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January 29, 2015

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Case shines light on medical marijuana law as 6 plead not guilty


Top, from left: Sean Kinshella, Daniel Kinshella and Christine Kinshella. Bottom, from left: Kimberly Simons, Jesse Moffett and Ryan Bondhus.

Jolly Green Meds

As protesters stood with large signs on the street corner outside, six defendants and their attorneys crowded inside a Las Vegas courtroom today to begin what could be a lengthy court battle over Nevada's medical marijuana law.

“We’re hoping it shines light on the law that’s broken and hopefully we can fix it,” said Sean Kinshella outside the Clark County Regional Justice Center at the corner of Third Street and Lewis Avenue.

Kinshella, 29, is one of six defendants charged with multiple felony counts of breaking a state law regulating the way medical marijuana may be obtained in Nevada by allegedly operating a business that sold it for about three months.

The others are Daniel Kinshella, 50; Christine Kinshella, 24; Kimberly Simons, 26; Jesse Moffett, 33, and Ryan Bondhus, 27.

They were indicted by a grand jury on May 20 for 16 felony counts that included sale of marijuana, conspiracy to sell marijuana, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and maintaining a place for sale of a controlled substance.

They each pleaded not guilty today during their arraignment before District Judge Douglas Smith.

Smith said he wanted to be cautious "and not storm through" the case because it was the first time for the law to be dealt with in district court. The judge noted that all of the defendants are out of custody on bail.

Although Nevada's constitution was changed by voters in 2000 to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, Nevada law doesn't allow the the sale of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients or caregivers must grow their own marijuana in amounts not exceeding state laws. Smith told attorneys that his initial understanding of the law is that one can possess two adult plants and two juvenile plants.

"The problem is that you can't sell them," Smith said. "And that's what we're going to have to resolve in this trial."

Smith said his understanding is that the defendants were taking donations for the cannabis products at the business.

"Whether you say this is a donation or this is to sell, they are still marketing marijuana, apparently," Smith told attorneys. "This is for motion purposes and not for guilt. I want you to know I haven't formed an opinion."

Meanwhile, at the request of Chief Deputy District Attorney Tina Sedlock, Smith set a tentative date for the jury trial of 10:30 a.m. March 26, 2012.

Some of the motions that were filed while the case was in Las Vegas Justice Court will be transferred to district court and will be heard at 8 a.m. next Wednesday, Smith said. He told attorneys that the defendants themselves do not need to attend next Wednesday's hearing.

The case began on Nov. 23, 2010, when Metro Police raided Jolly Green Meds, 7710 W. Sahara Ave., a business Sean Kinshella, its president, described as an “association” that served about 500 owner clients.

In the raid, police found about 5 pounds of marijuana and more than 22 plants at the business, which police say allegedly sold food products laced with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Those products included butter and peanut butter, police said. Officers said Jolly Green Meds also offered their customers a delivery service.

Police also said they found nearly a pound of hash oil, a potent Cannabis that's sometimes as high as 80 percent pure THC. The 351 grams recovered at the store are worth about $21,000, police said.

After the hearing outside the court building, Kinshella, 29, joined the protesters, including one in a wheelchair.

They were holding large signs saying “NRS 453 A — 10 Years of Failing You,” in reference to the enacting legislation for a change voters made in the state constitution that allows for medical use of marijuana in the state.

Kinshella said NRS 453A was drafted with the intention of fulfilling a change in the constitution approved by voters that provides an appropriate means of supply of marijuana to qualified medical patients.

The law does allow people to grow their own marijuana, he said. However, because there is no access to plants or seeds, there is no legal way to grow your own marijuana without breaking the law, he said.

Kinshella said he and his partners set up their association so everyone was an equal owner of the facility.

“We had private consultations with members only, not in public, regarding cannabis and access to cannabis, ” he said.

“Some people can grow, some people can’t because of a landlord situation," he said. "A lot of patients are unable to grow at least medical quality cannabis. It is not an easy task to accomplish. Most people fail at it. Very few people are very good at it. It’s not an acceptable means of access for patients to grow their own, especially when they can have no access to buy seeds or plants. “

Kinshella said to provide better access, the Nevada Legislature would need to revise current state law.

“Hopefully that will happen and patients will finally have access and what the voters voted for will finally become reality,” he said.

“Three bills got shot down this last legislative session that were trying to fix this problem,” he said.

Kinshella said there were “hundreds” of people who are affected by the law.

“It’s a democracy and we all said yes. But there are certain government bodies standing in the way not wanting to allow it. So it’s come to a time where we have to change it. And every voter should be upset or concerned because if it’s not this law it could be another law. The point of laws is to uphold our constitution. If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job. “

Kinshella said he thought the judge presiding over the case was receptive to the defendants’ arguments.

“He's open-minded. He wants to look at every aspect of it,” Kinshella said. “The first impressions are obviously ‘take heed’ and everybody has a preconception of what everything is. I would hope we could keep the focus on what’s important and change the law so we wouldn’t be here in the first place. If there was a means for us to help patients without breaking any laws we would have done that. We’re wasting tax dollars. Voters aren’t getting what they want, what they wished to have 10 years ago. It’s been a decade, which is way too long."

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  1. Good work taking these thugs off the street Glad to see our tax dollars at work. In fact i feel so safe now i am going to walk around downtown by myself tonight ! Thank you DA Rodgers.

  2. What a waste of time, money and resources. Arresting people for trying to help others is not the answer. What happened to everything the police confiscated/stole from them? Let me guess, it's all missing, just like the Scott video.

  3. They should just legalize all drugs.

  4. You cannot change the law by breaking it, then asking the court to ignore what you did because the law doesn't work. You have to get the legislature to change it.

  5. "Stupid police protecting us from harmless plants."

    Sunlizard -- you said it best

    "You cannot change the law by breaking it, then asking the court to ignore what you did because the law doesn't work. You have to get the legislature to change it."

    Esquire -- evidently you don't know what law really works. If the law is unConstitutional, it's automatically void.

    The primary question to be asked here is who did these people hurt. No harm = no "crimes." I don't see anyone claiming these people injured them in any way. Constitutions are what the laws must first comply with, not that anyone in the "just us" system bothers to check. And obviously the conflict between the final wording of that Constitutional amendment ended up setting these people up for this fall. I hope their attorneys are smart enough to hit the court up for a declaratory judgment on it.

    Of course, no matter how it ends up as a matter of state law, the feds will still come in and raid and take. Welcome to our police state.

    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)

  6. Medical marijuana my foot. I'm all for medical marijuana if the patients have been diagnosed by a real practicing doctor with a practice, hospital privileges and other patients besides medical marijuana users. That keeps the quacks and jacks off the street like in CA.

    Unfortunately we all know the majority of users claiming to need medical marijuana are not legitimate patients with a verifiable diagnosis from a pain clinic, oncologist or other credentialed practitioner.

    What we really have are a bunch of pot heads buying dope from drug dealers who aren't licensed and without genuine prescriptions from a physician whose practice includes other duties besides selling prescriptions to users.

    The same argument goes on all over. In most places as evidenced in CA where it is almost out of control what you have is a lot of so called docs who have a store front to write dope scrips and do nothing else. Anyone can walk in with any complaint and get a scrip without a proper exam, history or any lab work or other diagnostic technique beyond' hey doc, my watchamacallet hurts and pain pills make me sick', with the anticipated result of 'really, where's it hurt, how long have you had it and okay here's your Rx, that'll be $150 -- $300.

    The main requirement for an Rx at these places is the ability to pay and preferably cash. Credit cards maybe but cash is harder to track and therefore not declared for income tax purposes.

    The whole thing on average is a huge scam run by folks whose only goal is to make money on one side and to get high on the other. There aren't enough genuine and properly diagnosed patients to keep all these rope shoppes open.

    Like I said, I and most folks support the legitimate use of medical marijuana but the reality is those of us who weren't born yesterday and didn't ride in here on a head of cabbage know what's really going on, and it isn't structured and tracked pain management. It's a way to support a high without going out doing street dealers.

  7. More wasted time and money because of the ridiculous "war on drugs".

    I'm with Commonsense101...They should just legalize all drugs. I think that, with the proper approach (taxation, accountability for abuse, etc., etc.), legalization would produce less turmoil--black markets,
    overburdened jails/prisons--and a more productive police force.

  8. "Medical marijuana my foot."

    BRASS -- it's been part of man's pharmacopoeia for thousands of years. Enlighten yourself starting @

    But then ignorance like yours has always plagued mankind. It's one of the causes of Socrates' execution, though he was one of the finest human beings to have ever walked this planet. The history of how marijuana/cannabis/hemp became criminalized in the U.S. is a shameful history of not only that kind of ignorance but utter stupidity.

    "Tobacco, hemp, flax and cotton, are staple commodities." -- from Thomas Jefferson "The Works," vol. 3 (Notes on Virginia I, Correspondence 1780-1782), "A Notice Of The Mines And Other Subterraneous Riches; Its Trees, Plants, Fruits, &C."

  9. Those that comment on the validity of medical marijuana are overlooking the point. Here's a quick synopsis of the FACTS.

    An initiative was set in motion by NORML in the late nineties and was approved and ratified by the Nevada voters at the 1998 and 2000 general elections.

    The voters PASSED, with 65% favor, question 9 in 2000 which stated the following, "...would authorize appropriate methods of supply to authorized patients..."

    The Nevada State Constitution was Amended with Article 4 Section 38 which again states, "The legislature shall provide by law for,...1(e) Authorization of appropriate methods for supply of the plant to patients authorized to use it..."

    NRS453a VIOLATES its obligation to the constitution in two fundamental ways.

    One, appropriate supply of the plant. There are NO current ways to legally obtain seeds or clones (young plants). Meaning you must break the law at some point to obey the rest of the law.

    Two, Growing ones own is not an acceptable method of supply in the first place. Not only is it extremely difficult to grow medical grade cannabis, but many living situations do not allow this, It can also be a fire hazard if set up incorrectly, and not to mention a terminally ill patient may lack the physical ability to do so, or even find a caregiver willing to to so on their behalf. This is very obviously not an acceptable method of supply.

    The issue is not medical cannabis. The issue is an unconstitutional law. It is un-american to tolerate such laws, we have democracy for a reason and we all, both the skeptics and believers, should be able to agree on that.

    Fulfill the voters will, YOUR will, the quantified will of the majority. Its the American thing to do.

  10. $60/ounce, $960/lb, $21,000 worth of pot - and if all are convicted, it will cost $180,000/year to keep them locked up, or 9X the price of the haul.

    But what is the real punishment? Will they be able to practice their religion in jail? That is the question!!

  11. News flash -- new bill in Congress to end pot prohibition

  12. from Killer's link above @huffingtonpost...

    "Since President Nixon declared 'war on drugs' four decades ago, this failed policy has led to millions of arrests, a trillion dollars spent and countless lives lost, yet drugs today are more available than ever," said Norm Stamper, former chief of police in Seattle and a speaker for legalization-advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition."...

    And, of course, there are MASSIVE profits being made in this mock "war".
    It has nothing to do with "keeping drugs out of the hands of kids", or any other moral or ethical dilemma... it's ALWAYS about the money.