Violence Prompts Marijuana Debate
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Violence Prompts Marijuana Debate
Posted by CN Staff on March 16, 2010 at 19:03:12 PT
By William Yardley
Source: New York Times
Seattle, WA -- A shooting and a beating death linked to medical marijuana have prompted new calls by law enforcement officials and marijuana advocates for Washington State to change how it regulates the drug and protects those who grow and use it.In the past week, a man in Orting, Wash., near Tacoma, died after he reportedly was beaten while confronting people trying to steal marijuana plants from his property. On Monday, a prominent medical-marijuana activist shot an armed man who is accused of breaking into his home in a suburban area near Seattle where he grows and distributes marijuana plants.
On Tuesday, the police arrested five people on robbery charges in connection with the shooting incident. One of those arrested is in critical condition after being shot by Steve Sarich, who runs a group called CannaCare out of his house. Mr. Sarich suffered minor wounds from a shotgun blast fired by the intruder he shot.The crimes are the most violent that advocates and law enforcement officials said they could recall involving medical marijuana in Washington. In both cases, they said, the victims appear to have been chosen because they were known to have relatively large amounts of marijuana in their homes. They say the crimes underscore conflicts in state policy that have become evident since Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998.“Any person making medical marijuana is going to be a target because they have a valuable commodity,” Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff’s Department said in an interview Tuesday.Under state law, marijuana can be recommended for medical use by physicians but the state does not play a formal role in regulating and distributing the drug. While some states allow dispensaries or cafes, most medical marijuana in Washington is distributed from private homes or small offices that are supposed to grow or stock only a certain amount of the drug and serve only one patient at a time.Though the recent violence has drawn new attention to the issue, robberies have become more common in Washington over the years. Marijuana advocates complain that robberies are underreported because law enforcement officials focus more on confiscating marijuana from the growers than on arresting the thieves. The authorities, in turn, have noted that some growers are exceeding limits on how much of the drug they can possess, and say the circumstances of some robberies are murky.Mr. Sarich did not respond to an interview request.A few days before the shooting, Mr. Sarich wrote to State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a Democrat from Seattle who has pushed to ease sanctions on marijuana use, say growers face dangers both of being robbed and of how they will be treated by the police.In an interview, Ms. Kohl-Welles said she and another lawmaker would introduce legislation next year to protect access to medical marijuana and protect those who grow it. Dan Satterberg, the King County prosecutor, also called for change.“By forcing this production to remain underground,” Mr. Satterberg said, “you increase the risk of violence for everybody and you disburse that violence to residential neighborhoods and put everybody at risk.”Some advocates for legalizing marijuana in general say that medical growers hurt their efforts by not working within legal limits and by not building a relationship with the police. They say making marijuana legal for the general population would reduce crime against those who use it for medical reasons.Even before he was robbed on Monday, Mr. Sarich had complained that the police were not doing enough to protect him, including after what he said was a robbery attempt in January. He told The Seattle Times on Monday that he and his girlfriend were authorized to have up to 50 plants each and had less than 100 plants in the house they shared.Sergeant Urquhart said that there was “nothing to investigate” in January because Mr. Sarich had provided little information. Mr. Urquhart also said investigators had found 385 plants in Mr. Sarich’s house after the shooting on Monday.“He had baked goods with marijuana in them, frozen goods with marijuana in them, chocolate goods with marijuana in them,” Mr. Urquhart said. “He had green butter, which we believe is laced with marijuana. As we interpret state law, he was not in compliance.”Law enforcement officers, he said, confiscated “everything over and above what the prosecutor believes is legal.”A version of this article appeared in print on March 17, 2010, on page A12 of the National Edition.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: William YardleyPublished: March 17, 2010Copyright: 2010 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 23, 2010 at 06:58:25 PT
Pot Grower Drew Eye of Law Long Ago
March 23, 2010URL:
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on March 18, 2010 at 16:55:45 PT
charmed quark 
It's good to see you and agree with you.
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Comment #13 posted by charmed quark on March 18, 2010 at 16:46:47 PT
One day 
One day, people will again be growing cannabis in their backyard along with their tomatoes and they'll wonder what all the fuss was about
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on March 18, 2010 at 04:33:57 PT
"A valuable commodity"?
Hmmm. I wonder how that happened with common, prolific plant matter?Do you suppose it has anything to do with escalating a draconian prohibition of that plant matter for some eighty years or so?
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 17, 2010 at 17:35:48 PT
Thank you. If cannabis was legal it would be very inexpensive and this type of situation just wouldn't happen. It's not the need for cannabis that causes violence but the fact that it is very costly.
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Comment #10 posted by konagold on March 17, 2010 at 16:29:44 PT
" thought that if you shoot someone they must be in your home"not necessarilyif you are confronted by someone at night in your yard who advances on you and you are in fear of bodily harm or the assailant is armed is one thinghowever this individuals wounds were to the backtoo happy a trigger fingersomething in error with the shoot first and ask questions later philosophy 
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 17, 2010 at 12:29:37 PT
I don't know much about guns but I thought that if you shoot someone they must be in your home. Maybe the laws have changed or I misunderstood what I thought was the way it was. 
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Comment #8 posted by konagold on March 17, 2010 at 12:15:30 PT
self defence or murder
recently a Big Island med-pot card holder after being robbed repeatedly confronted a robber breaking into his greenhouse and shot him with bird shot killing the intruder who had a rap sheet of many violent crimes and sexual assaultthe shooter was arrested and convicted of murderthis was in a remote area of the Island with normal police response times of 45 minutes to an hour or moredamned if ya do damned if ya don't
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Comment #7 posted by dongenero on March 17, 2010 at 09:04:49 PT
But why is it so valuable?
“Any person making medical marijuana is going to be a target because they have a valuable commodity,” Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff’s Department said in an interview Tuesday.And made so valuable and unattainable, except for high school kids, due to Prohibition.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 17, 2010 at 07:23:58 PT
State Prison Population Drops
State Prison Population Drops for First Time Since 1972March 17, 2010CNN -- For the first time since 1972, the number of state prisoners in the United States has dropped, albeit only slightly, the Pew Center on the States reported Wednesday in a survey.URL:
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Comment #5 posted by ezrydn on March 17, 2010 at 06:29:55 PT:
Double Theft
First, the thieves hit him then the police make a second strike and take what the thief couldn't. That's Washington's version of "justice?"
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Comment #4 posted by Micheal Byers on March 16, 2010 at 23:19:48 PT
Washington state cannabis limits 
In Washington State the law is very clear on how much you may have at any one time. 15 Plants is the state minimum 24 ounces is the state minimum. it is totally up to you doctor how much you can have for plants and meds. rcw 69.51a look it up!!!!So tired of the Media and the Cops saying that they have to many plants and to much finshed product. IT IS THE STATE MINIMUM !!!! YOU STUPID BASTARDS. 
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Comment #3 posted by John Tyler on March 16, 2010 at 20:59:21 PT
other stuff too
By this logic banks and convenience stores should be banned too. They contain valuable pieces of paper that people want to steal.
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Comment #2 posted by westnyc on March 16, 2010 at 20:17:06 PT
Boycott Walmart! sent them an email telling them so-haven't heard back yet! To be sure....."They will drop their 'HIGH MORAL STANDARDS' as soon as it affects that bottom dollar!"
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 16, 2010 at 19:32:03 PT
WA's Confusing Medical Marijuana Law Under Review
March 16, 2010URL:
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