Pot Candy Maker Out On $300,000 Bail

October 03, 2007

, KTVU TV2 (San Francisco)

The founder of an Oakland food factory that laces everything from cookies to barbecue sauce with marijuana surrendered Thursday to face a federal drug charge.

Michael Martin, 33, was freed on $300,000 bond.

Federal drug agents last week raided Tainted Inc. in Oakland and arrested three of Martin's employees on drug charges for allegedly producing such marijuana-laced products as honey, soda and other snacks.

Martin's employees were arrested during the raids, but federal officials couldn't find Martin and considered him a fugitive. Martin said he was on vacation and arranged to turn himself in once he heard of the raids, according to his supporters.

Authorities said they seized several laced products during the raids.

Martin's attorney Sara Zalkin didn't return a telephone call.

Martin's supporters with the nonprofit Safe Access Now organization said he was making the products for medical marijuana clubs in California.

State law has legalized marijuana use to treat medical conditions, but federal law bans the plant's use for all purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federal law trumps state law when it comes to medical marijuana.

According to the search warrants, Tainted Inc.'s products first came to the attention of investigators in April 2004 when an internal Drug Enforcement Administration publication reported that agents had recently seized marijuana-laced candy bars called Buddafingas and Stoners that were wrapped in packages mimicking the popular brands Butterfingers and Snickers. The article put out a call for the identity of the laced candies' maker.

In March 2005, according to a court document filed by DEA agent William Armstrong, an anonymous e-mail to the DEA fingered Martin's Tainted Inc. as the candies' source.

The DEA launched its investigation two months later and employed a paid informant who knew Martin to help, according to the document. The informant bought $1,260 worth of Tainted products, including Stoner bars priced at $4 each, Mr. Greenbud bars at $8 each and $20 jars of laced peanut butter, according to the document.

The DEA also said that Tainted Inc. has purchased close to four tons of chocolate for about $14,600 from Guittard Chocolate Co. in the last two years.

The three others charged along with Martin are Jessica Sanders, Michael Anderson, and Diallo McLinn. All are free.

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