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Feds: Arizona's medical marijuana lawsuit has no merit

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, August, 2nd 2011 by THCFinder
Federal attorneys asked a judge on Monday to throw out a lawsuit filed by Gov. Jan Brewer seeking a ruling about the legality of the state’s medical marijuana law.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Scott Risner said there is no legal basis for the lawsuit. Risner told U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in legal papers filed in her court that, absent some actual threat of prosecution under federal drug laws by his office, the question is purely academic and therefore not a proper subject for litigation.
 
But state Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit in May on the governor’s behalf, said Risner is telling only part of the story.
The fight surrounds the decision by Arizona voters last year to set up a system allowing those with a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued ID card to purchase marijuana from state-regulated dispensaries.
Since that time, several federal prosecutors, including Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, warned that possession and sale of the drug remains illegal under federal law. Brewer then directed Horne to ask a federal court whether Arizona could implement its program anyway.
 
In the interim, the state health department, at Brewer’s direction, decided not to license any dispensaries, though they have continued to certify patients as medical marijuana users.
Risner said the problem with Horne’s lawsuit is that no state employee involved in issuing licenses — those that Brewer said she was most concerned about — is facing prosecution.
But Horne said that’s not exactly true.
 
He pointed out that federal prosecutors, in their letters to state officials in Arizona and elsewhere, essentially said that medical marijuana users have nothing to fear. It’s what those letters did not say, Horne said, which amounts to a threat.
“They gave no assurance to state employees, they gave no assurance to dispensaries,’’ he said.
“And they said they were going to vigorously prosecute anyone who is involved in the distribution of marijuana,’’ Horne continued, a category that could include state workers. “What unbelievable hypocrites!’’
 

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Court upholds 10-year term in medical pot case

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, August, 1st 2011 by THCFinder
A federal appeals court upheld the conviction and 10-year sentence Wednesday of a medical marijuana advocate who grew 32,000 pot plants for patients and fellow Rastafarians on his land in Lake County.
 
The federal judge who sent Charles "Eddy" Lepp to prison in 2009 criticized the federal law that required a 10-year term for growing at least 1,000 marijuana plants. But U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of San Francisco said she was bound by the law, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.
 
"The statutory minimum sentence is not cruel and unusual punishment," the three-judge panel said.
 
Federal agents arrested Lepp in 2004 after finding the marijuana plants in gardens near his home in Upper Lake, most of them in view of Highway 20.
 
He said the plants were for patients who had a right to use marijuana with their doctors' approval under California law. Lepp also said that he was a Rastafarian minister, for whom marijuana is a sacrament, and that he was growing the plants for 2,500 members of his church who were sharecroppers.
 
Federal law strictly bans marijuana, however, even in states that allow its medical use. The appeals court upheld Patel's refusal to allow Lepp to invoke his religion as a defense to the charges, saying his prosecution served the government's "compelling interest in preventing diversion of sacramental marijuana to non-religious users."
 
Lepp's lawyer, Michael Hinckley, had argued that the 10-year sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crimes. Hinckley said that he was disappointed by Wednesday's ruling and that "the thought of him spending 10 years in prison, in circumstances like these, is tragic."
 
 

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Marijuana Collective Members in Court

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, July, 29th 2011 by THCFinder
When will this madness and nonsense stop? Harassing workers is going above and beyond any rational thinking of shutting down dispensaries as if that is not bad enough to begin with.
 
It's the first case of it's kind in Butte County. Three members of a marijuana collective, raided last year, pleaded "not guilty" today to the felony charges against them. Eight dispensaries in the Chico area were raided June 30th.. Mountainside Patient Collective was one of them. And although the three who appeared in court today are the first to face charges, the District Attorney's office says they won't be the last.
 
Jason Anderson, Michael Anderson, and Kaitlin Sanchez are facing several felony charges for providing medical marijuana to patients in Butte County. They are the three members of the Mountainside Patients Collective, one of eight dispensaries raided last June.. And the first to appear in court.
 
"The legislation that allows collectives and cooperatives is very clear that you can only cultivate. You cannot sell, you cannot distribute," District Attorney Mike Ramsey says.
 
According to Prop 215 marijuana possession and cultivation is allowed for personal medical use only, and by no means is it available for sales.. Even if its labeled a 'non-profit' by the collective. It also states that only seriously ill patients have the right to medical cannibus. Those with cancer or aids for example. "Seventy percent of their membership was under the age of 30.. These are supposedly seriously ill folks," says Ramsey.
 
Bay Area cannabis activist Mickey Martin is a personal friend of the Andersons. His argument...What about those who are unable to grow medical marijuana themselves. Like those who are too ill or living in apartment complexes with not enough space. "People who do live in apartments, do count on collectives and other people to grow their medicine for them because there's just no space," Martin says.
 
Martin also believes the time and money spent to prepare for the raid could have been spent elsewhere. As he says, instead of attacking these medical providers. "There's a lot of people who need this medicine and the people who are willing to stand on the front lines and provide it, don't deserve to be dragged through court.."
 
But in the coming months, the D.A.'s office plans to file several other charges against others involved with the dispensaries raided last summer. Ramsey says, "They have a sham legal existence. They're selling marijuana. They are really nothing more than marijuana stores."
 
The Mountainside Patients Collective trial date has been set for September 26th.
 

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Free pot in exchange for registering to vote?

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, July, 28th 2011 by THCFinder
A medical marijuana shop's offer of free pot in exchange for registering to vote appears to have gone up in smoke.
 
Your Healthy Choice Clinic of Lansing, Mich., had been offering a half gram on its website ahead of a vote for city council seats and after the council approved capping the number of medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits and setting a $1,000 application fee.
Clinic owner Shekina Pena earlier said she wasn't trying to buy votes.
 
"We really got to fight to get the voters out there because the polls are showing there's 4-5,000 people in Lansing that are patients or caregivers," she told NBC affiliate WILX TV. "So we need those 4-5,000 people to come forth to the polls and vote for whomever they feel is in support of what they want for access."
 
"We let them know how we feel, we don't tell them who to vote for," she added. "We definitely want to support the ones (city council members) who are supporting us."
 
On Wednesday, the state's attorney general, at the prodding of a state senator, said he was looking into whether the clinic crossed a legal line.
 
Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said if the clinic tied the offer to voting for or against a particular person then it would definitely have crossed the legal line.
 
Pena insisted that wasn't the case, but Swope still had concerns that a line might have been crossed, noting that a website tagline — "Vote for us and we'll vote for you." — suggested a close tie to candidates.
 
A clinic employee contacted by msnbc.com on Thursday had "no comment" on whether the website offer still stood, and Pena had not yet returned a call seeking clarification.
 

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Seattle mayor signing medical marijuana law

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, July, 27th 2011 by THCFinder
SEATTLE —
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn scheduled a signing ceremony Wednesday with the city attorney and other officials to sign a bill regulating medical marijuana like any other business.
 
The bill passed July 18 by the city council requires that medical marijuana operations be licensed, obtain food-handling permits if they sell marijuana cookies, and follow all other regulations such as land use codes.
 
The approach contrasts with several other cities in Washington that have imposed moratoriums on such operations.
 
Medical marijuana regulations in the state have been uncertain since Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed much of a bill that would have created a system of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. She left in sections allowing collective medical marijuana operations.
 

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BCCLA slams medical marijuana reforms

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, July, 27th 2011 by THCFinder
The federal government’s plan to reform Health Canada’s medical marijuana program is not dope, says the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
 
Last month, the federal government launched a public consultation on proposed amendments to the program, following a recent Ontario court decision that struck down the program as unconstitutional.
 
Currently, people seeking marijuana for medical purposes must first get a declaration from a licensed medical practitioner before they can apply to Health Canada for authorization to possess pot. Existing regulations also allow authorized patients or a designated person to get a licence to grow their own medical marijuana.
 
Under the proposed changes, doctors would directly authorize patients to use medical marijuana and patients would have to purchase it from commercial producers licensed by Health Canada.
 
But BCCLA’S Micheal Vonn said Health Canada’s proposal is heading in the wrong direction. 
 
“Patients have a constitutional right to access (medical marijuana) without fear of criminal prosecution,” she said. 
 
The BCCLA is also calling for the development of a “non-profit or price-regulated production and distribution system” based on the “compassion clubs” model.
 
Dana Larsen, director of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, said he would like to see dispensaries brought into the program because they have the ability to work with producers and growers, offer organic-quality product and provide one-on-one consultation and education.
 

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