Joe Grumbine was only 18 years old when he first became aware his life had a purpose bigger than himself. That’s when a freak accident left him in a coma for 3 days and without the senses of smell or taste for over 10 years. The entire experience gave the young man a profound appreciation for the little things in life that people often taken for granted. While watching the faces of those who loved and supported him he also came to realize the profound impact a single person can have on the lives of others.
Joe’s grandmother instilled him with a love nature and plants and as an enterprising youngster he began making money selling the bounty of his garden and worms from his compost pile. As Joe began to mature, he began studying the medicinal properties of the herbs he was growing in order to heal himself of the asthma, bronchitis and other lung issues that had plagued him since childhood. He immersed himself in study, accumulated a large library of reference material, and began to experiment with making salves, tinctures and poultices. Before long he earned a reputation in the neighborhood as a healer. Friends, and friends of friends started coming to Joe looking for natural cures for a variety of ailments. His remedies worked far better than even he dreamed they would. As his reputation grew, he began to teach classes on medicinal herbs and organic gardening techniques.
While Joe had used cannabis recreationally, it was while working with cancer and AIDS patients that he first began to realize its extraordinary healing properties. The catalyst that finally spurred Grumbine and partner Joe Byron to open a medical marijuana collective back in 2008 was the death of a close friend to brain cancer. and another to lung cancer. “I saw how a few drops of cannabis tincture under their tongues provided relief where morphine failed,” says Joe, “And I knew others who could also benefit from this incredible healing plant.”Grumbine and Byron’s collective provided low and no cost medicine to patients who couldn’t afford it and even established a patient outreach program that helped those in need with food, transportation, wheelchairs, and medical equipment.
Always an advocate and activist, Grumbine founded The Human Solution, a nonprofit, grassroots organization that supports cannabis patients, providers, and especially prisoners of the drug war, and works to educate the public on medical marijuana issues. While offering support to others caught in the crosshairs of convoluted legal system surrounding medical cannabis, Joe Grumbine never dreamed that fate would put him in the position of needing that same support. “Getting in trouble with the law was something we never envisioned because we read and understood the law,” says Grumbine. “We followed the law and trusted that we were protected by the law. That’s what laws in America are supposed to do. We couldn’t have been more wrong.”
In 2008, a Riverside County sheriff pulled Joe over while he was transporting medicine
from the collective. Seventeen trips to court and four prosecutors later the case was
dismissed with the court finding that “Mr. Grumbine was acting in accordance with
That should have been the end of it, yet five weeks later 120 armed SWAT officers
stormed 17 locations. Joe, his wife Liz and daughter Candace were handcuffed for hours and held at gunpoint, helplessly watching the police trash their home Many were arrested that day including volunteers, employees and even some construction workers who just happened to be contracted to do some building work. A year went by with no charges filed, until December 2010 when only Grumbine and Byron faced multiple felonies including tax evasion and illegal drug sales. Despite neither having any prior convictions and cooperating with the authorities the entire time, their bail was increased to $120K and $300K, more than the county recommends for kidnappers and child molesters.
Joe Grumbine: Medical Cannabis Court Case up date
December 2010, when Joe Grumbine was denied his rights to use The California Medical Marijuana Laws in his defense (Prop 215 and S&B 420), he knew this would be a presiding case for other medical marijuana trials. In his trial, protection of the laws did not matter, backing the defense into a corner. The only defense in this case was the laws that were supposed to protect them. The decision by the judge to ignore these laws and deny Grumbine his only defense was the beginning to a long and twisted trial.
Initially, this case became land marked due to a writ filed with the Epaulet Court to overturn the judge’s decision and uphold Grumbine’s right to a fair trial. A day before the trial was set to start; the courts granted Joe Grumbine’s motion and allowed his defense. Unfortunately, this set the tone of the trial in a negative way. The judge became upset and rather than giving time to plan a defense, the judge forced the trial to begin immediately. Jury selection began, and the defense had not subpoenaed a single witness.
From the very beginning, Joe Grumbine was denied his Constitutional Right to Vla Dire (jury selection process) and was limited in the ability to question jurors. Every motion that Joe Grumbine had filed had gotten denied. Everything requested by the prosecution was granted. Over one hundred of the defense objections were overruled and most of the prosecution objections were sustained. The Judge even sustained his own objections! He also had an extremely prejudice view against Joe’s defense, even to the point where contempt of the attorneys was a first course of action, which rarely happens.
Many things in this trial were so egregious; it is hard to believe unless you were actually there. Nobody including attorneys, previous defendants, and even retired law enforcement officials had ever seen anything like it. Ultimately after 18 days in court for a non-violent offence and $15,000 a day just for trial, Joe Grumbine was convicted of 12 counts of sales of a controlled substance. “Basically found me guilty of selling pot just like a common drug dealer.”
Numerous observers in the court, who had been deemed “The Green Team”, sat through the trial and watched all these prejudicial actions and unheard of events. Notes were taken as well as testimonial descriptions. Joe Grumbine and The Green Team then filed a motion to throw the case out (miss trial). Once again the judge makes an unprecedented move just before sentencing. He writes an extreme bias and inappropriate letter to the prosecution proclaiming his admiration for her work and praising her abilities, forwarding this to the defense attorneys. Remarkably it was dated the day before Joe had filed the motion to throw the case out and yet everyone got the letter the day after it was filed. Once the miss trial motions had been filed, the Judge had one of three choices. First choice: recuse himself. Second choice: both the defense and prosecution would agree on a third party judge to review the motions. Or third: for the judicial review board to assign a judge to review the case. So on January 11, 2012, the judge did the one thing that would cause himself the least amount of embarrassment; use his letter as a parachute excuse to recuse himself off the trial.
Now that the judge had disqualified himself, the defense got a new judge. Judge Joan Cassani became the appointed judge on the case. She required a couple months to prepare and become familiar with the trial. During these few months, Grumbine was allowed to be released on bail instead of jail time and filed another motion for a new trial based on 6 different points.
Friday April 13, Grumbine and The Green Team returned to Long Beach. Judge Cassani allowed the prosecution to rebut the motion and did a poor job of doing so. Instead of allowing the defense attorneys to argue the motion, the judge took it upon herself to dissect the case from pre-trial to finish. Piece by piece she found every part of the trial unacceptable and deplorable. In her own words “She was speechless and found it a terrible trial”. The motion for a new trial was granted!
Grumbine stands ready to fight. “I haven’t done anything
wrong,” he says, “I am not going to say I committed a felony. I cannot believe that a jury
of my peers would send me to jail over this benevolent plant.”
The next court date is May 8th, 2012 at The Long Beach Court house. Joe Grumbine needs all the support he can get to beat this case. The biggest help is to show up to his upcoming court hearings. Please show your support by wearing a green solidarity ribbon on his behalf. Though small, these two things can have a huge impact and are extremely simple and easy!
Contact The Human Solution to get active in your support to end the war against Medical Cannabis. Let’s join as a community and help Joe Grumbine and his family put all this turmoil behind them.
It’s a brave stance, as real jail times looms should he lose the gamble. While many things in Joe Grumbine’s life remain uncertain, the love, support and admiration from members of The Human Solution, the organization he created to help others, is a constant. Decked out in the group’s signature green “Solidarity Ribbons” supporters have overflowed courtrooms in support of their hero and are expected to do so again as he faces his biggest challenge yet, the challenge to keep his freedom.