No new trial for Modesto pot vendors
A federal court has denied the request for a new trial by two Modesto men convicted on federal drug charges for operating a medical marijuana dispensary.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco has affirmed the convictions and sentences of Ricardo Montes, 29, and Luke Scarmazzo, 29, the U.S. attorney's office for California's Eastern District said Tuesday in a news release.
Scarmazzo and Montes had appealed because they claimed the trial judge made a mistake by not granting them a new trial after a juror read and discussed during deliberations a summary of a newspaper article on the marijuana policies of presidential hopefuls.
The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court in Fresno in finding that the jurors' consideration of such information could not have affected their verdict.
A federal jury in Fresno found the two men guilty in May 2008 of manufacturing marijuana and distributing the drug, as well as operating a continuing criminal enterprise.
In November 2008, U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger sentenced Scarmazzo to 21 years and 10 months in prison and Montes to the 20-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
The evidence at trial showed that from 2004 until September 2006, the two men openly ran the California Healthcare Collective, a marijuana dispensary they cofounded in Modesto.
During those two years they made $9.2 million in sales, with up to 14 employees who cultivated, packaged and distributed marijuana, according to the news release.
Medical marijuana is legal in California, but federal laws outlaw its possession and distribution, even if the activities are allowed under state law.
ANN ARBOR: City Council approves revisions to medical marijuana ordinance
The Ann Arbor City Council delayed voting on the medical marijuana ordinance during Monday’s city council meeting, instead postponing the decision until Jan. 18.
Protesters gathered outside Monday’s council meeting, holding signs and chanting “Marijuana is not a crime.” Many of them also spoke during the public commentary session of the meeting.
Among those who spoke was Chuck Ream, a local advocate whose voice has become well known on the medical marijuana topic.
“The medicine is a simple herb that was approved by 63 percent of the voters,” said Ream. “I ask you not to go along with the repression of the day. Ann Arbor has got to believe that we have brains and a heart here…. The law says that no level of government can invade the homes of patients and caregivers.”
The council chose not to make a final decision on the regulations at this time, instead delaying the vote until Jan. 18 so the city attorney’s office is able to make necessary changes. General concerns dealt with the caregiver registry.
“There is a concern out there, and the ultimate question here for the council is whether or not there is a concern about registering people,” said City Attorney Stephen Postema.
“This was originally inserted on request of the police. They do want to know where product is being grown because they do not want to waste resources doing criminal investigations of people who have this [growing permit.]
“The idea that state law precludes all of this type of regulation is something that we’ve looked at and addressed, and I think that the courts ultimately be looking at that in all core cases across other communities.”
Final approval of the bill will occur in February pending the Jan. 18 vote, and zoning regulations will be discussed at that point.
Maine Medical Marijuana Patients Rush to Register with State
A new law was recently passed that states that medical marijuana patients must register with the state in order to continue using medical marijuana, This has led to hundreds of applications which must be processed by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. The law went into effect January 1, and the state has already received more than 400 applications and they are continuing to expect to give out over 1,000 registration cards by this spring alone. Medical marijuana is not new to Maine as voters approved the use of medical marijuana in the late 1990’s, however patients that obtained medical marijuana with a simple doctor’s prescription now have to apply for and receive a state registration card, This card will cost the patients roughly $100 per year.
There are concerns about the flood of applications leading to delays in patients receiving their cards. The State Attorney General is advising police to check with the Department of Health if a patient does not have their card, as their application may still be pending. Other patients are wary of registering with the state and hope the legislature will overturn the rule in 2011. There is a downside to this new law though; the new law states that patients must obtain their medical marijuana from one of eight medical marijuana dispensaries that will open where as previously patients could either grow their own or obtain it from a designated caregiver. The dispensaries will provide a third option for patients and could lead to an increase in applications. However, the opening of the voter-approved dispensaries has been delayed and officials don’t expect the first to open until March or April 2011.
Judge to hear DEA request to obtain state medical-marijuana records
GRAND RAPIDS – A hearing is set next week in the federal government's request for access to certain state medical-marijuana records.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents is seeking the records related to a Lansing-area investigation of seven people.
In June, the DEA served a subpoena on the state's Department of Community Health, but the state would not provide the records citing confidentiality laws.
The Department of Community Health told investigators that they faced potential civil and criminal sanctions if they released the information.
A hearing is Jan. 12 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh Brenneman, court records said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruha filed a motion to enforce the petition. He said in court filings that state officials were “reluctant” to release the records without a judge's order.
The DEA is seeking "copies of any and all documents, records, applications, payment method of any application for Medical Marijuana Patient Cards and Medical Marijuana Caregiver cards and copies of front and back of any cards located for the seven named individuals."
The names of those under investigation are redacted from records.
Under the law, Community Health maintains a confidential list of those who have obtained registry identification cards. Disclosure of the information is a misdemeanor.
400 Mainers sign up for medical pot
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — More than 400 Mainers applied to the state for permission to be medical marijuana patients under a new state law.
Starting Saturday, Mainers had to be registered with the state before legally using marijuana to ease the painful symptoms of cancer, AIDS and other medical conditions. For the past decade, patients needed only a doctor's authorization.
The Maine Sunday Telegram says applications streamed into the Maine Department of Health and Human Services during the final days and weeks of 2010, and hundreds more are expected in the next several weeks. Officials say they expect to give registration cards to 1,200 or more patients by the time the initial rush is over this spring.
Medical Marijuana Zoning Hearing Monday In Dexter
Dexter residents can tell officials what they think about medical marijuana business regulations at a public forum Monday. The Dexter Village Planning Commission holds hearings starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Dexter Senior Centre on proposed changes to the zoning ordinance. The new rules would regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the Washtenaw County community.
AnnArbor.com says afterward, the commission is expected to decide whether to recommend approval of the proposal to the village council. Under the proposed zoning rules, marijuana dispensaries would need an annual permit that would be reviewed by the sheriff's department. They couldn't be closer than 500 feet to a library, a school or other marijuana dispensary. The proposal also would ban smoking marijuana on site.
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