Category Archives: Marijuana and the Law

"We are very optimistic that the case is going to come out the way it should, which is that the Controlled Substances Act is going to be found unconstitutional,"

AlexisInThePatchesOfHopeGardenBeforeGroundBreaking

Jeff Sessions’s War on Pot Goes to Court, Attorney General Will Fight 12-Year-Old With Epilepsy

By Kate Sheridan On 1/18/18 at 7:59 AM

Updated | A 12-year-old suing the federal government may have a whiff of adorableness. But for Alexis Bortell, who filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions last fall, it’s a choice she had to make to save her life. Alexis has epilepsy, and Sessions has made it his mission to make it impossible for her to access the only drug that has kept her seizures at bay: cannabis.

A Scream of Terror

Alexis doesn’t remember her first seizure. But her father, Dean Bortell, does.

“We were literally folding clothes, and Alexis was sleeping on the couch,” Bortell told Newsweek. “All of a sudden, I heard her make this shriek—I mean, it was a scream of terror,” he said. “I look over, and Alexis is stiff as a board, on her back, spasming.”

At first, Bortell suspected his daughter had a brain-eating amoeba on account of headlines about them that summer and took her to the hospital. Within hours, it became clear something else was wrong. Alexis was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2013.

Three years ago, Alexis began taking medical marijuana, and her seizures disappeared. But that treatment option is threatened by an aggressive federal crackdown on medicinal cannabis led by Sessions, who is also the acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

Her day in court—February 14, at a New York City federal courthouse—is fast approaching. Alexis won’t be there in person, but her lawyer, Michael Hiller, thinks the ruling will go their way.

“We are very optimistic that the case is going to come out the way it should, which is that the Controlled Substances Act is going to be found unconstitutional,” Hiller said. Several other plaintiffs—a former professional football player, a veteran and another child—are also included.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

Advertisements

Ron Paul: Jeff Sessions should be fired over marijuana decision

By Alexandra King, CNN   Updated 9:00 AM ET, Sun January 7, 2018

(CNN)Ron Paul, the former GOP congressman and onetime presidential candidate, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down Saturday after he moved this week to rescind the Obama-era policy of restricting federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal.

Sessions’ action essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the Obama administration to unleashing federal prosecutors to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation of the drug in those states.

Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-two states also allow some form of medical marijuana, and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.

Paul told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that Americans should have a choice on marijuana use, and he called Sessions’ actions “unconstitutional.”

    “He represents something that is so un-American, as far as I’m concerned,” the Texas libertarian said.

    “The war on drugs, to me, is a war on liberty. I think that we overly concentrate on the issue of the drug itself, and I concentrate on the issue of freedom of choice, on doing things that are of high risk,” he said. “And we permit high risk all the time. … Generally, we allow people to eat what they want, and that is very risky. But we do overly concentrate on what people put into their bodies.”

    Paul called the war on drugs a “totally illegal system.”

    “Just because you legalize something doesn’t mean everyone’s going to do it, and then if you look at the consequences, of the war? Why don’t the people just look and read and study Prohibition? … (a) total failure. And the war on drugs is every bit as bad and worse,” he said.

    “People should have the right or responsibility of dealing with what is dangerous,” Paul insisted. “Once you get into this thing about government is going to protect us against ourselves, there’s no protection of liberty.”

    However, he said, he didn’t expect Sessions to be successful.

    “I predict that Sessions is not going to be victorious on this,” Paul told Smerconish.

    “And unfortunately, it’s for reasons that I don’t get excited about. It’s because the states want to collect all of those taxes (on marijuana), so it becomes this tax issue,” he said.

    CONTINUE READING AND VIDEO!

    Justice Department Issues Memo on Marijuana Enforcement 1/4/2018

    Department of Justice

    Office of Public Affairs


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Thursday, January 4, 2018

    Justice Department Issues Memo on Marijuana Enforcement

    The Department of Justice today issued a memo on federal marijuana enforcement policy announcing a return to the rule of law and the rescission of previous guidance documents. Since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, Congress has generally prohibited the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

    In the memorandum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directs all U.S. Attorneys to enforce the laws enacted by Congress and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities. This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs.

    “It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

    Attachment(s):

    Download Marijuana Enforcement 1.4.18

    Component(s):

    Office of the Attorney General

    Press Release Number:

    18-8

    Updated January 4, 2018

    SOURCE LINK

    Sessions to rescind Obama-era rules on non-interference with states where pot is legal

    By Laura Jarrett, CNN Updated 10:07 AM ET, Thu January 4, 2018

    sessions mj

    (CNN)  In a seismic shift, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce Thursday that he is rescinding a trio of memos from the Obama administration that adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.

    While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law.

    Sessions: DOJ looking at 'rational' marijuana policy

    Sessions: DOJ looking at ‘rational’ marijuana policy

    The main Justice Department memo addressing the issue, known as the “Cole memo” for then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole in 2013, set forth new priorities for federal prosecutors operating in states where the drug had been legalized for medical or other adult use. It represented a major shift from strict enforcement to a more hands-off approach, so long as they didn’t threaten other federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of the drug to minors and cartels.

      The memo will be rescinded but it’s not immediately clear whether Sessions will issue new guidance in its place or simply revert back to older policies that left states with legal uncertainty about enforcement of federal law.

      The decision had been closely watched since Sessions was sworn in. He told reporters in November he was examining a “rational” policy.

      CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

      Indiana law for felony arrest DNA collection taking effect

      Photo credit: CNN

      INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana authorities are being required under a new state law to collect a DNA sample from those who are arrested for a felony crime.

      The law taking effect Monday requires that police collect a DNA cheek swab, along with fingerprints and photographs during the booking process. That will enable law enforcement to check a database for matches with DNA evidence gathered in other crimes.

      The sample may be expunged from the system if an arrestee is acquitted, a charge is lowered below a felony, or if no charges are filed after a year.

      State legislators approved the new law last April. Supporters contended it would help solve crimes, along with exonerating the innocent. Critics argued the DNA collection goes against the U.S. Constitution’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

      CONTINUE READING….

      State agents seize Heber City shop’s supply of CBD oil

      by DJ Bolerjack   Thursday, December 28th 2017

      cbd indiana

      (KUTV) – The owner of a Heber City business, Medical Vanguard and Aspen Grove Rustics, is baffled after his cannabidiol, or CBD oil product, a nonpsychoactive byproduct from cannabis plants, was confiscated from his store’s shelves.

      Manager of the business, Jenifer Tringham, told 2News Wednesday that they had checked with the DEA and found it was legal in all 50 states at the time.

      The manager found the law confusing and since numerous smoke shops across Utah were selling the product, he assumed it was legal.

      That profit was on the shelf for weeks, and Tringham said they were helping a lot of people and making a nice profit from it. But when the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing found out about them selling CBD, they were served a subpoena by state agents.

      “We didn’t realize that here in Utah, those that have a medical card and that suffer from epilepsy, they’re the only ones I can really have a CBD oil on hand,” Tringham said.

      Dr. Marc Babitz, with the Utah Health Department, said CBD oil is legal only by use in Utah, not to sell.

      “Number one: You must see your neurologist, somebody that specializes in seizure disorder who documents that you have a seizure disorder. They fill out forms, you fill out forms, bring them to the Department of Health, verify the information is correct and if everything is fine we issue you a card in the card allows you to be in possession of CBD oil.” Babitz said.

      That oil has to be purchased outside of the state in places where it’s legal. Like Nevada and Colorado. With that card, it’s legal to bring back into the state.

      “I don’t know of anything that would allow the sale of marijuana products of any kind,” Babitz said.

      Now, it’s unclear whether the owner will face charges.

      “Right now we’re not selling it. We are abiding by what we were told to do and that was to take it off the shelf and that’s what we’re doing right now.” Tringham said.

      If you want to hear more from business owners or the Department of Health on this issue watch the news story above.

      CONTINUE READING….

      MISC.

      http://kutv.com/news/local/gallery/state-agents-seize-heber-city-shops-supply-of-cbd-oil#photo-4

      http://kutv.com/news/local/state-agents-seize-heber-city-shops-supply-of-cbd-oil

      Congress saves medical marijuana patients from pot crackdown — for now

      Jonathan Bach, Statesman Journal Published 11:59 a.m. PT Dec. 22, 2017

      Federal protections for medical marijuana patients are safe for now thanks to an emergency resolution passed by Congress Thursday.

      Protections offered under the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment will need to make it into a final congressional spending package to extend past Jan. 19.

      That’s the expiration date of Thursday’s continuing resolution, a temporary measure that keeps the government running while federal lawmakers hash out the details of their 2018 fiscal-year spending plan. President Trump signed the emergency resolution Friday.

      While weed remains federally illegal, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment stops the Justice Department from cracking down on patients where state law permits medical marijuana use. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has condemned use of the drug.

      More: Seeking pot for pain, Oregon patient feels shortages

      U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, said, “Patients around the country who rely on medical marijuana for treatment — and the businesses that serve them — now have some measure of certainty. Our fight, however, continues to maintain these important protections in the next funding bill passed by Congress.”

      Jered DeCamp, who co-owns marijuana retailer Herbal Remedies in South Salem, was happy to hear the news. In addition to being an owner, he’s a medical marijuana patient and grower.

      “It’s nice to know they’re protecting us,” DeCamp said, though he wished the provisions extended past January.

      Congressional lawmakers passed a similar continuing resolution Dec. 7 to keep the government open through Friday.

      The newest extension comes after U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, announced he would cosponsor a bill to decriminalize marijuana across the nation. Passage of the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 would make the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment obsolete.

      More: Sen. Ron Wyden cosponsors bill to legalize marijuana across U.S.

      The amendment is named for U.S. Reps. Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, R-California.

      Reach staff reporter Jonathan Bach by email at jbach@statesmanjournal.com or by phone at 503-399-6714.

      CONTINUE READING…

      MERRY (f/g) CHRISTMAS! “The Jirons now face felony charges of possession of marijuana…” OR.. SANTA CLAUS GOT BUSTED FOR cHRISTMAS!

      Sheriff’s deputies in York County, Neb., stopped a pickup truck on Tuesday when they noticed it driving over the center line and the driver failing to signal.

      During the traffic stop, deputies noticed a strong smell of raw marijuana, the sheriff’s department says.

      Patrick Jiron, 80, and Barbara Jiron, 83, said they were from northern California and were en route to Boston and Vermont.

      Deputies asked the driver, Patrick Jiron, about the odor, and he admitted to having contraband in the truck and consented to a search of the vehicle.

      With the help of the county’s canine unit, deputies searched the Toyota Tacoma. When they looked under the pickup topper, deputies found 60 pounds of marijuana, as well as multiple containers of concentrated THC.

      “They said the marijuana was for Christmas presents,” Lt. Paul Vrbka told the York News-Times. The department estimated the street value of the pot at over $3oo,000.

      The Jirons now face felony charges of possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver and no drug tax stamp. (Nebraska law requires marijuana dealers to purchase drug tax stamp from its Department of Revenue as evidence that the state’s drug tax has been paid.)

      For the friends and family in New England who expected a bag of weed in their stocking this year, it looks like it won’t be a green Christmas, after all.

      CONTINUE READING…

      Marijuana activist since 1960s facing California pot charges

      By DON THOMPSON Associated Press

      December 20, 2017 08:50 PM

      SACRAMENTO, Calif.

      A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates to the 1960s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22 pounds of illegal marijuana, prosecutors said Wednesday.

      Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in far Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit. James Statzer, 51, of Michigan, also was arrested.

      The arrest occurred along a well-traveled highway in California’s famed Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was found.

      Both men pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing drugs for sale and felony transportation charges and were being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

      Beal has been promoting marijuana’s medical benefits for decades. His activism dates to the 1960s heyday of Abbie Hoffman and the Youth International Party, known as the Yippies.

      Recreational sales of marijuana become legal in California on Jan. 1, and medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996. But it’s still illegal to transport large quantities of the drug or to take it out of state.

      It’s not uncommon for traffickers to think they can now transport pot risk-free, said Deputy District Attorney Colleen Murray, who is prosecuting the case.

      “People are like, ‘It’s legal.’ So often they’re very open with officers, ‘Oh hey, I have 100 pounds,'” she said. “That’s not the way it works.”

      Defense attorney Tom Ballanco said it’s not clear if his two clients thought they were acting legally.

      Friends were raising money for Beal’s bail, Ballanco said, concerned that he is a heart attack survivor and has other illnesses. Beal isn’t a flight risk and looks forward to fighting the charges, Ballanco said.

      “The nature of his life, really, is one of activism. He’s not the type of person who’s going to flee from this,” Ballanco said. “He’s certainly a very colorful figure. I’m happy to be representing him and his co-defendant.”

      For law enforcement, these were routine arrests in an area where traffickers typically tote hundreds if not thousands of pounds of famed Emerald Triangle pot to East Coast states.

      “People can buy it here for maybe $800 or $1,000 a pound,” Murray said. “Once they get back there … they’re going to get maybe $3,000 to $4,000 a pound for it. That’s a nice profit.”

      CONTINUE READING…

      “At a certain point, you have to realize this is against the law…”

      Image result for MARIJUANA JUSTICE

      Lawyers Handling Marijuana Business Operate in Hazy Legal Zone

      By Brian Melley | December 12, 2017

      Just as entrepreneurs getting into the retail pot industry need a good lawyer, some of those lawyers might be wise to consult an attorney of their own.

      Lawyers in the burgeoning business are entering a legal gray zone where the drug is permitted for some purpose in most states but illegal under federal law – in the same controlled substances category as heroin. Missteps could lead to prosecution for conspiracy, money laundering or aiding and abetting drug dealers.

      “Any lawyer that goes into this should be aware that a literal reading of federal law permits such a prosecution,”

      said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver marijuana policy law professor, whose research five years ago found lawyers more susceptible to being disbarred than criminally charged for cannabis-related work. “It probably makes sense for a lawyer to at least talk to a legal ethicist or get an opinion from a legal ethicist.”

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his opposition to legal weed last week and a congressional amendment prohibiting federal prosecutors from targeting medical marijuana is due to expire at the end of the year.

      Sessions has not said if he will reverse a longstanding Justice Department policy not to interfere with purveyors complying with state laws but to focus prosecutions on trafficking, sales to minors, cartels and gangs in the business, violence or gun use in cultivation or distribution, and pot grown on public land.

      Despite a few instances of lawyers being prosecuted in federal and state court – including a pending San Diego County case – more attorneys are jumping into cannabis law. Legal needs range from financing to permits, real estate, water law, intellectual property, contracts and banking.

      With California allowing recreational pot retail sales Jan. 1, interested investors are reaching out to attorneys like Mitch Kulick to find out how to safely finance the potentially lucrative industry.

      Kulick, a New York lawyer who offers his expertise in many states, recently gave his typical scare spiel to a real estate magnate about the possible legal consequences, and said he could only help mitigate risk so much.

      “At a certain point, you have to realize this is against the law. There’s no insurance policy to take away the risk,” Kulick said he told the man. “If I was already a billionaire, I might not be taking the risk.”

      Kulick, who once worked as a lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission and a major international firm, had to do a similar risk analysis and soul searching before deciding to commit to the higher cause, so to speak.

      There has been a tipping point for many lawyers setting up boutique pot law firms and jumping from old-school law firms as demand for their services trumps fear of legal repercussions and the stoner stigma fades as more states legalize marijuana use.

      Attorney Chris Davis, who grew up in Berkeley around friends and family who use the drug, found people operating in the shadows who wanted to go legit when he returned to California from New York two years ago.

      “So many people were asking how to go legal and how to worry less,” said Davis, executive director of the National Cannabis Bar Association, which has about 300 members in the U.S. and Canada and is growing rapidly. “It became impossible to turn people away.”

      Lawyers specializing in the business see themselves at the frontier. That leaves a fascinating opportunity to shape laws and regulations and the daunting prospect of the unknown.

      “Lawyers like things to be settled,” Davis said. “It’s hard to get a lawyer to give you a yes or no answer. In the cannabis industry, there really is no yes or no answer.”

      Some state bar associations have given lawyers cover to counsel marijuana clients within the bounds of state law. Others say federal law keeps the area off-limits because ethical rules prevent them from helping clients commit crimes.

      Attorney Larry Donahue had several medical marijuana clients at his firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, until the state bar issued a January 2016 opinion that said lawyers could be exposed to ethics charges for such work. Donahue had to terminate four or five clients.

      “It was a very chilling opinion,” he said. “It basically scared the hell out of us.”

      While prosecutions of attorneys are rare, a case in San Diego has gotten the attention of many lawyers, mainly because of aggressive tactics employed by the district attorney.

      Attorney Jessica McElfresh was charged with several felonies alleging she helped a client hide evidence of marijuana manufacturing.

      The case might have received less notice if prosecutors didn’t unsuccessfully try to get around the sacrosanct lawyer-client privilege and seek communications with all her marijuana clients.

      McElfresh, who vehemently denies the charges, said she knew specializing in pot law carried risks, but she couldn’t foresee “in a million years” police raiding her house. She and her boyfriend and mother were escorted into her backyard, where she was handcuffed barefoot in her pajamas during the search.

      She said she didn’t take the risks some lawyers do by sitting on the boards of a client’s company, owning a share in a business or introducing clients to one another.

      “I am one of the most conservative and boring people you would ever meet in cannabis law,” she said. “The only way I could have been more careful would have been not to engage in this area of law at all.”

      A new district attorney took office after McElfresh was charged and allowed five co-defendants facing similar charges to plead guilty last month to misdemeanors and get probation.

      The San Diego district attorney’s office wouldn’t comment, but in a statement cited the recreational pot law passed by voters last year and the new administration’s “changing focus” as part of the reason for the plea deals. It’s not clear if that change will affect McElfresh’s pending case.

      CONTINUE READING…