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Legal Conflicts on Medical Marijuana Ensnare Hundreds as Courts Debate a New Provision

Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 9th 2015 by THCFinder

 

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. — Charles C. Lynch seemed to be doing everything right when he opened a medical marijuana dispensary in the tidy coastal town of Morro Bay, Calif.
 
The mayor, the city attorney and leaders of the local Chamber of Commerce all came for the ribbon-cutting in 2006. The conditions for his business license, including a ban on customers younger than 18 and compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws, were posted on the wall.
 
But two years later, Mr. Lynch was convicted of multiple felonies under federal law for selling marijuana. He is one of hundreds of defendants and prisoners caught in the stark conflict between federal law — which puts marijuana in the same class as heroin, with no exception for medical sales — and many states’ decisions to allow medical uses.
 
“I feel so left out of society,” Mr. Lynch, 52, who is out on bond and appealing his conviction, said from a battered trailer behind his mother’s house here in northwestern New Mexico. He is waiting to see if he must go to prison.
 
Now, though, a legal wild card has been injected into his case and those of several other defendants in California and Washington State.
 
In December, in a little-publicized amendment to the 2015 appropriations bill that one legal scholar called a “buried land mine,” Congress barred the Justice Department from spending any money to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
 

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Looser marijuana penalties approved by Wichita voters

Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 8th 2015 by THCFinder

Now that a win for marijuana reform is in the books in Kansas’ largest city, the focus shifts to Topeka, where the attorney general has called Wichita’s voter-approved initiative unlawful and the Legislature could consider as many as three marijuana-related bills in the coming weeks.

In the general city election Tuesday, Wichita voters said yes to reducing penalties for possession of marijuana. Of the 37,000 Wichita voters, 54 percent said they wanted more lenient penalties for first-time offenders. About 45 percent wanted to keep the status quo.

The major provision of the ballot initiative was to reduce the punishment for a first-time marijuana conviction to a $50 fine. Violations would be an infraction that wouldn’t have to be disclosed on most job and college scholarship applications.

Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, attended an Election Night party with the measure’s supporters and said she hopes the win in Wichita will send a message to the capital for the state to ease up on marijuana.

Finney, who has undergone chemotherapy for lupus, has for years pushed the Legislature for a bill allowing medical marijuana. So far, that bill has yet to advance out of a committee.

But she said she’s hopeful this year will bring action on two other bills – one that would reduce marijuana penalties to clear prison beds, and another that would allow seizure sufferers to be treated with hemp oil derived from marijuana.

Read More:http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/election/article17801054.html


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Arizona Supreme Court OKs Pot for Patients on Probation, Says No Federal Conflict

Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 8th 2015 by THCFinder

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in two cases today that prosecutors can't ban people on parole or probation from using medical marijuana.

 

Because medical marijuana is a medicine when used under the state's voter-authorized program, the court stated in its opinions, patients should be allowed to use it -- even when conditions of probation ban the consumption of alcohol.

Interestingly, as part of the rulings, the state's highest court rejected the idea that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act conflicted with federal law.

State officers, including prosecutors, probation officers and judges, aren't violating their oaths of office by failing to ban convicts from using marijuana as a condition for them to remain on parole or probation, the 5-0 opinion in Reed v. Kaliher states. Quoting from a Michigan case, the judges ruled that "the people of Arizona 'chose to part ways with Congress only regarding the scope of acceptable medical use of marijuana.'"

This clearly takes much of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's argument on the topic of a supposed conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act. Montgomery's still appealing a lawsuit filed against the county by White Mountain Health Center, a Sun City dispensary that opened in December.

State law does prohibit the use of marijuana or prescription drugs except as administered by a "'health care practitioner,' a phrase that suggests the legislature intended to distinguish between illicit use and lawful medicinal use of such drugs," the ruling states.

Medical marijuana is legal under state law, therefore the judges have moved to "harmonize" the law -- essentially catching it up to the 2010 marijuana act. The Arizona Court of Appeals held to a similar opinion in July, but the Cochise County Attorney's Office appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Keenan Reed-Kaliher was convicted of selling marijuana and released from prison in 2011 after serving 1.5 years. He promptly took advantage of the 2010 Medical Marijuana Act, securing a patient card to help manage pain from a hip injury. But the county soon told him he couldn't do that, and revised his three-year probation terms to include a ban on using medical marijuana. Reed-Kaliher, with the help of lawyers Tom Dean, Sarah Mayhew and David Euchner, took on the system -- and won.

The Arizona medical-cannabis law states that legit patients are "not subject to... denial of any right or privilege, including any civil penalty or disciplinary action by a court."

Source: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2015/04/arizona_supreme_court_oks_pot_for_patients_on_probation_says_no_federal_con.php


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“Pot for Sale” Facebook Post Leads to Arrests in Thailand

Category: News | Posted on Tue, April, 7th 2015 by THCFinder

Anyone visiting Thailand from Russia – or any other country for that matter – should take note that pot is illegal there. Like really illegal.

Earlier this week, police officers on the Thai vacation island of Koh Pha Ngan raided two rented party houses and arrested eight Russian citizens – five women and three men. During the raid police seized a hand-carved bamboo water pipe and 304 grams (10.72 ounces) of “compressed cannabis.”

The raids were part of an investigation into a now-deleted Facebook page titled “Bong Russian Boss,” on which the accused allegedly advertised pot and bongs for sale.

Two of the arrested men, each 29-years-old, claimed ownership of the seized items and were formally charged with possession. They claim they didn’t know that cannabis was illegal in Thailand. Unfortunately that excuse will be of little help in a country known for its draconian drug laws. 

Source: http://www.hightimes.com/read/pot-sale-facebook-post-leads-arrests-thailand


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Discover Himalaya’s Outlawed Marijuana Fields

Category: News | Posted on Tue, April, 7th 2015 by THCFinder

Nestled in the Himalayan foothills at an altitude of 10,000 ft. (3,000 m), entire villages and communities subsist on illegal marijuana production. These villages are far from any paved roads and are so remote that distances are measured in hours of walking.

Across thousands of acres of public and private land, villagers grow cannabis which is then turned into a high-quality resin know as charas. “On the global market, charas is sold as a high quality hashish,” says Italian photographer Andrea de Franciscis, who has been documenting these communities for the past three years. “The farmers who produce the costly resin get very little in return and struggle to survive against always tougher legislation.”

De Franciscis has chosen an anthropological angle to photograph these villagers, with the goal of producing a complete story that also focusses on culture and tradition. “Life is challenging in the mountain,“ he tells TIME. “Women work as much as men, and the feeling is that it’s rather a matriarchal society.”

Cannabis has deep roots in Indian society dating back to as early as 2,000 BCE within the Hindu scriptures. However, since the drug was outlawed in India in 1985 there has been pressure on a national and global scale to curb the cannabis production in the Himalayan valley. But, says de Franciscis, this has only “led to an increase of the price [of charas] on the global market, and has actually worsened the situation of the villagers whom have no real alternative for their livelihood.”

Source:http://time.com/3736616/discover-himalayas-illegal-marijuana-fields/


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Marijuana trimmers use tiny scissors but eye big careers

Category: News | Posted on Mon, April, 6th 2015 by THCFinder

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) - Washington's marijuana business has created a legal occupation that offers career opportunities for bud trimmers.
    
"I've done everything from pumping gas to remodeling houses, but I think there's longevity in this," 32-year-old bud trimmer Kurt Vermillion told The Columbian. "I think there's lots of growing room in this industry. I want to do whatever they need me to do."
    
Bud trimmers make between $12 and $15 an hour and use small scissors to trim away leaves and other things from marijuana buds. Most trimmers work on about a pound to a pound and a half of marijuana per day.
    
Experienced workers can move up to gardeners or concentrate makers and make $50,000 to $90,000 a year.
    
For 37-year-old Julie Whittaker, who started trimming buds in November, the job turned out to be less stressful than her former work in the banking software industry.
    
"I've been learning my way as I go," she said. "I'm intrigued by this whole industry. It's a big shift for me, and honestly I find it to be better regulated than even my old career in banking."
    
Vermillion and Whittaker work at Cedar Creek Cannabis, where Mark Michaelson, head of operations, is eyeing ways to hold onto workers. The company has 14.
    
"We want to work on employee retention," he said. "Eventually we'll have health and dental insurance and full benefits for them, too."
    
Clark County has eight growers that have been approved by the Liquor Control Board, and five stores have opened in Clark County so far and two more are planning to open within two months.
    
Before the legalization of marijuana, bud trimmers migrated from job to job and were paid in cash by the pound and risked arrest. Now, bud trimmers typically make an hourly wage, though some are paid by the pound.
    
"I think what happens is people think in this industry, people are just hanging out and maybe even smoking," said 32-year-old Brittny Houghton, 32, whose family owns Cedar Creek Cannabis. "But that's not what we do. It's a real job, it's 9 to 5, you have to be on time, you don't have to be a smoker, and the quality of the work is important."
    
At CannaMan Farms, another marijuana business, owner Brian Stroh said trimmers come from a variety of backgrounds.
    
"It's a business that people who work hard can move up in," he said.

Source: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Marijuana-trimmers-use-tiny-scissors-but-eye-big-careers-298713671.html


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