A Melbourne, Florida couple accused of selling “licenses” to purchase pot at $350 a pop made their first appearances in court today. Look closely at the photo, and you see the “registry” number on the license to sell is “420-007”. The first three numbers are obviously in honor of the group of stoner students in California who, according to legend, every day after school at 4:20 p.m. met to get high. The last three, ‘007’ need no explanation. But this was no secret service, and the couple have been arrested, since it is still illegal to buy and sell pot the state of Florida.
The arrest of Ray Edward Cunningham, 62, and Margherita Cunningham, 61, of Indialantic, concluded a months-long investigation on suspicion that they were selling fraudulent “licenses” to purchase marijuana. Reportedly, Cunningham was telling those who purchased the bogus cards that they were able to possess a certain amount of marijuana if they had one.
According to the Melbourne police department, who were assisted in the investigation with the Florida Department of Health, the couple were using a variety of methods to distribute the pot. At an office in downtown Melbourne, police say Cunningham and his wife Margherita would sell marijuana as a cure for just about anything.
Allegedly, on 10 separate occasions, the couple sold marijuana under the guise of a medical certification as a “caregiver,” with Ray Cunningham issuing medical certifications for patients to possess pot. Police say the Cunninghams made a lot of money selling these fake certificates.
There is certainly a great deal of money to be made in the medical marijuana industry. On April 22, the state of Colorado, where it is legal, reported it is trying to determine what to do with the $58 million in pot tax refunds. State lawmakers there want to keep the money and are putting it to a vote for the citizens to decide. If approved, public school construction will get $40 million, with the remaining $12 million going to a variety of other beneficiaries including law enforcement and youth programs. $6 million would remain in the general fund.
Willie Nelson is legally in the game, planning to market his brand of pot called “Willie’s Reserve” in Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana is legal. Florida has currently a pair of bills for legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana making their way through the Senate. Backers of the bills hope that, though the initiative failed the first time last November, this time around, the reality for the medical necessity of its use will help the bills prevail.
According to the police report, Ray Cunningham faces multiple charges:
- Unlicensed practice of a health care profession
- Practicing medicine without a license
- Obtaining property by false personation
- Sale of cannabis
- Possession of cannabis with intent to sell
- Possession of cannabis more than 20 grams
- Use and display of official County seal
Margherita Cunningham was charged with scheme to defraud, sale of cannabis, possession of cannabis with intent to sell and possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis. A judge has ordered them held on 35-thousand dollars bond.
The Melbourne Police Department is asking those who purchased one of Cunningham’s fraudulent cards to come forward and help in Mr. Cunningham’s prosecution, and are warning the purchasers that they do not give anyone the authority to legally possess marijuana. Anyone with information on the sale or purchase of these ‘licenses’ is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.