Feds Prosecute Medical Marijuana Patients While Tolerating Commercial Cannabis All In The Same City
Category: News | Posted on Fri, May, 16th 2014 by THCFinder
Sean Green grows marijuana at 1919 East Francis Avenue in Spokane, about six miles from the courthouse where the federal government plans to try Larry Harvey, a 70-year-old retired truck driver, for growing marijuana. Green’s operation is a lot bigger than Harvey’s: up to 21,000 square feet of plant canopy, compared to the 45 plants that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found on Harvey’s property in a rural area of northeastern Washington about 10 miles from Kettle Falls. The difference in scale makes sense, because Green is growing pot for Washington’s newly legal recreational market, while Harvey and four other medical marijuana users were growing it for their own consumption. Both kinds of cultivation are allowed under Washington law, and both are prohibited under federal law. Yet Green’s future as a cannabis entrepreneur looks bright, while Harvey and his co-defendants face prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.
The case of the Kettle Falls Five highlights the gap between policy and practice in the Obama administration’s approach to medical marijuana as well as puzzling inconsistencies in the prosecution choices of Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. Since 2009 the Justice Department has been saying that prosecuting patients who use marijuana in compliance with state law “is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.” Last August the department extended this policy of prosecutorial forbearance to state-licensed suppliers of recreational marijuana, saying it will not interfere with legalization in Washington or Colorado as long as the markets are properly regulated. While Ormsby seems to have gotten the second memo, he seems to have missed the first one. “This case is another glaring example of what’s wrong with the federal policy on cannabis,” says Kari Boiter of Americans for Safe Access. “If the Justice Department can continue to aggressively prosecute individual patients without any consequences from the White House, none of these DOJ memos are worth the paper they’re printed on.”
The Harvey trial, which was originally scheduled to start this week, has been postponed until July 28, at which point at least some of Spokane’s eight state-licensed pot shops should be open for business, selling marijuana grown by state-licensed producers like Sean Green. It will be a surreal juxtaposition. Last week the judge overseeing the Kettle Falls Five case ruled that the defendants may not so much as mention the reason they were growing marijuana, which under federal law does not matter. Meanwhile, on their way home from the courthouse, jurors will be able to buy pot from openly operating businesses licensed by the state of Washington, approved by the city of Spokane, and tolerated by the federal government.
The seeds of this bizarre situation were planted in July 2012, when the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from the Civil Air Patrol that someone was growing marijuana near the Colville Airport. A few weeks later, Sgt. Brad Manke flew over the area and spotted about 70 marijuana plants. Based on that evidence, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for the property, which it served on August 9. Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Larry’s wife, told the officers that she, her husband, their son, their daughter-in-law, and a family friend were using the marijuana to treat various conditions, including gout, osteoarthritis, wasting syndrome, and chronic pain from severe back injuries. All five have medical recommendations, which under a ballot initiative approved in 1998 gives them an affirmative defense against possession and cultivation charges.
Colorado Marijuana Sales up, Crime Down
Category: News | Posted on Thu, May, 15th 2014 by THCFinder
Five months ago, Colorado made history by being the first state in the US to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Opponents were worried that this decision would cause an increase in crime rates, but as sales of marijuana have been increasing, instances of crime have actually gone down in the state. Some local businesses, such as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO), have even begun to incorporate the drug into advertising as a means of increasing revenue.
Sales of recreational marijuana in the state reached almost $19 million for the month of March, almost a $5 million increase from February. The first three months of recreational sales have earned roughly $7.3 million in taxes for Colorado, with taxes from medicinal weed bringing the total up to $12.6 million. Another way that this legislation is generating taxes for the state is through fees and licensing of growers and sellers, which have earned an additional $903,000 for the first three months. The fact that sales are steadily increasing indicates that the financial benefit of legalized marijuana could be a lasting one. However, lawmakers are still unsure of this, and are choosing to only plan their spending with the money that has already been earned.
Compared to the January-April period from 2013, 2014 has seen an overall reduction in both violent and property crimes since legalizing marijuana. This strikes down the statements made by opponents of the bill that legalization of the drug would lead to an increase in crime in the state. Notable reductions were seen in homicide (down by over 52%) and theft from motor vehicles (down by 36%), and all forms of violent crime saw a reduction in their incidence over this period.
As Colorado sales of marijuana are heading up and crime is heading down, another boost that the state is receiving is through job growth. There are at least 13 different jobs that have been created by the industry, ranging from marijuana journalists to grow site operators. The increasing demand for employment can also act as a boost for students, who are taking advantage of the booming industry to help cover tuition costs, according to a study published by Humboldt University. With the cannabis business projected to keep growing, the need for jobs within the industry will continue to expand as well.
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is one group who has taken advantage of the legalization of cannabis to promote their work. The group has four shows planned for this year that will mix the musical experience with marijuana, in the attempts to draw in a younger audience and expand the appreciation of classical music. Edible Events, one of several cannabis-based event companies in the area, is organizing these events. The company provides services for private and public events involving marijuana, and also gives tours of local dispensaries and growing sites. The hope of the CSO, as well as music venues and other musical groups, is to entice a more diverse crowd to come out and experience traditional arts, such as ballet and theater. With attendance at these types of events dropping, and reaching a primarily aging audience, performs within these art styles believe that incorporating marijuana into the events could aid in making the art form popular again.
NFL To Change Its Marijuana Policy, Reduce Suspensions And Raise THC Threshold
Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 14th 2014 by THCFinder
ESPN reports that the NFL will re-examine and likely alter its out-dated marijuana policy after a rash of off-season incidents, suspensions, and increasing pressure to make a much needed change. The announcement comes just days after Josh Gordon’s alleged season-long suspension for testing positive for weed.
According to ESPN’s source, the league will finally admit its antiquated policy needs to evolve with the times, as even the “WADA (Wold Anti-Doping Agency) has a higher threshold for a positive test than the NFL currently does.”
So the NFL will increase the threshold for a positive cannabis test (no exact number just yet)-meaning if you smoked weed a month ago, you’re unlikely to have enough THC in your system to fail a test.
The other major change means that in the future, should a player test positive, he won’t face a season-long ban for weed. The report does not state what the reduced bans (if any) and scales of punishment would be.
Unfortunately, the policy won’t be a retroactive one, meaning Gordon still likely faces an (absurd) 8-16 game ban, as does Will Hill of the New York Giants. And it won’t reimburse players like Von Miller, Brandon Browner, and countless others who’ve lost paychecks for smoking pot over the years.
While a modest compromise-and one that won’t offer any solace to Browns fans-it’s a significant step for both the NFL and professional sports. The media whirlwind and pressure from activists around the country are forcing the NFL to look in a mirror and utilize some form of common sense.
Hopefully-and certainly one day-that common sense will lead the NFL to allowing medical marijuana, and completely stop testing for weed.
If a player wants to medicate his aches and pains with a high CBD strain (like Harlequin) opposed to Oxycontin, that should be his choice-not the NFL’s. And the Kush choice just also happens to be the far safer, healthier, and logical choice.
Couple may have found marijuana in McDonald's burgers
Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 14th 2014 by THCFinder
Police are investigating a report of two people finding what may have been marijuana in their McDonald's cheeseburgers in Iowa last month.
An engaged couple told police they found the substance between the patties in their two double cheeseburgers they bought at a McDonald's in Ottumwa, Iowa, on April 26.
The two bought the cheeseburgers at the restaurant's drive-thru about 8:15 p.m. After taking at least one bite each, the two noticed the plant material, which smelled and looked like marijuana, Ottumwa Police Lt. Jason Bell said.
The couple went back to the restaurant and told management of their suspicions about the substance.
The two then contacted the Ottumwa Police Department. Police began an investigation to try to determine if the substance was marijuana.
Bell couldn't say how much of the substance was on the burgers, but said it "appears to be consistent with marijuana." Police will send the substance to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to test if it is marijuana, Bell said.
Police are also trying to determine how the substance got between the patties.
No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon. The McDonald's restaurant remains open, Bell said.
Colorado Lawmakers Approve First Cannabis Banking System In The World
Category: News | Posted on Tue, May, 13th 2014 by THCFinder
We recently posted that Colorado lawmakers shot down marijuana banking rules. We added ‘for now’ to the title, because we felt that marijuana banking rules in Colorado was far from a dead issue. It didn’t take long for the issue to come up again in the Colorado Legislature, and we here at the ICBC are happy to say that this time banking rules were approved.
Per the Huffington Post:
“The bill approved Wednesday would allow marijuana businesses to pool money in cooperative s, but the co-ops would on take effect if the U.S. Federal Reserve agrees to allow them to do things like accept credit cards or checks.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the pot bank plan and is expected to sign it into law, though a spokesman said Wednesday the governor had yet to review the final language.”
This is a big thing for not only members of the Colorado cannabis industry, but members of the industry throughout the United States and the rest of the world. No other country has a banking system dedicated to the marijuana industry. We’re hopeful that when the banking industry (and federal lawmakers) see how well this works, that national reform will be soon to follow.
There are still some questions that need to be answered. The first of which is ‘how will this work?’ It looks great on paper, and is certainly better than nothing, but how will it work out in reality? Also, how will the federal government react to this bill if/when it’s signed into law? How do the federal guidelines affect the Colorado rules, if at all? Only time will tell, but it is great to see legislators take up this very important issue. At our conference in September, we will have a panel devoted to banking. Stay tuned as more states make similar moves and we continue to work at the federal level to bring about real banking reform.
Washington family faces federal charges for marijuana despite state law
Category: News | Posted on Mon, May, 12th 2014 by THCFinder
The Justice Department announced last year that nonviolent, small-time drug offenders should not face lengthy prison sentences. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP
The green-cross storefronts of medical marijuana dispensaries are common in much of Washington, and the state is ploughing ahead with licensing people to grow and sell recreational pot to adults.
But a federal trial for five people in Spokane, scheduled to begin in the coming weeks, suggests not all is OK with weed in the state.
Larry Harvey, a 70-year-old medical marijuana patient with no criminal history, three of his relatives and a family friend each face mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in prison after they were caught growing about 70 pot plants on their rural, mountainous property.
The Harveys had guns at their home, which is part of the reason for the lengthy possible prison time. They say the weapons were for hunting and protection, but prosecutors say two of the guns were loaded and in the same room as a blue plastic tub of pot.
Medical marijuana advocates have cried foul, arguing the prosecution violates Department of Justice policies announced by Attorney General Eric Holder last year – that nonviolent, small-time drug offenders should not face lengthy prison sentences.
"This case is another glaring example of what's wrong with the federal policy on cannabis," said Kari Boiter, Washington state coordinator for the medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access.
Assistant US attorney Joe Harrington, a spokesman for the US attorney's office in Spokane, said he could not discuss the trial or the office's general approach to pot crimes.
But the case illustrates discrepancies in how law enforcement officials are handling marijuana cases as Washington, with the Justice Department's blessing, moves ahead with its grand experiment in pot legalisation.
Medical marijuana gardens the size of the Harveys' rarely draw attention from authorities in the Seattle area.
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