Client Released on Bail for Federal Marijuana Case

I previously wrote that there was a marijuana bust in Auburn, including the seizure of several Lamborghinis.

I have been hired to represent one of the parties to the case.  While the other party remains in jail, I am pleased to report that my Client has been released on bail.

Feds Bust Maine Marijuana Caregiver in Raid

From the Lewiston Sun Journal:

Lewiston man charged as state, federal officials seize pot plants, luxury cars, in raids
Richard ‘Stitch’ Daniels, 52, is charged with marijuana trafficking and butane hash oil manufacturing and officers towed multiple cars, including a Lamborghini Huracan and a Nissan GT-R, from a residence.

LEWISTON — A Lewiston man was ordered held without bail Tuesday on charges of marijuana trafficking and butane hash oil manufacturing following a series of morning raids by state and federal law enforcement officers in multiple locations in Lewiston and Auburn.

Richard “Stitch” Daniels, 52, was charged in U.S. District Court on Tuesday with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and manufacturing butane hash oil.

The raids, including at a home on Danville Corner Road in Auburn and at a warehouse at 1830 Lisbon St. in Lewiston, stemmed from an investigation into a trafficking organization in Lewiston-Auburn, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The complaint alleges that the drug trafficking organization grew and distributed large quantities of marijuana under the cover of Maine’s medical marijuana program, but sold marijuana to buyers who were not participants in the program and included out-of-state customers.

The organization also grew marijuana as a precursor to manufacturing marijuana concentrates known as butane hash oil and shatter, a product made from butane hash oil, officials said.

The raid comes weeks after U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank said, in response to questions about whether his office would change its approach to enforcing federal laws against marijuana possession and use, that while such cases have not been a priority, he couldn’t say that would continue.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year repealed an Obama administration policy that said the federal government would not pursue those cases in most circumstances.

The Obama policy was adopted as more states were making the sale and use of small amounts of marijuana legal for recreational or medical purposes.

In Maine, both medical marijuana and recreational use by adults over 21 is legal, although state officials are still working out the details on how to regulate sales of recreational marijuana. Frank’s statement did not provide much clarity for medical marijuana businesses that are already operating, or for the emerging market for recreational marijuana, which has the potential to be a multimillion dollar industry in Maine.

Frank said in January that growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is illegal under federal law and “my job is to enforce federal law, not countermand it.”

Frank also said that while he has some discretion in determining whether to prosecute a case, “I do not have the authority to categorically declare that my office will not prosecute a class of crime or persons.”

In light of Session’s decision, Frank said, his office will operate on a case-by-case basis, balancing the Justice Department’s policies and his office’s resources.

He went on to list the department’s priorities and did not include enforcing marijuana laws among them.

“This office has prioritized the prosecution of cases involving the trafficking of opiates, cocaine, crack and similar hard drugs,” he said. “We have also prosecuted large-scale marijuana distribution organizations and did so even while operating under the recently rescinded DOJ guidance. Prosecution of drug possession cases has not been a priority.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said more than 20 search warrants were executed in Tuesday’s raid, including at Daniels’ home and garage. Agents seized over 50 kilograms of marijuana, six mason jars filled with butane hash oil, and a kilogram of shatter. Daniels’ garage contained a butane hash oil laboratory.

Daniels was ordered held without bail Tuesday afternoon by Judge Magistrate John Rich, who set a bail and probable cause hearing for Friday morning.

Daniels, shackled and dressed in a black T-shirt and black pants, said little but indicated he may want a new lawyer.

He was represented during the hearing Tuesday by Neal Stillman, but Daniels told Rich he wants a lawyer who “specializes” in his type of case.

If convicted, Daniels faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The Lisbon Street location is also home to Euro Motors Auto Sales.

At the warehouse, officers were seen piling freshly-pulled marijuana plants outside the building just after 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The property is owned by 1830 Lisbon Street LLC. According to city records, the principal owner of that company is Timothy Veilleux of Auburn.

Marijuana plants were also being pulled from a building at 555 Lincoln St. in Lewiston and stacked on a receiving dock outside, and at a garage at 17 Bridge St., also in Lewiston, where they are being piled in the driveway. The garage is accessible by a private road tucked between houses located at 13 and 19 Bridge St.
The Lincoln Street business – Ben Alpren Machine & Tool – is also owned by Veilleux. The garage on Bridge Street is owned by Comvest Inc., another company owned by Veilleux.

Officers were also working at a private home on Merrow Road in Auburn.

At the home on Danville Corner Road, officers could be seen prepping multiple cars for towing, including a Lamborghini Huracan, valued at close to $200,000, and a late-model Nissan GT-R, valued at about $175,000.

According to city records, that property is owned by Brian Bilodeau.

Involved in the raids were Maine State Police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.

All requests for information were referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Don Clark, the public information officer for that office, said Tuesday morning he could not comment on “whether an investigation is being conducted” in Lewiston and Auburn.

Tuesday’s raid come a month after federal officials also raided another, large marijuana-growing operation in the Waldo County town of Frankfort.

Nicholas Reynolds, 33, pleaded guilty in January in U.S. District Court in Bangor to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, according to a statement issued by Frank.

Court records state that between October 2010 and August 2016 Reynolds conspired with others to illegally manufacture and distribute marijuana.

Frank said Reynolds grew marijuana at a “large, sophisticated indoor growing facility in Frankfort, Maine, which he was told was an illegal medical marijuana grow.”

Frank said that federal drug enforcement agents executed a search warrant at the site on May 12, 2016, and seized about 400 marijuana plants, 295 marijuana root balls and paraphernalia used to grow and process marijuana.


Marijuana Social Clubs Banned in Maine Until 2023

From today’s Portland Press Herald, online at

Legalization panel makes concession, votes to delay social cannabis clubs until 2023


By Penelope Overton January 16, 2018

In their first major concession to Gov. Paul LePage, lawmakers crafting rules for Maine’s legal adult-use cannabis industry agreed Tuesday to ban social clubs until 2023.

The Legislature’s Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee voted 5-1 to delay social club licensing for five years in hopes of pacifying those who last year voted against a bill that would have launched the state’s recreational market. Committee members said they don’t want Maine to lead the way on social clubs, and would prefer to learn from the experience of other states before implementing their own rules.

“Other states have wanted to do it, but they still haven’t,” said Sen. Joyce Maker, R-Calais. “We need to get (the bill) passed, then we need to find out what the problems with social clubs might be. (An extension) will give us time to know what we’re doing. I feel that it is imperative that we do the right thing, and we don’t know enough to do the right thing now. This way, we’d have the bill done, our rules made, and then if we want to go ahead with social clubs, we can.”

A final vote on the legislation is not expected before February.

The committee’s first bill would have begun the licensing of commercial cultivation, manufacturing and sales in 2018, but pushed the beginning of social club licensing off until June 2019. That bill passed both houses of the Legislature but was vetoed by LePage, who worried that a state recreational market would violate federal law, lead to an increase in impaired driving, not generate enough revenue to pay for itself and send the wrong message to young people.

Although the governor didn’t mention social clubs, committee leaders believe social club licensing figured into LePage’s concerns about impaired driving. After all, those who consume marijuana in a social club eventually have to leave, critics say. They say some lawmakers who voted against last year’s bill – it fell 17 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto – were hesitant about Maine becoming the first state in the nation to legalize social clubs.

“I think we really need them – ultimately, people need a place to go – but if this is a part of moving this bill forward, I’m in agreement,” said Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York.


With a delay, Maine lawmakers will be able to learn from the experience of Massachusetts, the first state to create a policy allowing for public marijuana use, and cities in Colorado, Nevada and California, where local municipalities can approve social clubs because state laws do not expressly forbid them or license them. In Massachusetts, where recreational sales are set to begin in July, the state cannabis commission in December approved a marijuana café policy.

Denver voters approved an ordinance allowing customers to use marijuana in permitted cafés and restaurants in 2016, with smoking allowed outside in designated areas and smokeless consumption allowed indoors. But demanding conditions, including a ban on the sale of alcohol in these permitted marijuana clubs, and zoning restrictions that prohibit them within 1,000 feet of schools, recovery centers or day care facilities, meant it took a full year before someone applied for the first public-use license.

That first application – filed by a businesswoman who wants to open a marijuana café right next door to her recreational dispensary – is still pending.

Maine social club supporters lamented the committee’s concession Tuesday. They argue that Maine voters approved social clubs at referendum in 2016 and lawmakers should respect that rather than try to repeatedly delay them. Many complained last year when the committee voted to single out social clubs for a different time line than other parts of the Marijuana Legalization Act, and then again when it voted to restrict social club marijuana use to smokeless consumption only.

Social clubs are to marijuana what bars are to alcohol, advocates argued. If one is permitted, taxed and regulated, the other should be, too.

They noted the committee decision was made by just six out of the 17 members, and hope that the full committee will reconsider the decision before a final vote on the legislation. Many committee members have other committee assignments that demand their attention on Tuesdays, forcing some to attend, leave and rejoin Tuesday workshop sessions, a committee clerk said.

“If the committee’s straw vote remains, Maine adults will have to wait at least five years before their decision to allow limited social consumption of marijuana is finally implemented,” said David Boyer, director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project. “This decision encourages tourists and otherwise law-abiding adults to break the law and consume marijuana in public. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, adults will be trusted enough to consume marijuana socially as soon as this summer.”


Other legalization supporters say that delaying social club licensing is “one part of a many-part process to get to ‘yes,’ ” said Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, the marijuana advocacy group that wrote the Marijuana Legalization Act citizen initiative approved by voters at referendum. Rep. Don Marean, R-Hollis, said the 2023 delay “will make this much easier to sell in my caucus” – the House Republican faction that upheld LePage’s veto last fall.

“This moratorium will give us breathing room,” Marean said. “This sends a strong message that we, too, are concerned about social clubs and we want to give the industry plenty of time to get their feet on the ground.”

Social club opponents, including some of Maine’s leading anti-legalization advocates, cheered the committee decision.

“What this will do is keep Maine’s roads safer,” said Scott Gagnon, an addiction prevention specialist and director of the Maine chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “It is unwise to encourage people to drive to premises to consume marijuana until we have reliable, science-based technology or protocols to test impairment.”