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Reform Cases

Tom Dean Marijuana Reform Cases

Tom’s marijuana cases range from those involving hundreds of pounds of marijuana to simple possession of marijuana, and everything in between.  He has had many of his cases dismissed without even going to trial.  The number of cases dismissed was so impressive that he was nicknamed “Dismissal Dean” by an Arizona Superior Court Judge back in 1996.

While most of his cases involve marijuana charges, over the years, Tom has represented clients facing many other types of criminal charges, such as attempted murder, theft, robbery, assault, DUI, Burglary, weapons misconduct, embezzlement, and drug cases involving other types of drugs (meth, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, LSD, pain pills, etc.), to name just a few.

The following is a small sampling of marijuana reform cases that Tom was involved in, that were selected for their public interest and national impact within the context of marijuana policy reform.  Tom believes that it is important for persons facing with marijuana related charges to know that his or her attorney is a true member of the marijuana reform movement.  As Tom said, “[a] good attorney believes in his client’s cause.  He believes in his client’s freedom.  He should think of his client as more than just another source of income.  He should see each client facing marijuana charges as an innocent victim of the Drug War.”

Tom is devoted to providing the best representation to persons facing marijuana charges.  It is not practical to discuss here the many criminal marijuana cases he has handled.  That is not the purpose of this section.  The following cases are discussed here because Tom believes that it is important for a person charged with a marijuana “crime” to know that his attorney is more than just another hired gun.  The client should know that his attorney is a “True Believer” in the cause.  We hope that they are of interest to the reader.

Tom Dean sues major media networks and shuts down the Drug Czar’s secret ad campaign:

Tom filed a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on February 17, against the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) (a.k.a., Drug Czar) and several television networks for their participation in a program where the ONDCP was offering to free up required public service announcements time if network programs had anti-drug messages embedded in their programming.

The networks that Tom went up against included FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS and Warner Brothers.  The program worked with more than 100 shows, including shows such as “ER,” “Chicago Hope”; “Beverly Hills, 90210,″ “Home Improvement”, “Promised Land,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Boy Meets World,” “Sports Night,” “General Hospital,” “Trinity,” “Providence,” and “7th Heaven.”  Tom argued that, because the ONDCP did not disclose their involvement, the practice was in violation of the anti-payola laws.

The resulting FCC decision effectively shut down the illicit program and the case has since become known as the Dean Decision.  For example, check out this case,which refers to this important case as theDean Decision.

Tom Dean helps win the first federal case recognizing a Rastafarian’s right to use marijuana on federal land for religious purposes:

Tom won an important case at the Guam Supreme Court involving a Rastafarian’s right to smoke marijuana for religious purposes.  While the defendant was represented by local counsel, at the defendant’s request, Mr. Dean filed an Amicus curia brief on his behalf.  Mr. Dean urged the Supreme Court to recognize that a Rastafarian had the right to use marijuana under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Amicus curiae brief was filed through NORML and was joined by the ACLU.  The case was successful and the government appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Tom then handed the case over to the ACLU which asserted the same theory that Tom had developed and argued before the Guam Supreme Court.  The decision was affirmed by the 9th Circuit and for the first time a US Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the right for a Rastafarian to smoke marijuana for religious purposes on federally owned land.  See Guam v. Guerrero, 290 F.3d 1210, 1221 (9th Cir. 2002).

Tom Dean helps to stop dangerous experiments using marijuana eating fungus:

Believe it or not, at one point, Florida’s drug czar announced planed to unleash a marijuana-eating fungus in the Everglades.   Florida’s proposed marijuana eradication plan would have enlisted the use of a new, marijuana-eating, soil-borne fungus, known as Fusarium oxysporum. Proponents of the program, spearheaded by state drug czar Jim McDonough, argued that the mycoherbicide will target marijuana and ignore other crops. Biologists disagreed.

Despite concerns, state officials planed to begin testing the fungus at a research facility outside of Gainesville.  Tom responded by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with five U.S. Government agencies in an attempt to retrieve all information pertaining to the study and use of the cannabis killing fungus.  FOIA requests were sent to The United States Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. State Department and the U.S. Drug Czar’s Office.

As expected, information was obtained that proved that the government had conducted field experiments with the fungus.  In fact, the federal government had authorized $23,000,000 to fund research into the use of the fungus.  Tom argued that the company heading up the research did not have the proper EPA clearance for the field studies.  After all, even the Drug Czar is not above our countries environmental protection laws.  Ultimately, because of the hard work by Tom and others, the research was halted and further testing relocated to Colombia.

Tom Dean helps stop the “Hemp Embargo” by U.S. Customs:

After Canada legalized hemp as a crop several years ago, growers soon began to export their products to the U.S.   In response, the DEA instructed U.S. Customs to stop the importation of all hemp seed products into the U.S. The first seizure was a 53,000 pound load of sterilized birdseed imported by Kenex Ltd. That shipment remains in Customs’ storage, pending an agreement between Kenex and the DEA.

Since THC is considered a controlled substance under U.S. federal law, the DEA initially took a hard line stance on seeds containing as low as 14 parts per million THC. In response, Tom filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, requesting copies of all correspondence concerning the legality of the zero-THC hemp seed importation policy, the effects of consuming hemp products on drug test results and the proposed amendments to the Controlled Substance Act.

Tom then sent a letter to then Attorney General Janet Reno detailing the argument that the embargo was in direct violation of NAFTA.   Reno agreed with Tom and others who had argued against the embargo and instructed customs to immediately lift hemp seed embargo stating that “”We lack legal authority to prohibit importation of hemp products unless the definition of marijuana in Title 21 U.S.C. Section 802.16 (c) [the Controlled Substances Act] is changed to remove the hemp exclusion.” Reno continued to say in her letter that in the case of hemp, Congress made its decision clear not to restrict hemp imports and that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels are too low to trigger psychoactive effect.”  The hemp trade has been flourishing ever since.

Tom Dean argues before the D.C. Council preventing simple possession of marijuana from becoming a felony in Washington, D.C.:

One important victory that Mr. Dean had a hand in was the defeat of a proposal by the District of Columbia Legislative Council to ”felonize” possession of marijuana within the District.  Mr. Dean argued before the council, supported by research and evidence that since most misdemeanor possession cases were filed against African American males, legislation making possession a felony would only cause more African Americans to become imprisoned in facilities already overpopulated disproportionately by young black males.

The result was to keep possession of less than 8 ounces of marijuana a misdemeanor, thus preventing what would have sent countless persons to prison for nothing more than possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Tom Dean wins Court of Appeals decision upholding the right to trial by jury in DUI cases:

In Arizona, DUI cases involving marijuana are punishable by jail time, large fines and drug treatment.  Moreover, in Arizona, a person can be charged and convicted simply because they have THC (marijuana) metabolites in his or her system, regardless of whether he or she was impaired at the time of driving.  This, of course, is especially problematic for persons who use marijuana, since THC metabolites are detectible in bodily fluids as long as 30 days after use.  Most people would agree that is not fair.  That’s why, in some cases, it is imperative that such persons have the right to have their cases decided by a jury of their peers.  The right to trial by jury is, therefore, crucial and Tom has fought hard to protect that right.

In Arizona v. Ming,a DUI case decided by the Arizona Court of Appeals, Tom was successful in arguing for an extension of the right to trial by jury.  Before he was hired the defendant failed to show up for a DUI city court trial and he was convicted after a trial was held in his absence.  He hired Tom after the conviction and Tom appealed to the Coconino Superior Court.  The city court was not able to produce a transcript of the trial and Tom requested a “de novo” trial by jury.  The city attorney argued that the client was not eligible for a jury trial because he did not invoke that right during the city court proceedings (most marijuana DUI cases are handled by city courts and justice courts).

Tom argued that he did have that right because the Superior Court proceeding had to be “de novo” and that whatever happened at the city court level was irrelevant.  Tom won the case and the City Attorney’s Office appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.  That court upheld the decision and the DUI charges were eventually dismissed.  As a result, the right for a person charged with marijuana DUI to have their case decided by a jury of their peers has been significantly strengthened.


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