federal judge

South Dakota: Federal Judge Lifts Decade-Old Injunction Against Native Hemp Farmer

AlexWhitePlumeWins[VoteHemp].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A federal judge on Monday lifted the injunction which has been in place for almost 12 years prohibiting a South Dakota tribal member from cultivating industrial hemp. Other issues remain to be resolved before Alex White Plume can grow it on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken of South Dakota said there has been a "shifting legal landscape" since the original order was filed in 2004 against White Plume, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, reports Dave Kolpack of The Associated Press. The federal hemp laws were loosened in the 2014 Farm Bill, and marijuana has been legalized in several states in the interim.

Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon, White Plume's lawyer, said the Monday's decision is a victory for both White Plume and tribal sovereignty.

"This order brings some justice to Native America's first modern day hemp farmer," Purdon said. "For over 10 years, Alex White Plume has been subject to a one-of-a-kind injunction which prevented him from farming hemp."

Federal prosecutors in South Dakota couldn't be reached for comment.

Still unresolved is the question of whether hemp cultivation on southwestern South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation should be legal. Purdon said Judge Viken's order should "further the discussion" on whether the Oglala Tribe is being treated unfairly, since the Farm Bill allows states to produce hemp under certain restrictions.

U.S.: Shocked Over Silk Road Founder's Life Sentence? These Lifers Did Far Less

Can-DoJusticeThroughClemency(logo)

Social media erupted in shock and outrage last Friday when federal Judge Katherine Forrest sentenced Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht to Life Without the Possibility of Parole for founding and operating Silk Road’s Bitcoin funded drug market. The bulk of the comments about the verdict ran along the lines of “How can a nonviolent computer person get a life sentence when even murderers don’t serve that long?” Or, “If he was no different than any other drug dealer, why give him life?”

These sentiments offer proof of what the CAN-DO Foundation (Clemency for All Nonviolent Drug Offenders), has been saying for years -- the public is woefully ill informed regarding our federal sentencing policy for drug offenders. Even minor players regularly receive life without parole (LWOP) sentences for doing FAR less than what Ulbricht did in running a billion-dollar, anonymous drug black market that made buying illegal drugs almost as easy as making an Amazon.com purchase.

CAN-DO officers, who work to support clemency efforts for prisoners serving LWOP for victimless marijuana-only conspiracy offenses, say that life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes have been going on in the USA for decades and are still a relatively common practice.

Some of the men the CAN-DO Foundation works with had little to no involvement in the actual crime that earned them their life sentences. For instance, Craig Cesal, a first time offender, did nothing more than repair the trucks that had been used to haul marijuana after the smugglers left them abandoned and in disrepair.

Maine: Judge Denies Marijuana Defendant's Request To Visit Dying Dad

MalcolmFrench[KevinBennett-BangorDailyNews]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from a man convicted for cultivating marijuana to visit his dying father. Ironically, the denial came 10 days after the father had died.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock ruled that Malcolm French, 53, was a flight risk because of his estimated worth of $14 million and the long prison sentence (between 20 and 24 years) that he's facing, reports Judy Harrison at the Bangor Daily News.

"The court appreciates Mr. French's desire to physically see and speak with his father and it regrets having to reject Mr. French's request," Judge Woodcock ruled.

French, of Enfield, Maine; Rodney Russell, 51, of South Thomaston; and Kendall Chase, 58, of Bradford were found guilty of a number of charges in the Township 37 marijuana plantation case on January 24, 20-14, after a 10-day jury trial.

All have remained behind bars while awaiting sentencing. Dates for their sentencings have not yet been set. Judge Woodcock said in his most recent ruling that French, who is being held at the Piscataquis County Jail, would most likely be sentenced in late June.

Last month, Judge Woodcock had denied the defendants' joint motion for a new trial, reports Johanna S. Billings at the Bangor Daily News.

U.S.: Spineless Federal Judge Declines To Remove Marijuana From Schedule I List

JudgeKimberlyJMueller(ScheduleI)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

If you've ever doubted that the deck is stacked, you can safely lay those doubts to rest. A federal judge in California on Wednesday unexplainably declined to remove marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller issued the nonsensical ruling in response to a motion by defense lawyers to dismiss charges in a case the authorities claim involves a marijuana growing operation, reports Don Thompson at the Associated Press.

Marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act means the U.S. federal government officially considers cannabis to be roughly on par with heroin (also on Schedule I) in terms of danger. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse.

It was the first time in decades that a federal judge seriously considered marijuana's classification. To rule that cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance means ignoring the vast body of medical evidence that has accumulated in recent decades, including hundreds of clinical studies and thousands of patient testimonials.

Mueller's move to hold a hearing last year to look at the issue is considered a significant step reflecting growing skepticism about federal marijuana laws, according to Sam Kamin, an expert on cannabis regulation at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Washington: Federal Judge To Hear Motion To Dismiss In Kettle Falls 5 Medical Marijuana Case

WashingtonFamilyFacesYearsInPrison(KettleFalls5)

Defendant Larry Harvey will argue that new Congressional measure forbids the DOJ from prosecuting his family

A motion to dismiss will be heard in federal court Thursday, February 12, in a widely watched medical marijuana case involving a family from rural northeastern Washington State. Larry Harvey, 71, and other family members of the so-called "Kettle Falls Five" have moved for dismissal of their case, arguing that a recently enacted Congressional measure forbids the Department of Justice (DOJ) from prosecuting them.

What: Hearing on a motion to dismiss in the widely watched federal medical marijuana case of the Kettle Falls Five
When: Thursday, February 12 at 10 am
Where: Courtroom 902 of the Spokane Federal Courthouse, 920 West Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA 99201

"Prosecuting persons who may be operating in compliance with state medical marijuana laws prevents states from implementing their own laws," reads one of the motions to dismiss written by Harvey's attorney Robert Fischer. Harvey's motion argues that state law is undermined by discouraging lawful patients from accessing medical marijuana because of the threat of federal prosecution.

Harvey also argues that "federal prosecutions take away Washington's authority to determine for itself whether someone is in compliance with its laws or not."

Syndicate content