Readers of The Marijuana Times that were with us earlier this year likely saw one or more of the stories we did on James Slatic – the owner of Med-West, once a well-respected and state-legal cannabis extract manufacturer – and what he, his family and even his attorneys have been put through at the hands of the San Diego District Attorney’s office.
The saga began when a combination of local and federal law enforcement officials raided Med-West in January of 2016. This began a process and fight that has yet to end almost 2 years later. Law enforcement confiscated Med-West’s products, computers and cash, including raiding the bank accounts of Slatic’s wife and daughters.
Over the course of 15 months, Slatic – with the help of the Institute for Justice – fought for a return of the family’s money. In that time, the D.A.’s office didn’t bring any charges against Slatic or anyone else related to the case. Then, in May of this year, a San Diego judge ordered the D.A.’s office to return over $100,000 to the Slatic family.
“It is about time,” James Slatic said at the time. “We did nothing wrong. My business operated openly and legally for more than two years; we paid taxes and had a retirement program for our 35 employees. No one broke any laws but the District Attorney swooped in and took everything from me and my family, even though they had no connection to my business. Our lives were turned upside down. It felt like we had been robbed – by the police.”
But the victory was short-lived. Later, in May of 2017, the San Diego D.A. brought multiple felony charges against James, two others involved with Med-West and one of James’ attorneys, Jessica McElfresh. Prosecutors allege that McElfresh was an accessory to the “crimes” that Med-West supposedly committed.
Now, almost 2 years after the case started, the San Diego D.A.’s office is demanding emails between McElfresh and all of her clients, something McElfresh – and most attorneys – see as a gross violation of attorney-client privilege. This aspect of the case was recently profiled at Slate.
“Attacking my attorney is ‘beyond the pale’ – even for this district attorney’s office,” James Slatic told The Marijuana Times. “Attempting to break attorney-client privilege for ALL her clients should give every cannabis attorney reason to support this fight.”
As for his life since this persecution began early last year? “My health is terrible, family finances destroyed, and we still have a long way to go,” James told us.
“But we will be vindicated,” he added, showing the hope that he and many others who are unfairly targeted by the government still hold deep inside.