OKANOGAN — Criminal charges were dismissed last week against a former Wauconda man who claimed he was wrongly arrested for growing medical marijuana for himself and others.
John Novak, 47 — who now lives in Lake Forest Park near Seattle — said he believes the new state law on medical marijuana helped him get his case dismissed in Okanogan County Superior Court on June 25.
“The state law helped clarify my situation a lot. They said a patient can be a provider,” Novak said after the dismissal.
Two years ago, a drug task force raided his Wauconda home and confiscated 59 marijuana plants, and Novak was later charged with manufacturing marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Novak had a medical marijuana card authorizing him to use the drug to reduce the occurrences of seizures from temporal lobe epilepsy.
He said at the time that two other medical marijuana patients were also living at his residence, and he was growing marijuana for a fourth patient, allowing him up to 60 plants, or 15 plants each.
But Prosecutor Karl Sloan disputed his contention that a medical marijuana patient could grow marijuana for themselves and other patients.
The law itself was unclear, and Sloan agreed to continue the case while the Legislature considered several bills.
Last year the Legislature clarified the law, which now says that patients can also be designated providers, and can participate in collective gardens to provide medical marijuana for up to 10 patients.
Sloan said despite the new allowances, Novak still had more plants than are now allowed.
He agreed to dismiss the case after one year, if Novak committed no new crimes and paid the court fees.
“This is a fair resolution based on the lack of any criminal history and the circumstances of his case,” Sloan said. He said under the new laws, Novak would have only had a few plants over the legal amount.
Novak said he’s now working to help other medical marijuana patients who face criminal charges, to make sure they’re being treated fairly. “I want to get out there and be an advocate for patient protections,” he said.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512