• First California Marijuana Legalization 2016 Initiative Filed

    East Bay Express

    Two groups filed proposed ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis for adults, and protect the medical marijuana marketplace today.

    The “California Craft Cannabis Initiative” was filed by proponents Heather Burke and Omar Figueroa.

    The “Compassionate and Sensible Access Act” was filed by Craig Beresh; Jeffrey Byrne; Lanette Davies; Richard Fenton; Kandice Hawes; Donna Lambert; Ronald Mullins; Eric Salerno; Deborah Tharp; Kathie Thelen; and Randall Welty. (more…)

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  • Reefer Badass


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  • Best Of 2015: North Bay Confidential


    Voted Best Law Firm in Sonoma County.


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  • Feds’ Medical Pot Fishing Expedition Hits Mendocino Chop

    East Bay Express

    A federal subpoena for all registered growers in Mendocino could be narrowed or quashed — setting a national precedent.
    US Attorney Melinda Haag’s attempts to obtain Mendocino County’s medical pot-growing records is hitting some snags.

    Prosecutors for the US Attorneys Office of the Northern District of California continue to push back hearings on their subpoena for “any and all records” from Mendo’s three-year-old medical cannabis farming program. Since Mendocino officials began fighting back in December, the feds have delayed US District Court hearings scheduled for January 4, January 29, February 19, and March 19. Mendocino County’s lawyer William Osterhoudt told Legalization Nation that US Attorney Haag and the county are negotiating the scope of her fishing expedition. (more…)

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  • ‘Anonymous’ Hackers Plead Guilty To PayPal Cyberattack


    13 defendants who pled guilty include Christopher Wayne Cooper, aka “Anthrophobic,” of Elberta, Ala.; Joshua John Covelli, aka “Absolem,” and, “Toxic,” of Fairborn, Ohio; Keith Wilson Downey of Jacksonville, Fla.; Mercedes Renee Haefer, aka “No,” and “MMMM,” of Las Vegas; Donald Husband, aka “Ananon,” of Fairfield, Calif.; Vincent Charles Kershaw, aka “Trivette,” “Triv,” and “Reaper,” of FortCollins, Colo.; Ethan Miles of Flagstaff, Ariz.; James C. Murphy of Baldwin Park, Calif.; Drew Alan Phillips, aka “Drew010,” of Santa Rosa, Calif.; Jeffrey Puglisi, aka “Jeffer,” “Jefferp,” and “Ji,” of Clinton
    Township, Mich.; Daniel Sullivan of Camarillo, Calif.; Tracy Ann Valenzuela of Napa, Calif.; and Christopher Quang Vo of Attleboro, Mass.The defendants initially pled not guilty to their 2011 indictment on charges of conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and aiding and abetting intentional damage to a protected computer.With the exception of Valenzuela, Phillips and Miles, each of the defendants pled guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of intentional damage to a protected computer. Valenzuela pled guilty to one count of reckless damage to a protected computer, while Phillips and Mileswere allowed to plead guilty only to one count each of intentional damage to a protected computer. (more…)

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  • Protester gets reduced charges; Bypass opponents to converge on Water Board meeting

    Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters

    Update on trial of Caltrans Bypass protester, journalist and Crane-Sitter Will Parrish, scheduled for trial Jan. 28 and facing possible 8 years in jail:      (See Jan. 21, 2014 post)

    After a hearing in Mendocino County Court Jan. 23, a settlement was reached that cancelled the upcoming trial, scheduled for Jan. 28. The particulars of the settlement are:

    *15 of the 17 misdemeanors were dropped, retaining two charges of trespass, which drop to infractions after a probation period of 24 months.

    *100 hours of community service

    *Two years probation, during which entry of judgment is deferred –i.e., sentencing remains open during that time.

    *In addition, a previous violation of a stay-away order was dropped, and the stay-away order was modified so that Parrish can participate in lawful public gatherings at or near the Bypass site. (more…)

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  • New county bail policy could get costly

    The Press Democrate

    A new approach to bail in Sonoma County Superior Court could soon raise the price of freedom. Judges will start observing strict time limits on how long bail remains in place, requiring new bail to be posted if prosecutors do not bring charges within 15 days of a first court appearance. Those who can’t afford to pay a second time will likely be forced to await a decision from behind bars, straining jail resources and driving up costs for taxpayers.

    “It’s a de facto doubling of the bail schedule,” said Sebastopol defense attorney Omar Figueroa, who was among a group of lawyers who voiced concerns this week at a Sonoma County Bar Association meeting. The change was announced by Judge Shelly Averill, who will be presiding over a special early case resolution court in January. Now, judges allow defendants to post bail just once while prosecutors and police sort out any charges during post- arrest investigations. Such investigations for crimes ranging from drug possession to manslaughter can take months. But that practice does not meet the requirements of the law, Averill said. Bonds guaranteeing a person will return to court are exonerated — or expire — automatically if prosecutors haven’t acted within the two-week period, she said. Beyond that time, bail companies can no longer be held liable if the person becomes a fugitive. Judges realized the lapse and will now correct it, she said. New bail will be required to avoid jail if formal charges are filed later, she said.

    “It’s something we’ve not been doing,” she told lawyers at the bar association meeting. It was not immediately known how many people were awaiting charges on expired bail. The shift could be a boon to the bail company owners, who collect a nonrefundable 10 percent fee for each bond they post. But they worried it could also hurt the industry if bail is perceived as unaffordable. “It could make the process of bail so that it’s no longer relied upon,” said Dale Miller, owner of Santa Rosa-based Romelli Bail Bonds. However, Miller said there are ongoing discussions about making second bails less expensive.


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  • Federal government’s new marijuana policy welcomed by Sonoma County activists

    Santa Rosa Press Democrat

    In a sweeping new policy statement prompted by pot legalization votes in Washington and Colorado last fall, the Department of Justice gave the green light to states to adopt tight regulatory schemes to oversee the medical and recreational marijuana industries burgeoning across the country. The memo was greeted with optimism by Sonoma County medical marijuana advocates who said it would provide relief to local officials who feared federal liability for permitting dispensaries and provide a springboard for the next statewide ballot measure to legalize pot for recreational use.

    “It’s fantastic,” said Omar Figueroa, a Sebastopol lawyer who has drafted legalization initiatives. “They are deciding that rather than remaining in denial and allowing a Wild West, laissez faire atmosphere, they will encourage ultra-regulated systems. That’s huge.”

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  • Feds Green Light Colorado Legalization, With Conditions

    San Francisco Chronicle: SF Gate: Smell the Truth Blog

    U.S. Attorneys are receiving new marching orders from the Dept. of Justice regarding pot legalization in states that have legalized marijuana, including Washington and Colorado. Prosecutors should not make a state-legal pot businesses a priority as long as they follow state law and meet eight key federal goals: 1) Preventing marijuana distribution to minors; 2) Preventing money from sales from going to criminal groups; 3) Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is illegal; 4) Preventing criminal groups from using state laws as cover for trafficking of other illegal drugs; 5) Preventing violence and the use of illegal firearms; 6) Preventing drugged driving; 7) Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands, and; 8) Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property. California attorney Omar Figueroa, a cannabis law specialist said the effects could be profound. The DOJ’s statement could green-light California efforts to legalize marijuana.

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  • Minister seeks return of peyote seized in Santa Rosa

    The Press Democrat

    A minister in the North Coast chapter of the Native American Church says his right to religious freedom was violated when sheriff’s deputies seized mind-altering peyote from his home during a raid on indoor pot gardens.
    Former Santa Rosa resident David Marbain, 56, is seeking the return of nearly 5 pounds of the dried cactus known for its hallucinogenic effects as well as 27 live plants that were taken in the 2010 sweep.

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