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Montana Man Faces Possible Life in Prison for 3 Grams of Pot

Category: News | Posted on Thu, March, 31st 2011 by THCFinder
(The Missoulian) [I]n a Missoula County courtroom… an eight-woman, four-man jury found Matthew Otto, 27, guilty of a single charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs – in this case, 3 grams (well under an ounce) of marijuana. Otto faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $50,000 fine.
 
 
Well under an ounce?  How about close to a tenth of an ounce?  Regardless, Montana law defines sales or distribution (giving) any amount of marijuana as a felony and allows for a one year to life prison sentence and $50,000 fine.  Otto is lucky he wasn’t within 1,000 feet of a school or an additional three years minimum would be added.
 
Otto stood accused of sharing a bowl of his medical marijuana with two friends in a car traveling down Reserve Street, where the trio passed a Missoula County Sheriff’s detective on his way home from work last November.
 
 
How many times do I have to tell you people to not smoke pot in your freakin’ car?!?  Even if parked but especially if moving!
 
Both [Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew] Paul and [Public Defender Chris] Daly questioned potential jurors closely as to their experiences with and attitudes toward marijuana – medical and otherwise. Roughly half the 24 people from whom the eventual jury was chosen raised their hands in response to a question as to whether they’d smoked marijuana. While none had medical marijuana cards, five had family members with “green” cards.
 
 
Yes, because over half of US adults aged 50 or younger have tried marijuana.  If that’s going to be a disqualification for jury duty, you’re going to find it increasingly hard to seat juries (as happened in Montana last year).
 
Samantha and Jordan Lambert, who was driving the car, originally told Missoula County Sheriff’s Detective Jon Gunter that they’d gotten the marijuana from Otto, according to court papers. Wednesday, they testified they didn’t remember who lit the bowl or where the marijuana in it came from.
 
Daly repeatedly pointed out that neither of the Lamberts was charged with possessing or distributing marijuana, even though the bowl was shared among the trio.
 
“The detective told me if I was honest with him about taking a hit off the pipe, I would not be in trouble,” Jordan Lambert testified.
 
[Missoula County Sheriff's Detective Jon] Gunter testified that as a narcotics investigator, he felt it was more important to home in on the source of the drug.
 
 
 
So this terribly dangerous 3g of medical marijuana that Otto distributed to Jordan Lambert wasn’t so dangerous that we needed to charge the pot-smoking non-medical-marijuana-patient driving the car; it was “more important to home in on the” legit medical marijuana patient who was “the source of the drug”?  Otto didn’t hold a gun to Lambert’s head and force him to take hits while driving by an off-duty sheriff.  Lambert made a choice to endanger other drivers on the road but the police feel the real danger is the patient medicating in the back seat?
 

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Govt to crack down on 'legal cannabis'

Category: News | Posted on Wed, March, 30th 2011 by THCFinder
The Government plans to restrict access to legal cannabis substitutes but says they cannot be legally banned.
 
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said yesterday the Government would restrict access to the products and make it illegal to sell them to under 18-year-olds.
 
He was following the advice of the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, which concluded it was unacceptable for the products to be available without controls on their packaging, marketing and sale.
 
However, an Invercargill mum who spoke to The Southland Times about the effects the product Kronic had on her 17-year-old son last year said that would hardly change the situation.
 
Most companies had voluntarily imposed an R18 classification and the sale of the product in pre-rolled joints to under-18s was already an offence under the Smoke Free Environment Act.
 
"That's not going to stop anybody getting it who isn't already getting it," she said.
 
She wanted it banned.
 
Mr Dunne's press secretary, Mark Stewart, said that any restrictions so far had been an act of goodwill and this step would give clear legal boundaries.
 
Mr Dunne would not seek to have the substance banned.
 
The Invercargill woman said parts of the Government's move were a step in the right direction and she hoped producers would be forced to list the ingredients.
 
" I want to know what's in it that makes his eyes look like they're black holes looking at me."
 
Mr Dunne said an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005 was required to impose the planned restrictions.
 
He expected the changes to come into effect next year.
 
KEY FACTS
 
The products: Spice, Kronic, Aroma and Dream and others.
 
What they contain: Vegetable matter treated with synthetic cannabinomimetic substances.
 
What they do: Produce psychoactive effects similar to those of cannabis when smoked.
 
What will change: Cannabinomimetic substances will be added to the restricted substances schedule.
 

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Cannabis Industry Matures: Angel Investor Network Launched

Category: News | Posted on Fri, March, 25th 2011 by THCFinder
Today, on the heels of the release of the first U.S. market data report putting the size of the domestic medical marijuana market at $1.7 billion, The ArcView Group announced the formation of the cannabis industry's first angel investment network. The ArcView Angel Network will facilitate seed and early stage investment in federally legal enterprises within the medical cannabis industry, and will host the Cannabis Investment Forum Series (CIF), a groundbreaking series of events exclusively for the top ancillary cannabis business entrepreneurs and qualified investors.
 
"Extraordinary rewards await investors with the courage and vision to be a part of building the new cannabis industry," said ArcView Group President, Stephen DeAngelo, also Executive Director of Harborside Health Center - the nation's largest model medical cannabis collective. "The ArcView Angel Network will open the door to the most promising business opportunities.
 
"There are many interested investors and investment-worthy entrepreneurs in the cannabis sector. But so far, that has not resulted in much investment. The lack of market data, industry knowledge and access to opportunities contributed to investor's perception of unacceptable risk.
 

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Ping fights medical marijuana dispensary near Phoenix location

Category: News | Posted on Wed, March, 23rd 2011 by THCFinder
Golf-equipment manufacturer Ping is threatening to leave its north Phoenix home of 45 years if the neighborhood continues to decline, its attorney says.
 
Phoenix will do all it can to prevent that from happening, according to a top city official.
 
The dispute between Ping and its neighbors came to light last week at the first use-permit hearings for medical-marijuana locations citywide.
 
 
While most of the applications sailed through without opposition, Stephen Earl, Ping's legal representative, objected strenuously to an applicant for a site at 1944 W. North Lane.
 
Ping is a block north of the North Lane site, on property north of Peoria Avenue and west of 19th Avenue, where it has been accumulating property since 1966. Earl told a Phoenix hearing officer that the company is considering investing $170 million to renovate its headquarters, but may not do so if the neighborhood decline continues. Ping has not announced its renovation plans publicly.
 
Earl said Ping brings in celebrities and professional golfers from all over the world, including college teams from across the country, for tours and club fittings. Because Ping customizes its clubs to buyers, the company is likely to see younger golfers.
 
Bringing them into a bad neighborhood reflects poorly on the company, he said. The neighborhood includes a striptease club, Centerfolds Cabaret; a lingerie store, Fascinations; and a hemp-products store is on the horizon.
 
Earl said the neighborhood has become a "hotbed of deleterious uses," including the possible medical-marijuana outlet.
 
The use permit was granted despite Ping's opposition. After the hearing, Earl told The Republic that moving is "an option that has to be on the table."
 
The attorney for the medical-marijuana applicants said they do not want to get into a fight with Ping.
 

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Pot DUI bill advances in Colorado House

Category: News | Posted on Tue, March, 22nd 2011 by THCFinder
DENVER (AP) — A proposal to set a blood-content threshold to charge marijuana users with driving under the influence advanced in the Colorado House Tuesday, after lawmakers argued over what would be an appropriate limit.
 
The measure would allow prosecutors to charge drivers with DUI if they test positive for a THC level of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter in their blood, a level that has angered some medical marijuana users but that would the most liberal in statute in the country. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
 
The bill comes as medical marijuana in Colorado continues to skyrocket and lawmakers worry about the possibility of people driving impaired. The County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Colorado District Attorney's Council support the bill and say it's no different than setting a limit for what for what is considered too drunk to drive.
 
But advocates for medical marijuana use have pushed back, saying some daily users of the drug may develop tolerance levels that may allow them to drive safely and that they would be unfairly punished by a 5-nanogram level. Medical marijuana users also say they hope the blood test alone will not be the only factor in convicting drivers, and that suspects will be allowed to present evidence to rebut the case against them.
 
Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat from Boulder who is co-sponsoring House Bill 1261, tried to ease concerns from medical marijuana users by suggesting that the limit be increased to 8 nanograms. But her amendment drew sharp criticism from the bill co-sponsor, Republican Rep. Mark Waller of El Paso County, who said 5 nanograms was a fair limit considering some experts had suggested that 2 nanograms would be fine, too.
 
Another lawmaker, Republican Rep. Bob Gardner, was so upset at Levy's proposed change that he suggested lowering the limit further to 2 nanograms. Republican Rep. Tom Massey of Poncha Springs, broke some of the tension.
 
"I can't remember what I was going to say but I'm hungry," he joked.
 
Levy opposed making the nanogram limit stricter.
 
"I think we really would run the risk of being very over inclusive and arresting and convicting people who are not impaired," Levy said.
 
Lawmakers approved a 5 nanogram level in the end and the bill faces a final vote in the House before it goes to the Senate.
 

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California medical marijuana dispensary plans to take IRS to court

Category: News | Posted on Mon, March, 21st 2011 by THCFinder
The IRS is thought to have begun audits on at least 12 medical marijuana dispensaries in California under the determination that past business deductions are invalid because of a clause in the federal tax code prohibiting any business that traffics in Schedule I or II drugs from making business deductions on their tax returns. The move could bankrupt every dispensary that it targets. The first dispensary to receive a final audit decision from the IRS is the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM) in Fairfax, Calif.
 
Lynette Shaw, founder and owner of MAMM, is hoping to strike back before the IRS can deliver any more “final determinations” to other dispensaries currently being audited. Shaw intends to file an appeal in U.S. Tax Court within the month. There is actually a precedent for just such a case, when in 2007, a San Francisco dispensary primarily catering to terminal AIDS patients got its payment cut down to just over 1 percent of what the IRS originally said it owed in back taxes.
 
Shaw, however, seems to almost hope that a tax judge rules against her. A successful appeal of such a ruling would guarantee that neither MAMM nor any other dispensary in California or any other state would have to worry about future IRS audits. The next step would be the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Shaw is prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.
 
Shaw says she hopes to do more than just override the tax code. She calls the IRS applying regulations meant for illicit drugs to something considered medication by state governments “an abrogation of states’ rights.” But she also intends to challenge the very classification of marijuana that has allowed the IRS to go after MAMM and other dispensaries.
 
“The Constitution says that all American laws shall be based upon a rational basis,” she says. “I’ve got a truckload of evidence to argue that this doesn’t pass the muster of rational basis.”
 

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