Tag: Washington

Three Individuals Growing Medical Marijuana In WA State Convicted And Sent To Prison

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the Godfather

Nearly a year and a half ago we featured a story describing the plight of the “Kettle Falls Five” who were arrested by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on charges relating to marijuana cultivation and firearms violations.  I am reprinting here portions of my previous article which has many details of the original case. Now, three of these defendants were sentenced to federal prison.

The confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice prosecuted five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing seventy-four medical marijuana plants in a private collective. Washington State is a Medical Marijuana State. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son.  The patriarch of the family, the accused Larry Harvey, had the charges dropped but has since died of cancer.

While state law at the time permitted the cultivation of up to forty-five plants, federal law prohibits any cultivation.  Originally confusion of the numbers of plants that might be permissible under state law (in aggregate) should take into consideration that multiple individuals had separate grows and this led to a misunderstanding.  While the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office told the accused to remove those plants in excess of the amounts allowed, the DEA later arrived and raided their farms.

What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-three acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claimed to be a “death sentence.”

What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years.  Many viewed this case as necessitating jury nullification.

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WA State Senators Declare Supreme Court Order “Unconstitutional”

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

wa-constitutionA sign of the current education situation in Washington State took a turn for the obvious when, showing a fundamental lack of knowledge of basic civics, a coalition of Washington State Senators declared an order of the State Supreme Court to be Unconstitutional. That’s right, the several senators seem to have missed a key portion of their junior-high education relating to which branch of government has the ultimate say in constitutional matters and perhaps the workings of our tripartite government.

The claim of unconstitutionality stems from an open letter penned by several state senators describing the “constitutional crisis” caused by a rogue state supreme court. Previously the court held the state in contempt for failing to provide for the constitutionally mandated primary duty of funding basic education. It ultimately prescribed a penalty of $100,000.00 for each day the legislature failed to furnish the court with a suitable plan to address shortcomings enumerated in McCleary v. State.

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Bad Precedent Set By Seattle Mayor And Washington Governor Issuing Orders Prohibiting Government Employees Travelling On Business To Indiana

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Mayor Ed Murray
Mayor Ed Murray

In the wake of the State of Indiana passing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a law crafted to allow businesses to curtail services to customers based upon religious objections—Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and later Governor Jay Inslee issued executive orders prohibiting government funded travel of employees to Indiana in protest.

The proffered reasons of these executives is to voice protest in that Indiana’s statute is incompatible with either state anti-discrimination laws or is in alignment with the political values of these local governments.

Orders of this type are actually counter to the idea of sovereignty of each state and interfere with the judicial, executive, and legislative processes that are inherently reserved to the voters and citizens of, in this case, the state of Indiana.

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The Most Interesting Man In The HOV Lane

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

interesting-poster-dos-eqThe Washington State Patrol found a most interesting man in the HOV Lane.  Unfortunately, he was made of cardboard.

A WSP Trooper, working traffic on Interstate 5 near Fife became suspicious of a vehicle traveling in the HOV Lane with a nearly two dimensional passenger.

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Color Of Variable Speed Limit Signs Could Jeopardize Criminal Cases Resulting From Speeding Offense Probable Cause

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

variable-speed-yellow-black-largeCriminal Cases resulting from speeding offense probable cause may be in jeopardy due to improper colors used variable speed limit signs. If courts determine that these signs violate statutory signage standards, exclusionary rules may apply resulting in dismissals of numerous criminal cases.

An example of this is found on Interstate 90 straddling Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. Over a decade ago, the Washington State Department of Transportation installed Highway Advisory Beacons, near the mountain pass to warn driver of upcoming hazards along with incorporation into the state’s variable speed limit statute. An example of these types of signs is pictured above.

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Man Arrested After Mistakenly Sending Text Message Offering Marijuana to Deputy’s Friend

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

the-thin-line-of-medical-marijuanaA man in Wenatchee, Washington was charged with Felony Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Deliver for what began as a text message. Unfortunately for him, his offer to illegally sell marijuana mistakenly went to a friend of a deputy sheriff.

After the incident, described in a Probable Cause Statement by a detective with the Columbia River Drug Task Force, Braxton Whited probably should consider reviewing his cell phone’s contact list.

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Washington State Politicians Draft Bill To Criminalize Whistleblowing In Agricultural Animal Cruelty Cases

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

washington-flag-sealIn what some regard as an affront to both free speech and whistleblowing, Washington legislators Joe Schmick, J. T. Wilcox, June Robinson, and Vincent Buys sponsored House Bill 1104 introducing the new crime of “Interference with Agricultural Production.” The bill, if signed into law, will have the effect of criminalizing whistleblowing and the free speech activities of those seeking to publicize allegations of animal cruelty and other concerning farming methods under the guise of protecting agribusinesses from economic harm.

The bill also provides for troubling retributions against those who have traditionally revealed acts of cruelty to animals and shown food safety abuses by several farms and businesses.

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Bong Hits For Parolees: Washington Department Of Corrections To Allow Parolees To Smoke Weed

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Washington State Department of Corrections LogoParolees in Washington might actually look forward to going back to the joint. The Department of Corrections announced that most of those released on parole, about 14,000 individuals, may now use marijuana without being subject to random testing. Recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington after voters passed Initiative 502.

Annmarie Alyward, DOC’s assistant secretary said, “We’re putting some changes into effect so that we won’t routinely test offenders in the community for THC.” Delta-9 THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. “We don’t want them held to that level when, as a citizen, you wouldn’t be held to that level either. There’s no way the department of corrections is endorsing the use of marijuana. We are simply aligning with state law.”

This certainly represents a great departure from conventional community correction practices of the past.

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Psychiatrist’s Medical License Summarily Suspended After Alleged Bomb And Death Threats

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Dr. Said Farzad MD
Dr. Said Farzad MD

The Washington Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission issued an ex parte order of summary action, suspending the medical license of a Gig Harbor, Washington psychiatrist following his arrest for allegedly making death threats and threats to bomb the Molina Health Care’s facility in Bothell. The summary suspension was sought by the Attorney General’s Office and granted three days after his arrest. It will be effective pending further action.

Police allege Dr. Said Farzad M.D. threatened employees of insurance provider Molina Health Care. In a series of phone calls in April and May, Farzad complained about paperwork problems associated with his patients, and then began threatening to shoot employees. He was arrested by Bothell police the following day.

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Federal Government Targets Five Individuals Allegedly Growing Medical Marijuana In Washington State Including 70 Year Old Patient Who Faces 10 Years Imprisonment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the GodfatherThe confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice is prosecuting five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing sixty-eight medical marijuana plants in a private collective. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son.

What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-eight acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claims to be a “death sentence.”

What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years.

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Most Domestic Partnerships In Washington Will Automatically Become Marriages June 30th

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

LGBT USA Pride FlagJune 30th, 2014 will mark a significant change in nomenclature and status for same sex couples who had previously registered their domestic partnership starting in 2012. After this date, these couples’ status will change automatically to “married.” This presents an opportunity to become married without the administrative overhead of now filing for a marriage license. Couples after June 30th who enter into a union will be considered married.

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Homeowner’s Association Targeted After Supporting Pro-Third Amendment Group

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

No Quartering Association LogoA controversy is developing in Cornwallis, Washington where residents of a neighborhood bordering the army’s Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) say the city council’s latest ordinance is yet another example of an overreaching government.

During the Christmas recess the mayor called a midnight city council meeting, with no public notice, and reportedly of all places in a Seattle pub. After seven exhausting hours the council voted 5 to 4 to enact a law that was purportedly intended to ease the severe traffic jams along Interstate 5 which runs through JBLM. But these intentions some believe were not so benevolent.

The law allocated nine tracts of park land to build high density housing for military personnel and their families. The land is just west of the Berkeley Bridge and soldiers going to and from the base would not need to use I-5. However the land is platted within the realm of the Lafayette neighborhood and its homeowner’s association. Residents angrily objected to their former park being taken over by the city, and in response turned to a relatively unknown civil rights advocacy group, the No Quartering Association, (NQA) to seek redress for the city violating the Third Amendment’s prohibition of quartering soldiers in citizens’ homes. Unfortunately for them, the worst was yet to come.
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Washington Supreme Court Rules Citizens Have Right To Privacy In Text Messaging

Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Text MessagingIn two precedent setting rulings, the Washington Supreme Court expanded the privacy expectation of text messages on both statutory and unlawful search and seizure grounds.

Washington’s Supreme Court Ruled on February 27th the people have a right to privacy in text messages even if the person cannot be certain someone is reading them the court held. In State v. Jonathan Nicholas Roden the defendant asked the court to decide whether Washington’s privacy act protects text messages intercepted by a detective who possessed the intended recipient’s cell phone after a warrantless seizure. In State v. Hinton the court held that a text message conversation was a “Private Affair” protected from warrantless searches as enacted in Article I Section 7 of the Washington Constitution.
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