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Federal government appeals medical pot ruling

Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 28th 2011 by THCFinder
ST. CATHARINES, ONT. - The federal government is appealing a landmark ruling that could legalize marijuana possession, at least in Ontario.
 
That April 11 judgment by Superior Court Judge Donald Taliano in a St. Catharines courtroom threw out pot production charges against Matthew Mernagh.
 
It also deemed the federal medical marijuana program unconstitutional.
 
Last week, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada filed a notice of appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal against Taliano's ruling.
 
It says Taliano erred in law by declaring the medical marijuana law was unconstitutional.
 
"I am confident of a win," said Mernagh's lawyer Paul Lewin.
 
"There was a lot of evidence for (us). And it wasn't just Matt.
 
"I think we had a total of 23 witnesses, who clearly should qualify (for medical marijuana), and all had very serious conditions and couldn't get their doctor to sign."
 
Mernagh, 37, now lives in Toronto, but was formerly from St. Catharines and suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis and a seizure disorder.
 
He has been unable to obtain a license for medical marijuana to help ease his symptoms.
 
Taliano had also permanently stayed charges against Mernagh, stemming from his 2008 arrest when Niagara police seized 70 pot plants from his St. Catharines apartment.
 
Taliano found Canada's medical marijuana program fails to give legal access to sick people who need the drug, largely because many family doctors refuse to endorse the needed paperwork for patients.
 
The trial judge struck down laws against both possessing and growing marijuana as part of the ruling.
 
As well, he gave Ottawa three months to overhaul the medical marijuana program or effectively legalize its possession and production.
 
A date for the appeal hearing has not yet been set.
 
The prosecution office was offered a chance to respond to Lewin's comments on Wednesday, but did not respond.
 

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Federal pot warning sent to Colorado lawmakers

Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 28th 2011 by THCFinder
Colorado is the latest state to receive marijuana warnings from the federal government as state lawmakers mull regulating the drug.
 
The top federal prosecutor in Colorado sent a letter Tuesday to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and some lawmakers. The letter says states shouldn't pass bills that appear to authorize the medical marijuana business because the drug is still illegal under federal law.
 
Other states considering marijuana legislation have faced federal questions. Earlier this month, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said she may veto a bill to license marijuana dispensaries after the Justice Department warned it could result in a federal crackdown.
 
Montana lawmakers passed an outright repeal of medical marijuana in that state after federal raids. The repeal was vetoed, but a bill limiting marijuana dispensaries awaits Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
 

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Raid training planned in wake of federal threats

Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 27th 2011 by THCFinder
SEATTLE, WA. APRIL 26, 2011 — In the wake of threats this month from two federal prosecutors in Washington State, medical cannabis activists are staging raid preparedness trainings in cities across the state. The move comes as Governor Chris Gregoire contemplates the fate of a bill to license medical cannabis providers and create a state registry of medical cannabis patients.
 
“The medical cannabis bill is a ghost of its former self, and could get dramatically worse if the governor exercises her sectional veto power,” said Rachel Kurtz with the Cannabis Defense Coalition. “Our community would do well to prepare itself, to brace for impact.”
 
Events are planned this week for Seattle, Spokane and Ellensburg. Traveling from Washington D.C. to lead the trainings will be Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the nation's largest medical cannabis advocacy group. That organization was founded ten years ago in response to federal raids on cannabis providers in California.
 
"Patients are sick and tired of being marginalized and living in fear of the federal government,” said Sherer. “It's time to push politics aside, recognize the plight of patients across the country, and properly address medical marijuana as the public health issue that it is.”
 
Event organizers warn that, whether or not the medical cannabis bill becomes law, medical cannabis patients and providers will likely see an increase in raids by federal and local law enforcement throughout Washington State.
 
 

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IRS opens audit of Denver medical-marijuana dispensary

Category: News | Posted on Tue, April, 26th 2011 by THCFinder
The Internal Revenue Service has opened an audit of a Denver medical-marijuana dispensary, the latest action in what one observer calls a "guerrilla campaign" by the federal government to push back against the cannabis industry.
 
The audit is believed to be the first of its kind in Colorado and follows audits of numerous medical-marijuana dispensaries in California and other states.
 
Investigators are examining whether it was unlawful for the dispensaries — which are illegal enterprises under federal law — to deduct business expenses from their federal taxes, said Jim Marty, a Denver accountant who represents the Colorado dispensary.
 
Marty declined to name the dispensary or say where it is located. Marty said the dispensary was notified of the audit earlier this month.
 
"So far," he said, "the IRS has been pretty cooperative. . . . The client had good records."
 
Marty said he expects the IRS to look broadly at dispensaries in Colorado. If so, that would mirror what the agency has done in California, where tax attorney Henry Wykowski said the IRS has undertaken at least 30 audits of dispensaries.
 
The audits are also part of a bigger series of events in which the federal government appears to be more actively asserting itself in state-legal marijuana businesses.
 
In recent months, U.S. attorneys in Washington state and California have sent letters to state officials there warning them that efforts to regulate medical-marijuana businesses will not change the federal government's disapproval of those businesses.
 
In one letter, U.S. attorneys in Washington warn Gov. Christine Gregoire that state employees who regulate the businesses "would not be immune from liability."
 
In addition to the IRS audits, the federal government has asserted its authority by raiding medical-marijuana dispensaries. Last month, federal agents served 26 criminal search warrants in Montana during a drug-trafficking investigation that focused on dispensaries. The agents allege the dispensaries were also engaged in other illegal activities
 

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Judge doubts Alaska trooper could have sniffed out marijuana

Category: News | Posted on Mon, April, 25th 2011 by THCFinder
An Alaska trooper's reported ability to sniff out marijuana grow operations from hundreds of feet away is under attack in federal court.
 
In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick concluded the pot-smelling power of investigator Kyle Young wasn't supported by the facts in a Mat-Su marijuana case, and shouldn't have been used as justification for a search warrant.
 
As a result, Sedwick threw out the seized evidence -- including some 500 marijuana plants. Unless prosecutors appeal, the government's drug case against Trace Rae and Jennifer Anne Thoms of Wasilla is gutted.
 
"This time, the tables turned," defense lawyer Rex Butler, who represents Trace Thoms, said Sunday. "This is a huge case, especially for the Valley."
 
He said it carries implications for numerous cases that were based on trooper Young's reputed marijuana-detecting skill.
 
Young, who has more than 20 years with the troopers, maintains he did smell marijuana that day in February 2010.
 
"It was fairly strong. Smelled it on the air. Smelled it downwind of that place," Young said in an interview Sunday. "For them to rule that I couldn't, to me that says they are saying I am lying or that I was mistaken. And neither was correct."
 
He estimated that he's investigated and seized between 100 to 150 Alaska marijuana grow operations since 1998 that he located by smell.
 
Trace and Jennifer Thoms each face three drug counts, including manufacturing marijuana, as well as a charge of money laundering conspiracy in which they are accused of disguising more than $1 million in marijuana proceeds. In addition, Jennifer Thoms separately faces 14 money laundering counts.
 
The indictment against them also seeks forfeiture of various properties including their home, nearly $100,000, five snowmachines, a Ford F-250, a GMC Yukon Denali, a Rolex gold watch, and a 14-karat diamond wedding ring set.
 

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Two more Florida Gators arrested on marijuana charges

Category: News | Posted on Mon, April, 25th 2011 by THCFinder
Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins has twice been arrested since January on marijuana charges, including on Saturday. But he’s not alone.
 
Redshirt freshman Chris Martin and redshirt sophomore Kedric Johnson were also hit with misdemeanor marijuana possession charges, according to The Palm Beach Post. Neither player’s arrest was known previously.
 
Janoris Jenkins was arrested for a second time because of marijuana possession. 
 
Gainesville police arrested Martin on Jan. 29 after officers smelled the marijuana coming from his vehicle. Martin is expected to compete for a starting job at linebacker or defensive end. Johnson, a backup linebacker, was arrested on Jan. 9 after an officer pulled him over for speeding and smelled marijuana. He showed them two grams of the drug in his glove compartment, according to the police report obtained by The Palm Beach Post.
 
Both players agreed to deferred prosecution and the cases did not go to trial.
 
On Saturday, Jenkins was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of less than 20 grams. He has a May 12 court date. In January, officers caught him with the drug in a bathroom at a nightclub. He pleaded no contest and agreed to deferred prosecution.
 
The combination of arrests does not give first-year coach Will Muschamp a good start. However, it continues a history of arrests in the program. Under Urban Meyer, there were 25 players arrested in six seasons.
 

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