Agents arrest six in California medical marijuana chain

LOS ANGELES Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:03pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Six people associated with a chain of medical marijuana shops in southern California were arrested on Thursday as federal authorities continued efforts to rein in commercial trade in the drug.

California voters in 1996 made the state the first in the nation to allow medical marijuana, but the possession or sale of cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Attorneys for each of California's federal districts announced a crackdown on commercial trade in medical marijuana in October. They outlined a range of actions, including warnings to landlords and civil forfeiture lawsuits.

The Attorney for the district that includes Los Angeles and surrounding areas also announced criminal charges against several people associated with a medical marijuana business.

The arrests made on Thursday are the latest since then in the district, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the Attorney for the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

The six arrested were associated with G3 Holistic Inc, which has three retail centers in the Inland Empire region of California, according to an indictment against the individuals. The Inland Empire is located in the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles.

Aaron Sandusky, John Leslie Nuckolls II, Keith Sandusky, Paul Brownbridge, Richard Kirchnavy and Brandon Gustafson were charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possess marijuana and maintaining a drug-involved premises, and they face other drug-related charges as well. Aaron Sandusky is the founder and owner of G3, prosecutors said.

All six defendants made an initial appearance on Thursday in federal court. None of them was asked to enter a plea.

"We've done a relatively small number of these cases over the years," Mrozek said. "There have been a series of warnings that have been issued to Mr. Sandusky and the other operators, and they just have failed to comply."

Attorneys for the six men could not be reached.

Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, a group working to reform marijuana laws, criticized the arrests.

"It's time to bring the marijuana market into the light of day, where it can be taxed and regulated," she said.

While arrests of medical marijuana operators have been relatively rare in California, in Montana, medical marijuana dispensaries were shut down as a result of a 2011 state law that revised rules for the cannabis trade, combined with raids and prosecution by federal authorities.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (5)
malcolmkyle wrote:
Why on earth do we go along with this farce. Why are we collectively choosing to pretend that the hard lessons of alcohol prohibition – the sudden increase in organized crime, corruption, moral decay, the nightmare of poisonous-bathtub-concoctions, economic collapse, mass unemployment, and the only time a Constitutional Amendment has ever needed repealing, never happened? Why?

Imagine if we were to chop down every single tree on the planet as a response to our failure to prevent tree-climbing accidents. That’s exactly what our misguided drug policy looks like. Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them; the concept of a “Drug-Free Society” is a neurotic fantasy and Prohibition’s ills are a product of this psychotic delusion.

Jun 15, 2012 2:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
knowa wrote:
Were our founding fathers alive today, the Feds would be charged with Treason.

Jun 15, 2012 2:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
knowa wrote:
There are allot of what if scenario out there, but just think if we had realized Henry Fords vision of industrial hemp. Today we are paying up to $600 dollars a gallon fly in fuel into Afghanistan because of Pakistan blockade. What if we had developed a Hemp Bio-Fuel program there, where the locals could sell the cannabis that they are already growing creating value added jobs for the locals and we would be winning the harts and mind of the people.(Food,Fuel and Fiber). Instead we waist our blood and treasure. Then again would their ever of been a 911, if we had our own Hemp fuel program and we would not have needed to protect the worlds oil routs for free costing us much more than the $4 a gallon price we pay today. Why has our freedom been Hijacked by the DEA (it has been reported that Hemp Fuel and Bio-Diesel could sold fro a $1 a gallon when you take into account the value added bi-products). No more war for Oil Lest end this madness

Jun 15, 2012 4:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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