Tuesday, April 15, 2014

article: 420 reasons to Legalize

[originally published in Oak Leaf News April 14, 2014]
by Erik Jorgensen, Oak Leaf News Cannabis Correspondent

2013 Emerald Cup display at Sonoma County Fairgrounds
Writing about marijuana in a college newspaper is too passé to be cliché. Here in northern California it’s not news to write about medical marijuana dispensaries; Oak Leaf’s advertisers say it all.
Then a couple weeks ago State Senator Leland Yee got arrested on corruption charges for influencing marijuana legislation, among other things, which opened a can of worms. I’m not just pro-Legalization of cannabis; I’m anti- prohibitionist politician-parodies and privately-prison profiteers.
Yee took bribes to pass a reeferendum requiring a token on-site doctor at medical marijuana dispensaries, weeding out competition from smaller mom-and-pot shops. FBI narcs approached Yee posing as budding ganjapreneurs from Arizona with high hopes of growing into “the ‘Anheuser-Busch’ of medical marijuana” in California. Yee accepted about $20,00 into his Secretary of State campaign fund, telling undercover agents he could help with ballot initiatives in that role.
Now the smoke has cleared, Yee’s prohibitionism smells as dubious as a bag of catnip. When Yee legislated against firearms but got caught brokering a $2.5 million arms deal between FBI agents and terrorist groups, he profiteered from the same black market he legislated to maintain. Yee’s both-guns-blazing buzzkill against violent videogames would’ve created a demand for pirated videogames, but he has undermined his own motives.
If you have ever listened to an herbophile talk, eventually you’ll hear their paranoid delusion of a corporate conspiracy against cannabis by big businesses. Cannabis is the Latin name for plants like hemp, higher in useful fiber, and marijuana, with higher levels of active ingredient THC. Marijuana, they’ll say, is collateral damage in the War on Hemp waged by lobbyists for petroleum companies, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, cotton, the private prison industry and I forget what else. You might wonder what they’ve been smoking until Yee disproved their paranoia by providing proof of a plot.
Even worse, his “reverse-Robin Hood” sold out boot-strappy Californians for such a small contribution into his campaign fund. Not only is Yee corrupt, he doesn’t understand the value of a buck. I’m not sure which is worse.
2013 Emerald Cup entree #222.
Alcohol Prohibition did little but organize crime and corrupt police and politicians. The 21st Amendment generated tax revenue and created jobs. Last year Sonoma County’s wineries makers corked $1.2 billion while craft breweries bottled up another $123 million. Local marijuana growers trim their money trees by the sackful – but the federal government won’t let them pay taxes on it.
Marijuana is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule 1 substance with zero medical value. The FDA only approves research intended to prove marijuana’s harmfulness. Cherry-picked scientific “methodology” is worse than worthless; it is misleading government propaganda.
The White House is eager to move America forward into the 18th century, when George Washington and our founding fathers grew hemp. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at an April 4, 2013 congressional budget hearing. “We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled,”
2013 Emerald Cup entrees.
Colorado and Washington both puff-puff passed full legalization of recreational marijuana this year. Just last week Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession of 10 grams or less – barely enough for a joint, but a clear sign of marijuana’s increasingly lower legal priority among courts, police and the general public.
Twenty-one states now allow medical marijuana. Utah became the newest by passing “Charlee’s Law” March 13, 2014, named after the 6-year-old girl who died two days later. The new law allows concentrated CBD oil to be imported from Colorado to relieve severe epileptic seizures in children. While it doesn’t allow local cultivation, it’s a baby step in the right direction. Next thing you know, Utah will legalize dancing.
Mormon president Brigham Young had Utah pioneers growing hemp around Salt Lake City by 1853. The High Priest wrote in his Journal of Discourses that Utah was perfect for growing hemp, “It is better for each of us to raise about ten acres of wheat, and then devote the rest of our time to flax and hemp.” I guess that makes him the Johnny Appleseed of cannabis in Utah.

While I don’t usually agree with Mormon doctrine, Genesis 1:29 tells us, “God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.” If a Creator intelligently designed cannabis, what does that reveal about Prohibitionists like Yee?

article: GUILTY: Holzworth accept plea deal

[originally published in Oak Leaf News April 14, 2014]
by Erik Jorgensen, Courtroom Correspondent

Jeffrey and Karen Holzworth's  Feb. 20, 2013 arraignment.
Former campus cop Jeffrey Holzworth pleaded guilty to all charges of stealing $286,000 from Santa Rosa Junior College parking funds before his April 2, 2014 preliminary hearing. Holzworth accepted a plea deal for all 11 charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of grand theft by embezzlement, in exchange for a maximum four years in prison.
Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite accepted Holzworth’s plea deal, then continued the preliminary hearing for Holzworth’s wife Karen, facing charges of receiving stolen property and acting as an accessory.
The former 28-year veteran SRJC District Police held sole responsibility, without oversight, of collecting money from parking permit machines at all SRJC campuses. Prosecutors had bank records going back to 2005 of Holzworth’s suspicious cash deposit.
SRJC president Dr. Frank Chong said, “We have learned from this experience and have put safeguards in place to prevent this from occurring again.” Chong said Doug Roberts VP of finance and business services, obtained fraud insurance and SRJC has been reimbursed for the documented loss.
Co-worker Sgt. Stephen Potter observed bundled bills in the center console of Holzworth’s private vehicle and told his superiors. New SRJC District Police Chief Matthew McCaffrey contacted to Santa Rosa Police detective Mark Azzouni, who obtained two search warrants issued to Azzouni on Nov. 13, 2012 to place GPS trackers on Holzworth’s vehicles and check his credit report. Azzouni wrote in his affidavit, “It is my belief that Holzworth was removing monies from the parking permit machines and erasing the machines’ memory with [his] laptop computer,”
Before Holzworth’s April 2 preliminary hearing began, prosecution and defense attorneys conferred in Thistlethwaite’s chambers. At 10:36 a.m. Holzworth pleaded guilty to all felony charges, in exchange for a possible maximum sentence of four years in prison.
Passalacqua said outside the courtroom he will argue for probation. Holzworth has no prior criminal history, took full responsibility for a non-violent offense and “a contributing member to society and SRJC for some 28 years, until this last unfortunate financial situation came up.”
The preliminary hearing against Karen Holzworth continued without a break after Holzworth’s plea deal. Azzouni testified detectives found cash stashed “in all parts of the house;” in the kitchen, bedroom, garage, attic and crawlspace.
Records from two banks going back to 2005 showed both Holzworths regularly made deposit-withdrawals of large amounts of small bills exchanged for larger bills.
After a two-hour recess, Azzouni testified about 22 recorded jailhouse phone calls between the Holzworths and played. In one recording, “You told me to stop doing it, I didn’t listen. It’s all on me,” Holzworth said.
“Yes, but I knew about it so doesn’t that make it on me, too?” Karen said.
Boisseau said the recorded calls only showed Karen knew Holzworth stole from his job. “The prosecution’s case is built on a house of sand. They need more [proof] than just knowledge and participation.” Boisseau said the spouses had not been getting along for years except for living in the same house, and Holzworth had affairs with co-workers and went “to hookers.”
Thistlethwaite ruled Karen deposited cash with knowledge Holzworth “stole hand over fist from SRJC.” Karen continues to trial for one count of acting as an accessory, but Thistlethwaite dropped one of Karen’s three felony charges of receiving stolen property and reduced one to a misdemeanor.
The next step in Karen’s trial is a filing of information hearing 9 a.m. April 14.
Holzworth’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 29 in courtroom 2.

“I’m hoping we can put this terrible episode at the college behind us,” Chong said.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

article: Holzworth pleads guilty to parking meter thefts

(originally published in Oak Leaf News April 2, 2014)

Jeffrey Holzworth pleaded guilty to all charges at his April 2 preliminary hearing in a plea deal with a four-year maximum sentence for embezzling almost $300,000 from Santa Rosa Junior College parking meters. Holzworth accepted full responsibility for 11 counts of receiving stolen property and one count of embezzlement but the preliminary hearing continues for his wife Karen, still facing three charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of acting as an accessory.
Holzworth did not comment after the hearing. His sentencing is scheduled for May 29. Prosecutors want prison time for Holzworth but his attorney Joe Passalacqua plans to ask for probation.
Outside the courtroom Passalacqua said, “He’s taken full responsibility since the beginning, only The People are pursuing his wife who had nothing to do with it. That’s why the case didn’t resolve sooner.” Holzworth’s enhanced felony charges make him ineligible for probation. Passalacqua said the “presumptive preclusion” against probation could be overturned under unusual circumstances. “He’s 53 years old with no prior record,” Passalacqua said. “He’s been a contributing member of the SRJC community for 28 years, until this last unfortunate situation.”
Holzworth was SRJC’s May 2005 Employee of the Month and held sole responsibility, without oversight, of collecting money from SRJC’s parking meters and computerized parking permit machines. Prosecutors claim the 28-year SRJC District Police veteran embezzled nearly $300,000 since 2005, and enhanced grand theft charges against Holzworth for an amount over $150,000.
Santa Rosa Police detective Mark Azzouni served his search warrant on Holzworth’s personal and police vehicles, his work space and his house on Nov. 28, 2012. Detectives discovered several caches of coins and small bills totaling $14,259, including $2,622 in Holzworth’s personal possession when arrested. Azzouni testified at the April 2 preliminary hearing that detectives found cash and coins in “throughout the house,” in bedrooms, the garage and the kitchen.
            Azzouni described at the preliminary hearing how he reviewed bank accounts in the Holzworth’s names. Transaction records showed several cash deposits of large amounts of $1 and $5 bills accompanied by a withdrawal of the same amount in larger bills. Azzouni examined his notes to relate the number of such transactions each year going back to 2005, including 37 exchanges in 2012 alone.
The preliminary hearing against Karen Holzworth continued at 2:33 p.m. for three charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of acting as an accessory.
Azzouni testified about jailhouse recordings of 22 conversations between Holzworth and his wife. Two recorded conversations were played in the courtroom.
Holzworth said, “You told me to stop doing it; I didn’t listen. It’s all on me.”
Karen said, “Yes, but I knew about it so doesn’t that make it on me, too?”
Holzworth said they had been snowballing financially, and that he had been “trying to keep us afloat the last four or five years.”
Outside the courtroom Azzouni could not comment on the specific locations of any of the stashed cash his search warrant discovered. When the preliminary hearing continued, Azzouni testified detectives discovered coins and cash in several locations in the Holzworth’s kitchen, bedroom, garage, attic and crawlspace.
Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite found enough evidence to continue the trial against Karen Holzworth, but dropped one felony charge and reduced another to a misdemeanor. Karen will go to trial for one felony count of receiving stolen property, one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property and one count of acting as an accessory.
The next step in Karen Holzworth’s trial is a filing of information hearing at 9 a.m. April 14.