Court cases


September 30, 2009 – Just over four years ago, former U.S. DEA administrator Karen Tandy announced to the world that her agency had struck “a significant blow … to the marijuana o11sg734legalization movement” by indicting Canada’s so-called ‘Prince of Pot,’ Marc Emery.

For nearly two decades Emery operated a successful marijuana seed bank operation in Vancouver, British Columbia — a venture which he used to directly fund cannabis law reform efforts around the globe, including the magazine Cannabis Culture, the internet site Pot TV, and the founding of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.

Emery’s seed business was hardly a secret. For many years, Emery mailed copies of his seed catalogue to Canadian politicians. A Canadian court convicted him in 1998 and sentenced him to a $2,000 fine. Undeterred, Emery continued to sell seeds — and pay federal taxes on his profits — up until his arrest. Canadian authorities were happy to accept his tax money, and officials at Health Canada, which oversees Canada’s legal medical marijuana program, often recommended that patients contact Emery for grow advice. Nevertheless, when the Feds came calling, the Canadian authorities were swift to throw Marc Emery to the wolves.

Even though Emery’s alleged crimes would have warranted, at most, a month in jail in his home country, Canadian authorities yesterday placed Marc into custody so that he can be extradited to the United States. Once here, he faces up to five years in prison for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana (more than 100 plants) in violation of 21 USC 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B).

But lets not kid ourselves. Marc Emery was hardly a high level target because he sold marijuana seeds to the U.S. — a simple google search will yield dozens of listings of competitors that presently engage in similar activities. No, it wasn’t so much what Marc did (”There isn’t a single victim in my case, no one who can stand up and say, ‘I was hurt by Marc Emery.’ No one,” he told the Vancouver Sun) as it was what he did with his money that aroused the ire of U.S. anti-drug officials.

And we have Karen Tandy’s own words to prove it.

By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director @ September 29, 2009. Source.

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August 17th, 2009 – If you’re confused over the term ‘jury nullification’, a prime example of such emerged from a courtroom in Boulder, Colorado last week. Many legal and sociology experts recognize a significant change in JudgeMarijuanasociety by whether or not juries, made up of one’s local peers, will continue to enforce what many in a society have come to believe are bad and/or antiquated laws.

Throughout America’s relatively short history, when elected policymakers and bureaucrats are not responsive to the will of the citizens or pass laws not supported by society, citizens sitting on a jury have an absolute right to vote their conscious, which also means in effect nullifying the law by not voting for conviction.

The effect of this becomes abundantly clear when jurors consistently refuse to convict so-called ‘criminal offenders’, and numerous examples abound from prior civil rights movements in America: Abolitionists, Women’s Sufferage, Minority Rights and Access To The Vote and Gay/Lesbian.

In time, and NORML is observing this right now around the country in ever-increasing amounts, prosecutors are having an increasingly harder time winning criminal convictions for ‘crimes’ a majority of the citizens do not in fact believe is a crime.

Want to know more about the awesome power each of us possess as jurors to stop ‘bad’ laws from their continued enforcement? Check out FIJA!

I want to personally thank ‘D. Walters, Erie, CO’ for both voting their conscious while sitting in judgment of a fellow cannabis consumer, and for letting their fellow citizens in the Boulder area know via a letter-to-the-editor what a waste of time and valuable social resources cannabis prohibition enforcement is for the criminal justice system.

Medical marijuana case a waste of resources
Posted by Camera staff in Tuesday, August 11th 2009

I was a member of the jury on the medical marijuana case and beg to differ with Mr. Garnett’s assessment as presented in this Open Forum on Tuesday.

This case was both a waste of taxpayer money and a travesty of justice that the charges against this man were ever brought in the first place. First of all, Mr. Garnett’s assertion that the jury found “that the amount of marijuana in Mr. Lauve’s home was medically necessary” is an inaccurate statement. The job of the prosecution was to prove that the amount in possession was NOT medically necessary and that Mr. Lauve was aware that he was in violation of the law. The prosecution presented absolutely NO EVIDENCE regarding either point of law. They brought no witnesses to show that the amount was not medically necessary. They did not even assert that the amount was not medically necessary. In fact, they prevented the defense from offering evidence regarding medical necessity. The prosecution did not even attempt to assert that Mr. Lauve knew the amount was excessive or suggest that he was doing anything inappropriate with the ‘excess’.

This jury admired Jason Lauve for standing up to an unfair prosecution. The physical, emotional and legal costs to Jason Lauve of defending himself do not seem to be of concern of Mr. Garnett.

And the cost to taxpayers? 4 full days spent by a judge, two prosecutors, a bailiff, a clerk, a detective, assorted police officers and 12 jurors! Plus laboratory time and expense to prove that it was ‘real’ marijuana. All of us could have spent these 4 days doing something that actually involved prosecuting a crime.

D. Walters
Erie

By: Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director. Source.

Advocates, juror agree that sick people should decide how much pot is appropriate

August 9, 2009 – BOULDER, Colo. — Rolling out of the Boulder County Justice Center in a Picture 11wheelchair Thursday with a jumble of once-confiscated pot in his lap, Jason Lauve smiled and waved to supporters after a jury acquitted him of possessing too much medical marijuana.

Eight men and four women found the 38-year-old Louisville resident not guilty of a felony drug possession charge, as well as lesser charges of possessing marijuana and marijuana concentrate.

Lauve, who was prescribed marijuana to relieve the pain from a back injury, burst out crying, grabbed his defense attorney and nearly fell to his knees when the verdict was announced.

“Thank you so much,” he yelled out to the jurors.

Boulder District Judge Maria Berkenkotter had to pause and admonish Lauve’s supporters as they applauded and called out during her reading of the verdicts.

She ordered that more than two pounds of Lauve’s marijuana supply, which had been confiscated by police in a raid of his home last summer, be returned to him.Picture 12

“I have a right to live,” Lauve said afterward. “All of us as patients have a right to have our own life, not the government’s life. We should not be treated like criminals.”

Laurie Borgers, a medical marijuana patient from Denver, said she was elated by the verdict.

“I am happy and relieved as expected to see justice was served today,” she said outside the courtroom. “They need to stop picking on sick people.”

Lauve could have spent up to three years in prison had he been convicted of the most serious charge.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said Thursday his office will not appeal.

“That’s the way the system works and we respect the jury’s verdict and the work they put into it,” he said.

State law at core of case

Lauve’s case cast a bright light on Colorado’s 9-year-old medical marijuana law, which lets patients with chronic pain and in debilitating health obtain a state-issued ID card clearing them to grow and buy pot.

Lauve joined the state’s medical marijuana registry after he was severely injured by a snowboarder who plowed into him at Eldora Ski Resort in 2004. He said the collision reduced him from an avid cyclist and expert telemark skier to someone who relies on a cane and wheelchair to get around.

He testified during his four-day trial that he smoked pot three times a day and mixed the drug into his food once daily to relieve his pain. Medical marijuana was the most effective pain management tool he had come across, Lauve told the jury, and the drug allowed him to wean himself off of several addictive opiate-based painkillers.

Law enforcement authorities, acting on a tip from a neighbor, seized 34 ounces of marijuana from Lauve’s home on June 26, 2008. Prosecutors claimed he violated the law by possessing far more than the 2 ounces of usable pot and six plants permitted by the statute.

But Lauve and his lawyer countered that the constitutional amendment voters approved in 2000 contains a provision that allows patients to present an “affirmative defense,” ultimately giving them the power to determine the amount of marijuana appropriate for their needs.

Prosecutor Karen Lorenz contended in closing arguments that by ignoring the limits in the statute, patients and caregivers would essentially have “carte blanche” to possess whatever amount of pot they wanted, gutting the law’s intent.

“There’s no doctor to support this, there are random numbers being thrown around based on what he thinks he needs on a day-to-day basis,” Lorenz told the jury. “That’s not what the medical marijuana statute is for.”

Lauve’s attorney, Rob Corry, argued that prosecutors never came close to proving that his client was doing anything other than legally medicating himself and treating pain that only he could gauge.

“There is no evidence that he had more than what was medically necessary to treat his severe debilitating medical condition,” Corry said. “Who gets to decide what is medically necessary?”

‘We believed you’

Jury foreman Roger Grady said after the trial that he and his 11 colleagues simply attempted to interpret the state law as “common men” would.

“We believed you,” he told Lauve outside the courthouse.

Grady, 64, said it was clear that the best person to determine how much medical marijuana a patient needs is the patient himself.

“We don’t know what the limit is for medical marijuana, and the prosecution didn’t produce anyone who knew what that limit was,” he said.

If prosecutors were using Lauve as a “test case” for how the state’s medical marijuana law should be applied, Grady said, they chose the wrong man. Grady accused prosecutors of not doing their “homework” and bringing a relatively weak case against Lauve.

“We thought, ‘This guy is doing everything in the law as it was written,'” Grady said.

Garnett, the DA, said he didn’t see the trial as a medical marijuana test case.

“It’s a careful process we pursue to analyze a case,” he said. “We try to treat every defendant individually and fairly.”

But medical marijuana advocate Laura Kriho, of Boulder, said the case was a waste of public resources that brought misery upon a man who did nothing wrong.

She said she hopes Thursday’s verdict will bring a fresh understanding of the importance of letting patients take the lead in determining the best treatments for themselves.

“The DA shouldn’t be spending taxpayer dollars telling people how to medicate themselves,” she said. “This sets a precedent that Boulder County juries are not going to convict medical cannabis patients for using the amount they see fit.” By John Aguilar. Source.

July 22, 2009 – Marc Emery, the “Prince of Pot,” certainly thinks like a royal.Picture 13

He has plans for a grand send-off before he is sentenced in a federal court in Seattle on marijuana charges and, presumably, sent off to prison.

Emery spent years fighting federal prosecutors after his marijuana-seed business in Vancouver, B.C., got him busted by agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005

Earlier this year, he acknowledged that he could fight but not stop extradition. So he will plead guilty.

He took off on a farewell tour. And now he has announced on his MySpace blog that he wants 420 demonstrations around the world on the Saturday before he is sentenced. He expects to be sentenced in October.

Just in case you can’t decide what to write on your sign, Emery has provided some suggestions. “Free Marc Emery” is a natural, of course.

Or “Free out/the leader of the cannabis culture, Marc Emery” if you wish.

My favorite: “DEA out of …..(your country or town here)”

Hope his faithful lay off the bong a bit. You’d hate to see Norwegians, Turks or Mexicans walking around with goofy grins and signs that read: “DEA out of your country or town here.”

He is also asking that his supporters write “a polite, sensitive letter” to his sentencing judge, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez.

(Update: Those more worldly than I am — and who isn’t? — note that the number 420 is of great significance to pot activists.) Source.

July 14, 2009 – Marc Emery made the second stop on his farewell tour in Banff on July 6, speaking at the Central Park gazebo.Picture 1

Emery, known as the “Prince of Pot,” is embarking on a cross-Canada tour before he returns to the United States to face incarceration for selling marijuana seeds online.

Speaking to a crowd of about 100 people, Emery said that he is “totally proud” of everything he did, and he was happy to see so many people come out to see him.

“I would say at least 10 or 12 people here have been arrested for marijuana,” Emery said. “I tend to attract people who have been jailed for pot, because they can relate to me.”

Emery, 51, has been arrested and jailed numerous times for possession and distribution of marijuana.

He has been an activist for the legalization of marijuana for over 20 years. He has created his own magazine, Cannabis Culture, with his wife, and he leads the B.C. Marijuana Party, which he will continue to run while in prison.

In his speech, Emery talked about the benefits of marijuana, and criticized the government for not doing proper research.

“It’s a pure, bigoted prejudice with no basis in fact,” Emery told the crowd, who passed around marijuana joints as he spoke.

He said there are numerous things that consistently kill people that the government has allowed to be legal, such as tobacco and alcohol, but they won’t permit the legalization of marijuana, even though “marijuana’s never killed anyone.”

The event was sponsored by Hempire, a store that promotes the use of hemp as a resource. The store sells things like smoking equipment, clothing, cosmetics, and incense.

Krista Zoobkoff, the owner of Hempire and Libertarian candidate in the last federal election, said she was pleased with the turnout, and was happy to sponsor the event because she is an activist herself, and always wanted to meet Emery.

Zoobkoff said that the charges against Emery are “insane,” and the government has never charged anyone with the selling of seeds. She said they are doing this because “they are scared of Marc Emery.”

Emery was arrested in 2005 on three different charges. In May of this year, he announced that he will be pleading guilty to the charge of distributing marijuana. In exchange for the guilty plea, the other two charges — conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering — will be dropped.

Emery’s tour finishes its run in August, after which Emery is expected to turn himself into authorities in Seattle. He will be sentenced in September. By Marie Pollock. Source.

July 7, 2009 – VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – Pot activist Christopher Bennett claims the Canadian government is making him choose between his religious beliefs and his personal security by not exempting him from 763098867_lmarijuana laws. Bennett, a station manager at Vancouver’s Pot-TV, says he uses pot for religious and spiritual purposes after “he experienced a profound epiphany in 1990, coming to the belief that cannabis is the Biblical Tree of Life.”

Bennett, author of the 1995 book, “Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion,” claims that his research suggests that Jesus used marijuana. He also writes for High Times and Cannabis Culture Magazine.
Bennett says the Canadian health minister denied his application for exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as not in the public interest.
By denying his application, Bennett claims, the health minister placed “him in the constitutionally untenable position of being forced to choose between his religious and spiritual convictions and his liberty and security of the person.”
He seeks an order compelling the minister to allow him to use and produce marijuana on similar terms as medical marijuana patients and a declaration that sections of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act are unconstitutional.
Bennett is represented in Federal Court by Kirk I. Tousaw.

By DARRYL GREER. Source.

July 3, 2009 – Medical marijuana patients and growers can sue police for illegally raiding their property and destroying their plants, a state appeals court ruled marijuana grower setup2Wednesday.

The 2-1 decision by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento was the first in the state to allow a patient or grower to sue claiming that their rights to cultivate and use medical marijuana have been violated. Those rights are protected by state law but banned by federal law.

Officials in Butte County, where the case arose, argued that patients and suppliers can invoke the medical marijuana law only as a defense to criminal charges, not to sue for damages. The court’s dissenting justice said no one is entitled to compensation for the destruction of a drug banned under federal law.

But the court’s majority said a marijuana patient or member of a collective has the same right as anyone else to sue officers who violate the constitutional ban on illegal searches and seizures.

The plaintiff, David Williams, is relying on “the same constitutional guarantee of due process available to all individuals,” Justice Vance Raye said. He said Williams is not required to go through “the expense and stress of criminal proceedings” to assert his rights.

Williams belonged to a seven-member collective near the town of Paradise. When a sheriff’s deputy came to his door without a warrant in September 2005, Williams showed doctors’ recommendations for all seven patients that allowed them to grow and use marijuana, he said.

He said the officer had questioned the legality of the collective and ordered him to destroy 29 of the 41 plants on his property or face arrest. He complied, then sued the officer and the county for damages. Wednesday’s ruling upheld a Superior Court judge’s refusal to dismiss the suit.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Fred Morrison said Congress should ease the federal ban on marijuana to accommodate California and 12 other states that allow medical use. But as long as the ban exists, he said, no one has the right to use the drug, and police are entitled to confiscate it.

Brad Stephens, a deputy county counsel, said the county would probably appeal to the state Supreme Court. By Bob Egelko. Source.

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