Pubdate: Fri, 28 Feb 2014
Source: News Tribune, The (Tacoma, WA)
Copyright: 2014 Tacoma News, Inc.
Author: Rob Carson


Two Tacoma men associated with medical marijuana dispensaries in the 
South Sound were arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court, charged 
with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit 
money laundering.

James Canyon Lucas and Matthew Ira Eliott Roberts entered pleas of 
not guilty and were conditionally released, pending trial, by Judge 
Karen Strombom. A trial date was set for April 28 in Tacoma. Judge 
Ronald Leighton is scheduled to hear the case.

A third defendant, Lance Edward Gloor, did not appear in court and 
has a warrant out for his arrest. In addition to the first two 
charges, Gloor is charged with manufacturing marijuana and possession 
of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.

According to the federal government, the defendants were associated 
with medical marijuana dispensaries the Drug Enforcement Agency 
raided in fall 2011 and July 2013.

The trial promises to be closely watched because it's the first 
marijuana dispensary case filed by the federal government since the 
state voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2012.

Marijuana still is illegal under federal law, and despite some 
assurances of a hands-off position, it remains unclear where the U.S. 
Attorney's Office will draw the line in enforcing the federal 
Controlled Substances Act.

"Attorney General Eric Holder said he would leave the state alone," 
said Tacoma attorney Sunni Ko, who is representing Lucas. "Well, it 
doesn't look as if that's the case."

The federal indictment alleges the men's offenses involved 1,000 
kilograms or more of "a mixture or substance containing marijuana" 
and 1,000 or more marijuana plants - far more than allowed by state law.

At the time of the dispensary raids in 2011, Jenny Durkan, U.S. 
attorney for the Western District of Washington, said, "We will not 
prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that 
marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment. However, state laws of 
compassion were never intended to protect brash criminal conduct that 
masquerades as medical treatment."

According to the indictment, federal agents seized $216,485 in cash 
from Seattle Cross, doing business as Tacoma Cross on July 24, 2013.

On the same day they seized $1,178 from Key Peninsula Collective, 
doing business as KPN Cross; and $65,126.74 from a Seattle Cross bank 
checking account.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom