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American Scene: Feds continue crackdown on marijuana facilities

SAN FRANCISCO — An Oakland medical-marijuana dispensary that has been billed as the largest pot shop on the planet has been targeted for closure by federal prosecutors in Northern California, suggesting that a crackdown on the state’s medical-marijuana industry remains well under way.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has threatened to seize the Oakland property where Harborside Health Center has operated since 2006, as well as its sister shop in San Jose, executive director and co-founder Steve DeAngelo said Wednesday.

His employees found court papers announcing asset-forfeiture proceedings against Harborside’s landlords taped to the doors at the two locations on Tuesday.

Although medical marijuana is legal in California, a federal court complaint that Ms. Haag’s office filed Sunday says the dispensaries are violating federal law by selling marijuana.

It cites a federal law that “makes it unlawful to rent, lease, profit from or make available for use, with or without compensation, a place for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing, storing, distributing or using a controlled substance, to wit, marijuana,” as justification for going after the landlords.

UTAH

Arcing power lines caused Utah wildfire, investigator says

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah wildfire that left one man dead, scorched 75 square miles and destroyed 160 structures, including 52 homes, was caused by arcing between power transmission lines that were built too closely together and sent a surge to the ground that ignited dry grass, a fire investigator said Wednesday.

The central Utah Wood Hollow Fire began June 23 and wasn’t fully contained for 10 days, costing nearly $4 million to fight, according to state officials. The blaze began when winds caused two sets of high-voltage power lines to either touch or swing close enough to each other to create a surge than swept down the poles into dry brush, Deputy Utah Fire Marshal Troy Mills said.

Rocky Mountain Power, which owns the lines, said a thief stripped protective cooper wire from its poles that may have prevented the surge.

CALIFORNIA

City of San Bernardino opts for bankruptcy filing

SAN BERNARDINO — As recently as last month, no city in California had opted for bankruptcy since 2008, and no U.S. city of more than 200,000 people had ever chosen that route.

The past two weeks have changed that, as the fiscal struggles faced by many American cities became too much for some to bear. San Bernardino became the third California city in that small span to choose Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection with a City Council vote on Tuesday night.

The Southern California city of about 210,000 people will also become the second largest in the nation ever to file for bankruptcy. Stockton, the Northern California city of nearly 300,000, became the biggest when it filed for Chapter 9 on June 28. The much smaller city of Mammoth Lakes voted for bankruptcy July 3.

San Bernardino’s City Council directed the city attorney to make the move during a meeting in which administrators explained the dire fiscal circumstances and urged them to choose the bankruptcy option.

“We have an immediate cash flow issue,” Interim City Manager Andrea Miller told Mayor Patrick Morris and the seven-member City Council, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Miss Miller said the city is facing a budget shortfall of $45.8 million. It already has stopped paying some vendors, and it may not be able to make payroll over the next three months.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lawyer says man denies enslaving, torturing wife

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