Posts Tagged ‘california norml’

California Judge Rules Medical Marijuana Not An Agricultural Product

marijuana CaliforniaBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

Yes, marijuana is a plant you grow from the ground. No, it’s not an agricultural crop. Confused yet?

In what is believed to be the first ruling of its kind in the state, a judge in California has ruled that a marijuana collective can’t operate on land zoned for agriculture, reports Lewis Griswold of the Fresno Bee.

In his ruling last week, Tulare County Superior Court Judge Paul Vortmann dismissed a property owner’s argument that a medical marijuana collective’s cultivation of marijuana is legal because it is in an agricultural zone.

“In this state, marijuana has never been classified as a crop or horticultural product,” Judge Vortmann wrote in his ruling. Marijuana is a controlled substance, the judge said.

“The court finds as a matter of law that growing marijuana … is not an agricultural use of property,” the judge wrote.

It’s the first time a court has addressed whether medical marijuana might be an agricultural crop, according to Tulare County Counsel Kathleen Bales-Lange, whose office sued a property owner and collective on behalf of the Board of Supervisors.

Marijuana plants are “agricultural in nature” because they grow like any other crop, according to lawyer Brandon Ormonde of Tulare, who represented the property owner. He acknowledged that medical marijuana has never been legally acknowledged as an “agricultural plant.”

“If it’s not a crop, I don’t know what it is,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, reports the Associated Press.

The case involved the Foothill Growers Association medical marijuana collective, which rented a building south of Ivanhoe in an agricultural zone. The collective grew plants inside the building and operated a dispensary.

Tulare County sued the collective and the property owner last year, arguing that marijuana dispensaries are only allowed in specified commercial and manufacturing zones.

Hash PlantThe group has until Friday to stop using the building. Hanford attorney Bill Romaine, who represents Foothill Growers Association, said on Thursday that he believed the cooperative had negotiated a new site to use in unincorporated Tulare County, reports David Castellon at the Visalia Times-Delta.

Five years ago, an estimate that marijuana was the top cash crop in the United States at $35.8 billion a year made headlines nationwide. The crop’s value is more than corn and wheat combined, according to legalization advocate Jon Gettman, who prepared the 2006 report.

But never mind all that. Marijuana is not recognized by the California Department of Food and Agriculture as an “agricultural commodity.” (Maybe it’s time they catch up to reality.)

No agricultural commissioner in the state — not even in Mendocino and Humboldt counties — lists cannabis in is annual crop reports.

“We don’t regulate or track marijuana at all and regard that as a law enforcement issue,” said Steve Lyle, speaking for the state agriculture agency.

That could all change, though, under a proposed ballot initiative that plans a farming future for marijuana. Among other things, it proposes to apply “existing agricultural taxes and regulations to marijuana” and would prohibit zoning restrictions on cannabis cultivation.

It was recently approved by the Secretary of State’s office for signature gathering in an attempt to get it on the 2012 ballot.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.

Kentucky’s Lower Penalities For Marijuana Now in Effect

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Graphic: Sheree Krider

​Kentucky, long known as a state where excellent marijuana is grown, has lowered its penalties for possession of up to eight ounces of the herb, effective Friday, June 24.

Back in March the Kentucky Legislature overwhelmingly passed (97-2 in the House; 38-0 in the Senate) House Bill 463, which was then signed into law by Governor Steve Bershear. The new law reduces the penalty for personal possession of up to eight ounces of pot to a Class B misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of 45 days in jail.
But don’t get too carried away; those penalties are just for first offenses. Subsequent offenses with up to eight ounces are still felonies, for which you can get up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

It appears that individuals solely accused of marijuana possession, less than eight ounces, will normally be cited — not arrested — under HB 463, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. If there are reasonable grounds to believe the individual will appear in court, the law provides that people may not arrest people for misdemeanors.
There are a few exceptions, but those should not apply when the only charge is marijuana possession and the defendant follows “reasonable instructions,” according to MPP.
The new law is expected to save Kentucky’s taxpayers up to $422 million over the next 10 years by making it no longer necessary to prosecute and jail low-risk cannabis offenders. It also reinvests some of those savings into treatment options for those needing help, reports Mickey Martin at West Coast Leaf.
Currently, one-fourth of Kentucky’s prisoners are serving time for drug-related offenses. HB 463 was based on the recommendations of a report by the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act, which was created to find cheaper alternatives to incarceration.
Historically, it has been really easy to get your ass busted in Kentucky. In fact, the Bluegrass State is tied for third in the nation in marijuana arrest rates and, until the new law came into effect on June 24, for marijuana penalties for possession of one ounce.
Kentucky arrested a whopping 20,329 people for marijuana offenses in 2007.

Florida Leads the Nation in Indoor Marijuana Growing Busts

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Photo: NORML Blog
Florida has some of the nation’s harshest laws when it comes to growing marijuana
– and it leads the nation in busts of grow houses.

​You’d think a place called the Sunshine State should be growing outdoors, but last year, more indoor marijuana grow houses were busted in Florida than in any other state, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Nationwide demand for high-potency marijuana has supposedly turned Florida into a top producer of hydroponic weed, reports Alexia Campbell at the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and hundreds of Floridians are turning their homes into grow houses.
Florida law enforcement agencies raided 818 grow houses in 2010, followed by California’s 719, according to the DEA, but not all agencies report their findings to the DEA.

The heart of Florida’s marijuana industry is in the south of the state, where police conduct numerous undercover stings in the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Cops are complaining that growers are now learning “high-tech tricks” to hide their grow operations from investigators.
“The bad guys are getting smarter, and we’re not finding them all,” said Captain Joe Mendez, who oversees HIDTA’s marijuana task force in South Florida (can you imagine a more completely useless job?)
Tracking down individual growers has supposedly gotten harder, since many are now using closed circuit TV cameras to monitor their homes from afar. Police said they sometimes raid grow houses and find no one inside, according to Captain Mendez.
Large-scale growers have reportedly moved to rural Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade to evade nosy neighbors and police surveillance.
“They’ve gotten really sophisticated,” claimed Delray Beach Police Sergeant Phil Dorfman.
The supposed “huge profits” made from indoor marijuana grows create a never-ending battle for police, according to Captain Mendez, who claimed each pound has a street value of about $4,000 in South Florida.
Captain Mendez also made the ludicrous claim that “each plant produces about three pounds a year.” Remember, these are indoor plants we’re talking about, where the average is actually more like four to six ounces.
Law enforcement officials are pushing for — surprise, surprise! — “tougher penalties” for marijuana growers. Yeah, right! Those have just worked so well in the past, and with all that extra prison space and plenty of tax money available in Florida to pay for all this nonsense… Yeah.
But logic never stopped cops and politicians before, and in 2008 state legislators passed the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, a supremely stupid piece of legislation that lowered the previous level of 300 plants to qualify for a second-degree felony to just 24 plants.
Flori-DUH, indeed.

California Rejects Plan To Reduce Cannabis Cultivation Penalties

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Graphic: disinfo.com

​The California Assembly on Friday rejected Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s bill, AB 1017, to reduce marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony to a “wobbler,” which would have allowed discretion on charging a misdemeanor. The vote was 24 yes to 36 no.

The bill had been supported by the district attorney of Mendocino County, but was opposed by the state D.A.’s association.
“The state Legislature has once again demonstrated its incompetence when it comes to dealing with prison crowding,” said disappointed California NORML Director Dale Gieringer.
“With California under court order to reduce its prison population, it is irresponsible to maintain present penalties for nonviolent drug offenses,” Gieringer said. “It makes no sense to keep marijuana growing a felony, when assault, battery, and petty theft are all misdemeanors.

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Photo: California NORML
Dale Gieringer, California NORML: “Legislators have once again caved in to the state’s law enforcement establishment”
“Legislators have once again caved in to the state’s law enforcement establishment, which has a vested professional interest in maximizing drug crime,” Gieringer said.
Numerous liberal Democrats failed to vote, with some of them actually opposing AB 1017, among them Sandre Swanson of Oakland, Jerry Hill of San Mateo, and Mike Feuer of Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Chris Norby of Orange County was the only Republican “yes” vote in the entire Assembly.
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