Final charge against James Benno and sons dismissed after 4 year legal battle

Marijuana charges dismissed for James Benno and his two sons that took 4 years to settle

After four years of fighting, the remaining charge against James Benno and his sons, Jacob and Logan were dropped by Shasta County Superior Judge Daniel Flynn.

On Monday, March 12, the judge dismissed the last remaining charge: manufacturing concentrated cannabis.

"Four years of our life, two months in jail, thousands and thousands of dollars in attorney fees and bail," James Benno was overwhelmed with emotion Monday, as he and his two sons were finally free of legal concerns. But Benno said there's more justice to be come.

According to the Benno's lawyer, Ashley Bargenquast, Shasta County has paid for both the prosecution and the defense post trial, something they say has cost taxpayers a lot of money.

"We're thankful for all the support that we've had. We couldn't have done with without our attorneys sticking by our side and believing in us the whole time, knowing that we didn't break any laws," now 26, Jacob Benno said it is four years of his life he'll never get back.

"This is my home, I'm not a criminal. I was going to college until this. Now it's been four years of me doing construction out of town to support my family, just to keep us whole," Logan Benno was 19 at the time. Almost 24, he said they never gave up and the last thing they were going to do was plead guilty when he says he and his father and brother are "good people."

Here's some background on the Benno case:

The Bennos were arrested in 2014 after a raid at a property in the Happy Valley area in May. Shasta County drug agents cut down 101 marijuana plants in one of the largest backyard grows they said they've ever seen. The raid including taking down a honey oil lab as well. Shasta County officials say they found several firearms, all of which the Benno's said were legally purchased.

People vs. Benno argued the process of producing medical cannabis that the Benno family was using was a significantly dangerous risk. A 90% grade of ethanol was being used in their kitchen at the time, a volatile solvent capable of producing fire and possible explosion and considered to be illegal in cannabis methods even post California Proposition 64.

In June 2014, a judge ruled there was enough evidence to take the case to trial. Trial was originally set for August of 2014, but was delayed several times. During that time, the Bennos went through several attorneys.

In May 2016, two years after their arrest, their attorney filed a civil rights lawsuit, saying the Bennos were medical marijuana patients providing cannabis for other patients.

The trial officially began February 2017. The Bennos pleaded not guilty to felony weapons charges and various marijuana-related charges, most of which are misdemeanors under current California law.

The trial was about to go to the defense when the previous Shasta County Superior Judge, Stephen Baker, discovered something that led him to step down. It was agreed in the best interest of justice, Judge Flynn would take over the case, restarting the trial.

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