Almost two years after police raided James Slatic's San Diego medical marijuana business, seizing more than $300,000 in cash and tens of thousands of dollars in inventory and equipment, the entrepreneur has agreed to a plea bargain.

Four employees of Slatic's company, Med-West Distribution, also accepted the deal Monday, according to a spokesperson for the San Diego County District Attorney's office. Each agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to delay and obstruct a public officer and conspiracy to unlawfully possess marijuana.

Both of the offenses are misdemeanors. Slatic will pay a $1,000 fine and be put on informal probation for one year.

Slatic is still fighting an asset forfeiture case related to the $324,000 in cash police seized from Med-West's safe during the January 2016 raid. Med-West shut down operations in June 2016.

Slatic said he is content with the outcome, despite pleading guilty to offenses he says he didn't commit.

"I am on cloud nine--yesterday I woke up with 15 felonies and I went to bed with two misdemeanors. My nightmare is over," he said. "I am now going to rebuild my career." Had Slatic been convicted, he faced a possible sentence of 15 years in prison, according to the DA's office.

In May, 16 months after authorities raided Med-West, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis charged Slatic and his employees with illegally manufacturing and distributing $3.2 million worth of hash oil, a type of marijuana concentrate made with flammable chemicals. The charges were in large part based on the testimony of a confidential informant.

The felony charges came two weeks after a California superior court judge ordered the DA's office to return $100,000 that had been seized from Slatic's family's bank accounts in February 2016. 

Jessica McElfresh, one of Slatic's lawyers in the asset seizure case stemming from the January 2016 raid, was charged along with Slatic and his employees. McElfresh was accused of removing evidence from Med-West prior to a scheduled inspection. McElfresh said she did not take the plea bargain because she is innocent.

McElfresh also expressed concern about the chilling effect that arresting a lawyer who represents marijuana companies could have on the industry. 

"The case is continuing--I am happy my co-defendants are satisfied and accepted their own plea because I know firsthand what this is like," she said. "I am hopeful people will not forget about this case. It's going to be a fight for my own innocence and career, but also for the ability of people in this industry to use lawyers."

McElfresh's next court date is November 16. She faces a maximum possible prison sentence of 10 years and 8 months if convicted.

Published on: Nov 14, 2017