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Oklahoma D.A. Used Private Security Firm to Conduct Roadside Drug Busts

July 22nd

Desert Snow LLC promotional image (blackasphalt.org)

Desert Snow LLC promotional image (blackasphalt.org)

CADDO COUNTY, OK — A district attorney from Oklahoma is under fire seizing over $1.3 million in alleged drug money using a private security firm to conduct roadside drug searches along a 21 mile stretch of Interstate 40.

Prosecutors have dismissed all criminal cases stemming from the stops, which were conducted by private security firm Desert Snow beginning in January of this year after being hired by Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks to provide training for the county’s drug task force.

Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks (ok.gov)

Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks (ok.gov)

At a hearing on July 2, Caddo County special judge David A. Stephens said that he was “shocked” to learn that the employees of Desert Snow, who were actively involved in pulling motorists over and searchin. . . . . READ MORE

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Supreme Court Review of Marijuana Scheduling Sought

July 16th

WASHINGTON, DC — The organizations and individuals behind a decade-long effort to reschedule marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act’s (CSA) Schedule I have now complied with a vow they made when the DEA’s decision to reject the effort was upheld by a federal appeals court in Washington.

On Monday, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a writ of certiorari asking the US Supreme Court to review the case.

Filing the writ does not mean the Supreme Court will decide to take up the case. The high court receives thousands of such appeals each session, but actually decides to hear only a tiny percentage of them. This writ, however, has two things going for it: It is on the paid certiorari docket (most are not) and it argues that the Supreme Court needs to resolve conflicts between federal appellate courts.

With the appeal, petitioners are challenging what they call an unreasonable and unprecedented standard for proof of medical efficacy of marijuana set by the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the DEA’s denial of the petition..

“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of w. . . . . READ MORE

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ASA Appeals Marijuana’s Federal Status as a ‘Dangerous Drug with No Medical Value’ to U.S. Supreme Court

July 15th

WASHINGTON, DC — Medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a petition for writ of certiorari today with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a January Circuit Court decision that maintained marijuana’s current federal status as one of the most dangerous drugs with no medical value. In the widely watched case ASA v. Drug Enforcement Administration, petitioners are challenging an unreasonable and unprecedented standard set by the District of Columbia Circuit, which also creates a federal appellate split on what constitutes proof of medical efficacy.

“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who argued the appeal before the D.C. Circuit in October of last year. “The Court has unreasonably raised the bar for what qualifies as an ‘adequate and well-controlled’ study, thereby continuing the government’s game of ‘Gotcha.’”

On January 22nd, the D.C. Circuit granted plaintiffs standing — the right to sue the federal government to reclassify marijuana — but, in a READ MORE

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Florida ‘Bong Bill’ May Have Lost Its Bite, But Could Still Lead to Serious Charges

July 12th

GAINESVILLE, FL – On July 1, a new law went into effect that seeks to ban selling drug paraphernalia, like bongs, rolling papers and other implements used to smoke marijuana and ingest other controlled substances.  The law passed over the last legislative session, and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in June.

The original legislation would have been much harsher, but those selling anything that might be construed as paraphernalia should still be cautious, as the resulting charges could still result in severe penalties, said Gainesville marijuana lawyer Dean Galigani.

“Some of the discussion around this bill seems to indicate that the bill is toothless, and it’s true that it could have been worse,” Galigani said. “But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t severe punishments that those charged with retail sale of paraphernalia might face.”

House Bill 49, which is now part of Florida Statutes section 893.147, amended the statute to outlaw retailers from selling or offering to sell several items listed in Florida’s paraphernalia law (Florida Statutes section 893.145), including any of many kinds of pipe other than those made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob “knowingly and willfully.”

. . . . . READ MORE

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US Approves ‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery’s Transfer to Canada

July 11th

VANCOUVER, BC — The United States government has approved a prisoner transfer application for Mar Emery, a Canadian marijuana activist serving a five year sentence in a US federal prison for selling marijuana seeds over the internet to fund efforts to legalize marijuana.

Emery’s wife, Jodie, said she was informed of the approval by email Wednesday afternoon, shortly after speaking to her husband over the phone.

“It’s great news that the US Department of Justice has approved Marc’s transfer home,” Jodie Emery told Cannabis Culture, a magazine Emery founded. “I hope the Canadian Conservative government quickly approves the paperwork on their end so it becomes official and Marc can come home to Canada.”

The prisoner transfer must still be approved by Canadian authorities before Emery, known as the “Prince of Pot,” would be eligible to return to Canada.

Emery was sentenced to five years in US federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and is serving his sentence at the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex in Mississippi.

Emery was indicted in 2005, but wasn’t extradited to the United . . . . . READ MORE

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US Approves Marc Emery’s Transfer to Canada

July 11th

VANCOUVER, BC — The United States government has approved a prisoner transfer application for Mar Emery, a Canadian marijuana activist serving a five year sentence in a US federal prison for selling marijuana seeds over the internet to fund efforts to legalize marijuana.

Emery’s wife, Jodie, said she was informed of the approval by email Wednesday afternoon, shortly after speaking to her husband over the phone.

“It’s great news that the US Department of Justice has approved Marc’s transfer home,” Jodie Emery told Cannabis Culture, a magazine Emery founded. “I hope the Canadian Conservative government quickly approves the paperwork on their end so it becomes official and Marc can come home to Canada.”

The prisoner transfer must still be approved by Canadian authorities before Emery, known as the “Prince of Pot,” would be eligible to return to Canada.

Emery was sentenced to five years in US federal prison in 2010 for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, and is serving his sentence at the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex in Mississippi.   Emery was indicted in 2005, but wasn’t extradited to the Uni. . . . . READ MORE

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Arizona Supreme Court to Police: Give Medical Marijuana Back to Patients

July 10th

PHOENIX —  Medical marijuana patients who have their medicine confiscated by police are legally entitled to get it back, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday, rejecting arguments by prosecutors.

The justices declined to review a challenge to a January ruling by The Arizona Court of Appeals, who ruled that the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office must return marijuana confiscated from a California medical marijuana patient in 2011.  By refusing to review the case, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the lower court without comment.

Valerie Okun, a California resident permitted to use medical marijuana, was cited for violating Arizona drug laws in 2011, when authorities confiscated marijuana from her at a border checkpoint near Yuma. Those charges were later dismissed after she provided her California medical marijuana authorization to court officials.

Arizona’s 2010 voter approved medical marijuana law allows reciprocity to patients from other medical marijuana states, honoring their medical marijuana cards and allowing medical marijuana patients visiting Arizona to possess up to two and a half ounces of cannabis.

After Okun’s charges were dropped, she asked the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office to return her medicine, a request that was granted by the court. The Yuma County Sheriff, however, argued th. . . . . READ MORE

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Judge Rules Harborside Can Stay Open While City of Oakland Fights Feds

July 4th

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A medical marijuana dispensary billed as the world’s largest cannabis store may stay open while the city of Oakland fights a U.S. government effort to shut it down or seize the property, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday in an ongoing tug-of-war in Caifornia between federal authorities and the medical marijuana industry.

In February, Magistrate Maria-Elena James, the same judge who issued the ruling on Wednesday, said the city had no right to intervene in a federal prosecutor’s civil-forfeiture action against the Harborside Health Center, which was previously featured on the Discovery Channel reality TV show “Weed Wars.”

The city appealed the ruling, and James’s latest order allows the dispensary to continue to sell medical marijuana to individuals carrying a doctor’s recommendation while the appeal is under review.

James called the question of Oakland’s legal standing in the case “a matter of significant public interest.”

Attorney Cedric Chao, who is representing . . . . . READ MORE

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City of Berkeley Fights Federal Action to Seize Medical Marijuana Dispensary

July 3rd

BERKELEY, CA – The City of Berkeley filed a claim Wednesday in the action brought by the federal government in May to seize the property used by Berkeley Patients Group at 2366 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California.  Berkeley Patients Group has been providing medical marijuana to patients within the City since 1999.  It is in full compliance with the City of Berkeley’s medical marijuana ordinance, regulations, and zoning laws.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California has used federal asset forfeiture laws to target and close numerous medical marijuana dispensaries, even when those dispensaries have long track records of working with the cities in which they are located, responsibly providing medical marijuana to patients, and complying with state and local law.

The city’s claim was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In its claim, the City asserts that the closure of Berkeley Patients Group will harm the City through the loss of substantial revenue.  Berkeley Patients Group has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the City in taxes over the years.  The federal government’s action also undermines the City’s comprehensive plan to regulate and control medical marijuana, which was designed and implemented to positively impact the health and well-being of all Berkeley residents and to which the City has devoted a significant amount of time and resources.

The claim, filed on Ju. . . . . READ MORE

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Michigan Farmer Caught with 8,000 Marijuana Plants Gets Probation

June 26th

DETROIT, MI — A southeastern Michigan farmer recovering from throat cancer was sentenced to probation instead of prison Tuesday for growing thousands of marijuana plants, due partly to many handwritten letters from supporters who described him as a modest, selfless man who helps others at every turn.

“This is one that most screams out: This man deserves a break,” U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said.

Edwin Schmieding

Edwin Schmieding

Edwin Schmieding, 61, was caught growing 8,000 marijuana plants at his Lenawee County farm and greenhouse in 2011. His wife told police that they were trying to tap the state’s medical marijuana market, although production that large is illegal.

Schmieding’s attorney, Sanford Schulman, noted that most plants were small and of low quality.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Schmieding told the judge as relatives wept in the courtroom gallery. “I’ve lived a hard-working life. I give you my word: I’ll be a responsible citizen.”

Schmieding began growing marijuana in 2010 after years of growing cut flowers and other plants. He and wife Linda lived in a home built with their own hands and warmed. . . . . READ MORE

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