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Judge gives former Ill. sheriff life in prison

Category: News | Posted on Wed, January, 19th 2011 by THCFinder

BENTON, Ill. -- A federal judge called a disgraced Illinois sheriff "the worst of humanity" Wednesday and sentenced him to life in prison for trafficking marijuana on the job and a foiled plot to have potential witnesses killed.

 

U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert sided with prosecutors in deciding that Raymond Martin should be harshly punished, admonishing the longtime sheriff of southern Illinois' Gallatin County as "nothing but a common thief and thug who disregarded the very laws that you swore to uphold, defend, protect and honor."

 

"You could have likely been sheriff until you decided to retire. But no, you couldn't stand prosperity, and your arrogance, greed and power got the best of you," Gilbert told Martin, who was booted out of office within days of his conviction last September of all 15 felony counts. "I believe in your mind your only regret is that you got caught. "You represent the worst of humanity."

 

Gilbert appeared irked by the lack of visible contrition by Martin, who moments before being handed two life terms on weapons charges - and numerous 10- and five-year terms on the other counts - pledged to appeal, claiming more documents and witnesses presented on his behalf at trial could have acquitted him.

 

"Your Honor, I come before you today not claiming to be no angel but can assure you I'm not the man prosecutors are trying to portray me as," the Martin, 48, told Gilbert, denying he ever schemed to have anyone killed.

 

Gilbert found Martin incredulous.

 

"In all my years as a judge, I have never seen a criminal case where the evidence of guilt was so overwhelming," said the judge, who also fined Martin $50,000 and swatted down the man's request to be allowed free while he appealed.

 

Martin, a Democrat who had been re-elected four times, has been jailed since May 2009, when federal agents hauled him off from his office in Shawneetown on marijuana-dealing charges. Despite that and his subsequent behind-bars plotting to kill witnesses, Martin clung to his job and still got his $40,000-a-year salary until the county fired him after his conviction, ending his nearly 20-year run as sheriff.

 

Though Martin had the legal right to keep his job pending trial, federal prosecutor Jim Cutchin argued Wednesday that Martin's stepping down would have been the morally right thing to do. While jailed, county records show, Martin collected $68,087 in salary and benefits from the cash-strapped, drug-plagued county, along with a roughly $4,200 state stipend.

 

Martin's attorney, John O'Gara, asked Gilbert for a 30-year term, calling that "sufficient but not greater than necessary to punish him."

 

"You do not need to sign a piece of paper to consign him to death in the Bureau of Prisons," O'Gara pressed, insisting Martin "has a great capacity for caring" and should be spared a life term.

 

Martin's attorney and prosecutors agreed that he would forfeit to the U.S. government his home and more than $75,000 in other assets. When arrested, investigators said, Martin had nearly $105,000 in cash in his basement safe and $19,000 in his then-wife's workplace safe.

 

A Drug Enforcement Administration agent has alleged that Martin supplied a drug dealer, then threatened to kill him when the man said he wanted out, saying making him disappear would be easy. The then-sheriff also pressured the dealer by saying he could make up a crime against him and pledged to use his power to shut down rival dealers, prosecutors said.

 

Investigators said the dealer let authorities record his conversations with Martin over several weeks because he was scared of the lawman's threats.

 

Authorities alleged that even after Martin was jailed on drug counts, he masterminded a scheme to have two potential witnesses assaulted and possibly killed. None of those witnesses ultimately was harmed.

 

Authorities said Martin enlisted his then-wife, Kristina Martin, 37, and 21-year-old son Cody Martin in the plot in which two cellmates were offered as much as $17,000 to kill the witnesses - even supplying them with a detailed map to the targets' homes. Raymond and Kristina Martin since have divorced.

 

"Words cannot adequately describe how despicable it was for what you did to your son, Cody," Gilbert told Martin. "Animals protect their young more than you did yours."

 

Witnesses testified that the alleged plot unraveled when one of the two would-be hit men got cold feet and reported the plan to authorities.

 

The sheriff's wife and son pleaded not guilty to Jackson County murder-solicitation charges. Kristina Martin's trial is scheduled to begin Monday; no trial date has been set for Cody Martin.

(Source)


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ANN ARBOR: Council delays decision on marijuana dispensaries

Category: Dispensaries | Posted on Wed, January, 19th 2011 by THCFinder

The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously voted to delay the decision to vote on the marijuana regulation ordinance, instead deciding on a temporary moratorium for the next two months.

The decision from council came after deliberating over the newest ordinance. Dispensaries within the city have been operating on a temporary moratorium since August 2010.

“We are going to be extremely careful that we craft some legislation that we believe is going to best serve the patients and the caregivers — and anyone who is involved in what is for our state, certainly for our community, a new endeavor," Mayor Hieftje said, regarding the amount of time it has taken council to make a decision on the subject.

Local marijuana advocate and dispensary owner Chuck Ream was present at Monday’s meeting, and shared his concern over the delay of the official ordinance.

“I’m certainly happy about the progress but there are still a few steps left to go,” said Ream. “In the current text, it says that the dispensaries will have to display the name and contact information for all owners, all business managers. Yes, there should be a contact person, but not a multitude of people’s names, right up there in public, where any criminal or wacko can see them and go rob their home or hurt their children.”

Ream also expressed concerns about members being able to maintain privacy, as well as issues dealing with the delivery of products. But his main concern was with record keeping at the dispensaries as well as presenting them to the city if requested.

“This is chilling. It’s illegal…only the big guys would participate in this type of system. The little growers would never take the risk of having their names on such a dangerous list that the Feds could demand at any time.”

Council will be voting on the ordinance Feb. 7. The moratorium will be extended until March 31

(Source)


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Drugs Raid Uncovers £1M Cannabis Haul

Category: News | Posted on Wed, January, 19th 2011 by THCFinder

Police have seized a number of cannabis plants with an estimated street value of more than £1million after executing a search warrant for a house at Thornwood near Epping. Upon executing the search warrant police found a variety of plants at different stages of growth when they went to an address in Woodside at roughly 1PM on Friday the 14th January. Police had seized up to 3,000 marijuana plants at the time of the search.

 

 

On discovering the plants officers said that the growers had developed a “sophisticated hydroponics setup” to harvest drugs. A 26 year old man from Epping was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and a 41 year old man from Waltham Abbey was arrested on suspicion of cultivating cannabis and abstracting electricity. They were both bailed to return to Harlow police station on 1 April.


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Cannabis Grower Avoids Jail Sentence

Category: News | Posted on Wed, January, 19th 2011 by THCFinder

A Southampton man was spared an immediate prison sentence after a judge heard he had health problems and would lose his accommodation that had taken him four years to get. Police had gone to the home of David Thomas, 45, on an unrelated matter when they discovered a tray of small cannabis plants in a cupboard and another 17 more mature plants in another room.

 

 

 

Mary Aspinall Miles the prosecution at Southampton Crown Court, said if the latter had been harvested, they would have been has a street value of approximately £1,700. Thomas, of Queenstown Road, Freemantle, admitted producing cannabis and allowing premises to be used for its production. Judge Jane Miller QC, who gave him a four-month suspended sentence, described his health problems as unenviable. She added that the risk of reconviction was low and there had been a reduction in his offending.


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Access to medical marijuana delayed

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, January, 18th 2011 by THCFinder

D.C. residents seeking medical marijuana are unable to obtain a prescription in the city, despite the legalization of the drug last summer.

Difficulties in regulating the drug have caused delays in dispensaries being set up, D.C. Department of Health spokeswoman Mahlori Isaacs said.

"Due to legal litigation, it is unclear when medicinal marijuana will make it to Washington, D.C. depositories," Isaacs said.

Medical marijuana became legal in the District July 27, 2010, after Congress' allotted 30-day review period expired. If Congress does not touch a bill passed by the D.C. Council in that 30-day period, it automatically becomes law.

The D.C. health department is responsible for establishing the regulations needed to ensure the legal distribution of the controversial drug. Proposed rules for the cultivation and distribution of the drug are expected to take effect once they are published in the D.C. Register. Though this is expected to happen soon, there is no official date set at this time.

GW Hospital spokeswoman Heather Oldham said the hospital is unable to comment on whether or not it will be allowed to distribute medicinal marijuana.

Oldham said the hospital's lawyers are still attempting to figure out what changes the hospital would need to make in order to accommodate the law.

D.C. hospitals will be able to distribute the drug if they submit a dispensary registration application and are approved by the D.C. Board of Health, similar to any other dispensary, Issacs said. She added that hospitals will probably not qualify as cultivation centers due to difficulties in ensuring the security of the facility.

GW Hospital physicians will be able to recommend marijuana treatment for patients who qualify.

A medical marijuana certification provider, according to proposed rules, must certify businesses or individuals who want to distribute medicinal marijuana. To be certified, distributors must submit an application detailing facility's staffing, security, cultivation and product safety plan.

As of now, no dispensaries have been qualified by the DOH, Issacs said.

Only individuals with a recommendation from a Department of Health-registered physician will be able to use medical marijuana in D.C. Anyone who wants to obtain the drug for medicinal purposes must also provide a social security number and proof of residency in the District to be approved by the DOH.

Only D.C. residents will be able to obtain the drug here, so students who are not permanent residents of the District won't be able to purchase marijuana from D.C. dispensaries, even if they have permission to obtain the drug in states that already allow the use of medicinal marijuana.

(Source)


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Medical Marijuana Ads Help Sagging Media Profits

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, January, 18th 2011 by THCFinder

Medical marijuana advertising is taking off, propping up the fortunes of ailing media companies that have seen income from other business sectors plummet in the recession.

Advertisements offering free edibles for new patients and products such as “super silver haze” are helping to keep the San Francisco Bay GuardianSF Weekly and East Bay Express in business. Similar ads have even started cropping up — tentatively — in more staid publications, such as the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ads for pot are growing so fast in part because they face fewer regulations and restrictions than marketing materials for cigarettes and alcohol. The only real regulation is one requiring the ads to warn customers that they need a doctor’s recommendation.

“Marijuana advertising is a small percentage of our total advertising — we wish that we had more,” said Mina Bajraktarevic, advertising sales manager at the Bay Guardian, whose back page has become a wall of green with medical marijuana advertising.

 

“We’ve been involved in this for years,” said Bruce Brugmann, publisher of the Bay Guardian. “We haven’t heard    any complaints.”

Not all media companies are comfortable with pot ads, and some have equivocated about whether to accept them. Some advertisers were waiting to see the outcome of the vote Nov. 2 on Proposition 19, the state pot legalization bill, before agreeing to take money from the burgeoning industry.

Ten years ago most medical cannabis clubs were intentionally low-key and relied only on word of mouth. Being illegal, they were inconsistently tolerated by the authorities.

Now, with rapidly liberalized enforcement policies, the most successful medical cannabis businesses are the ones that get their brand name out to the public. Dozens of the businesses are racing to capture the pot-smoking community’s mindshare, and are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into local media this year to do so.

“We probably spend around $2,500 to $3,000 a month on advertising,” said Kevin Reed, president of the Green Cross, a medical cannabis dispensary on Market Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. “We’re in a world where you’re competing with all these fly-by-night businesses who don’t have to follow the rules — they’re not regulated.” Until recently, more than half a dozen dispensaries had failed to register their businesses with the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

One of the pioneers of pot advertising was KUSF Radio. Four years ago, the station, run by the University of San Francisco, had a Green Cross-underwritten public-service announcement that ran on 90.3 FM.

But sometimes it’s hard for pot clubs to buy ads; several have lined up ad agreements only to have them retroactively rejected.

In May, Facebook canceled the Green Cross’ existing advertisements on the site. MediCann, a group of clinics specializing in medical marijuana evaluations, also had its Facebook ads snuffed.

In August, the Green Cross paid in full for a slot on a huge electronic billboard on Interstate 280 at the Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City — only to see it taken down a day later.

The circumstances surrounding that reversal were not quite clear. SF Weekly ran a blog post suggesting the ad was taken down because its content was objectionable. But a spokeswoman for the mall, Cherie Napier, said that the real reason was that the billboard was only permitted to run ads for products or services sold at the mall. The marijuana ad, she said in an e-mail, “would have been a violation and could have resulted in a $10,000 fine from the state.”

Aside from the weeklies, the medical pot business supports a whole genre of “cannabis friendly” magazines, such as West Coast Leaf and Kush.

“We don’t do general newspapers or anything like that,” said Adrian Moore, director of operations at 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center in Richmond.

Bigger news outlets don’t appear ready to take advertisements for marijuana, at least not yet.

To what extent can marijuana be advertised? Kris Hermes, executive director of the Oakland-basedAmericans for Safe Access, called advertising for the drug a First Amendment issue.

“Our rough position is that we’re in favor of patients finding out how to access medical marijuana,” Hermes said. “We encourage local governments to figure out ways of allowing advertisements that aren’t counterproductive to [get to] the members of the community.”

(Source)


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