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Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA *UPDATE: Overturned*

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Police raid medical marijuana dispensary

    Posted: Sep 10, 2009 11:48 AM
    Updated: Sep 10, 2009 12:13 PM

    Story by:
    Rob Kauder / Internet Content Manager, KXLY.com
    SPOKANE - Police officers have executed a series of search warrants and arrested several people who are illegally selling marijuana out of a storefront at Maple and Northwest Boulevard in north Spokane.

    Several people have been arrested on charges of possessing or distributing marijuana including the arrest of one man who showed up at the store with a pound of marijuana he had brought to the store to be sold to medical marijuana customers.

    In addition to the raid on the dispensary at Maple and Northwest Boulevard officers also executed a search warrant on a marijuana grow operation at a home located at 3929 North Cedar. The homeowner is Chris Stevens, a one-time candidate for Spokane City Council. Officers seized 33 marijuana plants from his home.

    Authorities raided two additional locations: A home located at 904 E. 11th and a home north of Spokane in Tum Tum where they found approximately 100 marijuana plants.

    One of the co-owners of the North Spokane dispensary, Scott Shupe, was arrested several weeks ago in Oregon trying to bring four pounds of marijuana back to Washington. Shupe was already in custody on an unrelated charge at the time of the raid on his store Thursday morning.

    Thursday's arrests come on the heels of the arrest nearly two weeks ago of prominent local medical marijuana advocate Darren McCrea, who was arrested on five counts of delivering a controlled substance. At the time of his arrest McCrea had five pounds of marijuana in his possession.

    By undertaking the raids the Spokane Police Department has become the first law enforcement agency in Washington State to raid a medical marijuana dispensary, challenging the store's contention they can supply med marijuana to any patient.

    State law allows caretakers to purchase marijuana for medical marijuana cardholders while police here contend that it remains illegal for anyone to provide it to more than one patient at a time.

    Story by:
    Rob Kauder / Internet Content Manager, KXLY.com

    http://www.kxly.com/Global/story.asp?S=11108504

Comments

  1. chillinwill
    Re: Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA

    What the hell is up with all of these raids all of a sudden? I thought Obama had said he would stop raiding all of the dispensaries?
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA

    My turtle was wondering the same thing. Though to be fair- San Diego was one of the counties that fought the medical marijuana ruling siding with federal law. (they lost in court and and the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case).
    As to the WA case- Spokane is rather conservative and it appears to be a fight over interpertation of the law.

    Turtle thinks we are bound to see more cases of localities testing the limits of the law, especially with the CA system being pushed well beyond both the spirit and the letter of the law (by the medical marijuana side) in many cases.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA

    Papers Detail Medical Marijuana Probe

    The investigation into the medical marijuana dispensary Change began when a detective saw a TV news article about the business in May, court documents show.

    “The news story advised that Scott Shupe dispenses marijuana and that he grows, possesses and sells marijuana and that ‘it’s all perfectly legal,’” according to search warrants filed this afternoon in Spokane County Superior Court.

    About the same time those warrants were filed, Shupe was appearing in an upstairs courtroom via video on a felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance related grow operations and fresh marijuana found at his home and at Change. Spokane police arrested Shupe and Change co-owner Christopher Stevens, a former City Council candidate, yesterday.

    Judge Harold Clarke ordered Stevens released from jail on his own recognisance today; Shupe was given a $10,000 bond because of six felony convictions and pending felony drug charges in Oregon.

    Both were out of jail early this evening.

    The search warrants detail months of investigation that began when Spokane police Detective Brian Tafoya spotted a KXLY story on Change.

    The investigation was fed by Shupe and Stevens’ blatancy in selling marijuana to more than a thousand medical marijuana patients, something they argue is allowed under the state’s medical marijuana law.

    But police, prosecutors and the state Department of Social and Health Services say it’s illegal, and the Spokane Police Department is the first agency in Washington to arrest medical marijuana dispensers.

    The KXLY story didn’t give Change’s location: Tafoya found it by requesting Shupe’s business license.

    Drug detectives started watching the place. They noted Shupe (top right) and Stevens (bottom left) coming and going from the building regularly with a duffel bag. They followed them to their homes, and installed a video camera on Change May 21.

    That same month, patrol officers detained someone near Change with a fake handgun and talked with people inside Change. They wanted a search warrant after smelling “an overwhelming odor of marijuana.” Drug detectives told them they were already on it.

    In July, police pulled over several drivers for expired vehicle licenses and confirmed they’d purchased medical marijuana from Change, according to the search warrants.

    While police appeared to have a reason to stop each person, detectives wrote in the search warrants that the stops were actually “terry stops” to investigate Change. (Named after the 1968 court case that established them (Terry v. Ohio), terry stops allow police to stop people if they have reasonable suspicion that they’ve engaged in criminal activity.)

    “The vehicle license infractions were used to minimize any suspicion to the drivers of the “Change” shop investigation,”according to the search warrant. “No sample of the marijuana was taken from these subjects. This was also done to minimize suspicion of the investigation.”

    Police received two anonymous complaints about marijuana grows at Stevens’ and Shupe’s homes. But their investigation really amped up Sept. 2, when detectives were staking out Change, Stevens’ home on North Cedar, and Shupe’s home at 726 W. Mansfield.

    They expected Stevens to arrive at Change around 10 a.m. Instead, he traveled to Nine Mile Falls, and police found a card on the front door of Change saying something like “Call us about 12:00 - on the hunt,” according to the warrant.

    “Your affiant believed this to mean that they were ‘hunting’ for marijuana to sell,” Tafoya wrote.

    A detective followed Stevens to a home in the 6400 block of Circle Drive, where police found more than 100 marijuana plants in a raid yesterday.

    During a search of the Mansfield home, police found 17 marijuana plants and a note stating “I’m upstairs - Scott.”

    They also found several pounds of marijuana.

    In all, police searched five locations - Change at 1514 Northwest Blvd., Stevens’ North Cedar home (where they found 33 plants), the Mansfield property, the Nine Mile Falls place, and a home on 11th Avenue.

    http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/sirens/2009/sep/11/papers-detail-medical-marijuana-investigation/
  4. poptart
    Re: Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA



    Paper: Police spent $5.3 M from private account



    SPOKANE, Wash. -- Spokane police spent $5.3 million on cars, travel, gasoline, weapons, training, clothing, electronics and office equipment over two decades, using a private account operated by the department's Special Investigations Unit outside of public scrutiny and in violation of city and state laws.
    The account was funded by seized cars, guns, cash and other valuables in drug cases and was to be used for drug-related investigations. Accounting statements obtained by The Spokesman-Review through a public records request show that the department applied such a broad definition of that purpose that the funds could be used for nearly anything: remodeling parts of the police academy, buying new radios for patrol cars or sponsoring a C.O.P.S. basketball team.
    "People would come to SIU and ask for money, and if there was a drug connection we could do it," said Spokane police Capt. Steve Braun, who ran the unit from 1991 to 1997. "Everybody saw us as the golden goose of the department."
    In a few instances, though rare, Braun said, "The chief asked us to write a check, so we did."
    By state law, such funds can't be used for general city purposes; they're considered extra money for police departments to combat drug crimes. But the law, RCW 69.50.505, is broad, and in practice the money can be used for a wide range of activities that help with drug-related investigations.
    Police maintain they have always been good stewards of the money. Every purchase request was vetted by a police commander in addition to the unit's lieutenant, and Braun said some requests were denied. Even so, in the wake of a critical report from the state auditor's office earlier this year, officials say purchases have become more restricted, and management of the fund has been transferred to the city treasurer's office.
    "It just had a life of its own until we discovered it," police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said of the funds. "But there was no willful knowledge of misuse of the account."
    Items used in drug crimes or thought to be purchased with profits from drug crimes can legally be seized by law enforcement officers. Guns, cars and cash are the most commonly confiscated items.
    Owners have a chance to prove the property has no connection to illegal acts; for example, cash that may have been legitimately earned by working or jewelry received as a gift.
    Failing that kind of proof, the possessions are sold at Reinland Auction in Post Falls, and the Police Department gets a check.
    Revenue from the drug seizures and forfeitures went into checking and savings accounts opened at Old National Bank in the late 1980s. Former police Chief Roger Bragdon, who oversaw the Special Investigations Unit at the time, set up the accounts a few years after state law directed how the money could be spent.
    However, those funds were handled outside the city treasurer's office until the current chief discovered the problem last year.
    Money collected by a public officer or employee must be deposited with the city treasurer's office within 24 hours of receiving it, according to a state law on the books since at least 1909.
    The police chief and the city's chief financial officer, Gavin Cooley, requested an audit, which found no evidence of fraudulent use of the funds.
    Cody Zimbelman, an audit manager for the Washington state auditor's office, said, "The city brought this to us, so we know they are completely on board with making the changes, and they did."
    But the auditor's office said that between 1998 and 2008, about $600,000 of expenditures lacked receipts, and nearly $2 million worth of goods were bought without competitive bids, a violation of city law.
    Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she was proud of how Kirkpatrick handled the discovery of the SIU accounts. "The minute it was stumbled upon, the chief's kept a light on it and they said, 'We need to fix this.'"
    But Councilman Bob Apple said he was disappointed it hadn't been resolved before Kirkpatrick raised her concerns in spring 2008. "It means for more than 20 years they were doing it illegally," Apple said. "I hope it's on the up and up now."
    He added, "One of the problems with the city, the first thing we do is figure out how to cover it up, then promise to never do it again."
    Records obtained by The Spokesman-Review show that the Special Investigations Unit used the fund to purchase at least 76 new, used or seized cars, trucks and technical vehicles during a 15-year period, including an Isuzu Rodeo, a Jeep Cherokee, a GMC Envoy, a BMW and a Pontiac Grand Prix. Vehicle purchases accounted for about $1.1 million of the $5.3 million spent from the account during that time.
    A bomb truck that cost about $84,000 was purchased in 2006, records show.
    Each of the 13 officers in the unit is issued an undercover car, typically a seized vehicle. Department policy allows SIU officers to commute in the vehicles and drive them during work. Braun said mileage on those cars was not tracked during his years. Nor are they today, said Lt. Dave Richards, the current commander of the Special Investigations Unit.
    Records also show that on 46 occasions, Lt. Darrell Toombs, the unit's commander from late 1997 to 2007, was given $100 checks for gas, with no receipts.
    Twenty checks for the same amount and the same purpose were written to Braun.
    Police officials said the two lieutenants used premium gas for the undercover car they drove - a 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe, which was passed in 1997 from Braun to Toombs. That type of fuel wasn't offered at city-operated gas pumps.
    Braun said he "probably kept cash in the car to get gas," and when he ran out, he would get another check.
    The checks stopped when Toombs started driving a seized BMW as his undercover car, according to a review of the public records. Toombs declined a request for an interview.
    Among the other expenses in the SIU account records:
    -Clothing and windbreakers for bike patrol, $721.64.
    -Tasers, $45,447.
    -Pistols, $2,027.
    -Jackets and pants with DEA logos, $4,487.25.
    -Police uniforms, $1,507.
    -Computer with memory card, $7,819.
    Money from the accounts can be spent as long as a connection can be made to drug investigations.
    Upgrades to the firearms training system at the Spokane Police Academy - a $9,000 expense - were justified because the SIU used it to train officers, Braun said. The same applies to a partial remodel at the academy that cost $8,000, and maintenance of the academy's shooting range, for $2,050.
    When patrol officers needed new radios for their cars, they went to the Special Investigations Unit. Braun said they used $17,000 from the fund because patrol officers sometimes encounter drugs during traffic stops or receive information during a call that results in a seizure.
    When the SWAT team found better protective gear, more than $19,000 was spent from the SIU accounts outfitting that team. Braun's justification: The SWAT team often breaks down doors for the SIU, helping with drug investigations.
    As recently as last year, money from the fund was used to buy special flashlights for police dogs at a cost of $1,123 because K-9s are sometimes utilized by the drug unit.
    At least two expenditures appear to have no connection to drug investigations.
    In 1997, an $800 check was written from the SIU accounts for a C.O.P.S. station basketball team. In 1993, $1,300 was spent to sponsor Copy Kids, an organization that covered up graffiti.
    Braun said he was directed by his superiors to write those checks.
    None of the purchases made using the seizures and forfeitures fund was put out for bid before 2008.
    Braun said that when he took over the unit from Bragdon, using oral, written and public bidding was never mentioned. "No one ever said a word," he said. "I just kept on doing business the way it had been done."
    When news of the audit was reported in February, former Spokane police Capt. Bob Allen, upset about oversight, sent Braun an e-mail, which was obtained through a public records request.
    Braun responded to Allen, "The nice thing about it was we were able to purchase equipment without the City Hall process which normally took time."
    Allen wrote back, "I think the Chief did the right thing because obviously any type of 'slush fund' on a police department is a major problem. Bypassing the City bid process - that alone is a major issue."
    City law requires informal quotes for goods between $750 and $19,999, three written quotes for goods costing from $20,000 to $44,600, and a public bid process for goods costing more than $44,600. The threshold is different for personal services: Three written quotes are necessary for services between $10,000 and $60,000, with public bid required beyond $60,000.
    Account use also violated state law RCW 35.39.032, enacted in 1969, that no investment should be made without the approval of the city in which it exists, according to the audit.
    Braun and Richards said they or officers in the unit often did their own price comparisons before making purchases.
    The auditors concluded that by not following state and city guidelines, the unit increased "the risk that public funds could be misappropriated, lost or misused and not be detected in a timely manner," the report said. "The city also cannot be sure all expenditures from this account were for a legal, city-related purpose."
    The seizure and forfeiture funds were deposited with the city treasurer's office in July 2008, and the city now has control over the use of those funds.
  5. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA

    Medical marijuana laws need clarification

    SPOKANE - Police, prosecutors and protesters all have a stake in the medical marijuana law in Washington State and on Monday about 100 people voiced their frustrations over the law in a protest in front of the courthouse.

    The protesters gathered to let police know they shouldn't have shut a northside marijuana dispensary down, but there's more to it than the protest. Some say last week's raid on Change in north Spokane and the arrests of its owners could be the case that help clarify the medical marijuana issue in Washington State.

    That would be welcome news to police, prosecutors and protesters as well.

    Four months ago after a change in state law several medical marijuana dispensaries sprung up in Spokane selling marijuana to patients carrying medical marijuana cards. Now the Spokane Police Department have shut down the businesses and arrested the owners of the dispensary.

    "I got out of jail Friday afternoon,' Change co-owner Chris Stevens said.

    The police have issued a warning to others in the Spokane area to stop selling marijuana or they'd be arrested too.

    "There's going to be a lot of people upset that they can't go to the store and buy the marijuana," Spokane Police Department spokesperson Jennifer DeRuwe said.

    The problem seems to be confusion in the law itself. The law only allows providers to sell to ''one patient at any one time'' What does that mean? That only one client can be helped at a time? One a day? Or that the dispensary can have only one client total?

    Prosecutors say the law needs clarifying while protesters like Nathan Graham agree, saying that the law "doesn't make any sense." Even the police, which conducted the search warrants and made the arrests last week, are looking for some guidance.

    "We just really need to get some guidance on this issue," DeRuwe said.

    "I don't know if the dispensaries are intentionally evading the law ... it needs a clearer definition of what's allowed."

    For now though police and prosecutors say that local medical marijuana dispensaries were breaking the law in that they were selling to more than one patient at any one time. That might solve one side's interpretation of the law, but where does that leave the people who thought they were following the law and can now no longer get medical marijuana?

    "They have no choice but to go back to the black market," Chantel Jackson said.

    "I'm forced to go to drug dealers," Nathan Graham said.

    Until there's additional clarification in the medical marijuana laws in the state there's only one certainty in the issue: All local medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane will remain closed.


    Posted: Sep 14, 2009 4:00 PM
    Updated: Sep 14, 2009 4:00 PM


    http://www.kxly.com/Global/story.asp?S=11129631
  6. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Police Raid Medical Marijuana Dispensary Spokane WA

    Protesters ask to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open

    Some have HIV. Others suffer from cancer or chronic pain from car accidents and job injuries. One man burned most of his body in a gas explosion as a toddler and wasn’t expected to live.

    All have a prescription to use marijuana in Washington, and all gathered Monday outside the Spokane County Courthouse to protest the legal battle brewing between law enforcement and the medical marijuana dispensaries that police recommended be shut down last week.

    “For the ones that it helps, we need to find a way to get them their medicine,” said lawyer John Clark, who does free legal work for marijuana dispensaries. “I have some acquaintances who are going through chemotherapy. For some people, it’s just a miracle drug.”

    The warning to the dispensaries came at the heels of the first police raid in the state of Washington at a medical marijuana dispensary, Change on Northwest Boulevard. About 11 dispensaries still operate in the Seattle area.

    Change owners Scott Shupe and Christopher Stevens face charges of felony delivery of a controlled substance after a four-month police investigation that centered on them providing marijuana to more than one authorized patient.

    The law allows a person to provide medical marijuana to one authorized patient “at any one time.”

    Prosecutors and police say that means dispensaries, which serve hundreds of people, are illegal. Voters approved medical marijuana in 1998, and the state Legislature set possession limits last year at a pound and a half per person or 15 plants. But how users who don’t grow can obtain marijuana legally hasn’t been addressed.

    About 100 people gathered outside Spokane Mental Health and the courthouse Monday to ask officials to change that.

    “Where are we supposed to tell our patients to go?” said Rhonda Duncan, coowner of the dispensary Club Compassion. Club Compassion, which specialized in marijuana-based food products, closed after Thursday’s raid at Change.

    “All of my clients want to comply with the law and run it like any other pharmacy,” said Clark, who works with Club Compassion. “We’re just hoping that reasonable guidelines can be hammered out so the responsible dispensaries can stay within those guidelines.”

    Police investigated Shupe and Stevens knowing it could trigger a lengthy court battle, which police said is needed to clarify a law even pot advocates say is confusing.

    Their investigation was fed by Shupe and Stevens’ blatancy in selling marijuana to more than 1,000 medical marijuana patients at Change since April, according to a search warrant.

    Drug detectives started watching them after seeing a TV news article in May about the for-profit business, according to the warrant.

    The men spent about a day in Spokane County Jail before a judge released Stevens on his own recognizance and Shupe, who’s facing felony marijuana charges in Oregon, posted $10,000 bond.

    Meghann M. Cuniff

    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/sep/14/protesters-ask-keep-medical-marijuana-dispensaries/
  7. Phungushead
    Medical marijuana dispenser convicted

    A Spokane jury rejected arguments Thursday that the state’s medical marijuana law allows for commercial dispensaries, convicting a supplier of multiple drug trafficking charges.

    Scott Q. Shupe, who co-owned one of the first marijuana dispensaries in Spokane, argued the state’s medical marijuana law enables dispensaries to supply card-carrying patients, provided they serve just one patient at a time.

    Prosecutors disputed that interpretation, arguing that the medical marijuana law, approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1998, makes no provisions for commercial dispensaries.

    “I’m very happy with the verdict,” Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Teresa Border said. “It was a very difficult trial with a verdict that I think is appropriate.”

    The case was being watched closely by authorities and dispensary operators alike, with both sides hoping that the jury would provide guidance for what many argue is a confusing state law.

    In Olympia, where state lawmakers are contemplating various marijuana-related proposals, Gov. Chris Gregoire weighed in on the issue Thursday, saying she would seriously consider a proposed Senate plan to license and regulate medical marijuana growers and distributors but she’s uninterested in legalizing the drug.

    In Spokane, Mayor Mary Verner said earlier this week that she supports medicinal use of marijuana, but she’s concerned about the rapid increase of dispensaries in Spokane neighborhoods. “I don’t want to have our community allow the cover of being in business for medical care to be really just a way to just dispense pot that otherwise would be illegal,” Verner said.

    Defense attorney Frank Cikutovich said his client routinely kicked out patrons who tried to buy pot without proper authorization. He indicated the case will be appealed in an effort to clarify the language of the law.

    “Their fate lies with the prosecutor’s decision whether or not to shut them down,” he said, referring to other dispensaries. “They want to be legitimate and give medicine to those who need it.”

    Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor John Grasso, who heads his office’s drug unit, said his interpretation of the law allows a person holding a medical marijuana card to legally purchase the drug. But, the person selling that marijuana would be breaking the law.

    Despite that view, commercial dispensaries have opened throughout the state under the argument – as was the case with Shupe – that they serve as a care provider, helping those with terminal illness or chronic medical problems to obtain the medicine they need.

    Cikutovich argued unsuccessfully that the law allows dispensaries to essentially become the care provider for the limited time when they sell to each licensed marijuana card holder. Shupe testified he was selling 10 pounds of marijuana a week to 1,280 patients.

    During each transaction, Shupe and his partners at the Change dispensary, 1514 W. Northwest Blvd., would write down the time of the transaction to note when they were providing the care through the sale of marijuana. Shupe also verified that each customer had a valid license for marijuana and double-checked those records with medical clinics that issued the authorization.

    Pat Stiley, who is a law partner with Cikutovich, said he sat in during some of the jury selection. He noted that any prospective jurors who indicated they supported the legalization of marijuana were eliminated from the pool.

    Those jurors who were seated all declined comment after convicting Shupe of the felony charges of possession with intent to distribute, delivery and manufacture of marijuana. Sentencing was set for April 12 before Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.


    March 18, 2011

    Reporters Jim Camden and Jonathan Brunt contributed to this report.
    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/mar/18/medical-post-dispenser-convicted/
  8. Phungushead
    Medical marijuana dispenser’s conviction overturned

    [IMGL="white"]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=30264&stc=1&d=1355322409[/IMGL] The drug-trafficking convictions of the man who operated Spokane’s first medical marijuana dispensary were reversed Tuesday in a state Appeals Court ruling that also appears to clear the way for commercial dispensaries to operate legally in Eastern Washington.

    While the case provides needed clarification in state law over how medical marijuana users can legally fill their prescriptions, U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby said federal prosecutors will continue to target certain operations.

    “They are not legal under federal law, regardless of what the state law says,” Ormsby said. “If we found an operating dispensary in Spokane County or the Eastern District of Washington … selling a large volume and located close to a school and meets a number of factors we have identified, we would not hesitate to take action to close it down.”

    Still, defense attorney Frank Cikutovich called the ruling a major victory for his client, Scott Q. Shupe, who was the first to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Spokane based on the original 1998 voter-approved law legalizing medicinal use of marijuana.

    Shupe “was a maverick. He designed his business based on his and my interpretation of the full compliance with state law,” Cikutovich said. “He was the first one to put his butt on the line and test it. My hope is that we can get to the point where this can help the patients that this law was designed for.”

    Jen Lorz, co-owner of the Northside Alternative Wellness Center at 4811 N. Market St., said the decision by the Division III Court of Appeals was great but acknowledged the future of local medical marijuana dispensaries depends on how federal prosecutors react.

    “What we are fighting for is our patients,” Lorz said. “We are not drug dealers. We are legitimate professionals who know what we are doing and who are helping people get the medicine they need.”

    In the 2-1 decision, Judges Dennis Sweeney and Teresa Kulik ruled that Spokane police lacked probable cause to search Shupe’s residence and business and that Spokane County prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to justify Shupe’s 2011 convictions for drug trafficking.

    But the opinion went further, which was the focus of the dissent by Judge Kevin Korsmo, as Sweeney and Kulik agreed with Cikutovich that the language of the law should be interpreted to allow medical marijuana providers to sell marijuana to one customer at a time rather than the prosecution’s interpretation of providers selling it to only one person at all.

    “We have been waiting for the legal answer and it looks like we finally got one. I couldn’t be happier,” Cikutovich said. “The feds should notice that there are people who need this medicine legitimately.”

    Cikutovich said federal authorities previously told him that they would not interfere with dispensaries that operated under the strict letter of the state law, which is not related in any way to Initiative 502, the voter-approved law that allows residents to legally possess an ounce or less of marijuana.

    However, within a week of Shupe’s conviction in March 2011 federal authorities sent letters to all other operating dispensaries warning them of impending legal action if they did not stop. Most dispensaries shut down but federal prosecutors did indict a handful of others who continued, Cikutovich said.

    Ormsby acknowledged the quandary of voter-passed state law versus corresponding federal statutes that criminalize possession, manufacture and distribution of marijuana. As a result, Justice Department officials are considering legal challenges and official statements to clarify how they will react to the Washington marijuana laws.

    “The issue has a lot of ramifications, including issues outside of the marijuana” debate, Ormsby said. “If the state is going to make a decision to move forward and implement all the provisions of Initiative 502, they will have to spend significant time and therefore money. If we intend to challenge the implementation of the laws, it would be better for the state and taxpayers to let the state know before that occurs.”

    As for Shupe, he testified he was selling 10 pounds a week to 1,280 patients at his Change dispensary, formerly located at 1514 W. Northwest Blvd.

    As a result of the decision Tuesday, Cikutovich said Spokane police will be required to return more than $8,000 in cash and three jars filled with marijuana that were seized during the arrest.

    Shupe never spent a day in prison following his conviction. Instead, Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen delayed Shupe’s prison term until the appeal decision, which came Tuesday.

    “In this case it was clear you didn’t intend to break the law, which is in a state of flux as we speak,” Eitzen told Shupe in April 2011. “But the jury found you guilty. That’s what I’m stuck with.”

    Cikutovich noted that both state and federal prosecutors in King County have allowed dispensaries to remain open for the past five years.

    “As soon as you cross the mountains, it’s a whole different situation,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that way when you are in the same state.”


    December 12, 2012

    Thomas Clouse
    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/dec/12/medical-marijuana-dispensers-conviction-overturned/
  9. talltom
    Now that Washington has legalized marijuana, are they going to continue to operate medical marijuana dispensaries? I could see a rational for that if medical marijuana dispensary staff had an expertise to counsel those who continue to use pot as a medicine. And are they going to prosecute cases for alleged violations of medical marijuana rules that occurred before the legalization initiative was passed? I guess the same questions could be asked in Colorado.
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