The newly named acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has called for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, putting her ahead of Attorney General Eric Holder on that issue. Vanita Gupta, the senior American Civil Liberties Union attorney who will take over the Civil Rights Division next week, wrote a CNN column last month praising the legalization and taxation of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. Gupta wrote that those “who seek a fairer criminal justice system, unclouded by racial bias,” must “at minimum” demand that the government decriminalize possession of marijuana. She also called the laws legalizing marijuana in Washington and Colorado “racial justice victories” and said the war on drugs has been “a war on communities of color.”
Regulators in Washington State are trying to make it easier for financial institutions to track their pot-related customers. In the last few days, the state’s Liquor Control Board has started posting the sales activity of licensed marijuana growers, sellers and processers online — along with any warnings or fines issued to businesses caught out of compliance. The data show that Vancouver, just across the river from Portland, Oregon, sold the most marijuana of any city in Washington at $2.7 million. That’s from just two pot shops and is almost double Seattle’s $1.4 million with three pot shops. New Vansterdam in Vancouver is the top selling store in the state and Main Street Marijuana is #4. Vancouver’s two pot shops also outsold four pot shops each in Spokane, Bellingham, and Tacoma. Total statewide sales year-to-date is almost $14 million dollars since July.
A federal judge says authorities in a Northern California county must obtain a warrant before raiding homes to seize pot plants. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued the ruling Tuesday in a case brought by Lake County residents whose homes were searched without warrants. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Henderson said the residents would likely succeed in showing their constitutional rights were violated. Lake County approved an ordinance in June that restricts the growing of medical marijuana. Lawyers for the county defended the searches, saying the ordinance declared illegal marijuana cultivation an immediate threat. But Henderson said the county had failed to explain how cultivating more than six mature marijuana plants posed an imminent danger.
The burgeoning Colorado marijuana industry is heading to reality television. truTV has ordered a pilot for Medicine Man, about the family behind the largest single dispensary in the state where marijuana has been legal since January 1. This marks the first TV series about a Colorado marijuana business since the legalization. Ten members of the Williams family, spanning three generations, work in the business, which has a strict code of conduct for its employees. The show will chronicle the struggle to build a marijuana dynasty as well as the trials of the Williams’ unusual family life, as they ride the wave of a modern-day green gold rush. Chris Linn, president, head of programming for truTV, said “We’re very excited to be the first network to put the new legal marijuana business front and center in a brand new television series.”
A teenage boy whose case made national news when he was facing up to life in prison for possessing pot brownies in Williamson County has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Jacob Lavoro, 19, pleaded guilty today to the second degree felony of possession of THC, said his lawyer, Jack Holmes. Lavoro agreed to the plea in exchange for a sentence of seven years of probation, said Holmes. A second degree felony carries a punishment ranging from two to 20 years in jail. Williamson County prosecutors had previously dropped a first-degree felony drug possession charge against Lavoro which involved the marijuana brownies. The charge was controversial because it was based the entire weight of the brownies including the chocolate, flour and sugar.
The rush to delay medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in some cities is on, even before Florida voters decide the marijuana measure on Nov. 4. So far, at least six municipalities in Palm Beach County have given preliminary approval to moratoriums that would temporarily prevent medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries from opening in their areas. Boca Raton was one of the first to consider halting marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries from opening for at least a year. Following suit were Boynton Beach, North Palm Beach, Lake Clarke Shores and the village of Golf. All have given initial approval to such medical-marijuana moratoriums. Delray Beach, Haverhill and Hypoluxo officials say their councils are scheduled to discuss such temporary bans at upcoming meetings.