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Tag: medical marijuana

DEA Continues to Bust Pot Shops in States Where Medicinal Marijuana Is Legal

Steve Neavling 

The DEA continues to crack down on medical marijuana stores in states where voters legalized the use of medical pot.

The latest law enforcement effort is targeting medicinal pot shops cropping up in metropolitan Seattle, Q13 Fox reports.

The DEA sent letters to shops that are close to schools or playgrounds and appear to be sending out more letters, the Fox station reported.

Some neighbors are relieved. Anna Ioannides lives next to one shop. She voted against I-502.

“Just like having a gun shop in the neighborhood; it would make me uneasy as well,” Anna Loannides said. “Same idea.”

Others weren’t so concerned.

“Once they moved in, to be quite honest, I hadn’t even noticed they moved in,” Kelley Scholz told Fox. “It’s pretty quiet; you don’t even realize they’re there.”

Marijuana Supporters Argue in Federal Court That DEA Has Ignored Research on Drug

Steve Neavling

 Supporters of marijuana rights attacked the DEA’s tight regulation of pot in a potentially landmark case that could change the drug’s classification, Reuters reports.

Joseph Elford, lawyer for Americans for Safe Access, said the DEA has essentially ignored scientific research that suggests marijuana is safer than heroin and has medicinal value.

“This game of ‘gotcha’ will continue indefinitely unless this court intervenes,” Elford told a three-judge panel of the appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The DEA countered that research is not all conclusive and continued the line of rhetoric that marijuana is unsafe.

One of the judges appeared to agree with the DEA.

“Don’t we have to defer to the agency?” asked Judge Merrick Garland. “We’re not scientists. They are.”

Ex-DEA Agent: Pot Will Become Legal As Attitudes Change

Steve Neavling 

While some former federal agents are calling for the government to crack down on marijuana laws, at least one ex-DEA agent said it may be a lost cause because pot legalization is only a matter of time.

In a Houston Chronicle column written by Gary Hale, former chief of intelligence of the Houston Field Division of the DEA, the author said the public’s relaxed attitude toward marijuana will lead to legalization.

Hale doesn’t take sides in the debate but said lawmakers and federal agencies should begin preparing for ways to regulate the drug once it becomes legal.

That will include taxes, commercial trade, driving laws and wrongful death suits, he writes.


California Councilman Bribed Owner of Marijuana Dispensary

Steve Neavling

A Santa Fe Springs Councilman accepted $11,500 in bribes from a marijuana dispensary owner who was working as an FBI informant, according to a plea agreement released Thursday, the L.A. Times reports.

In the latest example of corruption in a Los Angeles County town, the case against Councilman Joseph Serrano Sr. alleges he sought monthly payments of up to $1,6000 in exchange for helping the pot shop survive bureaucratic threats.

Court records say Serrano was desperate to make his mortgage payments.

Under the plea agreement, Serrano will plead guilty to one felony count of bribery.


State Legislator Concerned Over DEA Questioning About Her Over Marijuana

By Danny Fenster

A Montana state legislator claims the DEA is investigating her because of her support of medical marijuana laws.

Diane Sands, a Democratic in the State House, told the Missoulian that a possible witness in a DEA investigation into medical marijuana businesses was asked if she was  part of a conspiracy to sell medical marijuana. DEA Agents from Billings, Mont., asked the questions, Sands learned from the witness’ attorney.

Sands has worked on and supported medical marijuana laws in the past.

“So now, if you’re a state legislator who has been working on medical marijuana laws, you are somehow part of a conspiracy,” she said. “It’s ridiculous, of course, but it’s also threatening to think that the federal government is willing to use its influence and try to chill discussion about this subject.”

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Feds Target 4 Calif. Marijuana Shops in Ongoing Crackdown

By Danny Fenster

Over the past week, federal prosecutors filed four asset forfeiture lawsuits against buildings housing “marijuana stores” in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Department of Justice announced in a statement on Wednesday. The owners of the buildings and operators of the stores have been sent warning letters as well.

The charges claim that business and property owners knowingly allowed marijuana sales to illegally take place. The Department of Justice said the moves were “part of a continuing, coordinated effort against commercial marijuana operations in California that started last fall.” California’s four USAttorneys announced in October coordinated enforcement actions targeting illegal marijuana cultivation and trafficking, the Justice Department said.


Colorado Asks DEA to Reclassify Marijuana

By Danny Fenster

Barbara Grohl, head of the Colorado Department of Revenue, has written a letter asking the DEA to loosen federal controls on marijuana and recognize its “potential medicinal value,” the Denver Post reports.

The letter, written on Dec. 22, is the result of a law passed last year; that legislation required the state to ask the feds to reschedule the drug by the end of the year.

“As long as there is divergence in state and federal law, there is a lack of certainty necessary to provide safe access for patients with serious medical conditions,” Brohl wrote in the letter.

The DEA has rejected similar requests in the past. The governors of Rhode Island and Washington also asked the DEA to reclassify the drug this year.

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Medical Marijuana Growers Selling to Black Market, Complicating Matters

By Danny Fenster

Difficulties seem to be sprouting up like weeds as local governments across the country experiment with new laws and regulations concerning medical marijuana; the drug is still illegal and listed as a controlled substance by the federal government.

A top federal law enforcement official in Oregan has declared that medical growers are selling their products onto the black market, outside of the limits of the state that regulates the industry, reports The Bulletin, of Bend, Ore.   The result has been a number of busts by the DEA.

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton told The Associated Press on Friday that Oregon medical growers sold marijuana to buyers in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Idaho and Missouri illegally.

“We hear from patients when I’m on radio call-in shows,” Holton said, according to the AP. “Inevitably, we get a call in saying, ‘I can’t find marijuana.’ If cardholders can’t find marijuana, we’ve got to figure out where it is going, and there is a ton of it growing in the state. The answer is we know where it is going.”

Advocates of the drug’s legalization place the blame more with the disconnect between the federal ban of the drug and the increasing acceptance of its use in various states.

“Until cannabis prohibition ends and we get some kind of regulation system in this country as a whole, we cannot stop the criminals, we can’t stop the black market,” said Lori Duckworth of Southern Oregon NORML.

She said advocates are eager to work with the feds to stop the illegal sales, which are a burden on the patients that need the drug.

“Patients are not criminals. But patients are being punished for the actions of a few bad seeds,” she said.

One indicator of the illegal sales were patient complaints that they were often unable to obtain marijuana from legal dispensaries and caregivers due to a lack of supply, said Holton, the US attorney.

“An informal list of medical marijuana seizures in the past year kept by prosecutors showed 50 pounds going to Texas, 43 pounds going to Florida, 75 pounds going to the East Coast, and 120 pounds going to Arkansas,” reports The Bulletin.

“I think what is new about this, or different about what we have seen so far — not this particular case — is the excess amount of marijuana that must go someplace — especially when we’ve got cardholders saying they can’t get marijuana,” Holton told The Bulletin.

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