The criminal case against the owner and managers of a Palm Desert medical marijuana dispensary was dealt a setback Friday when a judge invalidated the search warrant used to investigate the defendants, Prosecutors said they will appeal the ruling.
If the ruling is not overturned, the case will likely be dismissed for lack of evidence.
CannaHelp owner Stacy Hochanadel and his managers, James Campbell and John Bednar, all 31, were arrested in December 2006 and charged with felony possession of marijuana for sale, transport and sale of marijuana and keeping a place to sell controlled substances.
Marijuana and financial records were seized at CannaHelp, 73-359 El Paseo, in December 2006 during a raid by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge David B. Downing said he looked at the facts carefully and concluded the three defendants were in compliance with the state's Compassionate Use Act, and that they were operating a "legitimate business."
He further concluded that the affidavit in support of the search warrant was flawed because Robert Garcia, the sheriff's investigator who prepared it - although familiar with drug cases - was not adequately trained in handling medical marijuana cases.