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August 29, 2014

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Marijuana co-op case back before Judge Mosley again

Lawyers say law is vague, file motion to have case dismissed, think it will head to Supreme Court

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Steve Marcus

Judge Donald Mosley asks a question to attorneys during a bail hearing for Leonard Schwingdorf in District Court Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. Schwingdorf is among defendants facing charges in connection with distributing medical marijuana.

Schwingdorf Bail Hearing

Leonard Schwingdorf appears during a bail hearing in District Court Wednesday, September 28, 2011. Schwingdorf is among defendants facing charges in connection with distributing medical marijuana.  . Launch slideshow »

Judge OKs Las Vegas medical pot case, says laws aren't too vague

A state court judge rejected a challenge of the state's medical marijuana law Tuesday.

Like a wild weed that is chopped down but keeps popping back up, a marijuana dispensary case that a Clark County judge dismissed earlier this month was back before the same judge today in district court.

Leonard Schwingdorf pleaded not guilty today to 10 charges involving the sale of marijuana at the Sin City Co-op, a medical marijuana dispensary that was raided by state authorities in July as a drug-trafficking organization.

Schwingdorf, 23, is among several people who have been indicted as a result of law enforcement crackdowns on co-ops that have been formed to provide medicinal marijuana for those who have medical cards that say they can possess it. The co-ops were set up as a way to deal with the state law, which allows those who need pot for medicinal purposes to possess it and grow their own small amounts, but does not provide a way for them to legally obtain it otherwise.

The co-op organizers say they were set up to accept donations to provide members with marijuana. Prosecutors and law enforcement officers say the donation is really a sale, which is against state law.

“We argue that it is not sale. And we argue that he didn’t even know that he was doing anything illegal. That’s the crux of our argument, that the law is unclear, John Million Turco, Schwingdorf’s attorney, told the judge today.

On Sept. 12, Mosley threw out Schwingdorf’s earlier case for procedural reasons, citing mistakes prosecutors made in getting the grand jury indictment against Schwingdorf and his co-owner, Nathan Hamilton. At that time, Mosley also said he couldn’t make any sense of the Nevada’s pot laws — and said, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report — that the Legislature should decide whether medicinal marijuana is legal or not.

Two days later, on Sept. 15, the Clark County district attorney’s office took the case back to a grand jury and Schwingdorf and Hamilton were re-indicted on multiple charges of marijuana possession, sales and trafficking. At the time of the second indictment, bail was set at $300,000 for Hamilton and $100,000 for Schwingdorf.

At today’s arraignment, Mosley reduced Schwingdorf’s bail to $100. Outside the courtroom, Turco said that was the smallest bail he had seen Mosley grant. A status check on the bail is at 9 a.m. Oct. 5.

Schwingdorf’s co-defendant, Hamilton, is incarcerated in California on an unrelated misdemeanor and could not attend today’s hearing, according to his attorney, Robert Draskovitch. However, Mosley allowed Draskovitch to enter a plea of not guilty on Hamilton’s behalf.

The judge set the trial for the two defendants for 1:30 p.m. May 7.

Meanwhile, both Draskovitch and Turco filed motions later today that the state law is vague and the cases against their clients should be thrown out. Because of Mosley’s earlier statement on Sept. 12, they think he will dismiss the case.

“The law is no good because it’s so unclear,” Turco said.

Draskovitch also represents one of six defendants in a different marijuana dispensary case, involving Jolly Green Meds, before District Judge Doug Smith. Earlier this week, Smith rejected a similar motion that the case be dismissed, saying the state’s medical marijuana laws aren’t too vague.

“We have two judges, both district court judges with equal power. They have the same facts, the same law, and they have come to different conclusions,” Turco said. “One way or another it’s going to end up in front of the Supreme Court, because it is so unclear. “

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  1. The LAW is UNclear, and many medical marijuana users are suffering even further due to the vagueness or lack of standing up for the intent of the law, the reason the law even became the law.

    As the mega corporate pharmacies continue to dictate patient care and costs of medication, millions of patients are looking for alternatives, as for many of them, medical marijuana appears to be an answer. There are still issues with doing all the right legal things, yet STILL jeopardize their employment status, due to federal law restrictions. It's a Catch 22.

    The FDA needs overhauling, just as our Federal government needs it. Getting needed medications have become laden with red tape, high costs, and now problems with medications being scarce/in low supply. This should NOT be happening in the United States of America. Long ago, in the early 1900s and before, there was NO problem with marijuana. Isn't strange how greedy business interests can pursuade government to create laws, create new jobs enforcing those new laws, while adding more layers of government and adding to the pockets of special interests?

    Other countries are effectively dealing with marijuana useage; why can't Nevada study those models and address the marijuana issue in a way that is fair to all citizens? With the high price of prosecuting marijuana cases in courts and taxpayer funding of imprisoning them and extended social services, legalize it, decriminalize it, tax it, and move on. Again, look to other successful models.

    It will leave our good judges time to consider all the other cases calendared, for the good of society. Thank you.

  2. Who are the DA's on this case?? The voters WANTED medical marijuana. Are they stupid? Call 702-671-2500, the criminal division of the Clark County Attorneys office. Tell them to stop prosecuting marijuana cases. Another thing to know is called Jury Nullification. It is happening more and more across this country. Juries are REFUSING to give a guilty verdict in marijuana cases and DA's are finding it impossible to prosecute these defendants. As citizens of this country, Jury Nullification is a RIGHT. Look it up. Let's take back the power of the government to harass and jail us for a PLANT that is harmless and would be an amazing alternative to the prescription drugs out there. We can also stop feeding the prison industry our loved ones.

  3. And Kudos to Ali, well said.

  4. Well said, Tina O. Please also sign this petition supporting safe access for NV patients: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-gove...

  5. "...Mosley also said he couldn't make any sense of the Nevada's pot laws -- and said, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report -- that the Legislature should decide whether medicinal marijuana is legal or not.....The law is no good because it's so unclear..... Earlier this week, Smith rejected a similar motion that the case be dismissed, saying the state's medical marijuana laws aren't too vague."

    Two judges, one favoring liberty (duh -- it's in his oath!) and the other the ever-expanding police state. Their oaths' first promise are to support, protect and defend the Constitutions, so it's clear which of these judges is keeping his and which one doesn't care. And why not? What are the consequences, so long as Smith gets to keep his cushy job?

    The real problem is the feds. As this week's articles show, including Coolican's good bit, the feds' grab for central power violates the 10th Amendment's promises, but who's going to stop them? The U.S. Attorney General won't, Obama won't -- despite their announcements not to prosecute marijuana "crimes" -- and our own AG certainly won't. She won't even stop the massive foreclosure frauds against Nevada homeowners!

    "Long ago, in the early 1900s and before, there was NO problem with marijuana. Isn't strange how greedy business interests can pursuade government to create laws, create new jobs enforcing those new laws, while adding more layers of government and adding to the pockets of special interests?"

    star -- look at the history of how marijuana became illegal. Between that pipsqueak Harry Anslinger and textile interests like Dupont, they rammed it through, mostly on the Big Lie black and brown men crazed by marijuana would seduce America's virgin white daughters. In the process Congress ignored the real facts presented by the scientific community, i.e., the LaGuardia Report. The utter stupidity of ALL our lawmakers are still with us today, evidenced twofold -- growing hemp itself is illegal, and marijuana is rated more dangerous than heroin, morphine, &c.

    "Who are the DA's on this case?? The voters WANTED medical marijuana."

    tinaa -- We the people of Nevada made that mandate to the legislature 11 years ago -- it's in the Constitution @ http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Const/NVConst... -- and did it in both the 1998 and 2000 elections. I plan to call my elected reps and find out exactly what part of "Use of plant of genus Cannabis for medical purposes... The legislature shall provide by law for....." they're not clear on. You should do that, too.

    "...a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law." -- Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803)

  6. What a confusing case. This guy was clearly high on his own supply when he dreamed up this business. To grow pot and give it away conditionally...with the understanding/agreement that the consumer would donate a predetermined amount of money. If I understand this correctly. ... This whole business plan sounds sneaky and deviously executed. My guess is the defendants attorney will be the only one coming out ahead here.