution has to present some additional evidence when it goes to trial,” Atwell said.

Atwell and San Francisco based attorney J. David Nick argued whether medical marijuana applied to the case.

“I have to say I am pretty unhappy we are addressing this on the first day of trial,” she said. “Frankly, my viewpoint is to set a new trial date so we can hash out these problems.”

Macosko faces four counts of furnishing to minors and one count of transportation. If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum of 17 years and eight months in jail.

Macosko’s trial has been reset several times before. He appeared before the court in a long-sleeve maroon collared shirt and tan slacks. His light brown dreadlocks were tied back.

He spoke once when Atwell was addressing the court and was sternly warned by Kingsbury that outbursts could interfere with his attorney’s defense.

Kingsbury offered a notebook for Macosko to write notes to his attorney.

A pretrial hearing for furnishing minors was scheduled for Aug. 15. On Sept. 6, a new trial will be set.

A separate Macosko case will follow the first trial. The other case involves Macosko being taken into custody in April 2001 on transportation and sales charges. He was busted after he picked up a package of marijuana that had been returned to the Al Tahoe Post Office after someone failed to receive it from a post office in Kentucky.

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