Oakland Eases Off On Plan To Industrialize Marijuana
Former construction industry executive Jeff Wilcox has a $20 million bet riding on the future of marijuana commercialization in California. That is what his AgraMed Inc. venture has invested in a warehouse near the Oakland waterfront and a bid to open a "business park for the cannabis industry." He hopes to lease the space to pot growers, bakeries, labs and processing facilities and to create hundreds of well-paying jobs. But Wilcox is in limbo after Oakland officials last week suspended a plan to issue four licenses for factory-scale production of medical marijuana. Wilcox is only the most pronounced of numerous suitors for the coveted permits who suddenly have cause to worry.
Oakland City Council members approved the unprecedented plan to tax and license the industrialization of marijuana in July. At the time, Oakland was preening as the political epicentre for a California initiative seeking to legalize pot as a leisure activity and sanction a marijuana market extending far beyond medical use. But Proposition 19, defeated by voters Nov. 2, drew the ire of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who proclaimed the federal government wasn't going to tolerate retail pot sales in California. Oakland's ambitious cultivation plan designed to service the existing medical pot economy and potential recreational use also drew the suspicion of federal agents, who contacted the city.
Now, the process is on hold amid fears of government raids and warnings that Oakland's bold pot plan may violate California laws mandating that medical marijuana businesses operate as nonprofits. In a Dec. 6 letter to Jean Quan, Oakland's incoming mayor, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, warned that the city ordinance offered no "legal or equitable defence" against criminal prosecution of pot factories opening in town. City Attorney John Russo said he was contacted in October and again in November by U.S. Justice Department officials "expressing concern" over the city's plans. Oakland hoped to cash in on a 5 percent local tax on proceeds from the future pot factories that voters approved in November and a 10 percent tax on recreational sales if California voters passed Proposition 19.
Top Cop's House Used As Cannabis Factory
A crime gang used a house owned by one of Britain’s top police officers as a cannabis factory, it has emerged. Drug dealers grew thousands of pounds of super-strong “skunk” plants under the nose of Rod Jarman, a Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner. The officer rented out the four-bed house through an online letting agent to a British man with a Chinese or Vietnamese name, who provided proof of identity and bank details.
Later, alerted to strange noises by neighbours, Mr Jarman visited the house, in Abridge, Essex, and found it filled with plants and equipment for growing the class B drug. There was also a machete lying on the floor and rear windows smashed – signs that the house had been burgled by rivals. The gang had run up a £20,000 electricity bill and caused an estimated £48,000 of damage.
Mr Jarman told the Mirror: “Despite 31 years’ experience of policing I didn’t see it coming. “It is an absolutely awful thing for people to find their home has been destroyed for somebody else’s illegal gain.” Police in England and Wales uncover about 20 cannabis factories every day and last year officers and customs seized 1.3 million plants worth £150million.
Asian with 57 pot plants victim of racial profiling, judge says
VANCOUVER — A B.C. judge has thrown out the evidence against an Asian man stopped with 57 marijuana plants in his trunk after ruling he had been a victim of racial profiling.
Zai Chong Huang was pulled over in January 2009 as he travelled along a road in 100 Mile House, B.C., about 430 kilometres northeast of Vancouver. A search of his truck turned up the potted plants, a timer, a bottle of liquid fertilizer and 150 empty plant pots, and Huang was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
The officer, identified in court documents only as Const. Berze, said he'd pulled Huang over for swerving twice in his own lane. However, after reviewing circumstantial evidence, Provincial Court Judge Elizabeth Bayliff decided Berze did so only because of his own prejudice against Asian people.
The most damning evidence came in an interview between Berze and Huang on the night of the incident.
"You must be guilty as shit," Berze is quoted as saying in an interview transcript. "You're probably a gang member, aren't you? An Asian gang from Surrey, right? Well you're not saying anything so it must be true . . . . If I were the Canadian government I'd kick your ass right out of Canada is what I'd do.
"You come into my country and you start trafficking dope around. That's bullshit. My wife and kids live here in 100 Mile House, and pieces of shit like you are gonna come in. And if they are trafficking drugs in my hometown, I do not like it at all."
Huang, whose first language is Cantonese, only gave short replies indicating he did not understand.
Bayliff called the outburst a display of Berze's own anger.
"(Berze) demonstrates that he is personally very angry at a particular group of people of Asian extraction — those who are associated with organized crime, particularly the production and trafficking of marijuana and other drugs," she said. "He demonstrates enmity to that group of people. Further, he assumes that Mr. Huang is part of that group."
Around the same time Berze pulled Huang over, Berze's colleague, Const. Manseau, stopped another Asian man, whose vehicle also contained marijuana plants, a few kilometres behind. That man turned out to be Huang's twin brother, Zai Qing.
Manseau said he, too, pulled the man over for swerving in his lane. Bayliff noted the coincidence might not mean anything on its own, but "it is the whole of the evidence and all of the circumstances that must be considered."
She went on to say she found it "more probable than not" that Berze saw Huang, and perhaps his brother, at a gas station earlier on and followed Huang's vehicle, looking for a reason to pull it over.
Bayliff concluded by saying the principle issue is that it is a fundamental liberty for people to be able to move about the country freely without improper police interference.
"In my view, when I balance the public interest in seeing this prosecution proceed against the charter value at issue, I conclude that to admit evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."
Four Men Jailed For 20 Years After Police Uncover 15mil Cannabis
Four men have been jailed for a total of more than 20 years after police seized the largest amount of cannabis ever found in Britain worth a staggering £15 million. The monumental find in October 2008 included a mountain of cannabis weighing over 3.2 tons plus amphetamine worth £10,000 and £170,000 in cash. Detectives found the secret lock-up was being used to store the 180 boxes of cannabis each weighing 44lbs plus 40 flower boxes containing skunk. They even found a hidden room for stashing drugs behind a cupboard. They also found tell-tale signs of a major drug operation at the garage floor scales and equipment for grinding cannabis. Robert Price, 55, of Leeds, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis and being concerned in the supply of amphetamines and was jailed for eight years.
Scott Weaver, 30, also of Leeds, admitted conspiracy to supply amphetamines, being concerned in the supply of cannabis and possession of a prohibited weapon. He was jailed for five years and three months. Andrew Lee, 46, formerly of Wakefield, had previously admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis resin. His brother Graham Lee, 43, formerly of Leeds, admitted supplying amphetamines, supplying cannabis and assisting an offender. Both were jailed for three years and four months. Price, a businessman and property dealer was the 'lynchpin' in the operation to store and distribute the drugs, Leeds Crown Court heard on Thursday. He owned several properties and luxury cars and had 100,000 pounds stashed under the floorboards of his home.
Andrew Lee was employed as his 'patsy' who hired the unit in Wakefield, West Yorks., and was responsible for warehousing the drugs. The operation was smashed after gangsters from the Merseyside area delivered the drugs, thought to have been smuggled to the UK from Spain, and were followed by police. Amphetamines were also seized from a property in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, where Price's son-in-law Weaver ran his own operation processing and dealing the drug. Graham Lee who originally fled to Benidorm after the seizure in October 2008 was arrested on his return to the UK. Judge Kerry Macgill said: 'Criminals placed a considerable amount of trust in Price. The cannabis found was a huge amount. This was a professional operation on a grand scale.' Det Insp Stuart Spencer, of West Yorkshire Police, said: 'This investigation was protracted involving a sophisticated criminal gang with associates across Europe. They were extremely conversant with the importation of commodities and their distribution throughout the north. 'Removing this network undoubtedly had an impact upon the availability of drugs, minimizing the misery they bring to communities.
Travel Agency And Clothing Store Were Fronts For Marijuana Operation
Five men were arrested this week on suspicion of cultivating about 400 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of $200,000 inside a Montrose clothing store, travel agency and home, police said. The bust on the 2500 block of Honolulu Avenue took place at Blue Seas travel agency, which also sold medical supplies, and Fast Fashion high-end clothing store all of which police said were being used as fronts for sophisticated indoor-marijuana growing operations, Sgt.
Tom Lorenz said. "All you have to do is walk up to the front of the building and smell the marijuana," he said. The businesses had been converted into a full scale cultivation operation that included lights, ventilation and 381 marijuana plants, Lorenz said.
Fire Leads Cops To Cannabis House
Firefighters stumbled on a mature cannabis crop inside a house that caught fire in Melbourne's southwest. Fire crews went to the home in Egret Court, Werribee, just before 6.30pm on Saturday after neighbors reported smoke billowing from the roof.
They found three rooms containing about 18 mature cannabis plants and hydroponic equipment. Werribee CIU detectives are investigating the cause of the blaze, but no one was at the home at the time of the fire. Police are still searching for the people who were residing at the residence but as of yet no luck. The cannabis plants were obviously being grown for the purpose of distribution and the growth op may very well of been the reason for the fire.
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