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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: medical marijuana

Medical pot robbery reported in Valley

Two men were arrested for a gunpoint robbery in Spokane Valley on Sunday that the victim said targeted medical marijuana.

Veniamin Glushchenko, 20, and Krysta Rose Jones, 21, are accused of robbing a man at a home in the 17400 block of East Coach Avenue.

Deputies responded to the home about 6:40 p.m. They located the suspect vehicle at the Hico at 1201 N. Barker Road and were told a man and woman had committed the robbery for a drug debt, according to court documnets.

An employee at Hico reported seeing a man and woman at the store about the time the car was discovered. The employee called 911 about 3 a.m. and said the man and woman were at the WalMart.

Deputies arrested Jones and Glushchenko there and booked them into jail for first-degree robbery, where they remain today.

Pot thief shot in head sent to prison

A Spokane man who was shot in the head while trying to steal marijuana plants from a home last fall has sentenced to prison.

Joseph A. Gariepy, 41, was shot by Darcee Kapfer as he and Raymond Paul Bates, 49, tried to steal marijuana plants from Kapfer's home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. on Oct. 3. He was sentenced to more than 7 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to eight felonies.

Kapfer, who was legally allowed to possess the plants because of a state authorization card, is not facing charges. She did not notify police about the shooing but said in an interview with detectives that she shot the would-be thief after he grabbed a piece of wood. Kapfer reportedly told police, “I'm pretty sure I hit him. I'm a pretty good shot.”

Bates was arrested Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound to his head; a tipster later told police she'd removed a bullet from Gariepy's head shortly after the shooting.

Police compared Gariepy's DNA to blood stains found in the getaway car, a brown 1976 Ford Courier truck located near an alley in the 4500 block of North Division Street three days after the shooting.

Officers noted a wound on Gariepy's right ear consistent with a bullet when he was arrested Oct. 27.

Gariepy was sentenced last week to 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary, second-degree robbery, residential burglary, second-degree theft, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of an unlawful firearm, first-degree possession of stolen property and second-degree malicious mischief.  He is a repeat offender suspect with a 26-year criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers.

Bates was sentenced in December to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance, second-degree robbery and residential burglary.

Cops: Gun malfunction stopped murder

A Spokane man who police say would have killed a man had his gun not malfunctioned has been charged with attempted murder.

Carlos Himminez “Atlanta” Hodges, 38, was armed with a handgun when he confronted Kenneth Watkins at Watkins' home in the 1000 block of East 14th Avenue on Dec. 23, charges allege.

Hodges, who allegedly kicked in the front door about 4:38 a.m., demanded Watkins take him to his medical marijuana grow and hit Watkins with the gun when Watkins tried to disarm him, according to court documents.

Hodges stole marijuana, police say, but Watkins said he refused to take him to the basement because he feared Hodges would kill him there.

“Hodges then pointed the gun at Watkins and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not discharge,” according to court documents. “Hodges then ran away.”

Police completed their investigation in April. Hodges was charged this month with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and attempted first-degree robbery. He remains in jail on $150,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court last week.

Feds: Dad gave marijuana to young kids

A medical marijuana patient arrested in Yakima Monday told authorities he provided marijuana to his three young children.

Troy Mallard Craig, 32, said two of his children also have medical marijuana cards, according to a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court.

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Craig's home in the 3300 block of Barge Street about 4:15 p.m. and seized 67 marijuana plants, bags of processed marijuana, a digital scale and several medical marijuana cards.

Craig said he'd been growing marijuana for about two years and giving it to five or six friends in exchange for “donations.”

“Craig admitted to providing marijuana in one form or another to all three of his children, ages 2, 5, and 7,” according to the complaint.

Craig remains jailed in Yakima after appearing before U.S. Magistrate James Hutton Tuesday.
  

Pot dispensers face 2-6 mos. in prison

Charles Wright gives a quick thumbs up to chanting cannabis activists outside medical marijuana dispensary during a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration on April 28. Wright faces six months in federal prison when he's sentenced in February. (SRPhoto/Jesse Tinsley)

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov.Lincoln Chafee's call for federal authorities to legalize medical marijuana comes just after raids on medical marijuana operations in the Seattle area.

It also comes after two medical marijuana dispensers arrested in Spokane raids pleads guilty to federal drug charges.

Charles Wesley Wright, 41, is to be sentenced on Feb. 21 and Jon Richard Vivian, 31, is to be sentenced on Feb. 13.

Vivian's plea agreement, filed on Nov. 7, calls for him to self-report to federal prison to begin a two-month sentence. He'll be on home confinement for six months and will be on probation for two years, according to the agreement. Vivian is to complete drug testing and treatment as his probation officers directs, and his home, person, office, vehicle and belongings are subject to search.

Wright's plea agreement, filed Nov. 22, calls for him to serve six months in federal prison followed by six months and one day of home confinement. He'll also self report to prison and will be on probation for two years and subject to the same conditions as Vivian, assuming a judge goes along with the sentencing recommendations.

Vivian and Wright each pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Prosecutors dismissed stiffer charges of distribution of marijuana near a school, possession with intent to distribute marijuana near a school, manufacture of marijuana near a school and maintaining a drug-involved premise near a school, where were filed in July as part of a grand jury indictment.

According to the plea agreements, DEA Agent Sam Keiser bought marijuana and clone marijuana plants from Wright and Vivian's THC Pharmacy on April 19 while working undercover. Keiser had a state medical marijuana authorization that employees verified, but federal law doesn't recognize medical marijuana.

DEA agents raided the business on April 28 and seized bottles of marijuana, 36 plants and $12,706. Vivian told police THC Pharmacy had 1,076 “patients,” 300 of whom were regulars.

The raid came after federal authorities warned more than 40 dispensaries in the area to shut down or face prosecution. Most complied; only a handful were raided.

Also facing federal charges are Medical Herb Providers owners Jerry Wayne Laberdee and Dennis Lewis Whited. Their charges have not yet been resolved.

FBI: Indicted racist had terrorism plans

A reputed white supremacist convicted last month of a gun charge related to an alleged domestic terrorism plot has been indicted by a grand jury for an alleged identity theft scheme.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 53, is accused of producing fraudulent identification cards for a “task” for which he had been preparing for years, according to a briefing federal prosecutors wrote for his gun trial last month.

Kurt likened the plan to the Oklahoma City bombing and said he would do everything in his power to stop President Obama from being reelected, prosecutors say.

Kurt said “he didn't want innocent people to die but it was possible they would die,” according to the briefing. Kurt “stated that it would be an act of terrorism of the worst kind and would mean a death sentence if he was caught.”

Kurt wrote a letter to an FBI informant in May 2010 discussing the need to establish a white government based on the gold or silver standard, prosecutors say.

“Kurt also wrote that he would need 30 days to establish a new identity, noting the name 'Wayde Kurt would only bring a bad reputation to a publicly exposed political movement,'” according to the trial briefing.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Spokane convicted Kurt last month of felon in possession of a firearm for five firearms he possessed while target shooting with a white supremacist, David Johnathan Udseth, in August 2010, according to court documents.

Kurt told jurors he spoke of a racist plan with Udseth only to infiltrate the group because its members had assaulted a friend, and he wanted to monitor them. He denies being a white supremacist, said his lawyer, Richard Wall.

Kurt alleges Udseth and the FBI entrapped him, but Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen ruled not reasonable person would believe that prohibited jurors from considering the entrapment defense during deliberations.

Wall expects Kurt will appeal his conviction.

“If he had given that instruction the jury would have acquitted him,” Wall said. “Without the entrapment instruction the only thing they could do was convict him because there was no question he was in possession of the weapons at one point.”

Kurt was arrested on Aug. 30, 2010. He was considered such a risk that the FBI didn’t give him a chance to surrender - an agent ran up and tackled him. He faces up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 26.

Now he faces new charges of aggravated identity theft, two counts of unlawful production of an identification card, two counts of unlawful possession of an identification card and one count of making a false statement under a grand jury indictment filed Wednesday. The charges carry up to 15 years in prison.

Kurt was a member of a racist group led by Keegan VanTuyl, 29, (right) who was released from federal prison last week after serving time for violation his probation on a firearms conviction.

Kurt was recruited into the group in late December 2008 after exchanging a racist greeting with key member Daniel “Church” Wilson (left) when encountering him and other group members in downtown Spokane, according to the trial briefing. The group “routinely traveled around Spokane looking for minorities to bait into a verbal and/or physical altercation, a practice referred to by group members as “coon hunting.”“

 Kurt was asked to become the leader of the group after VanTuyl and Wilson were imprisoned, but the group instead disbanded, prosecutors say.

The jury deliberated just a few hours Oct. 21 before convicting Kurt, who has been in jail since his arrest. The conviction is the latest for a convicted currency counterfeiter whose experience with the criminal justice system dates back to at least 1988, when he was acquitted of murder in Snohomish County.

Udseth was sentenced to three years probation Wednesday in U.S. District Court for manufacture of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana in relation to 90 plants and six pounds of harvested pot found during a search at his home in May.

Udseth said he had a medical marijuana card, according to his plea agreement, but such a card only authorizes 15 marijuana plants and a pound and a half of marijuana, and federal law doesn't recognize medical marijuana.

Detectives seize 8 lbs of pot, 1,000 plants

Eight pounds of marijuana and more than a 1,000 plants were seized from a home in Spokane County last week.

Jerad J. Kynaston, (pictured) Corey E. Mobley, Brice C. Davis, Jayde D. Evans and Peter M. Magana were arrested during the search Nov. 2 at 11900 N. Judkins Road.

In addition to drug charges, Kynaston faces a felon in possession of a firearm charge for a loaded Glock pistol found at the home. Kynaston has previous felony marijuana convictions that prohibit him from possessing firearms.

Spokane County sheriff's detectives found 695 marijuana plants and 500 plants that had recently been harvested. Each plant is generally capable of yielding one-half to one-pound of marijuana, leading investigators to value the seized pot and plants between $1.2 million and $2.4 million.

“Numerous medical marijuana provider forms were located at the residence,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a new release. “One of the patients had previously contacted the Sheriff's Office and complained that he had contracted with an individual associated with the Judkins Road address for his medical marijuana supply, but that this individual was selling the marijuana to other people rather than supplying the patient. The Washington state medical marijuana law has recently been amended to allow up to ten individuals to form a co-op and grow up to 45 marijuana plants. ”

Detectives also seized a 2006 Ford F250 pick-up, several thousand dollars worth of new furniture, 35 pairs of new Nike shoes and three new, large flat-screen TV's as well as other home entertainment items from the residence.

The investigation is continuing and further charges are expected, Reagan said.

Kynaston, 23, was convicted in Spokane County in 2009 for being in possession of five pounds of marijuana. He also was convicted in Sherman County, Oregon in 2010 for being in possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana.

Police seek DNA in pot theft shooting

Police this week obtained a DNA sample, injury photos and x-rays of a second suspect in a medical marijuana robbery that ended with the homeowner firing several shots.

Detectives believe Joseph A. Gariepy, 41, (pictured) who was arrested on unrelated charges last week, was shot in the head when Raymond Paul Bates, 49, tried to steal marijuana plants from a home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. on Oct. 3.

Bates was arrested Oct. 3 with a gunshot wound to his head; a tipster later told police she'd removed a bullet from Gariepy's head shortly after the shooting.

Police hope to compare Gariepy's DNA to blood stains found in a brown 1976 Ford Courier truck, which matches the description of the getaway truck, found near an alley in the 4500 block of North Division Street three days after the shooting.

Gariepy was named a Crime Stoppers fugitive Oct. 18, and police noted a wound on his right ear consistent with a bullet when he was arrested on Oct. 27.

The shooter, Darcee Kapfer, did not notify police about the shooing but said in an interview with detectives that she shot the would-be thief after he grabbed a piece of wood. Kapfer reportedly told police, “I'm pretty sure I hit him. I'm a pretty good shot.”

Kapfer, who was legally allowed to possess the plants because of a state authorization card, has not been arrested. Police say a small child in the home told them “I think my mom shot a guy in the back and they are going to Canada,” according to the affidavit.

Bates remains in jail on $10,000 bond for robbery and burglary charges.

Gariepy has not yet been charged in this case. He is a repeat offender suspect with a 26-year criminal history, according to Crime Stoppers.

Feds target Calif. medical pot dispensaries

In this Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, a pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

By LISA LEFF,Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on some pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state's 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation's burgeoning medical marijuana industry, at least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters this week stating they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The state's four U.S. attorneys were scheduled Friday to announce a broader coordinated crackdown.

Their offices refused Thursday to confirm the closure orders. The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to at least 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.”

“Under United States law, a dispensary's operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions,” according to the letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego. “Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States … regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary.”

The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors' recommendations.

The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The effort to shutter California dispensaries appeared to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.

“This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The administration is simply making good on multiple threats issued since President Obama took office,” said Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the president's drug czar and a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Substance Abuse Solutions. “The challenge is to balance the scarcity of law enforcement resources and the sanctity of this country's medication approval process. It seems like the administration is simply making good on multiple statements made previously to appropriately strike that balance.”

Greg Anton, a lawyer who represents dispensary Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said its landlord received an “extremely threatening” letter Wednesday invoking a federal law that imposes additional penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds.

The landlord was ordered to evict the 14-year-old pot club or risk imprisonment, plus forfeiture of the property and all the rent he has collected while the dispensary has been in business, Anton said.

Marin Alliance's founder “has been paying state and federal taxes for 14 years, and they have cashed all the checks,” he said. “All I hear from Obama is whining about his budget, but he has money to do this which will actually reduce revenues.”

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the warnings are part of what appears to be an attempt by the Obama administration to curb medical marijuana on multiple fronts and through multiple agencies. A series of dispensary raids in Montana, for example, involved agents from not only the FBI and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, but the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

Going after property owners is not a new tactic though, Hermes said. Five years ago, the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush made similar threats to about 300 Los Angeles-area landlords who were renting space to medical marijuana outlets, some of whom were eventually evicted or closed their doors voluntarily, he said.

“It did have an impact. However, the federal government never acted on its threats, never prosecuted anybody, never even went to court to begin prosecutions,” Hermes said. “By and large, they were empty threats, but they relied on them and the cost of postage to shut down as many facilities as they could without having to engage in criminal enforcement activity.”

Besides the dozen dispensaries in San Diego and the one in Marin County, at least three shops in San Francisco already have received closure notices, said Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The San Diego medical marijuana outlets put on notice were the same 12 that city officials sued last month for operating illegally, after activists there threatened to force an election on a zoning plan adopted to regulate the city's fast-growing medical marijuana industry, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. A judge on Wednesday ordered nine of the targeted shops to close, while the other three shut down voluntarily, Goldsmith said.

Duffy, the U.S. attorney for far Southern California, planned to issue warning letters to property owners and all of the 180 or so dispensaries that have proliferated in San Diego in the absence of compromise regulations, according to Goldsmith.

“The real power is with the federal government,” he said. “They have the asset forfeiture, and that means either the federal government will own a lot of property or these landlords will evict a lot of dispensaries.”

Police identify pot thief shot by woman

Spokane police have identified a man who was shot Monday by a woman while trying to steal medical marijuana plants as Raymond P. Bates, 49.

Bates was scheduled to appear in Superior Court today on a first-degree robbery charge.

Bates was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to the back of his head before being booked into jail.

Police found him near North Crestline Street and East Empire Avenue after a woman who knows him called police to say he'd been shot while trying to steal marijuana plants.

According to police, Bates had fled the home at 1023 E. Gordon Ave. with at least one marijuana plant after being shot by the female homeowner, identified in court documents as Darcee Kapfer. Kapher lives at the home with Jason Kirby.

Kapfer said she armed herself with a 8-foot piece of wood, but the thief grabbed it and struck Kirby, so she retrieved a .38 caliber revolver from her home and fired it at him five times, according to court documents.

A man who reportedly drove Bates from the robbery has not been located, nor has the truck they were driving.

Kapfer, who did not call police after firing the shots, has a medical marijuana authorization, police said. Police found 11 plants in her yard, which is under the legal limit.

Pot for homework-induced arthritis?

A medical marijuana patient contacted when a fire broke out at his Greenacres home told police he had been prescribed pot because of arthritis in his hand caused by “too much homework,” authorities say.

 The 19-year-old man and his 22-year-old roommate had 27 marijuana plants at his father's home in the 2500 block of South Timberlane Drive, which they are legally able to have under the state's medical marijuana law.

The plants were not seized after the fire last Friday, and neither man was arrested, but Spokane Valley police Sgt. Dave Reagan sent out a news release today that said Detective Travis Hansen asked the men what their special ailments were because “they were so young and appeared to be fit and in good health.”

In addition to the 19-year-old's reported homework-induced arthritis, the 22-year-old said he had severe pain in one of his feet. Reagan said suspicions were aroused when one of the tenants told a fire inspector had had “smoked a bowl” and left to get something to eat. 

But the fire does not appear to be caused by smoked marijuana, rather the 19-year-old may have discarded a cigarette in bark outside the home, said Bill Clifford, spokesman for the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

“He smokes a lot, both cigarettes and marijuana,” Clifford said. “He reminded me of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Damage is estimated at $300,000, Clifford said. The home is insured.

The man's 53-year-old father suffered burns to right arm, neck and face while escaping the blaze, which began while he was downstairs watching TV. A smoke alarm alerted him to the blaze.

A neighbor also was treated for smoke inhalation he suffered while stopping the fire from spreading to his home.

Medical pot suspect released from jail

A medical marijuana advocate jailed for violating the conditions of his release on federal drug charges has been allowed to leave jail under strict conditions.

Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, was ordered to be released from jail on Monday but U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno, who imposed bond and called for frequent status conferences to ensure Laberdee complies with his conditions of release, which include drug tests and refraining from excessive use of alcohol.

Laberdee was required to post a $25,000 signature bond, meaning a friend or family member is responsible for the bond, and a $15,000 surety bond through a bonds company, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Family members said Laberdee was on a hunger strike at the Spokane County Jail, where he'd been since he turned himself in last month.

Laberdee had been allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers when Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home on Aug. 12.

Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,” according to court documents prepared by Law.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps described Laberdee as “kind of an old hippie.” Supporters say he views the case as a civil rights issue, and Laberdee has called on Willie Nelson for support.

A status hearing in his case is set for Oct. 4.
  

Federal medical marijuana suspect jailed

A medical marijuana advocate recently indicted in federal court is in jail after authorities found pot plants at his home in Lincoln County.

 Jerry Wayne Laberdee, 57, (pictured at a pro-marijuana rally in downtown Spokane, courtesy of the Inlander) turned himself in Tuesday after U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno issued a warrant for his arrest, said his lawyer, Doug Phelps.

Laberdee was prohibited from possessing firearms and from violating federal law when he was allowed to stay out of jail pending trial on federal charges related to his work with the Spokane medical marijuana dispensary Medical Herb Providers.

On Aug. 12, the Lincoln County sheriff's officials found marijuana plants at his home, as well as a dismantled handgun and ammunition rounds. Federal probation officer Richard Law contacted Laberdee on Aug. 16, and Laberdee  “made it very clear to this officer that he would not permit me inside his residence,”according to court documents.

Laberdee also refused to submit to a drug test as his release conditions require, documents allege.

Phelps said a hearing is scheduled Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to determine if Laberdee will stay in jail.

Phelps said Laberdee had about 45 plants and was complying with state medical marijuana laws.

“Federal law says you can't have anything, and state law says you can,” Phelps said.

Laberdee  and Medical Herb Providers co-owner Dennis Whited are among five medical marijuana advocates indicted by a grand jury after federal authorities warned them to shut down or face prosecution.

The men are charged with distribution of marijuana, which carries up to five years in prison; manufacture of marijuana, which carries five to 40 years; and maintaining a drug-involved premise, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

Phelps said his client is eager to bring attention to the federal case against medical marijuana.

“He's not trying to evade the process,” Phelps said.

Past coverage:

July 26: Medical marijuana suspect calls on Willie Nelson
  

Medical marijuana suspects arraigned

Four men facing federal prison time for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Charles Wright and Jon Vivian, former owners of the THC Pharmacy on South Perry Street, and Jerry Laberdee and Dennis Whited, former owners of Medical Herb Providers, appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Past coverage:

July 20: Grand jury indicts Spokane medical marijuana dispensers

April 7: Spokane medical marijuana dispensaries on federal notice

March 17: Owners, law agencies disagree on legality of pot shops

Marijuana suspect calls on Willie Nelson

The daughter of a Spokane medical marijuana dispenser recently indicted in federal court is calling on legendary singer and pot advocate Willie Nelson to take up his cause.

In an email to The Spokesman-Review, Jessica Vogel-Laberdee asks Nelson, who plays outside at Northern Quest Casino on Sunday, “to speak out about the unjustice that my dad is facing.”

“I am aware that you owe us nothing, and doing this would be a gesture that would fulfill only my wildest dreams,” Vogel-Laberdee writes, “but I am sending you this because there is a chance that you will step into my dad's shoes (if only for a moment) and decide to take action.”

Nelson's publicist says he is on vacation until his concert and unavailable for comment. The country music legend has pot problems of his own - a judge in Texas recently rejected a proposed plea bargain that would have resolved a misdemeanor marijuana case with a fine.

Vogel-Laberdee is hoping Nelson can relate to her father, who she described as “completely unconventional” and said he “has the audacity to stand up for his belief that all people deserve to be happy, even in the face of illness.”

“He does not make any money for what he does, but he dedicates all of his time to his cause,” Vogel-Laberdee said. “…He is a man filled with wonderful visions and has taught me to be an individual in a world of drones.”

Jerry Wayne Laberdee is among five people charged with federal marijuana crimes for their work at dispensaries in Spokane, which were raided by federal agents three weeks after being told to shut down.

Laberdee and Medical Herb Providers co-owner Dennis Whited - who has said he began using medical marijuana after losing his leg in a crash in 2009 - are charged with distribution of marijuana, which carries up to five years in prison; manufacture of marijuana, which carries five to 40 years; and maintaining a drug-involved premise, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

The five defendants also face a forfeiture charge that calls for them to forfeit any property or proceeds derived from their illegal operations.

Read Vogel-Laberdee's entire letter to Nelson by clicking the link below.

Jury indicts 5 for medical marijuana

THC Pharmacy owner Charles Wright the operator of a marijuana dispensary, gives a quick thumbs up to chanting cannabis activists outside his store during a raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration on April 28. Wright was indicted Wednesday on federal drug charges.

The owners of two medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Charles Wesley Wright and Jon Richard Vivian, owners of the THC Pharmacy on South Perry Street, and Jerry Wayne Laberdee and Dennis Lewis Whited, owners of Medical Herb Providers, face time in federal prison under multi-count indictments filed today in U.S. District Court.

The charges are the latest in an escalating effort by federal authorities to rein in marijuana sales in states where voters have approved its medical use.

“I think I’m more shocked than surprised,” Spokane lawyer Frank Cikutovich, who specializes in marijuana cases.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 7: Spokane medical marijuana dispensaries on federal notice

March 17: Owners, law agencies disagree on legality of pot shops

June 28, 2009: Pot's legal ambiguity clouds law enforcement

Montana pot provider warns others

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A medical marijuana provider indicted on federal drug charges warned other Montana caregivers Friday to shut down their businesses or risk being the next arrested.

Jason Burns, of Helena, said federal agents told him before his arraignment Thursday that the Department of Justice plans to indict every Montana caregiver raided this spring and that there may be more searches.

“I would warn every caregiver that is in business right now to shut down because the feds are going to prosecute you,” Burns said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Jessica Fehr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said she couldn't comment on whether criminal charges are pending against other providers. No charges have been filed against Spokane medical marijuana providers targeted by federal authorities in April.

Burns' alert may be moot, however, with a new state law scheduled to take effect July 1 that will bar all commercial medical marijuana operations. Providers will be prohibited from profiting from medical marijuana and will not be allowed to distribute pot to more than three registered patients under the law.

Read the rest of the story by Matt Volz by clicking the link below.

Holder vows to clarify medical marijuana

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, right, tours the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, R.I., Thursday, June 2, 2011. With Holder are Teny Gross, left, executive director of the institute, Ajay Benton, second from left, and Juan Carter, third from left. Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department's position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators. (AP Photo/Bob Thayer, Pool)


LAURA CRIMALDI, Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department's position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators.

“We're going to bring clarity so that people understand what this policy means and how this policy will be implemented,” Holder said during a visit to a Providence, R.I., institute that specializes in nonviolence.

Holder didn't go into detail about plans for clarification. But he said the department was wary of medical marijuana dispensaries being seen as a form of de facto marijuana legalization.

Several U.S. states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after U.S. attorneys recently sent stern warnings that everyone from licensed medical marijuana growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution. The cautions were sent to officials in California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island. Federal authorities also recently conducted a series of raids at grow operations in Montana and at dispensaries in Washington.

More than a dozen states have approved the medical use of marijuana, which is not legal under federal law. About half of those states regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee suspended plans last month to license three such dispensaries after U.S Attorney Peter Neronha sent him a letter warning that they could lead to prosecutions.

Chafee does not believe Holder's comments imply a change in the Justice Department's underlying position and dispensary plans will remain on hold, his spokesman Michael F. Trainor said.

“He will await whatever resolution that Attorney General Holder indicated would be forthcoming,” Trainor said of the governor. “He will take that under advisement. At that point, he'll make a decision concerning whether or not he feels it's prudent to move forward with issuing certificates to the three applicant dispensaries.”

Gov. says she won’t sign medical pot bill

SEATTLE (AP) — Gov. Chris Gregoire says she won't sign legislation to create licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state after the Justice Department warned it could result in a federal crackdown.

The two U.S. attorneys in the state told Gregoire in a letter Thursday that bills passed by the Washington House and Senate would permit large-scale marijuana growing and distribution systems in violation of federal law. They warned that growers, sellers, landlords and even state employees who license such operations could face prosecution.

Gregoire says there's no way she can sign a law that would open state employees to federal prosecution. But she says there are problems with the state's medical marijuana law that make it difficult for sick people to get the drug, and she'll cooperate with lawmakers to address those problems.

Past coverage:

April 7: Spokane medical marijuana dispenaries on federal notice

Shupe avoids prison in medical pot case

Spokane medical marijuana dealer Scott Q. Shupe will avoid prison on drug-trafficking charges.

  “In this case it was clear you didn’t intend to break the law, which is in a state of flux as we speak,” Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen said during a Tuesday sentencing hearing. “But the jury found you guilty. That’s what I’m stuck with.”

Eitzen imposed the lowest possible jail term under the state’s standard sentencing guidelines, which is six months given Shupe’s criminal history, but then delayed the punishment if Shupe appeals and comes up with a $5,000 bond.

He also was ordered to avoid selling drugs to anyone.

“I think it’s funny that he may be the only person convicted for a dispensary, which may be legal in a week,” said defense attorney Frank Cikutovich, referring to efforts in Olympia to clarify the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

“I think it was a complete waste of resources as far as the county is concerned.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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