Posted by Mark DeLucas on October 29, 2011 1:48 PM
A California medical marijuana advocacy group is taking the Obama administration to court in an effort to halt the Justice Department's assault on marijuana growers and dispensers, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group based in Oakland, Calif., has filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and northern California federal prosecutor Melinda Haag, claiming that the federal government's recent crackdown on medical marijuana operations is in violation of the Constitution's 10th Amendment.
Marijuana is a schedule 1 substance, deemed illegitimate for medicinal purposes and outlawed federally under the Controlled Substances Act, which the federal government is entitled to enforce. However, according to Americans for Safe Access, individual states are free to regulate substances as they see fit, and by virtue of the 10th Amendment the federal government cannot compel state authorities to contravene state law.
"Under the 10th Amendment, the government may not commandeer the law-making functions of the state or its subdivisions directly or indirectly through the selective enforcement of its drug laws," the suit claims.
"The federal government has instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the state of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries," the lawsuit says. "To this end, the government has pursued an increasingly punitive strategy, which has involved criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana providers with draconian penalties and letters threatening local officials if they implement state law."
The suit cites, among other notices, a federal missive to the city of Oakland, informing city authorities that failure to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws would make them subject to prosecution.
"I like this lawsuit," San Francisco attorney Kenneth Wine told the San Francisco Weekly.
"While the federal government and its agents can do what they like in enforcing the federal criminal laws, they cannot compel the state to assist them," Wine said. "I suspect this case will cause the federal government in California to be very careful in the way they address state and local officials. Certainly, the threats and coercion against state and local officials by the U.S. Attorneys must stop, and likely will. For the feds to do otherwise is to put their marijuana enforcement strategy in jeopardy."
Share on Facebook
Legal Marijuana in Arizona, but Not for the Sellers
By MARC LACEY July 22, 2011 nytimes.com
We elect these people to make a decision....then they do NOTHING.....-UA
PHOENIX — Marijuana is known to cause red eyes, gales of laughter and the munchies. In Arizona, add another side effect: utter confusion.
Voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative last November allowing medical marijuana in the state, but the result has been just the opposite of an orderly system of dispensing cannabis to the truly sick. Rather, police raids, surreptitious money transfers and unofficial pot clubs have followed passage of the new law, creating a chaotic situation not far removed from the black-market system that has always existed.
“There’s confusion,” said Ross Taylor, who owns CannaPatient, a newly formed company that helps patients get the medical certification required to receive state-issued medical marijuana cards. “There are a lot of unsure people, and not just because of what happened to me.”
The police raided Mr. Taylor’s home in June, one of several instances in which the authorities in the state have showed signs of resisting carrying out the new law, which took effect at the start of the year.
Gov. Jan Brewer — who campaigned against the law, then signed it with reluctance — said in May that the state, which has issued more than 7,500 cards to medical marijuana patients, would delay issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries, as the law requires. Instead, she filed suit in federal court seeking a ruling on whether the state’s medical marijuana law conflicted with federal prohibitions on marijuana. So the patients have their cards permitting them to buy marijuana in Arizona, but no official place to do so.
Arizona is not just another state when it comes to marijuana. More Mexican-grown marijuana enters this state than any other, according to federal government data. On June 8, the authorities recovered more than 1,200 pounds from an S.U.V. that led them on a 20-mile chase through dirt roads near the border.
The police operation that took place the next day in Gilbert, a community outside Phoenix, netted a considerably smaller haul: about two ounces. In that case, the police executed a search warrant on Mr. Taylor’s house after getting a tip from the cable man. The officers, Mr. Taylor said, did not appear interested in his medical marijuana card, which permits him to grow up to a dozen marijuana plants in his home or obtain up to 2.5 ounces from a caregiver or a dispensary.
The police said they were pursuing those taking advantage of the new marijuana law.
The law does not permit the sale of marijuana outside of nonprofit dispensaries. But because the state has yet to approve any such outlets to sell marijuana, other ways of getting the drug are being tried.
Last month, the police raided the offices of a group in Tempe that was growing marijuana and selling it to cardholders. Garry Ferguson, founder of the organization, the Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group, told reporters that he understood the law to allow the sale of marijuana from one cardholder to another.
Unofficial cannabis clubs, not mentioned in the law, are also emerging. They purport to offer free marijuana to cardholders, albeit for a membership fee. For now, they are unregulated.
“In lieu of a regulated industry, we’re now creating an environment in which patients are growing their own with limited oversight, and these private clubs of questionable legality are popping up,” said Joe Yuhas of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, which led the medical marijuana campaign.
Ms. Brewer, a Republican, recently lamented “the dreadful situation” the state now finds itself in with marijuana legal for some.
Marijuana users consider the uncertainty dreadful as well, with some fearful that applying for cards might lead to police scrutiny. “I have friends who are afraid to get cards,” said Brad Scalf, 55, a disabled veteran. “I figured that when I’m smoking out on the back porch and the neighbors complain, I don’t have to worry. It’s like a get out of jail free card.”
The state’s legal case has been assigned to the same federal judge who found parts of Arizona’s immigration law to be unconstitutional. In that dispute, Arizona argued against the idea that the state should be hamstrung by federal immigration law. In this instance, the state seems to be seeking a ruling that federal law ought to prevail.
“The state has been beating the drum on states’ rights, but all of a sudden it has taken a 180-degree turn,” said Ken Frakes, a lawyer for the Rose Law Group, which represents a number of marijuana dispensary applicants.
Ms. Brewer said the decision to go to court was made to protect state employees from prosecution after Dennis K. Burke, the United States attorney for Arizona, sent a letter to state officials warning that the federal government still considered marijuana an illegal drug and would go after those who ran large marijuana production operations. Mr. Burke has subsequently said he had no intention of prosecuting state employees.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey held up carrying out his state’s medical marijuana law, one of 17 across the country, over similar concerns, but he announced this week that he would allow the program to go ahead.
In Arizona, some of the cannabis clubs are operating surreptitiously to avoid the notice of law enforcement. But not the 2811 Club, named for the provision of the law allowing state-approved marijuana patients to share marijuana among themselves.
Allan Sobol, the club’s marketing manager, has invited reporters in and offered instruction on the ins and outs of the new law to a group of Phoenix police officers. Everyone who enters must have a state-issued card, and no smoking is allowed on the premises, to prevent people from driving under the influence.
The dimly lit club offers classes and has computers and books available to research the many plant varieties, and comfortable chairs to enable patients to chat among themselves. It is the marijuana counter, though, that brings people in.
Club members, who pay a $25 application fee, also must pay $75 every time they walk through the door. Once inside, they are entitled to about 3 grams of marijuana, which is grown by other cardholders and donated to the club. Those growers, according to the law, can be compensated only for the cost of their supplies. On a recent afternoon, there were a number of varieties available, including Master Kush, Blue Dream and Granddaddy Purple.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you come in,” said Mr. Sobol, who has emerged as a spokesman for the embattled industry, but says he tried marijuana for the first time last week when he ate a salad made with marijuana dressing. “We want people to come in with dignity and get this medicine that is now legal.”
Mr. Sobol said he is convinced that the club, which is planning to expand throughout the Phoenix area, is on solid legal ground. But the club does not comply with the strict regulatory requirements for dispensaries, which has prompted state officials to order an inquiry. Mr. Sobol said that given the uncertainty surrounding the program, he would be foolhardy not to look over his shoulder. “We have to be concerned,” he said. “I have lawyers on call. They may arrest me, but if that day comes and they come barging through the front door, I’m convinced they’ll never convict me.”
Share on Facebook
UPDATE: Marijuana grow found in pair of homes
Police discover plants valued at more than $1 million in Sunnyside neighborhood
By Paris Achen and John Branton
Columbian staff writers 7/13
The original caption under the picture said this was mold......its not. I say they drop the cultivation of marijuana charges and charge him with harboring spider mites, that is the real crime.....-UA
The pair of two-story beige houses with perfectly draped white curtains and manicured lawns in the Sunnyside neighborhood belied the illegal drug production that occurred inside.
The Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force on Tuesday found 839 live marijuana plants with an estimated value of $1.3 million inside a nearly 4,000-square-foot home at 9915 N.E. 104th St.
And in a related raid on Tuesday afternoon, task force detectives said they arrested 38-year-old Sal Sok after he fled a similar home at 10101 N.E. 86th Court in the same neighborhood. Police said they found at least six or seven hundred more pot plants, worth several hundred thousand dollars, growing upstairs in the second home.
Sok, who lives in Ridgefield, was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing marijuana and diverting electricity around a meter, said Sgt. Pat Moore with the drug task force.
Sok’s girlfriend, Sarean Khun, 26, also was arrested for allegedly growing marijuana.
Moore said task force detectives went to the second house about 3 p.m., at first with no search warrant, and knocked on the door, but no one answered.
Minutes later, a neighbor called 911 to say a man was running through backyards and over fences. Sheriff’s deputies took positions around the area and, with the help of a tracking dog, took Sok into custody.
Also at the second home, detectives could see stains on roof tiles that were indicative of moisture seeping from a large marijuana grow. Working with a Clark Public Utilities employee, they determined that someone had diverted power around the meter outside.
The meter indicated normal power usage, but Sok allegedly stole electricity worth several hundred dollars a month for the growing operation, Moore said.
The seepage and power theft, combined with other evidence, were enough for detectives to obtain a warrant to search the second home on Tuesday evening.
As several detectives worked to collect the plants and growing equipment, several neighbor boys watched.
They said they had no idea marijuana was being grown in the home, but they had thought it odd that someone occasionally would go inside, then leave and be gone for long periods of time.
The house is in an area of newer homes, all similar looking, in a mazelike residential area on a dead-end street.
Tuesday’s discovery is an example of a nationwide trend in illegal marijuana grows in which growers hide their cultivation operations in large houses in affluent neighborhoods, said Mike Cooke, the task force’s commander. The expansive square footage provides plenty of space for cultivation, while the nicer neighborhoods may help to deflect suspicion of illegal activity.
“If you think of a house as a greenhouse, the bigger the house, the more plants you can grow,” Cooke said. “That could be the trend because there is more space to grow. There also could be that element of hiding in plain sight.”
A crew from the task force cleaned out both homes Tuesday and confiscated plants and other evidence as shocked residents watched from the sidewalk.
“We have barbecues and things and hang out, but we never saw any traffic there,” said neighbor Fanny Smith.
Growers had turned every corner of the houses’ second floors into sophisticated greenhouses.
Bedrooms and even walk-in closets were set up with expensive equipment such as grow lights, water pumps, charcoal filters, fans, timers, venting pipes and nutrient-packed grow cubes, which resemble Styrofoam and substitute for soil. The plants in one of the bedrooms were completely molded, possibly due to inadequate ventilation.
With doors open, the pungent smell of the operation wafted out to the street, where neighbors could smell it.
In the second home, large air pipes were fitted with carbon filters, about one foot in diameter, and the air then was piped up to vent as high as possible to lessen the smell of growing marijuana that neighbors might notice, Moore said.
There was extensive heavy electrical wiring visible, and a large number of good-sized electrical ballasts, upstairs to power and control the equipment.
In one of seven grow rooms, tops of marijuana plants were hung upside down to allow more of the sap to flow into the valuable buds.
A fully grown mature plant can be worth $700 to $1,200, an officer said.
Most plants were being grown without soil, using liquid chemical fertilizers that flowed to grow cubes of various sizes. The grow lights were fitted with timers and reflective shields.
The first floors were used as a front for the operation, a picture of domestic perfection, in case someone peeked inside. In fact, no one lived in the residences, Cooke said.
“I have grandchildren,” Smith said. “They play around in the neighborhood. To know something like this is happening is terrible, and the fact that the people don’t even live here, that’s what gets me mad.”
The property at 9915 N.E. 104th St is valued at more than $300,000 and is owned by Josephine Mims of North Las Vegas, Nev. She apparently leased the home to someone else, police said.
The house on 86th Court is owned by Tran Hai Cao Nguyen of Concord, Calif. Its value is set at about $280,000
Cooke said it’s sometimes difficult to discover connections between separate grows, as growers are constantly switching homes and the names of PUD subscribers.
“It’s a shell game,” he said.
Cooke would not say how police became aware of the grow.
Share on Facebook
Man arrested after reporting his pot stolen
We renege on the the earlier pothole of the week....this guy is definitely way more dumber.-UA
A Lincoln Park man called police to say he’d just been robbed of two pounds of pot — and was arrested when police found more drugs in his apartment, police said.
Max Fleck, 20, of the 1500 block of West Fullerton Avenue, and a 19-year-old man called police at 12:40 a.m. Thursday to say they were robbed of the marijuana and a laptop. The 19-year-old said he was hit over the head with a bottle and cut, police said.
Fleck, who said he was punched, was arrested when police found he had drugs, police said. He was charged with two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of cannabis, according to police News Affairs Officer Darryl Baety.
Share on Facebook
PEOPLE, PLEASE HELP MARY BUNN!
2011/05/19 at 11:37 pm Mary Bunn to Releaf Magazine:
I am Mrs. Bunn. It was proven in court the the detectives lied several times in their report as to where items were located in our home. We were able to prove that detectives moved pills from a safe location, placed them on the counter, took a picture and called it evidence. By the grace of God, those corrupt cops also took a picture of the pills in a different location. It is a rare when corruption is so clear. Closing arguments are Monday in Palm Springs. Any support would be greatly appreciated.
Wildomar Couple Facing Marijuana Cultivation Charges
These laws need to change......plants and arms will get your children taken away.....where is this country going?-UA
Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
PALM SPRINGS - A Wildomar couple accused of growing marijuana could lose custody of their son if found guilty during a trial expected to wrap up tomorrow at the Palm Springs courthouse.
William Bunn, 36, and his 28-year-old wife, Mary, face felony charges of cultivating marijuana and willfully endangering the health of a child. He additionally is charged with a felony count of possessing a firearm within 10 years of a prior conviction.
Their trial began Monday.
The Bunns were arrested in 2008 when investigators found 79 live marijuana plants growing in a detached garage at their rural Wildomar home, according to prosecutors, who say the building was equipped with paraphernalia indicative of marijuana cultivation, including artificial lighting, a climate control system and independent hoses for each plant.
Investigators said they also found 2.05 grams of marijuana in various places within the Bunns' home and a glass smoking pipe that appeared to be recently used.
A .380 semi-automatic handgun was found on a shelf above the refrigerator, with three live rounds sitting next to the weapon and a .12 gauge shotgun was found in a bedroom, with live ammunition nearby, prosecutors allege.
The Bunns' son was 22 months old at the time of the August 2008 search and was taken from the couple for several months.
"Both defendants in this case are responsible for the care and safety of the child," said Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesman John Hall. "The residence where the child lived was found to contain marijuana, weapons and an apparently recently used marijuana smoking pipe."
The husband and wife could each face more than seven years in prison if convicted, meaning they would lose custody of their child while incarcerated.
Just before the investigators served the warrant at the Wildomar home, the Bunns became members of the Human Kindness Center, a marijuana cooperative based in Temecula, according to its president, Chris Yap.
Though the Bunns had not completed all the requisite paperwork by the time the investigators searched their home at 25550 Catt Road, Yap said he rented the barn from the couple and maintains the plants were his.
"We had it growing in a locked barn," said Yap, who is scheduled to testify tomorrow when the defense begins to present its case. "It wasn't even them who was responsible, it was me -- Chris Yap."
Defense attorney Tim Liebaert said the set-up was no different than others viewed as legal by the state.
"One of the problems in the law is you can come out and hire a whole warehouse to grow marijuana, but the owners of the warehouse don't have to be in the cooperative, they don't have to have a license," Liebaert said. "why are the Bunns any different?"
Yap contends that prosecutors have wasted county money pursuing the case and overcharged the couple on the child endangerment offense. He said his residence was also searched around the same time, but he was not arrested because officers deemed his cultivation center legal.
"It's a waste of taxpayer dollars when we're allowed by law (in the collective) to do what we're doing," Yap said. "I'd rather see more police out on the street, more firemen, more teachers."
Speaking on behalf of Deputy District Attorney Greg Garrison, Hall denied the Bunns were inappropriately targeted or charged.
"Based on the evidence in this case, which included more than 75 marijuana plants, we filed the charges we believe to be most appropriate under the law," he said.
The case was initially expected to be tried at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, but was instead sent to Palm Springs.
Share on Facebook
City Spent $75 Million On Marijuana Possession Arrests, Report Says
By Della Hasselle
March 17, 2011 3:07pm
MANHATTAN — New York City spent more than $75 million arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana last year, according to a new report conducted by The Drug Policy Alliance.
The report is based on the average cost per arrest, which the DPA estimates is between $1,500 and $2,000 in New York City. In 2010, there were 50,300 misdemeanor marijuana arrests, the report says.
According to estimates by the DPA, that means that taxpayers shelled out a total of anywhere between $75,450,000 and $100,600,000 for minor pot busts.
Out of those numbers, the DPA says 87 percent of arrested are people of color, even though government studies show that most marijuana users are white.
The report also emphasizes that it is a misdmeanor, not a more serious felony, for possession of amounts under 25 grams in the State of New York, as passed into law by the Marijuana Reform Act of 1977.
"The legislature finds that arrests, criminal prosecutions, and criminal penalties are inappropriate for people who possess small quantities of marijuana for personal use," the report reads, quoting the legislative intent introduction to the Marijuana Reform Act. "Every year, this process needlessly scars thousands of lives and wastes millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crimes."
At a recent hearing with Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, however, police commissioner Ray Kelly defended the city's actions, the New York Daily News reported.
"If you think the law is not written correctly, then you should petition the state Legislature to change it," Kelly said. "The law clearly says if you have marijuana in public view, you should be arrested. It's a misdemeanor."
Share on Facebook