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Med-West Defendants Accept Plea Deal

But Attorney McElfresh Will Continue to Fight Charges.

Med-West Defendants Accept Plea Deal

The case against the owner and four employees of San Diego medical marijuana firm Med-West recently came to a close, when the defendants pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Business owner James Slatic, and Kensuke Hanaoka, Patric McDonald, Matthew Carmichael and Daniel Gregg admitted that they conspired to possess marijuana and to obstruct a public official. They had all been charged with multiple felony counts in relation to a raid of Med-West by a narcotics task force in January 2016.

The guilty pleas were accepted by Judge Michael T. Smyth at a hearing in San Diego Superior Court on November 13.

After the hearing, Slatic said he was satisfied with the terms of the offer to settle the case from Assistant District Attorney Jorge Del Portillo, and happy to put the matter to rest.

“I walked in with 15 felonies, and walked out with two misdemeanors,” said Slatic.

Under the arrangement, he will have to pay a $1,000 fine and spend 18 months on unsupervised probation.

Med-West Defendants Accept Plea Deal

James Slatic (R) and attorney Paul Pfingst (Photo by A.J. Herrington/High Times)

The case will continue, however, against co-defendant and cannabis attorney Jessica McElfresh, who declined to accept the plea bargain. A criminal conviction, she noted, could jeopardize her status with the state bar association.

“I likely would have lost my license with the offer they made,” McElfresh explained.

The charges against McElfresh have sent tremors through both the cannabis and legal communities nationwide. Many have seen the case as an assault on attorney-client privilege and the right to sound legal representation.

Med-West Defendants Accept Plea Deal

Jessica McElfresh (Photo by A.J. Herrington/High Times)

McElfresh was in court again November 16, for a status conference to discuss issues relating to the search warrant that was issued for the attorney’s home and office in May of this year. The date for a preliminary hearing in her case is also expected to be set. Donations to her legal defense fund can be made online at

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A.J. Herrington
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A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based writer and photographer covering cannabis and the environment.

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