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Media Report: Texas High Schoolers Are Being Jailed on Felony Charges For Vaping Cannabis

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Police often can’t tell if a cannabis vape pen is derived from marijuana or legal hemp, but that doesn’t stop them from making felony arrests

The 74 reports

SPRING BRANCH — When kids walk into the gas station near the high school in this rural stretch north of San Antonio, they come face to face with Texas’ booming market in psychoactive hemp derivatives.

Just inside the door, a glass cabinet entices shoppers to a smorgasbord of fruity and doughnut-flavored vape pens dressed in vibrant, shiny packaging. The store, like many across Texas, is promoting its collection of delta-8 and other new strains of purportedly legal tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering part of the cannabis plant.

Any adult over age 21 can buy the vapes at this Valero. But if the Comal Independent School District catches one of its students down the road at Smithson Valley High School with a pound cake-flavored vape, they may end up in county jail, facing felony charges that would follow them the rest of their life.

School officials and local law enforcement are attempting to stymie the sometimes dangerous youth vaping craze by drawing a hard line. Students are offered $100 for anonymously reporting classmates with THC vape pens to the police.

And since sheriff’s deputies assigned to the schools often can tell if a vape pen contains THC, but not whether it’s delta-8 or the illegal delta-9 cannabis oil, they assume the worst, slap on the cuffs and leave it for someone else to figure out.

That’s what happened to Myles Leon, a Smithson Valley senior arrested at school in October with what he says was a delta-8 vape pen. At 17, he is considered an adult in Texas’ criminal system, facing a felony charge based on the as yet unproven assumption that the vape pen he was caught holding might have contained the illegal delta-9.

“They instantly just think it’s [illegal] THC. I don’t think they really care about the difference,” Myles said in December, hunched next to his mother on their living room couch. “Because even I said that it was delta-8 and it didn’t matter. They’re still gonna arrest me anyways.”

When Texas legalized hemp in 2019, the lower-potency THC naturally found in small amounts in the cannabis plant — delta-8 — suddenly no longer fit the state’s definition of illegal marijuana and THC. The market capitalized on the notion of a legal strain of THC, and companies began boosting the concentration of delta-8 to make hemp-derived vape pens and edibles that produce a high similar to pot.

The legality of these lab-produced delta-8 products is still under scrutiny, but for more than a year, stores and users have freely sold and purchased them without issue. If teens get caught with vape pens that are proven to contain only delta-8, the worst criminal penalty they would most likely face would be a ticket, similar to getting caught with cigarettes or alcohol.

But delta-9 THC, the most prolific psychoactive compound in marijuana cannabis plants, remained illegal in Texas in concentrations higher than 0.3%. Vape pens with marijuana-derived extracts are legal in many states, like New Mexico and Colorado, but not in Texas, and the criminal punishments for such derivatives are harsher than for marijuana.

Possession of even one illegal THC vape pen can carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a lifelong label that makes it more difficult to get into college, get a job or find housing. Having up to 4 ounces of flower marijuana is a misdemeanor.

In Comal County, deputies have arrested students on felony charges, not knowing what their vape pens actually contained.

Read more at  https://www.the74million.org/article/in-a-central-texas-county-high-schoolers-are-jailed-on-felony-charges-for-vaping-what-could-be-legal-hemp/



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New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department revokes licenses at two Torrance County cannabis farms

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New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department revokes licenses at two Torrance County cannabis farms



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Massachusetts: Uxbridge to refund more than $1 million to cannabis retail outlet in impact fees case

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The Town of Uxbridge has reached an agreement in Superior Court to largely refund the community impact fees paid by a cannabis store, according to court documents and the law firm representing the store

On Dec. 29, the town entered into an agreement with Caroline’s Cannabis to refund the store $1,171,633.60. According to a statement from the law firm MacMillan Law Offices, the amount constitutes 80% of the community impact fees the store paid the town and may be the first legal settlement resulting in refund of the controversial fees in the state.

The store has a location at 640 Douglas St. in Uxbridge.

According to the law firm’s statement, Caroline’s Cannabis filed a lawsuit against the town in Worcester Superior Court in 2022. The store sought an order requiring the town to produce documentation to substantiate the community impact fee it was collecting from the store.

Caroline’s Cannabis claimed it had caused no impact or costs to the town, and that the town could not collect the fees unless it could document otherwise. At the time, Caroline’s Cannabis requested to recover $1.4 million.

Read the background here

https://www.telegram.com/story/news/local/2024/01/18/carolyns-cannabis-community-impact-fees-refuns/72272643007/



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Beverly Hills Lawyer Invested in Oregon Cannabis Farm .. Percentage of Crop(s) Ended Up In Cali Market

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Willamette Week breaks the story that’s going to ruin his holidays.

One of the many weed entrepreneurs to descend on Cave Junction during the green rush was Matthew Portnoff, a partner with a specialty in cannabis law at the California offices of a white-shoe law firm.

In 2020, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission determined that weed grown at his farm in 2019 had been diverted onto the black market. But after a yearslong investigation, the agency was never able to conclude whether Portnoff authorized the leakage—or if he was instead the victim of a swindle.

Portnoff declined to comment for this story.

A graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California’s law school, Portnoff, 48, is an expert in tax law based in Beverly Hills, with a history of entrepreneurial forays. (An online database lists him as a producer of a romantic comedy starring Paris Hilton in 2006 that was panned by critics.)

In 2016, Portnoff and his wife, Luiza, purchased a Cave Junction farm for $415,000 just as the state began handing out licenses to grow recreational weed. (An LLC controlled by his father, a surgeon from California, bought 19 acres next door to his son for the same purpose.)

Two years later, Portnoff and his wife landed a license. So, eventually, did his dad. They grew thousands of plants on the 35-acre properties located along Takilma Road in the rural farmland of the Illinois Valley.

To run his new Oregon farm, Portnoff hired a local grower named Michael Horner, who’d come recommended by a California client.

But by the time the first harvest arrived, an oversupply of weed on the market caused prices in Oregon to fall by at least half.

And beginning in February 2019, the OLCC began documenting a series of concerning reports from Portnoff’s employees.

First, Horner quit his job working for Portnoff and told an OLCC inspector in February 2019 that men had arrived on the farm to take weed back to California for sale.

A month later, the inspector went to the farm to investigate. State-licensed farms are required to have surveillance cameras monitoring all aspects of the operation. But in March 2019, the inspector discovered a four-day gap in the footage—and found “many discrepancies” between the inventory on site and what was recorded in a state database. The inspector opened some storage totes to find them empty or full of “waste material.” (The OLCC declined to disclose the records identifying the discrepancies to WW, noting they were exempt from public disclosure.)

Read the full report at 

https://www.wweek.com/news/2023/12/20/a-beverly-hills-lawyer-invested-in-oregon-weed-not-all-of-the-crop-seems-to-have-stayed-in-oregon/



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