By Steve Elliott
An Orange County, California man who ran a string of what law enforcement described as illegal medical marijuana dispensaries was sentenced on Monday to more than 21 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $4.2 million in restitution.
John "Pops" Walker, 56, of San Clemente, pleaded guilty in an April plea agreement to drug trafficking, tax evasion and owning weapons as part of the drug trafficking, reports Joseph Serna at the Los Angeles Times.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury last fall along with 13 codefendants. As the alleged head of the "drug ring," Walker operated at least nine marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and Orange counties. He admitted to prosecutors that he made more than $25 million over a period of six years, and that he paid taxes on only a fraction of it.
Walker on Monday was ordered to pay $2.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service and $1.8 million to the California Board of Equalization. Government agents also seized $25 million in income, his luxurious home in San Clemente, several mobile homes in Mammoth Lakes, a property in Long Beach and his stake in two strip clubs.
He was sentenced to 262 months in federal prison, which is 21 years and 10 months.
Presented by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and our affiliated political committee the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH).
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By Kristina Nelson KVAL News
EUGENE, Ore. - Elvy Musikka relies on medical marijuana to get through her day.
The 73-year-old Eugene grandmother joined Oregon's medical marijuana program in 2005 to treat her glaucoma.
Musikka also receives medical marijuana from the federal government as part of a now discontinued research program created in 1978.
But she said that medicine is so old it's no good.
"In other words, it probably would have been very nice as hemp for wearing but it obviously was no medicine for glaucoma," she said. "I cannot work with 11-year old garbage."
Fresher marijuana under Oregon's program filled the gap.
"I was getting 3 pounds from the State of Oregon and what I was doing was mixing it up," said Musikka from her home in South Eugene.
Last October, the state imposed new fees on medical marijuana card holders. The new fees doubled the annual cost of getting a medical marijuana card to $200. It also imposed grower fees of $50 and, if patients switch growers or change the address where it's grown, the state charges an additional $100.
"Every generation must re-win its own freedoms." Gatewood Galbraith
By Michael Bachara, Hemp News Correspondent
On January 31st, legislation that would make cannabis a schedule II drug, thus legal for doctors to prescribe, was introduced in the Kentucky State Senate. Senate Bill 129, sponsored by Senator Perry B. Clark, D-Louisville, is being titled the "Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act".
Gatewood Galbraith was a prominent lawyer from Kentucky and an avid supporter of cannabis legalization. He dedicated over forty years to the restoration of the cannabis plant. Galbraith passed away last month from complications of pneumonia.
"Marijuana has positive medical benefits for patients dealing with illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS, to name a few," Senator Clark said. "I want to allow this as another treatment option for those individuals."
Senate Bill 129 would limit patients who are prescribed the drug from possessing more than five ounces per month. The patient could choose to fill their prescription at a board-certified pharmacy or to grow their own plants. Patients deciding to cultivate plants would be prohibited to no more than five at one time.
By Jonathan Bender, The Pitch
For the third time in three years, a medical marijuana bill sits before the Kansas Legislature. And for the first time in three years, the bill will actually be heard.
The Cannabis Care and Compassion Act, HB 2330, will be discussed tomorrow at an informational hearing of the Kansas House Committee on Health and Human Services. The measure, introduced by state Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita), would legalize and regulate the sale of medical marijuana in Kansas.
In 2010, a bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana failed to come to a vote. And last year's Kansas Cannabis Compassion and Care Act met the same fate.
If the bill passed, doctors would be able to issue patients with "debilitating medical conditions" and designated caregivers ID cards that they could use to purchase medical-grade marijuana at registered dispensaries known as compassion centers. The Department of Health and Environment would oversee the regulation and licensing. The bill, if passed, requires rapid implementation with a provision that calls for the rules governing the application process to kick in within 90 days of the effective date of the act.
Medical cannabis has been legalized in 15 states. Considering Kansas was the first state to ban K2 - a synthetic pot - back in 2010, it seems unlikely that it will be the 16th state to give patients a license to toke.
By Sharon Ko, KDRV
MEDFORD, Ore. -- Some of the patients who lost their medical marijuana to federal raids got free pot on Monday.
So-Norml, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation and The Greenery joined forces and came up with an idea to help patients who lost their medical marijuana. They asked patients who had overages, meaning they had more than they could legally have, to donate instead.
Lori Duckworth, Executive Director of So-Norml, says many patients went back to pharmaceutical drugs after the pot raids, but still helped 300 patients before Monday's free giveaway.
So-Norml says they collected nearly 72 pounds of marijuana for the event, and for each patient that came in, organizers gave away an ounce.
The executive director says the entire cannabis group in Oregon is working to put several petitions up in the future, so voters can have the opportunity to vote. She adds the several groups want to get the word out to more community members hoping to educate them about the benefits of medical marijuana.
By Jordan Grummer, Times Record
The leader of Arkansans for Compassionate Care said his group is hoping to gain more support in Sebastian County for a proposed measure that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state.
In April, the organization was given until July 6, 2012, to collect 62,507 signatures from registered voters to qualify the proposal — The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act — for the November 2012 general election ballot. So far, about 16,000 signatures have been gathered, but less than 1,000 of those have come from voters in Sebastian County, said ACC spokesman Ryan Denham on Wednesday during a meeting at Sweet Bay Coffee, 3400 Rogers Ave.
The meeting was for people interested in volunteering to gather signatures for the initiative that would make Arkansas the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana, but it only attracted two people not affiliated with the group. Denham remained optimistic about the movement in the Fort Smith area despite the lack of attendance. He said the meeting was only made official about three days ago, and more attention has been placed, so far, on places like Little Rock, Jonesboro and the northwest Arkansas region, where support has "been strong."
The meeting was also at 3 p.m. on a business day, he added.
By Steve Elliott Toke of the Town/Special to The Silver Tour
What if I told you there is a secret weapon that, if understood and utilized by the cannabis reform community, could fairly quickly and very decisively decide the issue of marijuana legalization once and for all?
Everybody knows that cannabis legalization is very, very near the tipping point in the United States. Even the folks at Gallup, not exactly known for wild-eyed political statements, said this month after examining their latest poll results -- which showed that a record-high 50 percent of Americans support legalization -- that "If this current trend on legalizing marijuana continues, pressure may build to bring the nation's laws into compliance with the people's wishes."
Drilling down into the results of that same Gallup poll reveals our potential secret weapon for marijuana legalization.
Support for legalizing cannabis is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62 percent approval among those 18 to 29, down to only 31 percent among those 65 and older.
The doctor group questions the medical value of pot and acknowledges some health risk from its use but urges it be regulated like alcohol. A law enforcement official harshly criticizes the new stance.
By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times
The state's largest doctor group is calling for legalization of marijuana, even as it pronounces cannabis to be of questionable medical value.
Trustees of the California Medical Assn., which represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, adopted the position at their annual meeting in Anaheim late Friday. It is the first major medical association in the nation to urge legalization of the drug, according to a group spokeswoman, who said the larger membership was notified Saturday.
Dr. Donald Lyman, the Sacramento physician who wrote the group's new policy, attributed the shift to growing frustration over California's medical marijuana law, which permits cannabis use with a doctor's recommendation. That, he said, has created an untenable situation for physicians: deciding whether to give patients a substance that is illegal under federal law.
"It's an uncomfortable position for doctors," he said. "It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done. Then, and only then, can we know what it is useful for."
By Kristina Nelson, KVAL News
EUGENE, Ore. - You might call it her morning routine.
With her lighter in hand, 72-year-old Elvy Musikka gets a cannabis buzz every day, courtesy of the federal government.
"It does give you a push. The high is nothing but feeling good about things," she said sitting on her couch in her South Eugene apartment.
The grandmother, who uses cannabis for her glaucoma, is part of a very unique club.
Since 1988, Musikka has been getting more than three and a half pounds of pot every year from the federal government.
"These are the tins that the federal government sends to the University of Miami," she said pointing to her rolled joints. "I have to go there and see my doctor and pick up a prescription. I call them my green Pall Malls."
She's part of the "Compassionate New Drug Access Program."
It started in 1976 after a man sued the government, claiming only pot helped his glaucoma.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse or "NIDA" provided rolled joints for sick people until the first Bush Administration halted it in 1992.
"Every single one of us had to have reliable doctors that they would count on, extensive medical records, and had to prove to FDA, DEA and NIDA," Musikka said. "I eventually became the first woman to join the two men who were smoking legally at the time."
By Nigel Duara, AP
Photo by Don Ryan, AP
EUGENE, Ore. — Sometime after midnight on a moonlit rural Oregon highway, a state trooper checking a car he had just pulled over found pot on a passenger.
The discovery was not surprising in a marijuana-friendly state like Oregon, but the 72-year-old woman's defense was: She insisted the weed was legal and given to her by none other than the federal government.
A series of phone calls from a dubious trooper and his supervisor to federal authorities determined that the glaucoma patient was not joking — the U.S. government does grow and provide pot to a select few people across the United States.
For the past three decades, Uncle Sam has been providing patients with some of the highest grade marijuana around as part of a little-known program that grew out of a 1976 court settlement and created the country's first legal pot smoker. The program once provided 14 people government pot. Now, there are four left.
Advocates for legalizing marijuana or treating it as a medicine say the program is a glaring contradiction in the nation's 40-year war on drugs — maintaining the federal ban on pot while at the same time supplying it.
Florida: The Silver Tour - Teaching Seniors the Benefits of Medical Marijuana - October 4, 2011 10 AMSubmitted by restore on Thu, 09/29/2011 - 22:39
Teaching Seniors the Benefits of Medical Marijuana - Century Village, Florida - October 4, 2011 10AM
Robert Platshorn - Presenter - Director of Florida NORML, Founder of the Silver Tour, Author of Black Tuna Diaries. Featured in the hit film, Square Grouper Robert founded the largest chain of schools in Europe. Once he returned home he became the second largest distributor of Breyers Ice Cream. Robert smuggled marijuana from Colombia in the 1970's and spent 30 yrs in prison for a non-violent pot offense.
In regards to Robert Plashorn, the late, great Billy Mays said "Bobby Platshorn is a legendary pitchman and one of the all time greats".
Dr Julie Holland - Video - Attending Psychiatrist, Bellevue Hospital New York, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Holland has appeared on; The Today Show, Good Morning America, Peter Jenning and Live with Paula Zahn. She will present an introduction to medical marijuana that is the most comprehensive consensus of physicians and researchers.
Karen Goldstein - University of Bridgeport - National Director of NORML. (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws) Karen is an activist and parent of a medical marijuana patient. She will address medical marijuana for Epilepsy and vision.
By Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun
BREMERTON — Legislation passed revising Washington state's medical marijuana laws this year turned the focus from dispensaries to collective gardens.
But Kitsap County's cities have been slow to shift gears.
Legislators last spring debated a revision of Washington State's medical marijuana law dealing with cannabis dispensaries. Proponents of the bill (ESSB 5073) sought regulation of dispensaries to clarify their legitimacy. After Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the bill, however, the only substantive new option for authorized patients was a provision for collective gardens.But Kitsap County officials have not moved as swiftly on regulations of gardens as their peers around the Puget Sound region did. And local opinions are all over the board.
The new state law, effective July 22, allows up to 10 authorized patients to cultivate up to 45 cannabis plants in a single location, but no individual can own more than 15 plants. Not clear in the law is how many gardens can be on one tax parcel, how many gardens a patient can belong to or the minimum length of time a patient must be a collective garden member.
The lack of clarity has unsettled cities and counties around the state, many of which recently enacted moratoriums or interim zoning ordinances on the gardens, essentially buying time to weigh the law's ramifications.
Kettering woman supports Constitutional amendment.
By Lynn Hulsey, Dayton Daily News
Photo by Teesha McClam, Dayton Daily News
DAYTON – A group supporting legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio has taken the first steps to place a Constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot.
Supporters turned in 2,143 signatures on petitions containing summary language of the proposed amendment to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who has sent the signatures out to local boards of election to verify.
The group needs 1,000 signatures before DeWine will determine if the summary is a fair and truthful statement. After that, it is forwarded for review by the Ohio Ballot Board and to Ohio secretary of State Jon Husted. The group would then need to gather at least 385,245 valid signatures on petitions to place the amendment on the ballot, said Matt McClellan, press secretary for Husted.
"I'm totally opposed to that amendment," said Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. "I think it would make too much marijuana available to kids in the community."
He said it would create traffic problems because people high on marijuana could be driving and causing accidents and it would be an issue for employers, including him, who want drug-free employees.
'My mood’s stable now,' says Ryan Begin of Jackman, who fought in Iraq
By Michael Shepherd, Maine Today
AUGUSTA -- Ryan Begin was checking a report of an improvised explosive device in Iskandariya, Iraq, on Aug. 1, 2004.
Then the U.S. Marine Corps corporal saw one. It detonated, blowing apart his right arm.
More than 30 surgeries later, Begin said he has regained some use of his arm. But the psychological damage has taken a harsher toll, including drug addiction and violence.
Begin told doctors in federal health centers high-grade medical marijuana was his only hope for tamping down the innumerable nightmares, flashbacks and fears that followed him from the battlefield.
"My mood's stable now -- no peaks and valleys, just stable ups and downs," he said.
His mother, Anna -- "a little bit apprehensive" about medical marijuana at first -- is a believer.
"When he started the marijuana, it was like having my son back," she said.
Doctors in the federal veterans' health care system aren't as convinced. The substance remains illegal under federal law, and guidelines for federal health centers don't support medical marijuana.
That ended Begin's relationship with the federal health system.
Today, Begin is unemployed, and one of 1,807 patients registered with the state to use marijuana medicinally.