California county tries to ban pot farms as medical weed business thrives
Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 24th 2014 by THCFinder
(Reuters) - Citing marijuana fields springing up next to high schools and in abandoned barns, Sacramento County supervisors are set to declare pot gardens a public nuisance in the latest move by a local government to rein in California's cannabis industry.
U.S. states are increasingly moving to drop curbs on marijuana following landmark voter initiatives in Colorado and Washington state in 2012 that legalized the drug for recreational use.
But in California, where medical marijuana is legal but recreational use is not, state laws are hazy on who is allowed to grow and sell the drug, leading to a chaotic and largely unregulated marketplace of street-corner pot dispensaries, illegal cannabis farms and inappropriate prescribing by unethical doctors.
Cities and counties have struggled to impose order on an piecemeal basis as the state wrestles with developing a regulatory framework for the thriving if messy medical marijuana
"A huge number of complaints were received last year from residents with regard to outdoor marijuana cultivation," said Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who introduced the measure to ban marijuana gardens as a public nuisance. "Many were close to schools, group homes and other sensitive uses."
The fields can also be dangerous, as owners use weapons and dogs to guard their investments. Ten slayings currently under prosecution in the county have been linked to attempted marijuana theft, she said.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously signaled its intent to approve MacGlashan's ordinance, which will be up for a final vote on May 13.
The board postponed a decision on banning indoor cultivation of marijuana to study whether an all-out prohibition would infringe on the rights of medical cannabis patients to grow plants for their own use.
Arizona Court Overturns Marijuana DUI Ruling
Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 23rd 2014 by THCFinder
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities can't prosecute Arizona motorists for driving under the influence of marijuana unless the person is impaired at the time of the stop, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in the latest opinion on an issue that several states have grappled with across the nation.
The ruling overturned a state Court of Appeals decision last year that upheld the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers for DUI even when there is no evidence of impairment.
The opinion focuses on two chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests — one that causes impairment and one that doesn't but stays in a pot user's system for weeks.
Some prosecutors had warned that anyone in Arizona who used medical marijuana simply shouldn't drive or they would risk facing DUI charges, a contention that drew the ire of pot advocates who claimed this interpretation of the law criminalized their legal use of the drug after voters approved it in 2010.
Tuesday's state Supreme Court opinion removed that threat in explaining that while state statute makes it illegal for a driver to be impaired by marijuana, the presence of a non-psychoactive compound does not constitute impairment under the law.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use, while two states — Washington and Colorado — have legalized the drug for recreational use by adults over 21. Five other states this year adopted laws that allow the use of non-psychoactive marijuana compounds for at least some conditions, such as epilepsy.
Some states require signs of impairment before someone can be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. Others have zero tolerance for the presence of any marijuana in the blood, whether in the form of active compounds that cause impairment or inactive compounds that don't, while a few states have limits for how much active marijuana can be in the system, designed to be comparable to the .08-limit for drunken driving.
Sacramento County supervisors vote to ban outdoor marijuana gardens
Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 23rd 2014 by THCFinder
Sacramento County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to ban outdoor marijuana crops, joining a growing number of California cities and counties that have prohibited cultivation in response to safety and nuisance complaints.
Sheriff Scott Jones told supervisors that marijuana plants have increased throughout the county because of a lack of clarity in federal and state laws and inconsistent prosecution. County aides and law enforcement showed numerous aerial photos of reported grow sites, including open space near Rio Linda High School and the Cherry Island Soccer Complex.
“We’ve seen a profusion – an explosion – of marijuana grows,” Jones said.
The new restrictions would apply to unincorporated Sacramento County and likely take effect in mid-June. The city of Sacramento already bans outdoor cultivation in residential areas, while Elk Grove prohibits all outdoor marijuana growth.
Some advocates for medical marijuana said Tuesday that law enforcement overstated the risks associated with marijuana growth, though others were sympathetic with the county’s concerns about large grow sites. They asked supervisors to preserve the ability of patients to grow plants for personal use. Supervisors on Tuesday asked county staff to return May 28 with proposed restrictions for indoor marijuana grows specifically limited to medical use.
Louisiana Man Gets 13-Year Prison Sentence For Two Marijuana Joints
Category: News | Posted on Fri, April, 18th 2014 by THCFinder
NEW ORLEANS—The Drug Policy Alliance filed an amicus brief today urging the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the egregious prison sentence of Bernard Noble, a 48-year old man who was sentenced to 13.3 years of hard labor in prison without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes.
Noble’s original sentencing judge considered the 13 and a third-year sentence egregious and imposed a sentence of five years of hard labor. But the Orleans Parish District Attorney wasn’t satisfied with this punishment and appealed the sentence. Ultimately, the district attorney sought and obtained a prison term of close to triple the sentence imposed by the original sentencing judge.
“Thirteen years in prison for two joints is obscene,” said Daniel Abrahamson, director of the Office of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance and a lead author of the brief. “The punishment is so far out of proportion to the conduct that we really can’t call it ‘punishment’ – it is more like torture.”
While Noble has two prior low-level nonviolent drug offenses that occurred 8 and 20 years respectively before his arrest in this case, he has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of drugs for personal use. Because of these prior, albeit dated drug offenses Mr. Noble fell within Louisiana’s Habitual Offender Statute, which brings his sentence for his marijuana possession offense to thirteen and one-third years and deprived him of the opportunity for earlier release on parole.
The Drug Policy Alliance filed the amicus brief on behalf of DPA, the Micah Project, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Reason Foundation, and the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana. It highlights how Louisiana’s sentencing scheme for marijuana possession offenses is grossly disproportionate to the average sentence of marijuana offenders based on national standards and comparative state laws. In stark contrast to Louisiana, many states have decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use, with the offense being punishable by a fine and with no threat of jail time. And two states have outright legalized, taxed and regulated the cultivation, sale, possession and use of marijuana by and for adults.
“The sentence inflicted by Louisiana in this case for simple, low-level marijuana possession, on a gainfully employed father with absolutely no history any serious or violent crime, cannot be justified by any measure,” said Abrahamson. “It does not enhance public safety. It will destroy Mr. Noble and his family. And it flies in the face of what Louisianans believe. “
Indeed, Noble’s sentence also runs counter to public opinion. Independent public opinion polling undertaken in July and August 2013 by Public Policy Polling (“PPP”) underscores that Louisiana voters, by strong majorities, oppose lengthy prison terms for simple marijuana possession, including persons caught possessing marijuana on multiple occasions.
Further, there is gross racial disparity in the rates of arrest for marijuana possession. African Americans are 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites in Louisiana, and 61 percent of marijuana arrests are of African Americans while only 32 percent of Louisiana’s population is African American.
“Finally, Mr. Noble’s prison sentence for possessing two joints will cost Louisiana taxpayers nearly one-quarter of a million dollars and will add to the majority of nonviolent offenders who currently fill Louisiana’s prisons,” Abrahamson said. “In fact, only 17 percent of the state’s prison inmates have committed violent crimes, whereas fully one quarter of the state’s prison population is there for drug crimes.”
Lawmakers to debate roadside saliva tests for marijuana use
Category: News | Posted on Fri, April, 18th 2014 by THCFinder
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Some advocates of medical marijuana say they'll attend a hearing Thursday in Lansing to oppose bills that would let police use roadside saliva testing if a driver is suspected of being under the influence of marijuana.
But the legislator who sponsored the proposal said opponents missed the point of his bills, whose primary aim is to get repeat intoxicated drivers off the road through better communication among police.
Saliva testing is "not critical to this legislation" although Michigan's police officers deserve to have it available, said State Rep. Dan Lauwers, a Republican from Brockway Township near Port Huron.
"We need to look to the future. This kind of testing has been approved in California," Lauwers said.
The saliva tests have not been approved throughout California but are being used in field trials by Los Angeles police to see if results can qualify as court-admissible evidence, said Don Targowski, a Santa Monica defense attorney who is active in marijuana cases. Targowski has offices in both suburban Los Angeles and Grand Rapids.
Under the Michigan proposal, motorists would not be arrested simply for failing the saliva test but only after being pulled over for "erratic driving." Then the saliva test would add confirming evidence, just as portable breath testers do in cases of drunken drivers to justify an arrest, Lauwers said.
"What we're really after is repeat offenders," he said. The spur for the bill was a double-fatal crash last year in St. Clair County in which a repeat offender drove under the influence of pain killers — not marijuana, he said. The testing proposal, House Bill 5385, and a companion bill together would get repeat drugged-driving violators off the road more quickly by setting up the same notification system for police across the state of pending cases that's already in effect for alcohol-impaired drivers, he said.
The two bills are set for a Thursday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. Those who represent the more than 100,000 state-registered users of medical marijuana said they plan to be there or will send others to speak against the bills.
"These tests are very flawed," said Adam Macdonald of Grosse Pointe Farms, chairman of the National Patients Rights Association, a nationwide advocacy group for medical-marijuana users.
"I've heard this will kick the ability to drive right out from under anyone who uses medical marijuana for up to 20 days" before the test, Macdonald said.
Saliva testing detects a subject's level of active THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, said Lapeer attorney Bernard Jocuns.
"Right now in Michigan, technically a medical marijuana patient is supposed to be immune from prosecution while driving, unless there's evidence of actual impairment of their driving," Jocuns said. But the test would ignore the evidence of actual impairment and merely show the result of a chemical reaction, he said.
NCAA Rules That Marijuana Is Not a Performance-Enhancing Substance
Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 17th 2014 by THCFinder
The NCAA has decided not to punish student-athletes as harshly for the use of marijuana after determining that it is not a performance-enhancing substance.
The penalty for testing positive for street drugs, including marijuana, will be reduced to half a season from a full season. Street drugs are not performance-enhancing in nature, and this change will encourage schools to provide student-athletes the necessary rehabilitation.
While this is a huge change, it also doesn't change the law in many states. In the few states where the substance is actually legal—such as Colorado—the punishment may not appear to be as harsh.
As for any other state where it is not legal, running the risk of a suspension and arrest might be a little more harsh. USA Today also recently ran a study that shows casual use of marijuana can still affect brain cells:
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