By Steve Elliott
A Caddo County, Oklahoma judge last year dismissed 30 drug cases in a single day because employees of a private company helped arrest the defendants. Now, attorneys say more cases in other counties are likely tainted due to their involvement.
Employees of a company called Desert Snow were helping make drug busts until a judge put a stop to the practice, reports Abby Broyles at KFOR News Channel 4.
A couple of years ago, District Attorney Jason Hicks made the monumentally bone-headed move of hiring Desert Snow employees to help train officers make drug stops along I-40, well known among drug enforcement types as a "drug corridor."
But Desert Snow employees were doing more than just training. They were doing actual police work, including arresting people, on the stops, and making money while doing it.
"[They] seized him, seized some containers of marijuana coming in from Colorado, seized $13,000 in cash, seized his car," said attorney Irven Box of one of those defendants.
Desert Snow employees aren't CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) certified -- but police in Oklahoma are required to be.
DA Hicks broke ties with the company after a ruckus occurred over the arrests. Desert Snow, seemingly something of a fly by night operation, then moved out of its Guthrie, Oklahoma office building.
Colorado Attorney General says ‘suit is without merit and [his office] will vigorously defend against it’
By Steve Elliott
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning on Thursday announced that he has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Colorado’s laws that legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. He said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is also joining the lawsuit, which alleges the state constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters and the implementing legislation approved by state lawmakers is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“We agree with the Colorado Attorney General’s opinion that this suit is without merit," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado marijuana initiative campaign. "This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem."
"They are wasting Nebraska and Oklahoma taxpayers’ dollars by filing this suit, and they’re forcing Coloradans to pick up the bill for defending ourselves against it," Tvert ssaid. "Colorado's top law enforcement officials have better things to do, and you’d think their counterparts in Nebraska and Oklahoma would as well.
“These guys are on the wrong side of history," Tvert said. "They will be remembered similarly to how we think of state officials who fought to maintain alcohol prohibition years after other states ended it.
By Steve Elliott
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on Wednesday announced she wants to work with lawmakers in the next session of the Legislature to legalize cannabidiol oil (CBD) on a limited, medically supervised, trial-only basis.
CBD is a component of the marijuana plant; unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it does not produce a high. The compound has shown effectiveness in quelling seizures in toddlers with epilepsy and other conditions. The CBD oil isn't smoked; it is not considered a recreational drug.
"I do not support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana," Fallin said, reports Laura Noland at KFOR-TV. "Nor do I support a broadly defined 'medicinal' marijuana use that makes it easy for healthy adults and teenagers to find and buy drugs."
"I do support allowing potentially life-saving medicine to find its way to children in need," the Republican Governor said. "I am very interested in allowing limited, heavily supervised use of non-intoxicating CBD to be delivered on a trial basis to sick children in Oklahoma."
Rep. Jon Echols is preparing to lead a legislative study of allowing medical trials for CBD in treating children affected by severe seizures. Echols said he decided to take on the issue when his niece was told CBD may help with her medical condition.
By Steve Elliott
An city councilman wants Village City, Oklahoma to become the first in the state to allow residents to possess small amounts of marijuana.
Jerry Broughton last week proposed the ordinance at the Village City council meeting, but received no support from the rest of the council, reports Ed Doney at KFOR.
It would only encourage pot smokers to move to Village City to use and grow marijuana, claimed Councilman Mitch Hibbard, who sounds like a regular intellectual. Hibbard believes this would interfere with Village City's efforts to be a "family friendly community."
Broughton said the jails and court systems are unnecessarily clogged with young marijuana users who aren't dangerous to the community if they use small amounts of pot in their own homes.
The city councilman added that it's time to allow Oklahomans to use cannabis for medical purposes.
Graphic: Village Voice
By Steve Elliott
A bill has been introduced in the Oklahoma State Senate to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes for adults age 21 and older.
Senator Connie Johnson introduced Senate Bill 2116, which would legalize, tax and regulate cannabis similarly to alcohol, reports The Huffington Post.
"By taxing and regulating marijuana we can take the lucrative market out of the hands of criminals and drug cartels and put it in the hands of tax-paying, law-abiding businesses," Senator Johnson said.
Johnson pointed out that marijuana prohibition diverts the attention of law enforcement away from more serious crimes.
"More importantly, we can stop arresting adults simply for using a substance less harmful than alcohol and focus our law enforcement resources on violent crimes and real threats to public safety, Sen. Johnson said.
"As taxpayers, we're spending over $30 million each year policing, jailing and incarcerating our citizens on marijuana-related offenses," she said. "Yet marijuana is almost universally available. It's time for a smarter approach."
This is Senator Johnson's fourth try to introduce the legislation, but she thinks it could have a better chance this time, due to social media, reports KSWO 7 News.
By Steve Elliott
An Oklahoma marijuana advocate who has been pushing for 26 years for legalization says Colorado's implementation of legal pot is good news.
"I think it will show us that it can be done and the sky won't fall," said Norma Sapp of Norman, reports Evan Anderson at NewsOn6.com.
"It's a plant," Sapp said. "We should not have a plant being illegal. God made plants."
"When you have a felony conviction, it ruins your life," said Sapp, who has been pushing to change Oklahoma's marijuana laws since 1989. "You're never going to reach your potential. Your children are never going to have what they could have had. It's embarrassing.
"You can go to the store right now, spend 99 cents on a bottle of aspirin and kill yourself," Sapp pointed out. "Marijuana will not hurt you."
Oklahoma will likely be seeing more marijuana because of legalization in Colorado, according to a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
By Steve Elliott
Darlene Mayes, a 74-year-old grandmother in Oklahoma, was accused of being the ringleader of a multi-state marijuana operation. On Friday, at the request of her defense attorneys Josh Lee and Clint ward, a judge dismissed all charges against Mayes, who in the press had been dubbed the "Ganja Granny" after her case got heavy media attention.
Last year, the arrest of Mayes made TV and print headlines around the world when, according to court documents, authorities accused her of having several pounds of marijuana and nearly $300,000 in cash.
Special Judge Rebecca Gore threw out a charge of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute; also dismissed were two counts of possession of a firearm while in commission of a felony, according to court records.
Attorney Josh Lee had maintained that Mayes is innocent of the charges. Law enforcement officials, however, claimed that she was overseeing a large drug operation that was possibly responsible for 40 percent of the marijuana trade in the Grand Lakes, Oklahoma area.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana possession penalties could be reduced in Oklahoma under a new bill in the state Legislature.
A second possession offense in Oklahoma, under current law, will get you a felony charge and two to 10 years in prison. But Rep. Cory Williams wants to make first and second offenses a misdemeanor in the state, reports Evan Anderson at NewsOn6.
The bill is off to a great start -- it already passed unanimously through the House Public Safety Committee on a 14-0 vote.
Rep. Williams said it just doesn't make any sense to burden Oklahoma citizens with felony records, when possessing cannabis is legal in some states.
"We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation and a lot of those are for what we consider law level, nonviolent drug offenses," Williams said. "And certainly marijuana is leading that."
A second marijuana possession offense is currently an automatic felony in Oklahoma. While Williams said his bill isn't necessarily a step towards legalizing pot in the state, it does make punishment more rational.
The proposed misdemeanor charge would still carry a maximum one-year sentence; after all, this is still Oklahoma -- think baby steps. (Manufacturing hash can get you a life sentence in this state.)
Williams said he is confident his bill will make it to the House floor.
By Dana Hertneky, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY - It's already legal in 18 states and Washington DC. Now some want to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma.
Two separate bills on the issue will be in the front of the state legislature this session, both written by Sen. Connie Johnson, (D)-Forest Park.
Johnson has been trying to get a medical marijuana initiative passed for several years, but her bills have never even been given a hearing. This time the language is more comprehensive and she says she just wants the issue to be vetted through the legislative process.
Ten years ago, Chuck Vaughn had surgery that fused three disks in his spine. The operation allowed him to go back to work, but he's lived every day since the operation in pain.
"It's 24-7, never quits, never," he explained. "I haven't slept in a bed in 10 years."
Chuck takes morphine two times a day, but says that doesn't work. He thinks Medical marijuana might and points to a U.S. Patent on cannabis that says the drug could help those with his condition.
"Doctors have told me they think I would be better off," he said.
By Russell Mills, KRMG
TULSA — Oklahoma may soon join a growing list of states who make medical marijuana available to some patients, and decriminalize its possession for recreational purposes.
KRMG spoke with customers at Duffy's Diner who support the proposals.
One woman said, "There are lots of people , ya know, they are sick. It helps them. They don't go out and sell it. They keep it and some of it comes in pill form."
A man who lost his father to cancer doesn't support the idea of legalizing pot for medical use.
He said, from a medical standpoint, I don't really agree that that's a good idea."
State Sen. Constance Johnson has filed separate bills.
One bill would direct the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision to adopt rules allowing people with certain medical conditions to use the drug with permission from their physicians.
It would also establish fees for the "licensing, production, distribution and consumption" of medical marijuana.
Some people argue that alone could bring a great deal of money into the state's coffers.
Many also argue that decriminalizing the possession of pot would free police to enforce more violent crimes, reduce overcrowding in prisons, and take money out of the pockets of hardened criminals who use marijuana sales to fund more dangerous enterprises.
By Marika Lorraine, KFOR
OKLAHOMA CITY -- There's a move underway to legalize the use of medical marijuana in our state. Fourteen states have already done it. One Oklahoma woman tells us, when she tried to talk about the issue with her state senator, she ended up face-to-face with a number of law enforcement officers.
Denise Stahl lives taking 12 to 14 pills a day.
"I've been diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Arthritis, and Asthma."
Denise recently made a trip to the state capitol to discuss legalizing medical marijuana with her state senator.