Couple plead not guilty to selling pot from Burlington skate shop

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Federal authorities have charged the owners of a Burlington skateboard shop with selling marijuana and edibles infused with THC from their business.

John Van Hazinga and Samantha Steady, owners of Ridin’ High on Pearl Street, pleaded not guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Prosecutors say Van Hazinga sold marijuana to an undercover officer multiple times and Steady made edible products infused with THC sold at the shop. Authorities say they seized more than 50 pot plants, over 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of marijuana and about $67,000 in cash after searching the couple’s Underhill home, the shop and a camp in Keene, New York, in August.

Vermont eliminated penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older in 2018. But there is no legal market for pot in the state, and the drug remains banned at the federal level.

An investigation was launched after witnesses reported that people at the Ridin’ High shop sold marijuana to teenagers, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont. Police also responded to multiple reports of disturbances, altercations and violence related to the marijuana sales, prosecutors said.

Steady was released with conditions, and Van Hazinga was ordered held pending a detention hearing, according to federal prosecutors.

Steady’s attorney, Tim Fair, said it was too early to comment on the case. He added that with the opioid epidemic taking people’s lives, “I’m a little curious to wonder why law enforcement and prosecutorial resources are being used on something like cannabis.”

He said Steady is a medical marijuana registry patient, which allows her to grow seven immature plants and two mature plants.

A message was left with Van Hazinga’s attorney.

U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan said in written statement that the arrests send a message that “open and notorious trafficking of marijuana will not be tolerated.”

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