CASTRO VALLEY — A cell phone violation Saturday led to the seizure of 320 pounds of marijuana, more than $1 million in cash and the arrest of two men, authorities said Monday.

Both the weed confiscation, worth an estimated $1 million plus in street value, and the cash seized, are among the largest ever made by the Alameda County Narcotics Task Force, officials said.

The suspects’ downfall began Saturday when a California Highway Patrol officer tried to pull over a van on I-580 in Castro Valley for a cell phone violation.  During the stop, a car cut in front of the CHP vehicle to create a distraction so the van could get away, according to the Alameda County sheriff’s office which has supervision over the task force.

Both suspect vehicles tried to flee but were stopped on city streets by the CHP.

Inside the van officers found 200 pounds of marijuana and eight more pounds in the car.

The task force was brought into the investigation and it learned that the men were connected to some storage lockers in Alameda.

Task force members along with a sheriff’s office canine  searched the storage units and found the additional marijuana which had been processed for sale, a suitcase containing the cash and marijuana growing equipment.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Monday that even though there are legalized uses of marijuana, the amount seized Saturday shows that  it is a “lucrative business with a robust underground trade” that has inherent dangers like robberies, shootings and  sometimes killings.

The two men were arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale and transporting of marijuana.

— Bay Area News Group

A Washington state cannabis dispensary was awakened from a sleepy Sunday afternoon last week by a driver whose accelerator got stuck, sending his SUV crashing into the building and through a wall.

The Seattle Times reports that the PuffNChill dispensary in Snohomish County was damaged in the crash, but manager Curtis Dong still considered himself lucky. Surveillance video of the crash shows Dong standing near the wall as the driver comes crashing through, knocking a shelf down over Dong and causing a falling television to just barely graze his head.

“If I was a foot to the right I wouldn’t be talking to you now,” he told the Times on Monday.

The driver was not cited in the crash; a police spokeswoman said it didn’t appear he had committed a crime.

A PuffNChill budtender told the Times that the driver bought a joint of Blueberry strain to complete his visit.

Watch the video:

— Daniel M. Jimenez, Cannifornian staff

DENVER — A Denver man who claimed that eating marijuana-infused candy led him to kill his wife was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison in a case that helped raise concerns about the potency of pot edibles.

Richard Kirk, 50, was charged in the April 2014 shooting of Kristine Kirk at the couple’s home. Moments before he shot her in the head, Kristine Kirk told a 911 dispatcher her husband was hallucinating and was getting a gun after eating pot candy.

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Denver Police Department shows Richard Kirk. Kirk, of Denver, claimed that eating marijuana-infused candy led him to kill his wife. (AP Photo/Denver Police Department, File)

Kirk initially pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder but right before he was about to go on trial in 2015, he changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming that he was intoxicated with THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient.

In February, he agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in a deal with prosecutors, avoiding a potential life sentence that could have come with a conviction on the more serious charge.

Prosecutor Helen Morgan said after Friday’s hearing that Kirk’s use of marijuana played a role in deciding to broker a plea deal.

“There were a myriad of factors that went into it, but it was certainly one of them. One of many,” she said.

Kirk’s attorneys sought lenience on the grounds that he had consumed THC to relieve back pain and it had severely impaired his judgment. They also argued he suffered “involuntary intoxication” because he did not know he was at high risk for marijuana psychosis due to schizophrenia in his extended family.

Authorities have said low levels of THC were found in Kirk’s blood, and a partially eaten piece of marijuana candy was found in the house. But they have not said what role, if any, they thought pot played in the shooting.

Last year, the Kohnkes sued two marijuana businesses that sold candy to Richard Kirk, saying they failed to warn him about its potency and possible side effects.

In response to the Kirk case and the death of a Wyoming college student who jumped from a hotel balcony after eating a potent marijuana cookie, Colorado lawmakers tightened regulations on marijuana snacks that became popular after the state legalized recreational marijuana stores. The state also now has stricter limits on how much marijuana they can contain and tougher labeling requirements.

— Associated Press


News in pictures

In this Tuesday, March 28, 2017 photo, U.S. Border Patrol agents carry bales of marijuana they found along the highway near Ryan, Texas, about 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. One agent said, “They (the smugglers) just leave it and come back another day. It’s going to be sad when they come back for it.” Drug interdiction is a core mission for the Border Patrol. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)


ATTLEBORO, Mass. — A Massachusetts Uber driver charged with pointing a gun at a passenger during a dispute over smoking marijuana in his car has pleaded not guilty.

The Sun Chronicle reports that 25-year-old Jacques Daaboul, of Norwood, entered the plea last week in Attleboro District Court to a charge of assault by means of a dangerous weapon.

Police say the disagreement happened March 4 on Interstate 95 in Attleboro.

Daaboul’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, says his client stopped his vehicle when his four passengers continued smoking marijuana after he asked them to stop.

Cataldo says the passengers refused to leave the vehicle so Daaboul told them he was armed and had a license to carry. But the attorney denies Daaboul pointed the weapon at anyone.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for June 30.

— Associated Press

PLEASANT MOUNT, Pa. — Officers checking on the welfare of a resident stumbled upon a possible homicide, an apparent suicide and a large-scale marijuana growing operation, authorities said.

State police in Lackawanna County said officers went Monday morning to a home in Mount Pleasant Township in the northeastern corner of the state, to find property owner Joseph Mastropole after a woman in New York called with concerns about his welfare.

Police spokesman Mark Keyes said a man at the door gave them a false name, said he was a roommate and hadn’t seen the 54-year-old Mastropole. On a second visit, police saw a barn with signs of a lot of ventilation and smelled a strong odor of marijuana, so they came back shortly before 3:30 p.m. Monday with a warrant. Knocking on the door of the home, they heard a gunshot and called for a special tactical unit, which later entered and found the body of 57-year-old Gaston Gomez, dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In the barn, police found more than 100 marijuana plants and a smoldering burn barrel containing suspected remains which a forensic specialist said appeared to be human. More remains were found in the house, and an autopsy is scheduled Wednesday. Investigators are trying to determine whether the remains are those of one person or more, what was the cause of death and whether any of the remains are those of Mastropole, who is considered missing, Keyes said.

— Associated Press