Attorney says marijuana wrongly classified as dangerous drug, federal prosecution unfair

Posted on June 21, 2014. Filed under: Marijuana & the Law | Tags: , , , , , , |


 

 

By John Agar | jagar@mlive.com
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on June 20, 2014 at 7:53 AM, updated June 20, 2014 at 11:20 AM

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A West Michigan man facing federal marijuana charges has filed a constitutional challenge based, in part, on disparate federal prosecution in different states.

Shawn Taylor, the alleged leader of a marijuana grow operation, also argues that marijuana has medicinal value and should not be classified as a Schedule 1 drug – the designation for the most dangerous drugs.

Taylor is seeking an evidentiary hearing on the issues before U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids.

“We’re raising arguments that have really never been raised before in a federal marijuana case,” former Kalamazoo attorney John Targowski, now practicing in Santa Monica, Calif., said on Thursday, June 19, after he filed an 86-page brief on behalf of his client.

“We’re arguing that cannabis is wrongly scheduled – it has medicinal value,” Targowski said.

Related: DEA uses search warrants, wire taps and sources in arrests of 37 in medical marijuana ‘ruse’

Related: Michigan’s medical marijuana law no defense in multi-county marijuana case, attorney says

Taylor is one of 37 people arrested for alleged roles in grow operations in Kent, Muskegon, Oceana and Ottawa counties and Traverse City.

Targowski said that a U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act should have bearing on marijuana cases.

“Recognizing the historical support for defining marriage as between one man and one woman, the court determined that it was the duty of the judiciary to rectify past misperceptions which result in constitutionally unsound legislation,” Targowski wrote in court documents.

“Like the long held beliefs regarding the marital relationship, the long held beliefs about the effects of marijuana have evolved. While the former evolution has been the result of societal ideologies, the latter is predicated on scientific evidence, and therefore, can be more readily established through an evidentiary hearing.”

Targowski has asked that Jonker consider declarations of three experts, including a former FBI supervisor and a physician, to establish there is no rational basis to treat marijuana as a controlled substance. Medical science has documented that “marijuana has a notably low potential for abuse,” Targowski wrote.

He said the Supreme Court has acknowledged its medical value.

“Compared to other over-the-counter substances, cannabis has the lowest potential for abuse, as it is impossible to die from an overdose: further, no studies have proven that the use of cannabis causes harms similar to those caused by the use of common over-the-counter medications, even at recommended dosages,” he wrote.

“In effect, the facts upon which marijuana was scheduled as one of the most dangerous narcotics in 1970 have been disproven.”

He also said that the government’s policy of not prosecuting those who comply with their state’s medical marijuana laws amounts to unequal prosecution based on where people live.

“The policy statement presented in the memorandum to U.S. Attorneys from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, issued on Aug. 29, 2013, by Attorney General Eric Holder has resulted in a discriminatory application of federal law, in that it protects similarly situated individuals from criminal sanctions for actions identical to that alleged to have been conducted by the defendant, and therefore violates the Equal Protection Clause,” Targowski wrote.

The government contends Taylor ran a large-scale drug operation that sold marijuana in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. He worked with a doctor for “certification clinics” for alleged patients, police said.

The government said Taylor used the state’s medical marijuana law as a ruse.

The government said that the state’s medical marijuana law is not a defense in federal court, and Taylor’s operation was not in compliance with state law, records showed.

John Agar covers crime for MLive/Grand Rapids Press E-mail John Agar: jagar@mlive.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ReporterJAgar

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Marijuana food safety new frontier for officials

Posted on June 21, 2014. Filed under: Corporate Cannabis, FDA | Tags: , , , , , , |


By Kristen Wyatt   | Associated Press   June 21, 2014

DENVER — The marijuana in those pot brownies isn’t the only thing that can potentially make consumers sick. The industry and regulators are taking a closer look at how marijuana-infused edibles are made.

The thriving edible marijuana industry in Colorado is preparing for new testing requirements — due to take in effect in October — to make sure the products are safe to eat and drink.

While consuming too much of an edible has been connected to at least one death and a handful of hospital visits since retail recreational sales of marijuana began in January, officials say there have been no reports of anyone getting a food-borne illness from edibles.

Still, activists, producers, and officials agree that safety testing is long overdue for a sector of the new marijuana market that, according to one industry estimate, has seen the sale of at least 8 million pieces this year.

Food safety testing is necessary ‘‘to building any sort of credibility for the industry . . . to create that public confidence that we’re not just a bunch of stupid kids throwing marijuana into cookies and putting them on the market,’’ said Jazzmine Hall-Oldham, general manager of Bakked, which makes cannabis concentrates and marijuana-infused chocolate bars.

With federal help in regulating production nonexistent because the drug is illegal under federal law, state and local governments have had to assemble a patchwork of health and safety regulations for foods with cannabis.

The agency that regulates Colorado’s marijuana industry, the state Department of Revenue, requires marijuana manufacturing facilities to meet the same sanitation requirements as retail food establishments, including adequate hand-washing and refrigeration.

But the question of whether the state’s 51 licensed recreational edible-marijuana makers meet those standards is left to local health departments, said agency spokeswoman Natriece Bryant. State regulations requiring them also to pass tests for common food contaminants — such as E. coli and salmonella — don’t take effect until the fall.

In Washington state, where retail sales are expected to begin the week of July 7, regulations call for samples of all marijuana sold for consumption to clear a ‘‘microbiological screening,’’ whether it’s in edible, smokeable, or concentrate form.

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Pope Francis Speaks Out Against Legalization of Marijuana and Other Drugs

Posted on June 21, 2014. Filed under: Medical Marijuana, Political, Religion and Law | Tags: , , , |


By Kira Bindrim

Pope Francis April 10

 

Filed Under: World, Pope Francis, Marijuana, Religion

After a several-week absence from the media spotlight, Pope Francis emerged on Friday as a speaker at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, where he said he was opposed to the legalization of drugs—including marijuana—for recreational use.

"The scourge of drug use continues to spread inexorably, fed by a deplorable commerce which transcends national and continental borders," Francis told conference participants. "Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce desired effects."

While Francis has sometimes surprised constituents with his progressive views—on homosexuality, atheism and capitalism, for example—his stance on marijuana legalization, at least, is at odds with a growing push for it. In December, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the drug (Francis is from nearby Buenos Aires, Argentina). That law included regulation of the cultivation, production, storage, sale and distribution of marijuana, as well as an official registry of users’ consumption.

"We will be able to get more information about the consequences of different alternatives," Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Group, told Newsweek at the time.

Earlier this month, Jamaica said it would legalize medical marijuana, and allow possession of up to two ounces of the drug for recreational use. In the United States, two states—Colorado and Washington—have legalized marijuana. Alaska could vote on legalization in November, and Oregon may vote on a similar measure later this year. Twenty-two states have legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes—New York is poised to become the 23rd—and 16 have decriminalized it, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). In October 2013, a Gallup poll found that for the first time, a majority of Americans believe the drug should be legalized: 58 percent, compared with just 12 percent in 1969, the first time the question was asked.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but in May the House voted to restrict the DEA from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana outfits. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a similar amendment in the Senate this week.

Pope Francis has spoken out against drug legalization in the past, and has visited with addicts both as Pope and when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. "A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use," he said during a speech at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last year. "Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future."

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Emery said he holds a “moral objection” against individuals who once helped imprison people for petty drug offences now profiting off the sale of marijuana.

Posted on June 17, 2014. Filed under: Cannabis Culture | Tags: , , , , , |


Marc Emery’s top picks for Canadian politicians go to the Greens and NDP. But he doesn’t want you to vote for either of those parties in next year’s federal election.

 

“Elizabeth May and Libby Davies are two of my favourite MPs,” Emery told the Straight. “But there is a time when you have to make decisions about what’s really important, and stopping Stephen Harper and replacing his government is the ultimate priority.”

Emery was speaking from Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi, where he’s serving the final month of a five-year sentence for selling cannabis seeds. In a wide-ranging telephone interview, the so-called Prince of Pot said a voter drive will be at the centre of a cross-country tour he’s planned for the fall of 2015.

“We’ll be trying to get young people out,” Emery continued. “It’s really important to motivate them to go out and vote for the Liberal party, because they could also split the vote between the Greens and the NDP, and I really don’t want to see that happen.”

Emery’s relatively-newfound support for the Liberals is firmly rooted in his life’s work aimed at ending the prohibition of marijuana. In November 2012, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau revealed that he was a “huge supporter of decriminalization”, and that he wanted Canada to take a serious look at legalizing and regulating the drug.

Emery described Trudeau’s position as “courageous and unprecedented”.

“Normally, they all wait until they’ve retired out of politics before they advocate the legalization route,” he explained. “Justin Trudeau is the only leader of a Canadian political party with any chance of forming the government who’s ever done this. I thought it was pretty brave of him.”

Criticizing a system of prohibition

Emery didn’t have such kind words for every politician who’s made an about-face on marijuana.

In May 2014, two former high-profile B.C. politicians announced they were going to work in Canada’s booming medicinal marijuana industry. First, the province’s former top cop, Kash Heed, signed on as a security consultant for medical growers. A couple of weeks later, ex-premier Mike Harcourt took a position as chairperson of True Leaf Medicine Inc.

Emery said he holds a “moral objection” against individuals who once helped imprison people for petty drug offences now profiting off the sale of marijuana.

“While they were in charge of administrations, they busted hundreds, if not thousands of people,” he said. “They’ve never apologized for what they did….And now here our oppressors are actually taking financial advantage.”

According to Emery, the larger issue is the legitimization of the Conservative government’s Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), and how those rules are being used to maintain a system of prohibition.

As of April 1, 2014, medicinal marijuana licence holders previously allowed to grow their own medicine were only permitted to purchase dried cannabis via mail order from large-scale producers. (The implementation of certain MMAR provisions has since been delayed by a court challenge and interim injunction.)

Emery argued this new system extends “extraordinary privilege” to a small group of corporations while “disenfranchising and marginalizing” people who grow small amounts of marijuana for private consumption.

“This whole medicinal marijuana business just reeks of hypocrisy,” Emery concluded. “Either we’re free and autonomous individuals who can put in our bodies what we want, or we’re not. This idea that there are somehow citizens with superior rights to others is ridiculous and unacceptable.”

Emery also described the MMAR as a form of cooptation. He predicted that companies with licences to grow medicinal marijuana could soon act as a “bulwark against legalization”.

“They’re not going to want to give up their special privilege,” Emery explained. “I fear that’s what the Conservatives have deliberately created.”

A cross-country tour in 2015

Emery is scheduled for release on July 10.

On that day, prison officials will turn him over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ahead of his pending return to Canada. It’s unknown how long he’ll be in the custody of ICE. Emery said it could take days, weeks, or more than a month, depending on the pace at which a bureaucracy processes his case.

His return to Canada will therefore likely happen in the late summer, at the border crossing at Windsor, Ontario. From there, he’ll travel to London for a few days with family. Next up are public parties planned for Toronto and then Vancouver. Emery said he’ll then be leaving Canada for an international speaking tour and vacation with his wife, Jodie.

The couple’s itinerary includes Spain, France, Ireland, and Austria, after which they will return to Vancouver. A second trip abroad planned for 2015 is expected to take them to Jamaica, Uruguay, Argentina, and South Africa.

By that time, Canada will be preparing for the 2015 federal election, which Emery said will see him and Jodie make a 30-stop cross-country tour beginning in early September.

Asked if he was at all concerned the marijuana issue could backfire and become a liability for the federal Liberals, Emery argued that Trudeau has taken a position that has growing support from the public.

“For the first time in 40 years, the majority of Canadians are highly sympathetic to my point of view,” he said.

Emery claimed he has no plans to run for office, but stated he expects politics to still consume the majority of his time once he’s free.

“Getting rid of Stephen Harper and making sure Justin Trudeau is elected along with the Liberal party is a pretty major job,” Emery said. "Really, the only job that I’m going to have in the next year.”

Follow Travis Lupick on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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30 Members Of Congress Demand Increased Access To Marijuana For Research Purposes

Posted on June 17, 2014. Filed under: Marijuana & the Law, Political | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |


 Matt Ferner

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 Matt.Ferner@huffingtonpost.com

 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Thirty members of Congress, led by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Tuesday demanding an end to the federal monopoly on marijuana research so that more studies can be done by scientists around the nation.

"We write to express our support for increasing scientific research on the therapeutic risks and benefits of marijuana," the letter reads. "We ask that you take measures to ensure that any non-National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded researcher who has acquired necessary Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Institutional Review Board (IRB), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and appropriate state and local authority approval be able to access marijuana for research at-cost without further review." (Read the full text of the letter below.)

The letter comes about two weeks after the House voted to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to go after medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws, a measure that Rohrabacher sponsored.

And just last week, a scathing joint report from the Drug Policy Alliance and and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies blasted the DEA, arguing that the agency has repeatedly failed to act in a timely fashion when faced with petitions to reschedule marijuana.

The drug is currently illegal under federal law, and remains classified as a Schedule I substance, a designation the DEA reserves for the "most dangerous" drugs with "no currently accepted medical use." Schedule I drugs, which include substances like heroin and LSD, cannot receive federal funding for research. On three separate occasions — in 1973, 1995 and 2002 — the DEA took years to make a final decision about a rescheduling petition, and in two of those cases the DEA was sued multiple times to force a decision.

Last week’s report criticized the DEA for overruling its own officials charged with determining how illicit substances should be scheduled. It also accused the agency of creating a "regulatory Catch-22" by arguing there is not enough scientific evidence to support rescheduling marijuana — while simultaneously impeding the research that would produce such evidence.

"Two weeks ago, we took a very important vote in the House to stop the DEA from interfering in states’ medical marijuana programs," Blumenauer said in a statement Tuesday. "Now we need the Administration to stop targeting marijuana above and beyond other drugs when it comes to research. By increasing access for scientists who are conducting studies, we end the Catch-22 of opponents claiming they can’t support medical marijuana because there’s not enough research, but blocking research because they don’t support medical marijuana."

The U.S. government grows marijuana for research purposes at the University of Mississippi in the only federally legal marijuana garden in the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) oversees the cultivation, production and distribution of these crops — a process through which the only federally-sanctioned marijuana studies are approved.

Federal authorities have long been accused of only funding marijuana research that focuses on the potential negative effects of the drug. Since 2003, more than 500 grants for marijuana-related studies have received federal approval, with a marked upswing in recent years, according to McClatchy. Only 22 grants were approved in 2003 for cannabis research, totaling $6 million, but in 2012, 69 grants were approved for a total of over $30 million.

Despite these numbers, NIDA has reportedly conducted only about 30 studies to date on the potential benefits of marijuana, according to The Hill.

Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Eight other states — Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin — have legalized CBD oil, a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that is frequently used to treat epilepsy, for limited medical use or for research purposes.

A number of studies in recent years have shown the medical potential of cannabis. Purified forms may attack some forms of aggressive cancer. Marijuana use has also been tied to better blood sugar control and may help slow the spread of HIV. One study found that legalization of the plant for medical purposes may even lead to lower suicide rates.

Read the full letter below:

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Judge Henry Latham’s ruling was filed. "I’m not allowed to give proof why I was using. Now, there is no fair trial."

Posted on June 12, 2014. Filed under: CIVIL RIGHTS, Drug War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


           

Since his arrest last summer, Benton Mackenzie has maintained he grew marijuana to treat terminal cancer.

Now, just days ahead of going to trial Monday on drug conspiracy charges, a Scott County District judge has ruled he won’t allow Mackenzie to use his ailment as a defense.

"I’m not allowed to mention anything," Mackenzie said Thursday, the day Judge Henry Latham’s ruling was filed. "I’m not allowed to give proof why I was using. Now, there is no fair trial."

The 48-year-old, who shared his story with the Quad-City Times last September, was diagnosed with angiosarcoma in 2011. It’s a cancer of the blood vessels, in which tumors appear as skin lesions.

He says the lesions have grown enormous since sheriff’s deputies confiscated 71 marijuana plants from his parents’ Long Grove home last summer. He needed all those plants just to be able to extract enough cannabis oil for daily treatments, he says.

Mackenzie wants to be able to tell jurors why he grew marijuana. He wants to show them pictures of his cancerous lesions.

"If I’m to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and the court doesn’t let me tell the truth, they’re making me a liar," he said.

Assistant Scott County Attorney Patrick McElyea, who is prosecuting Mackenzie, filed a motion earlier this month to limit any testimony regarding medical marijuana. He has declined to comment on the case.

McElyea based his motion on the 2005 Iowa Supreme Court decision in State v. Bonjour, a case similar to Mackenzie’s. Lloyd Bonjour, an AIDS patient, was convicted of growing marijuana, and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction.

Latham sided with McElyea’s motion, stating, "The court is not aware of any legislation or been provided with any legislation which provides for such defense."

The judge states he is aware Mackenzie has angiosarcoma. He also is aware Iowa lawmakers recently legalized oil concentrated with cannabidiol, or CBD, with "specific restrictions."

The pending law, expected to be signed today by Gov. Terry Branstad, only applies to those suffering severe epileptic seizures.

Mackenzie says he thinks state government is the "bigger criminal," because it’s practicing medicine without a license in deciding who can and who cannot possess medical marijuana.

"At least the state is now recognizing, with a law, that marijuana has medicinal value," he said, adding his plants were from a strain rich in CBD, which in other states is associated more with medical use than recreational use.

Without the medical necessity defense, Mackenzie said his fate is "completely in the Lord’s hands."

Sitting through several hours of hearings over the past 11 months has been hard enough on someone with lesions covering his legs and rear, he says. He can’t imagine sitting through an entire trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection.

He says he may show up to court wearing a kilt, so jurors can see for themselves. But he wouldn’t want his lesions oozing and bleeding all over the courtroom furniture.

"That shows how much of a criminal I’m not," he said.

At one point during a phone conversation with a reporter Thursday afternoon, he reacted because one of his larger lesions opened up and bled onto the chair and floor at home, he said.

"I’m sitting in a pile of blood," he said a moment later.

He wants to request a nurse or a medical provider be allowed to sit in the courtroom with him. He says the judge is allowing breaks, but he expects he’ll have to take a break every few minutes just to replace the large, disposable underpad for furniture.

He anticipates that with his failing health and the number of co-defendants, the trial will come across as a "circus."

Mackenzie is charged with felony drug possession along with his wife, Loretta Mackenzie. His 73-year-old parents, Dorothy and Charles Mackenzie, are charged with hosting a drug house, and his son, Cody, is charged with misdemeanor possession. His childhood friend, Stephen Bloomer, also is charged in the drug conspiracy.

All six defendants are being represented by a different attorney.

Lately, Mackenzie’s health has been "touch and go," he says, with episodes of vomiting, cold sweats and extreme pain. He almost always feels tired.

He raised enough money from family and friends to travel twice this spring to Oregon, which has legalized medical marijuana.

Each trip was a week long. During the first trip, he met with a physician, who approved him for a state medical marijuana identification card. On the second trip, he was able to purchase oil in an amount equivalent to a pound and a half of marijuana, which he couldn’t by law bring back to Iowa.

The little bit of relief is nothing compared to the daily treatments prior to his arrest, when he was shrinking his skin lesions, he said. He claims the oil in Oregon also stopped the growth of the lesions, but only temporarily.

Mackenzie said he hopes jurors will show compassion in deciding his future.

"No matter what, if I’m found guilty, I’ll do at least three years in prison, which is a death sentence for me," he said. "If I’m found guilty at all, I’m a dead man. I’m lucky I’m not dead already."

Copyright 2014 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags

Benton Mackenzie, Iowa, Henry Latham, Medical Cannabis, Cannabidiol, Cannabis, Iowa Supreme Court, Mackenzie, Patrick Mcelyea, Cannabis Oil, Lloyd Bonjour, Legalized Oil, Cancer, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana

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Big Tobacco Planned Big Marijuana Sales in the 1970s

Posted on June 4, 2014. Filed under: Corporate Cannabis, Drug War | Tags: , , , , |


 

Rich001

June 3, 2014

Documents buried deep in tobacco company archives reveal a hope and a plan to sell marijuana as soon as legally possible

Tobacco executives anticipated the legalization of marijuana as early as the 1970′s — and they wanted a piece of the action, according to newly discovered documents from tobacco company archives.

Public health researchers scanned 80 million pages of digitized company documents for keywords such as, “marijuana,” “cannabis,” “reefer,” “weed,” “spliffs,” and “blunts.” The results, published Tuesday in the Milbank Quarterly, reveal a long history of maneuvers toward marijuana-laced products.

“The starting point must be to learn how to produce in quantity cigarettes loaded uniformly with a known amount of either ground cannabis or dried and cut cannabis rag,” read one memorandum from British American Tobacco’s adviser on technical research, Charles Ellis.

A hand-written letter from Philip Morris president George Weissman read, “While I am opposed to its use, I recognize that it may be legalized in the near future…Thus, with these great auspices, we should be in a position to examine: 1. A potential competition, 2. A possible product, 3. At this time, cooperate with the government.”

Philip Morris even went so far as to request a marijuana sample from the Department of Justice for research purposes, promising to share its findings with the government so long as the company’s involvement remained strictly confidential. “We request that there be no publicity whatsoever,” wrote a Philip Morris executive. The Justice Department drug science’s chief Milton Joffee obliged with a promise to deliver “good quality” marijuana.

While tobacco executives missed the mark on legalization by several decades, they did lay out a persuasive case for vigilance. In early 1970, an unsigned memorandum distributed to Philip Morris’ top management read, “We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pick up for people who are bored or depressed. The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying these needs.”

The study authors said the documents provide proof of tobacco companies’ intent to enter the marijuana trade, despite their claims to the contrary. They urged policymakers to prevent tobacco makers from entering the nascent market for legal marijuana “in a way that would replicate the smoking epidemic, which kills 480,000 Americans each year.”

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MINT JULEPS AND CANNABIS MARCHES FOR DERBY DAY 2014 IN KENTUCKY!

Posted on May 2, 2014. Filed under: Attention | Tags: , , , , , , |


 

7-21-13 Indian Creek - Wy eating weeds 2

 

 

May 1, 2014

Sheree Krider

What could be a better day out for adult fun in Kentucky than the Derby? 

Dare I say, Derby Day, Mint Juleps and a Cannabis March?  In the same day?  In Louisville?

Yet, “oops there it is”…

For the first time in history a Global Marijuana March is to be held in Louisville, Kentucky.

It just so happens that the march will coincide with the “Running for the Roses”.

The Kentucky Marijuana Party along with Diverse Sanctuary secured the permit which was

just received yesterday.  NEW FARM CONCEPTS out of Bowling Green is the Sponsor.

History is being made in Kentucky this year in a lot of ways not the least of which is

the fact that GMM KY and Derby Day in Louisville will peacefully coexist and bring

more business to the Highland Neighborhood where the March is set for.  It should

prove to be a very interesting day for this City and even the weather is cooperating as

it is forecasted to be warm and sunny.

We will be following up with a Global Marijuana March in Bowling Green on

Sunday, May 4th as well.

Below are a few links that include the GMM events. 

GLOBAL MARIJUANA MARCH – LOUISVILLE, KY – SATURDAY MAY 3RD

GLOBAL MARIJUANA MARCH – BOWLING GREEN, KY – SUNDAY MAY 4TH

CHURCHILL DOWNS – RACES AND WEBSITE

 

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Potential for heart attack, stroke risk seen with marijuana use

Posted on April 24, 2014. Filed under: Healthcare, Marijuana | Tags: , , |


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By Melissa Healy

April 23, 2014, 4:35 p.m.

Over a five-year period, a government-mandated tracking system in France showed that physicians in that country treated 1,979 patients for serious health problems associated with the use of marijuana, and nearly 2% of those encounters were with patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia and stroke, and circulation problems in the arms and legs. In roughly a quarter of those cases, the study found, the patient died.

In the United States, when young and otherwise healthy patients show up in emergency departments with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrhythmia, physicians have frequently noted in case reports that these unusual patients are regular marijuana users.

Such reporting is hardly the basis for declaring marijuana use an outright cause of cardiovascular disease. But on Wednesday, cardiologists writing in the Journal of the American Heart Assn. warned that "clinical evidence … suggests the potential for serious cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use." And with a growing movement to decriminalize marijuana use, they called for data-collection efforts capable of detecting and measuring marijuana’s cardiovascular impact among American users of cannibis setiva.

"There is now compelling evidence on the growing risk of marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in young people," said Emilie Jouanjus, lead author of the French study, which was also published in the Journal of the American Heart Assn. That evidence, Jouanjus added, should prompt cardiologists to consider marijuana use a potential cause of cardiovascular disease in patients they see.

In an editorial published Wednesday in the AHA journal, Drs. Sherief Rezkalla and Robert A. Kloner asked, "Do we really know enough about the cardiovascular effects of marijuana to feel comfortable about its use in patients with known cardiovascular disease or patients with cardiovascular risk factors," including obesity, sedentary behavior, high blood pressure and worrisome cholesterol numbers.

Rezkalla and Kloner combed the recent medical literature for animal experiments, observational studies and case reports linking marijuana use in close temporal proximity with cardiovascular events. They cited evidence that marijuana use probably increases clotting factors in the blood and that heavy marijuana use may lead to significant changes in the tiny vessels carrying blood to the heart and brain, such that even after clearance of a major blockage, blood flow remains impeded.

Aside from heart attacks and strokes, case studies linked recent marijuana use in patients seeking care for increased angina, ischemic ulcers and gangrene associated with blocked blood flow to extremities and transcient ischemic attacks, sometimes called "mini-strokes." Notably these complaints often came from patients who were young and had no previous evidence of cardiovascular disease.

"We think the time has come to stop and think about what is the best way to protect our communities from the potential danger of widespread marijuana use in the absence of safety studies," added Rezkalla, a cardiologist at the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, and Kloner, a cardiologist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. "It is the responsibility of the medical community to determine the safety of the drug before it is widely legalized for recreational use."

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“I’m Ben Droz, and we’re going lobbying”….

Posted on April 22, 2014. Filed under: Corporate Cannabis | Tags: , , , , , , |


Above:  Big Hemp’s main man in Washington, 27-year-old Ben Droz

Ben Droz loosened the red paisley tie around his neck, pulled the knot over his head and replaced it with a skinny black cord made of hemp with sterling silver tassels at the ends. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of plastic tie slides—a screaming eagle and a geometric wood piece—that would, when attached, turn the string into a bolo tie. “This one’s more subtle, more professional,” Droz said, selecting the wooden piece. He pulled it up the string toward his Adams apple. His bolo tie in place, he was ready to “go lobbying,” as Droz put it.

Droz is the American hemp industry’s main man in Washington. As a registered lobbyist for Vote Hemp, an advocacy group that works to loosen hemp laws, Droz, a 27-year-old from Pennsylvania with a thick head of hair and caterpillar eyebrows that make him appear eternally excited, has made it his life mission to bring the Gospel of Hemp to the leaders of America’s capital city. For the past five years, Droz has loaded up a hemp briefcase with hemp products—hemp granola bars, hemp seeds and hemp paper, to name just a few—and walked the halls of the capitol building preaching the glories of hemp.

You’ve heard of industries having an army of lobbyists. Hemp has as army of one, in the person of Ben.

“It’s an army of passion,” Droz said.

He has his work cut out for him. In the United States, there are tough federal restrictions on importing and growing live hemp seeds. As a variant of the cannabis plant which comes from the same botanical family as marijuana, hemp can be grown in a limited number of states only for industrial purposes, and only with special permission from the Drug Enforcement Agency. Because of these restrictions, most hemp products sold in the U.S. are made overseas and shipped here.

On any given day, Droz is a walking billboard for those products. He sports a tan button-down hemp dress shirt over a white undershirt, also made of hemp. Hemp-knit socks cover his feet. A hemp bolo tie adorns his neck; a hemp bracelet circles his wrist. In his pocket, he carries a hemp wallet, which houses his hemp-paper business cards. In the mornings, he washes his body with hemp soap and styles his hair with hemp hair cream. He even wears hemp-cloth underwear, he says. And he’s saving up money to one day buy a hemp business suit, on which he will place the American Flag lapel pin he wears that reads, “Hemp Is Patriotic.”

When I met up with Droz on an April morning to see him in action, his schedule was packed with meetings, photo shoots and presentations about hemp. (When he’s not pushing hemp at the Capitol, Droz moonlights as a professional photographer.) His day would begin with a presentation to conservative activists, followed by a photo gig downtown. Then it was off to Capitol Hill to meet with staff for Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis and Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, two of hemp’s biggest supporters in Congress. Thence to the Phoenix Park Hotel near Union Station to scope out a venue for an upcoming cocktail reception for hemp supporters. After a meeting with staff of Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden,he ran across town to take headshots for a PR firm, followed by another shoot at a stand-up comedy competition near U Street that would last late into the night.

“It’s non-stop for me, because there’s no real distinction between what counts as working and what’s not,” Droz said, describing his life. It’s a plight he shares with thousands of other single, overworked 20- and 30-somethings in the District of Columbia. “I feel like I have three jobs. I do all of this hemp stuff, then I do photography, then I also do a lot of Facebooking, because networking is a big part of photography. I’m just constantly working around the clock.”

Grover Norquist hosted Droz for his first stop of the day, the legendary Wednesday meeting of conservative activists organized by the anti-tax lobbyist for two decades. Droz, who voted for President Obama in 2008 and considers climate change one of the world’s greatest dangers, doesn’t necessarily consider himself a conservative. But cannabis advocates have made inroads with conservatives in recent years by pitching decriminalization as a states rights issue and a move toward a world with fewer government regulations.

For his presentation, Droz chose to wear the red traditional necktie instead of his beloved bolo, which he left in a pocket.

“With the conservatives,” he explained, “I never want to come across as too fringe.”

When Norquist introduced Droz as a hemp advocate, some in the audience chuckled. Droz ignored it, and launched into a brief speech about “harmful federal regulations” intended to appeal to the Reaganite hearts of the assembled.

“We are working to remove harmful federal regulations on industrial hemp production in the U.S.,” Droz said, once the giggling died down. “We can’t grow hemp in the U.S. and that’s exactly what we’re working on.”

Droz rattled off statistics about hemp in the lobbying equivalent of an elevator pitch. It’s a half a billion dollar industry, he said, but most of the products have to be imported from abroad, and three new states removed their barriers to hemp production in 2014, bringing the number up to 13. “This is not really a controversial issue anymore,” he told the conservatives. Under current law, he said, the states need federal approval to grow hemp, and he needs help passing a bill to give states control over their own hemp laws without federal interference.

On the actual elevator after the meeting, Michael Moroney, who works at the Franklin Center, a conservative journalism non-profit,shot a knowing smirk at Droz. “Handing out pot candy there, Ben?”

“It’s hemp,” Droz replied. “Not marijuana.”

Moroney smiled. “I know, man,” he said. They both laughed at his ribbing and Droz promised to get Mahoney some hemp granola bars, Droz’s most popular product.

“Everybody makes jokes like that, but the truth is, they know the difference. He knows he’s making a joke,” Droz told me. “They always giggle. But here’s the thing that’s great: They used to giggle and not know what hemp is. But now they giggle and they do know what it is. That’s a big difference.”

Indeed, in just the past few years, hemp in America has grown from an obscure plant used mostly to produce household decorations for stoners and latter-day hippies and into a source of goods that busy mothers can buy at Costco.

In June 2013, 63 Republicans joined 162 Democrats to pass an amendment to the Farm Bill that authorized hemp research in states where hemp farming is legal. Encouraged by that victory, Droz is working to raise support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would amend the Controlled Substance Act by decoupling hemp from marijuana–thereby freeing up states to legalize hemp as they wish. On the right, the bill has support from Kentucky Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Rep. Massie.

“When I first started this, it was only lefties who are into this,” Droz said. “But it’s really changed a lot because of the states rights approach.”

With his presentation at the Norquist meeting over, Droz, juggling his hemp gear and camera equipment, rushed down the street for a photoshoot with a young real estate mogul at a DC’s City Center, a new complex of apartments, shops and restaurants.

“It’s a crazy day,” Droz muttered. On the way, he berated himself for the two-minute presentation he’d made that morning. “I forgot to mention the Industrial Hemp Farming Act,” he said. “I’m not killing it as hard as a sometimes am. I’m sorry about that.”

Droz wrapped his photo shoot, and then dropped off some of his gear at a nearby office of the PR firm where he would shoot later that day.That was when he removed his traditional tie and got comfortable in his bolo, which he calls his “YOLO bolo.”

Droz fell in love with bolo ties a few years ago when he found that he could buy them made out of hemp and that nearly everyone he met would stop and ask him about his neckwear when he wore bolo ties. He became so obsessed that he even started designing his own ties out of hemp, which he sells on Etsy and promotes on his new website, YoloBolo.com.

“I started wearing bolos as a way to get the conversation going about hemp,” he said. “People just love talking about it. The fact that I can talk about it means I can always talk about hemp, which is my goal. People remember me. I’m the guy with the bolo tie. I’m that hemp guy.”

With his new neckwear in place, Droz caught the Metro to Capitol Hill. His next challenge: Educating Capitol Police at a security station of the Longworth House Office Building that hemp seeds can enter the building. Droz dumped a handful of yellow baggies full of edible hemp seed onto the conveyer belt for screening briefcases. An officer snatched one up and inspected it.

“It’s hemp seed,” Droz informed her. “Totally legal.” In order to enter the United States, edible hemp seeds must first be sterilized, and these were.

(It just so happened that the officer holding Droz’s seeds was the same cop who just last year arrested a marijuana activist for passing out samples of pot candy in a congressional office building the year before.)

Waved in by the officer, Droz stopped for lunch at the bustling Longworth cafeteria, where he spotted Howard Wooldridge, a well-known former policeman and pro-pot activist from Texas who wears an oversized cowboy hat and a shirt that reads, “COPS SAY LEGALIZE POT ASK ME WHY.” Droz bought a salad and sat down.

“Officially there’s a big wall between his issue and mine,” Wooldridge said. “That’s by design from his side, because you don’t want to taint the hemp issue with the marijuana issue. His job is straightforward capitalism, straight forward agricultural issues. Period. It ain’t got nothing to do with drugs.”

While I talked to Wooldridge, Droz ripped open one of the yellow baggies of hemp seed.

“It’s time to hempify my lunch,” he declared, dumping the entirety of the bag over the greens and shaking the salad up to mix them in.

Over lunch, Droz went over some of the challenges he faces as one of the only national activists for a cause few Americans think much about and that many lawmakers still see as a drug policy issue.

“I haven’t been accepted by the mainstream agriculture lobbyists,” he said. “Hemp is such a small issue for agriculture. It’s not an issue they talk a lot about. It’s not an issue they’re passionate about. It’s hard to get them engaged as other people. The goal is for me to be mainstream.”

That will take some doing. About the time Droz finished lunch, a lobbyist from the United Nations Foundation spotted the open hemp seed bag and walked over to introduce himself.“Where can I purchase those? You didn’t get this at the House cafeteria, right?” he asked, before picking up the bag and pulling it toward his nose for a sniff.

“Smells like weed,” he said.

Droz looked up at him. “No it doesn’t, okay?” he said. “This is what people say every time. People smell my briefcase. People smell my shirt, thinking it’s going to smell like weed.”

I took the bag and smelled it. You could definitely discern an olfactory resemblance to hemp’s cousin.

“Okay maybe a little bit,” Droz conceded. “If you’re untrained, you could say it smells like weed.”

Droz, of course, can smell the difference.

With his belly full of hemp seeds, Droz began his daily rounds to congressional offices. Over the course of a year, he will typically visit hundreds of lawmakers. Sometimes he holds long, pre-scheduled meetings with staffers sympathetic to his cause. Other times he just pops into offices to say hello and drop off hemp granola bars.

“Sometimes I just do it randomly,” he said.

When he arrived at Massie’s office, the staffers there greeted Droz by his first name. He and an aide sat down in the lawmaker’s personal office and discussed how they could gain more support across the capitol for the Senate version of Massie’s bill. So far, no one in the upper chamber is taking enough of a leadership role on the issue to do what it takes to get the bill passed, Droz explained.

The theme is a constant one for the one-man, single-issue lobby shop. With so many pressing issues facing lawmakers, how do you get powerful people to care about a single plant, especially when there’s the risk that constituents may confuse it with support for an illegal drug?

It wasn’t always like this. Before live hemp seeds became controversial–and eventually illegal–in the twentieth century, they were widely used throughout the United States for all kinds of purposes.

In fact, hemp literally brought people to America.

“The first Americans who came here brought hemp with them. They not only brought hemp, they sailed here using hemp sails,” Droz said of early European settlers. “You used to be able to pay your taxes in barrels of hemp.”

In 1942, during World War II, the Department of Agriculture even made a pro-hemp propaganda film called, “Hemp for Victory.”

All of that changed under the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970s, when hemp was lumped in as an illegal drug with marijuana. Hemp fell out of fashion for decades and has only recently re-emerged on the American market as an eco-friendly alternative to a variety of products.

“It’s been slow and steady progress over the years,” Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra—Droz’s boss—said. In 2005, then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul introduced a bill to legalize live hemp seeds; he gained only a couple of co-sponsors. It wasn’t until the farm bill last year that the industry saw its first real win. “Over time we just realized that we had to go door-to-door and educate on this, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Steenstra said.

And that is exactly what Droz does on Capitol Hill, day after day. His meeting with Massie’s aide on Wednesday led to another meeting with a staff member from Polis’ office, where hemp enjoys support. Sitting on a couch next to Polis’ desk, Droz and an aide brainstormed as to how they could best encourage the DEA to start accepting live seeds inside the country. The DEA has said it’s in a policy review period, putting the hemp industry in a state of limbo. Lawmakers like Polis could possibly help, Droz said, by sending a letter to the DEA urging them to make a decision.

“Why won’t they do anything about it?” Droz said. “It’s so not okay!”

Before the meeting ended, Droz told the staffer about Vote Hemp’s upcoming lobby day during Hemp History Week (the first week of June), when scores of hemp activists were planning a trip to Washington, D.C. Vote Hemp hopes to hold a reception for lawmakers and a briefing on the issue at that time.

The staffer looked at his calendar, and informed Droz of one big problem: Congress won’t be in session that week. Droz took a deep breath.

After the meeting, Droz called Steenstra to report the news of their poor scheduling. If that wasn’t bad enough, Droz also found out that it was against the rules to hand out promotional materials bearing a logo at a Senate conference room where they were planning a Hemp History Week event, and they had already printed out flyers and literature. “That totally sucks! I don’t know what we’re going to do anymore. Dammit,” Droz said after the phone call. “Hemp History Week is totally falling apart!”

“I can only do so much,” he said.

Despite the moment of panic, Droz never lost his composure. He turned to me. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said. “You get to see what it’s like.”

Before he left the Capitol, Droz ducked into California Democrat Zoe Lofgren’s office unannounced to thank her staff for her supporting industrial hemp farming.

Droz reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the yellow packages of hemp seeds. With a wide smile, he tossed it over the desk of a staff assistant in the front room. “That’s for the congresswoman.”

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO’S HERE!

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3 Months Later, Here’s What Denver Looks Like Since Legalizing Marijuana – PolicyMic

Posted on April 13, 2014. Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana, Civil law and order | Tags: , , , , |


 

Three months following Colorado’s decision to legalize the production, sale, possession and use of recreational marijuana — a vote that Denver city officials including Mayor Michael Hancock, among others, fought kicking and screaming — guess what’s happened to Denver crime rates in 2014?

 

According to new data, they’ve fallen across the board. Property crime is down 14.6% compared to the same period in 2013. Violent crimes are down 2.4%. (Arson is up 109% from the same period, but represents just 23 of 3,757 crimes — so if you want to blame every count on smouldering doobies, whatever.)

 

As the Huffington Post notes, this is a far cry from wild-eyed claims of Amendment 64 opponents that legal weed was the devil’s work and Colorado would see a surge in crime and drug use.

 

“Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere,” said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver in 2012. “I think our entire state will pay the price.” Gov. John Hickenlooper said “Colorado is known for many great things — marijuana should not be one of them” and that “It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.” Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, former Obama drug policy advisor, warned that the feds would crack down on legal-weed states, increased teenage use and “stoned driving.” Mayor Hancock tried to dodge the constitution by banning the smell of weed, however that works. The now-defunct Vote No On 64 issued fliers claiming it would damage children’s minds and kill people.

 

And finally, one California sheriff went on Denver television to warn that after marijuana was decriminalized in his county, “thugs put on masks, they come to your house, they kick in your door. They point guns at you and say, ‘Give me your marijuana, give me your money.’” (Of course, this completely disregards the simple logic that when weed is legal, you really don’t have to steal it.)

In reality, things look pretty much the same as they did before in Colorado, except for $6 million in new tax revenue already in state coffers through February alone. And while it would certainly be premature to credit weed for Denver’s falling crime rate, the sky’s not falling, either. In fact, a recent study in PLOS One suggested that not only is there no evidence medical marijuana increases crime, and in fact it’s associated with slightly lower rates of violent crime.

 

 

3 Months Later, Here’s What Denver Looks Like Since Legalizing Marijuana – PolicyMic.

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How local cops are still colluding with the feds to seize pot-related assets—even in states with legal marijuana.

Posted on April 3, 2014. Filed under: Absolute Assinine Law, Drug War, Marijuana & the Law, WTF! | Tags: , , , , |


The Shame of “Equitable Sharing”

How local cops are still colluding with the feds to seize pot-related assets—even in states with legal marijuana.

By Nick Sibilla

 

 

 

When voters in Colorado and Washington state approved legalizing marijuana in 2012, those votes undermined an abusive—and profitable—police practice: civil forfeiture. Unlike with criminal forfeiture, under civil forfeiture people do not have to be convicted of or even charged with a crime to permanently lose their cash, cars, and other property. Police can then auction off that seized property and use the proceeds to fund themselves. In the 42 states that allow police departments to profit from forfeiture, that cash flow has funded both the militarization of police and allowed law enforcement to make ridiculous purchases, including a margarita machine, a Hawaiian vacation, and a Dodge Viper. 

In Colorado and Washington, the federal government processed more than $36 million worth of cash and other property in civil and criminal marijuana forfeitures between 2002 and 2012. Pursuing cannabis cases earned local law enforcement in Washington an additional $6 million to $9 million in forfeiture revenue since 2008. Nationwide, the Wall Street Journal reported the federal government scored $1 billion in forfeiture from marijuana cases over the past decade.

Legalization now threatens that forfeiture revenue for the police departments that have relied on it. Legal cannabis and the subsequent drop in forfeiture have already caused one drug task force in Washington to cut its budget by 15 percent. That’s great news for due process and property rights.

But marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so local legalization has created ambiguity in civil forfeiture proceedings. Even in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal, property owned by innocent people is still at risk thanks to “equitable sharing.” This federal program lets local and state law enforcement do an end run around state law and profit from civil forfeiture, simply by collaborating with a federal agency.

Equitable sharing is a two-way street: For the federal government to “adopt” a forfeiture case, cops can approach the feds and vice versa. The U.S. Department of Justice has applications online for agencies to apply for adoption and to transfer federally forfeited property. Crucially, criminal charges do not have to accompany a civil forfeiture case.

The proceeds from federal forfeitures are deposited into the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. After the DOJ determines the size of the cut for the feds, equitable sharing allows the local police to take up to 80 percent of what the property is worth. In fiscal year 2012, the federal government paid out almost $700 million in equitable sharing proceeds to local and state law enforcement agencies.

Equitable sharing tempts cops to become bounty hunters, even in states with legal marijuana. Tony Jalali is living proof of this travesty. Jalali almost lost his business over four grams of marijuana.

After immigrating to the United States from Iran in 1978, Jalali became a successful small business owner. Jalali owns an office building in Anaheim, Calif.—worth around $1.5 million—that he rents out to fund his retirement.

Among the more staid tenants—a dentist’s office, an insurance company—was ReLeaf Health & Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary. Posing as a patient with a legitimate doctor’s recommendation, an undercover Anaheim police officer bought $37 worth of cannabis from that dispensary. Keep in mind that medical marijuana sales were—and are—legal in California under state law, and this Anaheim cop worked for local law enforcement, not the feds.

Jalali never bought or sold marijuana. Jalali was not charged with any crime nor was he warned that renting to a dispensary could lead to civil forfeiture. “I had no idea I was doing anything wrong,” Jalali said.

Yet for the DEA, which collaborated with Anaheim police in pursing the forfeiture, that $37 pot sale was enough evidence that Jalali should lose his property.

This Kafkaesque nightmare should not have happened under California law. Not only did California voters legalize medical marijuana in 1996, state law bans forfeiting real property (like a home or a business) unless the owner has been convicted of a crime related to the property. In fact, Anaheim authorities even requested aid from California prosecutors to take action against Jalali’s property. State officials refused.

But the state’s protections don’t exist on the federal level. By participating in equitable sharing, Anaheim police could directly benefit from a federal forfeiture, bypassing California law to cash in on Jalali’s property.

His case was not an isolated incident. In just the Central District of California alone (which includes Anaheim and Los Angeles), the U.S. attorney’s office filed 30 forfeiture actions against landlords and threatened more than 525 marijuana businesses in 2012 and 2013. Since 2008, Anaheim police have received over $21 million in forfeiture proceeds from the federal government. At the same time, for four straight years the city-owned Anaheim Convention Center has hosted the Kush Expo, the world’s largest medical marijuana trade show.

Both the ACLU and the Institute for Justice (IJ), where I work, have launched campaigns to close the equitable sharing loophole and end policing for profit. IJ took Jalali’s case pro bono. The federal government dropped the forfeiture suit this past October and cannot refile the case.

For the time being, the feds appear to be shifting priorities. Last August, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced new guidelines to U.S. attorneys. If state laws regarding marijuana don’t conflict with federal law enforcement priorities (like keeping cannabis away from kids and preventing it from crossing state lines), the feds will defer to the states. But even that cautious memo is filled with caveats, like “this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state law.”

The equitable sharing loophole still exists. The federal government can continue to prosecute criminal cases and litigate civil forfeiture actions related to cannabis. Citing the risk of federal forfeiture, Wells Fargo, one of Colorado’s largest banks, has refused to finance properties in that state’s marijuana industry.

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Few things have been more corrosive to the basic concepts of due process and other constitutional protections for citizens/restrictions on police than the War on Drugs.    More…

-ATLDave

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Buying recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado only since Jan. 1 and pot stores haven’t opened yet in Washington. Yet selling the plant has already generated $14 million in Colorado—a tempting cash cow for local police.

The incentives behind equitable sharing are primed for abuse. Property owners’ protection from forfeiture currently depends on prosecutorial discretion. That is no substitute for meaningful legal reform.

Nick Sibilla is a writer for the Institute for Justice.

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Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970

Posted on March 2, 2014. Filed under: Drug War, Federal Government | Tags: , , , , , , |


Shortly after the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act went into effect on October 1, 1937, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Denver City police arrested Moses Baca for possession and Samuel Caldwell for dealing.

 

Scaldwell.jpg

^ "The First Pot POW". Retrieved 2011-03-18. "On the day the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act was enacted — Oct. 2, 1937 — the FBI and Denver, Colo., police raided the Lexington Hotel and arrested Samuel R. Caldwell, 58, an unemployed labourer and Moses Baca, 26. On Oct. 5, Caldwell went into the history trivia books as the first marijuana seller convicted under U.S. federal law. His customer, Baca, was found guilty of possession."

 

 

Baca and Caldwell’s arrest made them the first marijuana convictions under U.S. federal law for not paying the marijuana tax.[19] Judge Foster Symes sentenced Baca to 18 months and Caldwell to four years in Leavenworth Penitentiary for violating the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

After the Philippines fell to Japanese forces in 1942, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army urged farmers to grow fiber hemp. Tax stamps for cultivation of fiber hemp began to be issued to farmers. Without any change in the marijuana Tax Act, 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) were cultivated with hemp between 1942 and 1945. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in Wisconsin in 1957.

In 1967, President Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of justice opined, "The Act raises an insignificant amount of revenue and exposes an insignificant number of marijuana transactions to public view, since only a handful of people are registered under the Act. It has become, in effect, solely- a criminal law, imposing sanctions upon persons who sell, acquire, or possess marijuana."

In 1969 in Leary v. United States, part of the Act was ruled to be unconstitutional as a violation of the Fifth Amendment, since a person seeking the tax stamp would have to incriminate him/herself. In response the Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.[23] The 1937 Act was repealed by the 1970 Act.

Storm is Coming

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Marc Emery Prison Blog: How I Began My Plan to Overgrow the Government

Posted on February 28, 2014. Filed under: Cannabis Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


By Marc Emery – Thursday, February 27 2014

 

CANNABIS CULTURE – Since the 20th anniversary of my activism in British Columbia is approaching on April 11th, I thought I would write a series of blogs about my early years, when there was no movement, no legal medical marijuana anywhere, books and magazines about cannabis were banned in Canada – in essence, there was nothing. Over the next few months I’ll tell you about great moments in my life where I contributed to the marijuana movement and helped changed several laws.

My history is packed with well-documented campaigns and pivotal moments. It includes the day in August 1996 when Dennis Peron was was with me in Vancouver for a large rally in historic Gastown, occupying the intersection that, 25 years earlier, had been the scene of the "Grasstown Police Riot" (where cops attacked and injured dozens of peaceful pot advocates and innocent bystanders), and his pioneering medical cannabis building in San Francisco was raided. I encouraged him to make a phone speech rallying his supporters to not back down – the after-effect of which really pushed the California voters in favour of Proposition 215.

Other significant events include my times with Jack Herer in the very early days (1991); selling banned marijuana books and magazines door-to-door in early 1994 to establish myself in Vancouver (after doing the same in Ontario years earlier, to challenge the laws prohibiting marijuana literature); producing the first issue of The Marijuana & Hemp Newsletter in 1994, which became Cannabis Canada magazine a year later, then Cannabis Culture in 1998; how I was inspired in November 1994 to "Overgrow the Government" by funding activism through seed sales; publishing my 1995 article "How To Open Your Own Hemp Store" that kickstarted a revolution across Canada (and continues to this day); underwriting the early days of the Marijuana Policy Project (1998); contributing to the success of the medical marijuana initiative in Washington DC (1998), Colorado and Arizona (2000); my role in making medical marijuana legal in Canada (1999); creating Pot TV, the first online cannabis video website in the world, with its construction beginning on January 1, 2000; going to the Canadian Supreme Court to legalize pot in December 2003 (and the ten years of court battles leading to that); and stories of how my many adversaries who once persecuted and prosecuted me became activist anti-prohibitionists, including Vancouver Mayors Philip Owen and Larry Campbell, Vancouver ‘GrowBusters’ chief Kash Heed, and Washington State District Attorney (and my prosecutor) John McKay.

Some great history reviews lay ahead, in this, the 20th anniversary year of Cannabis Culture and the retail-activist revolution that is now growing everywhere. I should start with my early efforts in my hometown of London, Ontario.

 

In 1990 I had a radio show at the University of Western Ontario’s CHRW-FM called "Radio Free Speech: Revolution Thru Rock N’ Rap" and I loved playing the Dead Kennedy’s and the spoken-word albums of lead singer Jello Biafra. When his 1990 spoken word album "I Blow Minds for a Living" came out, I decided to have a Jello Biafra spoken-word performance at Centennial Hall (Dufferin Ave by Victoria Park). We sold 450 tickets to cover the cost of Centennial Hall and Jello’s $3,000 fee. As part of the contract, he was obligated to go on CHRW with me for a special 3-hour show the next day (Saturday), which was a highlight of my 18-month London radio career before I was fired in 1991 for criticizing the station’s lame newscast.

In this new album and at his Centennial Hall performance, Jello did as segment called "Grow More Pot", wherein, though not a pot smoker himself, he urged the audience to grow more pot based on his reading and recommending the (seminal) work of the then-ascendant hemp movement, "The Emperor Wears No Clothes". It was a book by Jack Herer – and it was banned in Canada!

Nowhere in Canada was this book offered for sale (and remember, this was before Amazon.com and the internet existed!) and I found out that the federal government of Canada had prohibited all books and magazines that spoke honestly of marijuana. Since I had a bookstore in London, the City Lights Bookshop on Richmond Street (now owned and operated since July 1992 by then-employees Jim & Teresa), I decided I would get this book and challenge the ban by selling it at City Lights.

After some cursory research, I found that everything to do with marijuana was illegal in Canada since an act of Parliament in 1987 had banned all books, magazines, pipes, bongs, video – all and anything to do with marijuana culture was prohibited under section 462.2 of the Canadian criminal code. Since 1987, over 500 shops selling bongs, pipes, High Times magazine, etc. had been shut down, and now in 1991 there were no longer any head shops (as they were called then), nor was High Times available on any newsstand in Canada! Penalties for a first-time conviction for selling books like "The Emperor" or magazines like High Times, or bongs and pipes, included a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to six months in jail for a first offense, and up to $300,000 for a second offense!

 

So I bought an ad in the daily London Free Press newspaper and announced that I would be selling the banned Jack Herer book to get arrested and go to court to challenge this law.

I sold over 100 copies of "The Emperor", but got no charge by police, nor was I raided. As a historical note, I had already been arrested and charged in previous attempts to change laws regarding Ontario’s Sunday-shopping prohibition (1986), and the province’s ban on explicit rap music (1990), so this was a technique that I had had good success with, up until this time. So I decided to go a little further and smuggled in hundreds of copies of every available marijuana grow guide, dozens of copies of back-issues of High Times, every copy of The Freak Brothers comics, all in huge quantities.

When we bought an ad in the London Free Press announcing this massive sale of over fifty different books and magazines – more than one thousand individual copies – I had over 150 people lined up outside the doors of City Lights at the 10:00am opening. Still, no police raid or arrest.

So I brought Jack Herer to town, to autograph copies of the book, and bought more ads flouting the law. Still… no arrest or charge. Then I flew in Ed Rosenthal to autograph copies of his books; Steve Hager (editor of High Times) for a special celebration dinner at the City-owned London Art Gallery, where over 100 people paid to attend; Paul Mavrides, writer and artist of the Freak Brothers, to autograph his comics.

 

I even gave away 300 copies of High Times to 300 people in front of the London police headquarters in February 1992 (since they law said ‘distributing’ any book or magazine was illegal, not just the selling of them) to force the London police to charge me. But they didn’t! So while I may not have had my day in court then to make marijuana literature legal, by having the law overturned, I did succeed at bringing important cannabis and hemp information into Canada when we had nothing available at all.

In 1994 I moved to Vancouver, and continued selling banned books and magazines on what became a huge scale. It was the cornerstone to getting established in my new West Coast base of operations; by June 1995, I was distributing 2,000 copies of High Times every month.

In the autumn of 1994, my friend Umberto Iorfida of Canada NORML was charged by Toronto police for handing out pamphlets to students at a high school where undercover narcs had entrapped teens by asking for marijuana. I undertook to finance his defense, and in July 1995, with lawyer Alan Young, Umberto and I got the aspect of the 462.2 law regarding media (books, magazines, video) struck down by Judge Ellen McDonald, in the Ontario Superior Court. This law, by the way, is still in the criminal code, because it was not overturned in the Canadian Supreme Court, but since the Ontario Crown did not appeal the Superior Court decision, the decision stands as law in Ontario.

That having been said, over the years, I have traveled to places that tried to ban my Cannabis Culture Magazine or High Times, like in Timmins, Ontario in 1999. The police went to convenience stores and told them that selling those magazines was illegal, and they’d have to stop. So I bought a half-page ad in the Timmins newspaper and went there to hand out 300 copies of my publication, Cannabis Culture Magazine, for several hours in front of the Timmins police station, daring them to try to charge me under 462.2. We ended up having an hours-long smoke-fest and street party in front of the police station. Media from all over Ontario covered that event, and Timmins police never tried that again.

In my peaceful civil disobedience regarding marijuana laws, I have been arrested 28 times in Canada, and jailed 22 times, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and this one very long stint in federal prison in these United States (where, as most people know, I did not travel to or spend any time as a seed seller).

I regard all of this as punishment for my political activities, as all of them were acts done under clearly-political auspices, and most – if not all – are unique in North America, Canada, or the USA. For example, I have been arrested and convicted in Vancouver of giving away one gram of hash (the witness was brought 2,000 miles from the United States to testify against me for one gram I gave him, for free, at my Cannabis Cafe in 1997); arrested and convicted for promoting vaporizers, a charge I can hardly believe exists; arrested and convicted for selling seeds (to my knowledge, no other Canadian has ever been convicted of selling just seeds); and arrested and convicted (and sentenced to three months in prison!) for passing one joint in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, at a rally after my speech at University of Saskatchewan in 2004 (although no joint or pot was ever produced to prove their charge, merely a 22-year-old witness’ claim, upon police inquiry, that I passed him a joint).

 

I was arrested and jailed six times on my 2003 Summer of Legalization Tour across Canada, which was a campaign to demonstrate that the marijuana prohibition laws were of no force and effect due to a court ruling in Ontario (click here to see archive coverage on Pot TV and Cannabis Culture). To challenge the law nationwife, I promoted a tour where I smoked a bong or one-ounce joint in front of police station headquarters in every major city in Canada – eighteen stops in nine provinces – and on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in front of a huge RCMP phalanx. In those six arrests in Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton), Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, I was charged, but my charges – and charges against many Canadians – were later dropped when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in October 2003 that there was, in fact, no valid marijuana possession law in effect in Canada from 2001 to 2003 (it was reinstated by that court at the time, unfortunately).

I was not arrested during the other 12 stops that tour, in cities in British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. I was also not arrested when I led a march in 2002 in Montreal at the Quebec Cannabis Cup after Montreal police arrested the organizer. I quickly responded with a bellicose protest immediately, took over the streets en route, and had a very confrontational conflict with riot-clad Montreal cops at the police station. I was also not arrested in my numerous attempts to get charged for selling banned marijuana literature in London, Ontario or Vancouver.

So whereas I have been arrested 28 times, jailed 22 times, and convicted on about ten of those arrests since 1990 to 2010, I have also attempted to get arrested – or risked getting arrested – well over 45 times, all related to fighting against marijuana prohibition or promoting cannabis culture.

And you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!

If you’re interested in seeing more about Marc’s earliest freedom activist causes and campaigns, watch the 1992 documentary "Messing Up The System" by the late Chris Doty (one hour), the 2006 CBC documentary "Prince of Pot: The US vs. Marc Emery" by Nick Wilson (one hour), and the thorough multi-part 2010 documentary "The Principle of Pot" by Paul McKeever (four hours).

CONTINUE READING ON CANNABIS CULTURE…

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Legalized Marijuana: Companies Moving Now To Cash In On Cannabis

Posted on February 20, 2014. Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana, Corporate Cannabis, Taxation Issues | Tags: , , , , , |


Largely illegal in the U.S. for a century, weed became legal in Washington and Colorado at the start of the year after voters in those states gave the go-ahead in 2012. Further north, voters could decide in August whether Alaska will become the third state to remove prohibitions on the recreational use of pot. A poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University suggests residents of New York, a state notorious for its strict drug laws, are in favor of legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use by a comfortable margin of 18 percentage points.

Estimates of the total value of a legal pot industry in the U.S. are hard to establish in part because the current price of marijuana is artificially high; illegal substances, after all, are a significant risk to black market dealers and buyers, and with that comes a premium. A 2011 report by See Change Strategy, which focuses on growth in new markets, estimated that the value of medical marijuana alone would grow from $1.7 billion to about $9 billion by 2016.

Here are some companies that have begun positioning themselves to cash in on this cash crop: CONTINUE THRU THIS LINK!

By Angelo Young on February 20 2014 10:59 AM

Marijuana Retailer

Above:  Nate Johnson, managing owner of the Queen Anne Cannabis Club, sells a marijuana strain called "Beast Mode OG", named after NFL player Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle, Washington January 28, 2014. Reuters

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Earl Blumenauer Wants Obama To Drop Marijuana From Dangerous Drug List

Posted on January 28, 2014. Filed under: CIVIL RIGHTS, Marijuana & the Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , |


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Rep. Earl Blumenauer speaks on Capitol Hill about the tax treatment of state-legal marijuana businesses, as anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist listens. | Michael McAuliff

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WASHINGTON — With federal law enforcement officials moving to make it easier for marijuana businesses to operate in states where they are legal, one member of Congress is calling on President Barack Obama to take the next logical step and remove pot from the federal government’s list of tightly restricted drugs.

Marijuana is listed on Schedule I, along with heroin and LSD, under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that such drugs have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse" and that they are "the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."

But Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime advocate for loosening restrictions on marijuana, thinks that definition clearly doesn’t apply to weed, which can now be medically prescribed in many states. He’s begun circulating a letter to the president among other members of Congress, seeking signers who will ask that marijuana be stricken from the controlled substances categories or at least moved to a less restrictive schedule.

"Schedule I recognizes no medical use, disregarding both medical evidence and the laws of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana," the letter says.

According to Blumenauer’s spokesman, the congressman had been thinking about such a request for a while, but was sparked to pursue it after Obama told The New Yorker magazine that he thought pot was less destructive than booze.

"You said that you don’t believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous ‘in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.’ This is true," says the letter. "Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense."

Blumenauer will gain a better sense of how many of his colleagues want to sign on to the effort when Congress returns next week, but it will likely require more than a token level of support to sway Obama. In spite of the president’s comments, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week that Obama remains opposed to decriminalizing pot.

The administration has the authority to determine which substances are and are not on the controlled schedules. Congress can also pass laws to change those lists.

Here is Blumenauer’s full letter:

We were encouraged by your recent comments in your interview with David Remnick in the January 27, 2014 issue of the New Yorker, about the shifting public opinion on the legalization of marijuana. We request that you take action to help alleviate the harms to society caused by the federal Schedule I classification of marijuana.

Lives and resources are wasted on enforcing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws. Nearly two-thirds of a million people every year are arrested for marijuana possession. We spend billions every year enforcing marijuana laws, which disproportionately impact minorities. According to the ACLU, black Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable marijuana usage rates.

You said that you don’t believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer." This is true. Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense.

Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system. Schedule I recognizes no medical use, disregarding both medical evidence and the laws of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana. A Schedule I or II classification also means that marijuana businesses in states where adult or medical use are legal cannot deduct business expenses from their taxes or take tax credits due to Section 280E of the federal tax code.

We request that you instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II. Furthermore, one would hope that your Administration officials publicly reflect your views on this matter. Statements such as the one from DEA chief of operations James L. Capra that the legalization of marijuana at the state level is "reckless and irresponsible" serve no purposes other than to inflame passions and misinform the public.

Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness about this important issue. We believe the current system wastes resources and destroys lives, in turn damaging families and communities. Taking action on this issue is long overdue.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

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Pot Block! Trapped in the Marijuana Rescheduling Maze

Posted on November 1, 2013. Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana, Drug War | Tags: , , , , , , |


One citizen-journalist’s journey into the drug war bureaucracy shows why previous efforts to reschedule pot have been DEA’d on arrival.

Harmon Leon

October 30, 2013

 

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Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in America. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Cannabis sativa is as dangerous as heroin. (You know… as in heroin!) To justify this ranking, the DEA has declared that the plant has absolutely no medical value. Zero. Nada. Zip. The federal government has determined that this position is backed by science.

Marijuana’s current status as one of the most dangerous drugs in America became official in 1970, during the Nixon administration. (Putting matters in ludicrous perspective, cocaine and even Breaking Bad meth are Schedule II.) Every administration since then has treated marijuana as mad, bad and dangerous to know, with virtually no attempt made to reclassify it. And that list includes the current one.

About the Author
Harmon Leon

Harmon Leon is the author of six books, including The American Dream, The Harmon Chronicles and Republican Like Me. His…

“It’s a bit of an Alice in Wonderland scenario with the Obama administration,” explains Kris Hermes of American for Safe Access (ASA). “He made statements prior to being elected about changing the policy on marijuana, but in reality the opposite has happened.”

Not only have there been more medical marijuana arrests during Obama’s administration than the entire Bush regime, but even in states like California and Washington, there’s been a steady rise in the number of people being raided even though they’re in full compliance with state law. The federal government has threatened landlords and financial institutions working with medical marijuana businesses; the IRS has been involved with audits; pro-pot lawmakers have been bullied; and veterans using marijuana for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder have been denied medical benefits by the Veterans Administration—all because of marijuana’s Schedule I status.

On the other hand, dropping pot down a notch to Schedule II (let alone III, IV or V, or removing it from the Controlled Substances Act completely) would be a big step in resolving the clash between state and federal law, since such a move would at least acknowledge marijuana’s medical utility and allow doctors to legally prescribe it.

So what can be done to reschedule marijuana in a country where the “drug czar” is required by law to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a Schedule I substance—in any form?

Time to put on our citizen-journalist’s hat and go through the looking glass into the bizarre legal labyrinth of the rescheduling process. Kris Hermes warned that it wouldn’t be easy: “Bureaucrats shut down and refuse to talk when it’s convenient for them not to talk… when it suits their purpose!”

I Contact the DEA

Phoning the DEA is an unnerving experience—a sensation similar to being in high school and calling your dad at 2 am to inform him that you’ve crashed the family car (though now safe in the knowledge that the NSA will keep tabs on me).

I get a DEA representative on the phone. He goes by the name Rusty. (Perhaps because of his employer’s corroded views on ending the drug war?)

“Could I get any information regarding the rescheduling of medical marijuana?”

“I don’t want to spark a debate,” Rusty from the DEA replies. “I don’t know if that’s something we’d weigh in on. I don’t know what the point would be—our stance is pretty much on our website.”

Rusty from the DEA informs me that the agency’s position on medical marijuana can be found under the tab astutely labeled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse.” (The thirty-page PDF reads like some bureaucrat’s idea for a remake of Reefer Madness.)

The key words in this manifesto: dangers, consequences, abuse. That doesn’t seem to indicate much willingness to consider pot’s medical value. Apparently, the DEA is still convinced that cancer victims are merely “abusing” marijuana to alleviate their chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.

Rusty from the DEA adds: “You know, Congress can change this at any point—which people seem to forget.”

Perfect. That would be the same body that recently shut down the federal government and threatened the United States with default. But while the DEA might say that rescheduling is up to Congress, according to the ASA, that’s not exactly the case. The DEA actually delays the process—with no time limit imposed for answering rescheduling petitions, the agency takes the longest possible time before reaching a decision. (And then it says no.) To get around to denying the ASA’s rescheduling petition, it took the federal government a whopping nine years.

I Contact the FDA

According to a memorandum of understanding between the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration, a rescheduling petition has to go through the FDA. (Despite the fact that the DEA is under no obligation to recognize the conclusions of that agency.) Meanwhile, roughly every nineteen minutes, an American dies of accidental prescription-drug overdose—and these are pills approved by the FDA. (“Approved!”) Since the big pharmaceutical companies can’t make money off homegrown medical marijuana, might that be swaying the FDA’s recommendation?

“Can I ask a few questions about the rescheduling of medical marijuana?” I ask an unnamed FDA representative.

“I’m looking into this for you,” she replies.

Moments later…

“We cannot comment on this topic due to pending citizen petitions, other than to say our analyses and decision-making processes are ongoing.”

Not much to work with there, though I’m intrigued by the mention of “pending citizen petitions.” I press on: “What would be the process needed for medical marijuana to be approved by the FDA?”

“As you are aware, Schedule 1 drugs have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and as I indicated before, we cannot comment on this topic of rescheduling due to pending citizen petitions.”

My information parade has been rained out. Why so cagey? After all, the FDA approved Marinol, whose active ingredient is 100 percent synthetic THC (i.e., the stuff that makes pot so dangerous and addictive that it has to be classified as Schedule I). And Marinol, strangely enough, is Schedule III—even though no pot plant in the history of marijuana has tested at 100 percent THC. (Even the strongest pot these days clocks in at under 40 percent.)

So my basic question goes unanswered, though the FDA representative does grant me an open invitation to check out the agency’s website—anytime I please!

My inquiry at the Justice Department yields similar results: “Hi Harmon—DOJ’s enforcement policy on marijuana is in the attached. Thanks.”

My attempt at securing a comment from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals—which threw out the ASA’s appeal on its rescheduling petition—doesn’t go much better: “I’m sorry. I don’t know the answer to your question. I am sure there must be subject matter experts out there who would know.… Good luck!”

Down and Down the Rabbit Hole…

At the heart of the approval process is the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Ironically—or maybe not—the organization is funded by the federal government. Catch-22: for the DEA to reschedule marijuana, scientific studies authorized by NIDA have to prove its medical benefits. This is basically like putting the mice in charge of the mousey snacks. In his now-famous about-face on medical marijuana, Dr. Sanjay Gupta pointed out how many of NIDA’s studies are actually designed to find detrimental effects—with only about 6 percent, he estimates, looking into medical benefits. The end result of NIDA’s efforts: the almost-complete suppression of research into the therapeutic value of marijuana.

“Will Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s statement have any impact on rescheduling medical marijuana?” I ask the NIDA rep.

NIDA’s response: “The best resource for questions about rescheduling is the Drug Enforcement Administration.” (A phone number is provided.)

Reaching deep into my citizen-journalist’s bag of tricks, I try a more straightforward approach: “What would it take to have medical marijuana rescheduled? Clearly we’re at a crossroads where public opinion is changing, yet the federal government doesn’t want to change its stance. Is it left to further scientific studies or any other factors?”

The Nation is facing a crippling postal rate hike—donate by October 31 to help us foot this $120,272 bill.

“You’ll need to contact the DEA for questions about rescheduling.”

And so I’m back at square one. It turns out that getting an answer from the federal government on rescheduling marijuana is a lot like contacting the local Scientology center and asking them to go on record about the planet Xenu. In the meantime, the Supreme Court recently declined to hear ASA’s appeal on its rescheduling petition—the one that the DEA waited nine years to reject, and that the DC Circuit Court turned down on appeal, declaring that only Congress has the power to amend the Controlled Substances Act.

If the federal government is determined to maintain marijuana as a highly illegal Schedule 1 substance—despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary and an ongoing sea change in public opinion—then perhaps its best ploy at this point would be to sit on its hands and do absolutely nothing.

Mission accomplished.

Also In This Issue

Katrina vanden Heuvel: “Why Its Always Been Time to Legalize Marijuana

Mike Riggs: “Obama’s War on Pot

Carl L. Hart: “Pot Reform’s Race Problem

Harry Levine: “The Scandal of Racist Marijuana Possession Arrests—and Why We Must Stop Them

Martin A. Lee: “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom: The Populist Politics of Cannabis Reform

Martin A. Lee: “The Marijuana Miracle: Why a Single Compound in Cannabis May Revolutionize Modern Medicine

Kristen Gwynne: “Can Medical Marijuana Survive in Washington State?

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian: “Baking Bad: A Potted History of High Times

Various Contributors: “The Drug War Touched My Life: Why I’m Fighting Back

And only online…

J. Hoberman: “The Cineaste’s Guide to Watching Movies While Stoned

Seth Zuckerman: “Is Pot-Growing Bad for the Environment?

Harmon Leon

October 30, 2013

CONTINUE READING…

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"There is no correlation between Morgan & Morgan and the medical marijuana," Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson said.

Posted on October 18, 2013. Filed under: Corporate Cannabis, KENTUCKY WEED, Political | Tags: , , , , , , , |


House Speaker Greg Stumbo pitching personal-injury law firm in TV commercials

By John Cheves — jcheves@herald-leader.com

 

 

 

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has accepted a position as partner at Morgan & Morgan, a Florida-based personal-injury law firm whose founder, John Morgan, is a major financial backer of the movement to legalize medical marijuana.

In September, Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, announced that he wants a debate in Kentucky about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

"I am open and leaning toward supporting the use of medical marijuana as I read more and more research," Stumbo said on Sept. 24.

Through a spokesman, Stumbo this week said he came to his stand on medical marijuana after speaking to Floyd County constituents who support it.

"There is no correlation between Morgan & Morgan and the medical marijuana," Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson said.

John Morgan, a Lexington native who moved to Orlando, Fla., in 1971, gave $250,000 over the summer to People United For Medical Marijuana and produced several commercials to support the effort. He expects to give several million dollars more, he said this week.

On his firm’s website, Morgan wrote that medical marijuana helped his father while he was dying from cancer and emphysema.

"Medical marijuana has been proven to give our loved ones relief they need, helping with pain, appetite, seizures and spasms," Morgan says in a radio commercial he recently produced in Florida. "Unfortunately, Tallahassee politicians refused to vote on the issue last session. They wouldn’t even hear testimony from patients and their families."

In an interview, Morgan said he’s glad to hear about Stumbo’s public comments on medical marijuana, but he’s not the impetus.

"Greg and I have never talked about it, but I’m spending a boatload of money to get it on the ballot in Florida this fall," Morgan said. "Now that I know he feels this way, maybe we can do something in Kentucky, too."

Steve Robertson, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party, was ready to draw the opposite conclusion.

"We at least now know that Stumbo bases his public positions on his private finances," Robertson said. "After standing in opposition to the hemp bill, it’s mind-boggling that he’d suddenly turn around and advocate for medical marijuana based on his new job."

During the 2013 legislative session, Stumbo criticized and worked against — though he ultimately voted for — a bill that established a licensing system for Kentucky hemp farmers if the federal government decriminalizes that plant, a close relative to marijuana. Stumbo said he agreed with police officers who argued that hemp and marijuana crops could be confused, making their jobs more difficult.

Later this year, Stumbo went to work for Morgan & Morgan. He recently began starring in television commercials for the firm, which employs 240 lawyers in a half-dozen states, including former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

"I’m Greg Stumbo of Morgan & Morgan," Stumbo says in a 30-second spot currently airing on Lexington stations. "As attorney general of Kentucky, I was honored to be your personal attorney."

Stumbo, who was attorney general from 2003 to 2007, goes on to tell viewers: "The insurance company doesn’t have your family’s best interest at heart. We do. Call us."

Speaking Wednesday, Morgan explained the hire: "Stumbo is a consumer advocate. That’s what he’s done both professionally and politically. He knows his way around Kentucky and he’s obviously well-known among his peers."

John Cheves: (859) 231-3266. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/10/17/2881362/house-speaker-greg-stumbo-pitching.html#storylink=cpy

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Illinois man charged with selling hallucinogenic mushrooms faces 20 years in prison

Posted on September 6, 2013. Filed under: Drug War, LATEST NEWS, Psychoactives | Tags: , , , |


mushrooms

 

PORTAGE — A Glencoe, Ill., man is accused of selling $180 worth of psychedelic mushrooms to undercover officers Aug. 29.

Mark Edward Mikolajczyk, 33, now faces up to 20 years in prison on a Class B felony of dealing drugs and has also been charged two misdemeanors, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

An informant told the Porter County Drug Task Force that he knew of someone who dealt in “molly,” also known as Ecstasy, and psilocybin mushrooms.

Mikolajczyk told undercover agents he was out of “molly” but drove to Portage to deliver the mushrooms.

Portage police pulled him over after the deal and found the money used to buy the drugs (serial numbers had been recorded so the cash could be tracked), as well as another $703 and the marijuana.

CONTINUE READING…

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Kentucky Law Enforcement Reacts To Illinois Marijuana Law

Posted on August 9, 2013. Filed under: Drug War, KENTUCKY WEED, LATEST NEWS, Marijuana & the Law | Tags: |


By Rob Canning

Enlarge image

Illinois’ legalization of medicinal marijuana takes effect January 1st and sets up a 4-year pilot program for state-run dispensaries and cultivation centers. While Illinois is predicted to enact some of the strictest regulations in the nation, law enforcement officials and prosecutors from neighboring states worry about transport of the drug over state lines.

Kentucky’s McCracken County borders Illinois. County Attorney Michael Murphy said the state can still prosecute people for possession regardless of the source.

“Possession of marijuana in the state of Kentucky in accordance to federal law is still a crime," said Murphy. "So, the fact that somebody acquired it legally where they were before they transported it to Kentucky, they still could be charged locally. This is just another source of marijuana and, to me, the source becomes legally irrelevant; it’s the simple possession that’s the crime.”

Murphy said the county court handles 10 to 15 simple possession charges each week. Murphy said people could also face federal ramifications for transport over state lines, but federal courts rarely prosecute for simple possession. Kentucky State Police Sergeant Richard Saint-Blancard said his main concern stems from drivers under the influence and he hopes Illinois’ law won’t increase that problem.

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medical marijuana

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AUGUST 21ST AT THE KENTUCKY CAPITOL BLDG., FRANKFORT, KY…

Posted on August 5, 2013. Filed under: Attention | Tags: , , , , , , |


 

Irv Rosenfeld

 

 

August 21st at 1 pm Kentucky legislature will be making history by finally
discussing medical marijuana. Through KY4MM’s lobbying we have found a
senior member of the house of Representatives that will introduce our bill
before the Kentucky Health and Welfare committee members. We will discuss
medical marijuana and will also take some time to introduce federal
medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld. He will testify to being a
federal patient through the "Investigational New Drug Program" since 1982.
We would like to invite everyone to come out and fill the halls of the
capital building in support of the legalization of medical marijuana. If
you wish to help please meet with your state senator and state house
representative and explain why you believe it should be legalized.

August 21, 2013 @ 1pm est

Health and Welfare Committee Meeting

KY Capital Building

700 Capitol Ave Loop, Frankfort, KY 40601

We would be forever grateful if you would be willing to share this
information with anyone that you feel might benefit or help.

Regards,

Jaime Montalvo
502-681-3795

www.ky4mm.com
https://www.facebook.com/KY4MM
https://twitter.com/ky4mm
ky4mm2014@gmail.com

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Talking Marijuana with Dr. Jeffrey Miron

Posted on June 18, 2013. Filed under: Activists Opinions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


June 17, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Civil Liberties, Crime & Punishment, Drugs, Featured, The Best of Moral Low Ground, U.S. Government

 

Moral Low Ground editor-in-chief Brett Wilkins recently interviewed Dr. Jeffrey Miron about marijuana prohibition, medical marijuana and the market implications of legalization. This article was originally published in the Medical Marijuana Review.

(Photo: Dr. Jeffrey Miron)

(Photo: Dr. Jeffrey Miron)

Why is a Harvard University economics professor proclaiming “marijuana should be legalized for just about everything”? Does he see prices for medical marijuana sliding down due to increased competition from private companies? We decided to find out by interviewing Dr. Jeffrey Miron, senior lecturer and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Economics at Harvard University, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, the nation’s leading libertarian think-tank.

As an unabashed and outspoken champion of individual liberty, Dr. Miron has stirred the pot by publicly advocating for the legalization of all drugs, a move he says would save tens of billions of dollars annually for federal, state and local governments. We recently spoke with Dr. Miron about the future of medical marijuana, the economics of newly minted canna-businesses and the Obama’s administration approach to the war on drugs.

MediRevew: You have written that “just as the harms of alcohol prohibition were worse than the harms of alcohol itself, the adverse effects of marijuana prohibition are worse than the unwanted consequences of marijuana use,” and that legalization is the better policy. What’s the biggest obstacle to legalization?

Miron: I think the big obstacle to legalization is the entrenched interests of people whose job it is to continue prohibiting marijuana, whether that’s local vice squads, federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Drug Czar’s office or the White House. And there are some entrenched interests that people don’t always think about.

One example is the treatment sector. A lot of people are coerced into getting drug abuse treatment because they’re, say, caught in a routine traffic stop with marijuana in their car, and they’re able to get that arrest to go away if they go through some court-ordered treatment. But they’re not people who need drug abuse treatment, so there’s a lot of extra demand created for the treatment sector. So this sector also has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”

MediReview: Given President Obama’s campaign promise of a hands-off approach to medical marijuana and the Justice Department’s Ogden Memo (directing federal resources only against medical marijuana providers who violate state law), what do you make of the Obama administration’s crackdown on medical marijuana?

Miron: I think that the administration, first of all, focuses on the electoral consequences. I don’t think they’ve seen it so far as in their interest to be soft on medical marijuana, or on any drugs. It seemed that way at the beginning, but that changed rather quickly. [The administration] knows that it would give the Republicans an issue if it came down strongly in favor of medical marijuana, or supported the recreational legalizations in Colorado and Washington. And so I think they just don’t want to go there. They want to let public opinion shift so much on its own. They’re sort of going along with public opinion, not trying to make public opinion.

MediReview: Public opinion is generally very much in favor of medical marijuana, and according to polls, a majority of Americans now even support recreational legalization. Do you feel that full legalization is inevitable?

Miron: Well, I hope that’s right, but I’m not positive that’s right. Pendulums can swing one way, and then sometimes the other way. There are certainly examples where public opinion has gone in one direction and then the other on lots of public policy issues, including drugs. So I don’t think we should assume it’s inevitable.

I think it’s plausible that marijuana will continue to move in the direction of medicalization and legalization. But if you’re sitting in Washington and you have the White House drug czar’s office right down the hall from you, and you have the DEA right there, and you have some Congressmen who are still screaming for prohibition, I think it’s pretty hard. And the federal government can interfere quite a bit with the decisions by states to try to medicalize and legalize.

The other reason why I don’t think we should assume [legalization] is inevitable is that very few major party politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are totally comfortable with the idea of letting states do what they want. The existing major parties don’t want to let states deviate from federal policy. Any federal politician who endorses letting states deviate is in trouble.

MediReview: If legalization does occur, do you foresee Big Pharma cornering the market on medical marijuana in the same way Big Agriculture dominates farming?

Miron: I’m not sure I would use the word ‘cornered.’ I think that in a fully legal market, we would likely see a substantial share of [marijuana] that was produced and sold by a relatively small number of companies, as we do with cars or beer or tobacco. But as long as the regulation of that industry is moderate at most, there will still be ample room for smaller firms to succeed. We see competition in the beer industry from overseas. We see lots of microbreweries.

[But] if you have a lot of regulation, then you’re going to limit the ability of the small producer to survive in the marketplace. An excellent example of that is the tobacco industry. It’s so costly, and there are all sorts of lawsuits and so many restrictions on advertising that it’s very hard for any newcomer to get into the tobacco industry in a profitable way, and so the big companies do rule that industry. But I don’t think we should be that concerned if a lot of the medical marijuana market is taken over by a relatively small number of companies… That’s just the way markets seem to work. And as long as there’s not too much regulation there will still be plenty of competition.

MediReview: Is this good for consumers? Do you see market forces and increased competition driving prices down?

Miron: I personally don’t think that prices are going to change dramatically. I wouldn’t be shocked if they went down by noticeable amounts, maybe 25 percent, perhaps even 50 percent, but I suspect that they won’t go down much at all. There are two reasons why.

One, I don’t think that current marijuana prohibition in the US is actually all that strong. I think that the amount of money that’s being spent trying to raise the price of marijuana relative to the size of the market is pretty miniscule. Therefore, they’re not having much effect in raising the cost.

Second, if you look at data and compare [marijuana] prices in the US to places where it’s almost entirely legal… they’re not that different. If you look at places like California where it’s very close to being legalized, prices aren’t that different from other places in the country. So I think that prices may go down, but they’re not going to go down a ton.

MediReview: Three years ago, you said that we can’t be sure if marijuana is effective medicine because DEA rules make it virtually impossible to carry out proper scientific trials. Consistent with its Schedule I classification, the federal government continues to emphatically insist marijuana has no accepted medical use. Do you think this is an accurate assessment?

Miron: The federal government continues to insist that smoked marijuana has no non-medical benefits, and in particular has no superior benefits compared to synthetic products or derivative products made from marijuana, such as Marinol… There certainly are legitimate studies and accepted evidence that some products like Marinol may be effective.

MediReview: You once said that the anecdotal evidence of medical marijuana’s effectiveness was “stunning.” Can you give examples?

Miron: Qualitatively, there are people who were resistant to the idea of using medical marijuana, but they were suffering from a serious condition… for which marijuana was widely thought to be useful and efficacious. And finally they were convinced by relatives or friends to try it and they did and then saw dramatic improvement.

But unfortunately, those people then became nervous that somehow it was still wrong to use marijuana or they were worried that they were putting their grandchildren in jeopardy by having them score marijuana for them at their local high school, and so they stopped, and when they did, their symptoms got worse again. So is that a perfectly controlled experiment? No. But is it a quasi-controlled experiment? Is that a little bit like an experiment? Yes, because you have a before, during and after. So that’s what I mean by anecdotal evidence, and it’s very suggestive.

MediReview: You also once said that the medical marijuana approach to legalization seems “sneaky.” What did you mean by that?

Miron: I do think has a real problem in that the way it’s implemented in many states looks like it’s just backdoor legalization. Many doctors seem to write [recommendations] without much compunction… and so that gives critics some basis in fact to say, “This is not just about helping sick people, this is about recreational use, and medicalization is helping to allow recreational use.”

Now, I have no objection to recreational use. I think [marijuana] should be legal for absolutely everything… And medicalization certainly has some benefits, because it means more people are able to purchase marijuana without the risk of going to jail, but it also has its unfortunate side effects of looking hypocritical, of looking like not telling the truth.

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Tagged Cato Institute, harvard university, Jeffrey Miron, Jeffrey Miron drugs, marijuana, marijuana legalization, Marinol, medical marijuana, obama marijuana, public opinion marijuana

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Stop Tossing Billions Into The Tax Pot Trying to Fight Pot

Posted on June 17, 2013. Filed under: Drug War | Tags: , , |


June 16, 2013
By Joe Rothstein
Editor, EINnews.com

 

 

Jerry Duval began serving a 10-year sentence for distributing marijuana last week. Duval has a kidney and pancreas transplant, as well as glaucoma and neuropathy. His family grew marijuana on his Michigan farm, in part to treat his ailments. Duval’s son, Jerry, was given a five-year sentence.
It will likely cost taxpayers more than a million dollars to keep Jerry Duval in jail and tend to his medical conditions, part of the soaring cost of the Obama administration’s continuing crackdown on pot growers and users.

In 2011, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, 757,969 Americans were arrested for drug violations involving marijuana; 87 percent of the arrests for mere possession.

The same day Duval reported to a federal prison, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law a measure that makes pot available to medical marijuana card holders in his state. The new act legalizes marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries and even allows for home-growing until 2016. Marijuana tax revenue will pay to regulate dispensaries and to support the state’s education budget.
If you consider it a gross injustice that Jerry Duval began serving a 10 year prison sentence for doing what on the same day Nevada’s governor made legal, welcome to the club. A rapidly growing club.
With Nevada, 16 states have decriminalized marijuana. In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington state approved normalizing marijuana sales, considering them under the law little different than tobacco or alcohol. In Colorado, more voters approved legalization than those who voted to reelect President Obama, who carried the state.
A similar measure will be on the ballot in Arizona in 2014, where a recent poll showed 56 percent support for personal use. In Illinois, 63 percent of voters support legalizing medicinal marijuana. In Kentucky, 60 percent.
Despite all of this, the federal government continues its crackdown. Even in states that have approved the use of medical marijuana, U.S. Treasury officials lean hard on banks not to loan money to growers or distributors. The IRS has disallowed normal business expenses. And, irony of ironies, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau even prohibits gun sales to medical marijuana users.
Meanwhile, you and I and all U.S. taxpayers pay tens of billions of dollars each year to fill prisons with non-violent drug users in an endless “war” that does society more harm than good.
Legalizing hemp in the U.S. not only would create a rich new crop for farmers, but it would introduce a product that can be made into paper, paneling, plastics, clothing and could be the basis for a valuable new biomass industry.
Instead, keeping the plant illegal continues to enrich murderous cartels, street gangs and violence.
You would think that after 40 years and a trillion dollars or so the “drug war” would show some victories. And there have been–—for the gangs that continue to prosper. Arrest one drug lord or street peddler and there are plenty of others ready to take their place. Why? Because despite its illegality in the U.S. there’s a huge and lucrative market for marijuana and decades of trying to stamp it out hasn’t made a dent.
After 2012’s legalization votes in Colorado and Washington state President Obama said he had “bigger fish to fry” than to comment or get deeply involved in the decriminalization issue.
True enough. But that also goes for his administration. Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars could be saved or redirected for more useful purposes by calling off the enforcement dogs and letting states decide, one-by-one, whether to permit the use of pot, and on what terms.
Tens of billions in new legal revenue could be generated—along with countless new jobs—by legalizing hemp and creating new products for agriculture, energy and manufacturing.
Tens of thousands of Americans could avoid prison, fines and the threat of arrest just for growing, smoking or sharing a weed wrapped in paper.
In April, the President’s drug war “czar,” Gil Kerlkowske, reaffirmed the administration’s unyielding position on drugs in a highly publicized white paper. But then he gave a wink and a nod to recreational users, signaling that maybe, just maybe, the administration would ease up on prosecutions.
That’s hardly enough. Medicinal and recreational pot is either legal or it’s not. Polls and local elections show that most Americans see no reason to keep marijuana out of the hands of those with medical conditions where it might help. Nearly as many see not a dime’s worth of difference between legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana sales the way we do with alcohol and tobacco.
Jerry Duval didn’t get a wink and a nod. He has no business being in jail. The federal government had no cause to put him there. Neither do others who will certainly fall victim to this discredited, expensive and idiotic enforcement policy.
(Joe Rothstein can be contacted at joe@einnews.com)

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Ky.’s senators blocked in effort to legalize hemp

Posted on June 7, 2013. Filed under: Commerce, Industrial HEMP, KENTUCKY WEED | Tags: , , |


By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

 

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s U.S. senators suffered a setback Thursday in their efforts to re-establish industrial hemp as a legal crop, but they vowed to continue their campaign after getting blocked as they tried to attach hemp language to the Senate farm bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul said they would oppose the Senate farm legislation.

Their amendment would have removed federal restrictions on the domestic production of industrial hemp. The crop once flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The push by McConnell and Paul to legalize industrial hemp comes after Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill this year to allow the crop to be reintroduced in the Bluegrass State, but only if the federal government lifted its prohibition on the plant.

"Although we’re disappointed in the lack of consideration of our industrial hemp amendment, it is only the beginning of our legislative efforts," the Republican U.S. senators said in a joint statement. "We are committed to continuing to look at all options to win approval of this important legislation for job creation in Kentucky."

McConnell and Paul blamed majority-Senate Democrats for blocking consideration of additional amendments to the five-year farm bill, including their hemp proposal.

"This year’s Senate farm bill is in need of serious improvement and the refusal to allow better ideas and more sensible allocations of taxpayer dollars to be considered is very disappointing," McConnell and Paul said. "We will be opposing the Senate farm bill as a result."

The Courier-Journal first reported the senators’ reaction to the hemp amendment’s setback.

The farm bill advanced on a 75-22 procedural Senate vote Thursday that sets up a vote to pass the measure next Monday. The bill would cost almost $100 billion annually and would set policy for farm subsidies, food stamps and other farm and food aid programs.

Republican House leaders have said their chamber will vote on the bill, possibly as soon as this month.

In Kentucky, the industrial hemp movement has firmly taken root as the plant’s advocates hope for a breakthrough at the federal level.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says its reintroduction would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels. Dozens of countries already produce the crop.

Comer went to Washington to meet with federal officials to lobby for a change on hemp policy at the federal level.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear let the state’s hemp bill become law without his signature. The Democratic governor said he wouldn’t sign the legislation out of concerns, shared by some in law enforcement, that marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ky-s-senators-blocked-in-effort-to-legalize-hemp-4584896.php#ixzz2VUQvurVc

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In Honor of Richard James Rawlings 1961-2013

Posted on February 28, 2013. Filed under: Activists, LATEST NEWS, Patients, ShereeKrider, USMJParty | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


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Richard James Rawlings with Gatewood Galbraith in Glasgow, Kentucky 2011

The U.S. Marijuana Party, did, on February 24, 2013, loose one of its first and most influential Presidents, 

Second only to Loretta Nall, who preceded him as the first President of the USMJParty in 2002.

Richard James Rawlings took the head of the table in 2005 after Ms. Nall’s resignation.

He actively ran for Congress in Peoria Illinois several times.  He promoted many legalization activities in the Peoria area of Illinois and attended many more events in various states until he began to become ill in 2009-10.

It was not until July of 2012 that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Throat, Lung and Adrenal Cancer.

At the age of 51, he died peacefully at his mother’s home where we had resided since shortly after his hospitalization in Glasgow Kentucky for two weeks in July 2012 where he received the diagnosis and the surgery for the trach which he would continue to wear until the night of his death when I removed it. 

All of his family were with him almost constantly during the last two weeks.  And I am forever grateful to them for all their support to me during this most difficult time.

His death broke my Heart.  We were not only coworkers, friends and companions – we were lovers and partners.

He will never be forgotten by me and I know the same sentiment holds true with all of his family, friends and followers.

May what he stood for never be forgotten:  Repeal of Hemp/Marijuana/Cannabis Laws at best or Legalization at least.

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May He Rest In Peace

Sheree Krider

 

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Ending Marijuana Prohibition in 2013

Posted on January 30, 2013. Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana, LATEST NEWS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


Rob Kampia

Executive director, Marijuana Policy Project

 

Unless people have been hiding under a rock this past couple months, they know that more than 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana on November 6. As a result, many people have grand expectations of how we’re going to get closer to ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S. this year.

Here is what I think we can reasonably accomplish by the end of 2013:

1. Decriminalize Marijuana in Vermont: Gov. Pete Shumlin (D), a strong supporter of decriminalizing marijuana, partially campaigned on the issue and easily won re-election on November 6 with 58% of the vote. The Vermont Llegislature is poised to pass the bill he wants, so this legislation could become law by this summer.

2. Legalize Medical Marijuana in New Hampshire: Incoming Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is a strong supporter of medical marijuana, so we expect her to sign a medical marijuana bill similar to those vetoed by former Gov. John Lynch (D) in 2009 and 2012.

3. Build Support for Legalization in the Rhode Island Legislature:
We successfully legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island in 2009 and 2012, respectively. There is now considerable momentum to tax and regulate (T&R) marijuana like alcohol, so we need to ensure that Rhode Island’s state legislature becomes the first to do so.

4. Increase Support for Legalization in California, Maine, and Oregon: There will be a sincere effort to pass T&R bills through the legislatures in these three states. Should they fall short, MPP and its allies will pursue statewide ballot initiatives in November 2016, at which time all three will be expected to pass.

5. Build Our Base of Support Online: People have said that the Internet is marijuana legalization’s best friend, and this could not have been more evident than it was last year. Campaigns mobilized their supporters, organizations raised funds, and the public was able to follow the progress in real time. Prohibitionists, who have depended on the government for its largess for years, are now at a disadvantage. Private citizens simply do not want to donate to them, and most information about marijuana is now reaching the public without being run through their filter.

6. Continue the Steady Drumbeat in the Media:
National and local media outlets are covering the marijuana issue more than ever before. Communicating to voters through news coverage is the most cost-efficient way to increase public support for ending marijuana prohibition, so we need to keep the issue in the spotlight.

7. Build Support for Medical Marijuana in Congress: There are already approximately 185 members of the U.S. House who want to stop the U.S. Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on raiding medical marijuana businesses in the 18 states (and DC) where medical marijuana is legal. We want to reach 218 votes on this amendment, thereby ensuring the amendment’s transfer to the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote.

8. Build Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition in Congress: Last year, the first-ever bill to end the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana attracted 21 sponsors. Our goal is to expand the number of sponsors to more than two-dozen during the 2013-2014 election season.

Looking outside our borders, we’re also seeing progress in Colombia, Uruguay, and Chile, which have all been steadily moving away from marijuana prohibition. Although this is good news, most members of the U.S. Congress do not care much about what South American countries think on marijuana policy, so we should temper the wonderful developments south of the U.S. border with limited expectations of what will happen in our nation’s capital.

Ultimately, the U.S. is the primary exporter of prohibition around the world. If we can solve the problem here, the rest of the world will have far more freedom to conduct their own experiments with regulating marijuana.

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Study casts doubt on link between cannabis, teen IQ drop

Posted on January 27, 2013. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , |


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Related MedlinePlus Pages

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A landmark study suggesting a link between cannabis use and a drop in teenage IQ may not have gone far enough in its research, with any falls in IQ more likely due to lower socioeconomic status than marijuana, according to a Norwegian study.

The latest work, which appears in the journal PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, also suggests that different policy steps might be needed in that case.

"My study essentially shows that the methods used and analyses presented in the original research are insufficient to rule out other explanations (for lower IQ)," said Ole Rogeberg, an economist at the Frisch Centre for Economics Research in Oslo, to Reuters.

The Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Health and Development Study is an ongoing report produced by New Zealand’s University of Otago, monitoring 1,037 New Zealand children born between April 1972 and March 1973. The study followed them for 40 years.

The participants were periodically tested for IQ and other indices including drug taking, and in 2012 clinical psychologist Madeline Meier produced a study saying there was a link between teenage cannabis use and a lower IQ.

Researchers in the Meier study compared the IQ trends of people who never smoked cannabis with four groups of those who did: people who smoked, people who scored as dependent in a follow-up survey, those who scored as dependent twice and those who scored as dependent three times.

The study found IQ declines increasing "linearly" with cannabis use, Rogeberg wrote in PNAS.

The crucial assumption in the Meier study is that cannabis use is the only relevant difference between the groups tested, he said. His use of a simulation model showed that it may be premature to draw a causal inference between marijuana use and falling IQ scores.

For one thing, other writing about the Dunedin group on which Meier’s study is based suggest that early cannabis use is more common for people with poor self-control, previous conduct problems, and high scores on risk factors linked to low family socioeconomic status, he wrote.

Given these factors, young people from lower status families tended to end up in less intellectually demanding environments, whether by choice or by circumstance, which would increase the difference in IQ levels as they aged.

"We know that the researchers have measured the IQ of the participants at various ages in childhood – but we don’t know if the IQ changes were similar for the different cannabis-using groups before their cannabis use," he told Reuters.

"We don’t know how much of the change in IQ we can explain by differences in education, jail time, occupational status, etc and whether this affects the estimates in the paper."

(Reporting by Pauline Askin, editing by Elaine Lies)

Reuters Health

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Medical marijuana backers lose bid for looser regulations

Posted on January 23, 2013. Filed under: Absolute Assinine Law, Cannabis/Marijuana, Drug War, LATEST NEWS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


By Tom Schoenberg, © 2013, Bloomberg News

 

WASHINGTON — An appeals court rejected the bid by medical marijuana backers to ease federal controls of the drug, ruling that the government properly kept the substance in its most dangerous category.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to maintain marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act because there are no adequate scientific studies finding an acceptable medical use.

“The question before the court is not whether marijuana could have some medical benefits,” U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards wrote in the opinion.

Edwards said the court’s review was limited to whether the DEA’s decision declining to reschedule the drug was arbitrary and capricious. He said the court found there was “substantial evidence” to support the agency’s determination that such studies don’t exist.

The case involves a 10-year-old petition from medical marijuana advocates who asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, IV or V drug, which would allow for looser regulation. On June 21, 2011, the DEA rejected the request, stating that existing clinical evidence wasn’t adequate to warrant reclassification.

“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well- documented studies that conclude otherwise,” Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the medical marijuana advocacy


hemp-300x200


organization that brought the case, said in an e-mailed statement.

Elford told the court during arguments in October that there were more than 200 studies that the agency refused to consider.

The group said it will appeal the ruling, according to the statement.

Lena Watkins, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told the court in October that the studies cited by the marijuana proponents were rejected because the research didn’t meet government standards. She said about 15 studies meet the standards, though the government doesn’t have the final results yet.

The court also waved off claims that government blocked efforts to study the medical effects of marijuana, citing the Health and Human Services Department policy supporting the clinical research with botanical marijuana.

“It appears that adequate and well-controlled studies are wanting not because they have been foreclosed but because they have not been completed,” Edwards said in the ruling.

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Indiana: Lawmakers To Debate Pair Of Marijuana Decriminalization Measures

Posted on January 18, 2013. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Marijuana & the Law | Tags: , , , , |


Two separate pieces of legislation that seek to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties are expected to be debated during the 2013 legislative session.

State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) has reintroduced legislation, SB 580, to reduce penalties for the adult possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana to a fine-only, non-criminal violation. It also seeks to amend Indiana’s zero tolerance per se law regarding inactive cannabis metabolites. SB 580 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

Separately, Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) has announced he intends to introduce legislation in 2013 that would make the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana by adults a non-criminal offense. Senator Steele, who chairs the Senate committee on corrections, criminal and civil matters, told the Associated Press that he intends to include the marijuana provision in a bill that revamps the Indiana criminal code to align charges and sentencing in proportion to the offenses.

Under present state law, the possessing of up to 30 grams marijuana is a Class A criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year incarceration, a $5,000 fine, and a criminal record. Possession of more than 30 grams is a Class D felony that carries a sentence of one to three years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

According to survey data compiled in 2012 by Bellwether Research & Consulting, a majority of Indiana voters support reforming the state’s criminal marijuana laws. Pollsters found that 54 percent of voters favored removing criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenders and replacing them with the imposition of a civil fine. Only 37 percent of respondents opposed this idea.

You can read NORML’s op/ed in the South Bend Tribune in favor of decriminalizing cannabis here.

NORML will continue to update you in the coming weeks as these proposals move forward. Additional information on this legislative effort is available from Indiana NORML.

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Studying Marijuana and Its Loftier Purpose

Posted on January 18, 2013. Filed under: International Cannabis, LATEST NEWS, Medical Marijuana | Tags: , , , , |


Tikkun Olam, a medical marijuana farm in Israel, blends the high-tech and the spiritual.

By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: January 1, 2013

 

SAFED, Israel — Among the rows of plants growing at a government-approved medical marijuana farm in the Galilee hills in northern Israel, one strain is said to have the strongest psychoactive effect of any cannabis in the world. Another, rich in anti-inflammatory properties, will not get you high at all.

Marijuana is illegal in Israel, but farms like this one, at a secret location near the city of Safed, are at the cutting edge of the debate on the legality, benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis. Its staff members wear white lab coats, its growing facilities are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for controlling light and humidity, and its grounds are protected by security cameras and guards.

But in addition to the high-tech atmosphere, there is a spiritual one. The plantation, Israel’s largest and most established medical marijuana farm — and now a thriving commercial enterprise — is imbued with a higher sense of purpose, reflected by the aura of Safed, an age-old center of Jewish mysticism, as well as by its name, Tikkun Olam, a reference to the Jewish concept of repairing or healing the world.

There is an on-site synagogue in a trailer, a sweet aroma of freshly harvested cannabis that infuses the atmosphere and, halfway up a wooded hillside overlooking the farm, a blue-domed tomb of a rabbinic sage and his wife.

In the United States, medical marijuana programs exist in 18 states but remain illegal under federal law. In Israel, the law defines marijuana as an illegal and dangerous drug, and there is still no legislation regulating its use for medicinal purposes.

Yet Israel’s Ministry of Health issues special licenses that allow thousands of patients to receive medical marijuana, and some government officials are now promoting the country’s advances in the field as an example of its pioneering and innovation.

“I hope we will overcome the legal obstacles for Tikkun Olam and other companies,” Yuli Edelstein, the minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, told journalists during a recent government-sponsored tour of the farm, part of Israel’s effort to brand itself as something beyond a conflict zone. In addition to helping the sick, he said, the effort “could be helpful for explaining what we are about in this country.”

Israelis have been at the vanguard of research into the medicinal properties of cannabis for decades.

In the 1960s, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science isolated, analyzed and synthesized the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Later, Professor Mechoulam deciphered the cannabinoids native to the brain. Ruth Gallily, a professor emerita of immunology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has studied another main constituent of cannabis — cannabidiol, or CBD — considered a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety agent.

When Zach Klein, a former filmmaker, made a documentary on medical marijuana that was broadcast on Israeli television in 2009, about 400 Israelis were licensed to receive the substance. Today, the number has risen to about 11,000.

Mr. Klein became devoted to the subject and went to work for Tikkun Olam in research and development. “Cannabis was used as medicine for centuries,” he said. “Now science is telling us how it works.”

Israeli researchers say cannabis can be beneficial for a variety of illnesses and conditions, from helping cancer patients relieve pain and ease loss of appetite to improving the quality of life for people with post-traumatic stress disorder and neuropsychological conditions. The natural ingredients in the plant, they say, can help with digestive function, infections and recovery after a heart attack.

The marijuana harvest, from plants that can grow over six feet tall, is processed into bags of flowers and ready-rolled cigarettes. There are also cannabis-laced cakes, cookies, candy, gum, honey, ointments and oil drops. The strain known as Eran Almog, which has the highest concentration of THC, is recommended for severe pain. Avidekel, a strain rich in CBD and with hardly any psychoactive ingredient, allows patients to benefit from the drug while being able to drive and to function at work.

Working with Hebrew University researchers, the farm has also developed a version in capsule form, which would make exporting the drug more practical, should the law allow it.

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White House: “We’re in the Midst of a Serious National Conversation on Marijuana”

Posted on January 13, 2013. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Marijuana & the Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 8, 2013

 

 

Ohhhh So Beautiful

In October of 2011, the White House issued an official response to a petition NORML submitted via their We the People outreach program on the topic of marijuana legalization.

 

Despite being one of the most popular petitions at the site’s launch, the answer we received was far from satisfactory. Penned by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, the response featured most of the typical government talking points. He stated that marijuana is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment and that its use is a concern to public health. “We also recognize,” Gil wrote, “that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.”

Well, just over a year later, the White House has responded again to a petition to deschedule marijuana and legalize it. The tone this time is markedly different, despite being penned by the same man.

Addressing the Legalization of Marijuana
By Gil Kerlikowske

Thank you for participating in We the People and speaking out on the legalization of marijuana. Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.

At President Obama’s request, the Justice Department is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington, given differences between state and federal law. In the meantime, please see a recent interview with Barbara Walters in which President Obama addressed the legalization of marijuana.

Barbara Walters:

Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

President Obama:

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.

…this is a tough problem because Congress has not yet changed the law. I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal.

When you’re talking about drug kingpins, folks involved with violence, people are who are peddling hard drugs to our kids in our neighborhoods that are devastated, there is no doubt that we need to go after those folks hard… it makes sense for us to look at how we can make sure that our kids are discouraged from using drugs and engaging in substance abuse generally. There is more work we can do on the public health side and the treatment side.

Gil Kerlikowske is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

No tirade about protecting our children. No alarmist claims about sky rocketing marijuana potency and devastating addiction potential. Just a few short paragraphs stating we are “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana” and deferring to an interview with the President where he stated arresting marijuana users wasn’t a priority and that the laws were still being reviewed. While far from embracing an end to marijuana prohibition, the simple fact that America’s Drug Czar had the opportunity to spout more anti-marijuana rhetoric and instead declined (while giving credence to the issue by stating it is a serious national conversation) it’s at the very least incredibly refreshing, if not a bit aberrational. We can only hope that when the administration finishes “reviewing” the laws just approved by resounding margins in Washington and Colorado, they choose to stand with the American people and place themselves on the right side of history.

“We the People” are already there.

CONTINUE READING….

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Patrick Kennedy On Marijuana: Former Rep. Leads Campaign Against Legal Pot

Posted on January 6, 2013. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Marijuana & the Law, Political | Tags: , , , , |


Reuters  |  Posted: 01/05/2013 2:11 pm EST

By Alex Dobuzinskis

 

Jan 5 (Reuters) – Retired Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is taking aim at what he sees as knee-jerk support for marijuana legalization among his fellow liberals, in a project that carries special meaning for the self-confessed former Oxycontin addict.

Kennedy, 45, a Democrat and younger son of the late "Lion of the Senate" Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, is leading a group called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) that opposes legalization and seeks to rise above America’s culture war over pot with its images of long-haired hippies battling law-and-order conservatives.


Project proposals include increased funding for mental health courts and treatment of drug dependency, so those caught using marijuana might avoid incarceration, get help and potentially have their criminal records cleared.

Kennedy wants cancer patients and others with serious illnesses to be able to obtain drugs with cannabinoids, but in a more regulated way that could involve the U.S. Food and Drug Administration playing a larger role.

The eight-term former congressman from Rhode Island and the group he chairs will put forth their plan on Wednesday with a media appearance in Denver.
Their efforts follow the November election that saw voters in Washington state and Colorado become the first in the nation to approve measures to tax and regulate pot sales for recreational use. Kennedy’s group is seeking to shift the debate and reclaim momentum for the anti-legalization movement, in part by proposing new solutions with appeal to liberals, such as taking a public health approach to combat marijuana use.

Legalization backers have argued that the so-called War on Drugs launched in 1971 by former President Richard Nixon has failed to stem marijuana use, and has instead saddled otherwise law-abiding pot smokers with criminal records that may block their avenues to landing a successful job.
Kennedy faults the U.S. government for allocating too much of its $25 billion drug control budget to law enforcement rather than to treatment and prevention.
"Yes, the drug war has been a failure, but let’s look at the science and let’s look at what works. And let’s not just throw out the baby with the bathwater," Kennedy, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2011, said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. Department of Justice is still developing a policy in regard to the new state legalization measures.

President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC News last month that it did not make sense for the federal government to "focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that’s legal."

BIPARTISAN APPROACH

Conservative political commentator David Frum, a speech writer for former President George W. Bush, is also a board member on Project SAM, which lends it a bipartisan flavor.
For his part, Kennedy is aiming many of his arguments toward liberals like himself. Polls show Democrats largely favoring legalizing marijuana, and among the 18 states that allow medical marijuana, several are in the West and Northeast and are heavily Democratic.

"The fact is people are afraid on the (political) left to look like they’re not for an alternative to incarceration and criminalization, and they’re afraid they’re not going to look sympathetic to a cancer patient" who might use marijuana, Kennedy said. As a result, he said the legalization position mistakenly comes to be seen as "glamorous."

Kennedy admits to having smoked pot but also said that, as an asthma sufferer, he "found other ways to get high."


In 2006, he crashed his car into a security barrier in Washington, D.C., and soon after sought treatment for drug dependency. He said he was addicted to the pain reliever Oxycontin at that time and suffered from alcoholism. He added that he has been continuously sober for nearly two years.
Kennedy, who was married for the first time in 2011, said he worries his 8-month-old son might be predisposed to drug abuse – due to a kind of genetic "trigger" – and that is part of his fight against legalization.

He also said he wants to "reduce the environmental factors that pull that trigger," such as marijuana use being commonly accepted.
Meanwhile, another prominent figure from Rhode Island, the newly crowned Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, is making waves by also objecting to legalization. She told Fox News this week there are "too many bad habits that go with the drug."

In Washington state, Alison Holcomb was campaign director for the legalization measure, which billed itself as having a public health element to help people dependent on marijuana.
The measure, which is not set to go into full effect until after state regulators spend most of 2013 setting guidelines, would allow adults 21 and older to buy marijuana at special stores.
Holcomb argued that drug dependency courts are more geared toward users of hardcore drugs, and that the approach her group put forward is the sensible one.
"I don’t know what a public health approach without legalization looks like, if you’re still arresting people," she said.
Taxes on marijuana sales would generate, at the high end of estimates, over $500 million a year with $67 million of that going to a state agency that provides drug treatment, said Mark Cooke, policy adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state, which supported the campaign.

Also included in the tax revenue would be $44 million for education and public health campaigns – including a phone line for people wanting to quit using marijuana, Cooke said. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Gunna Dickson)

CONTINUE READING…

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Kentucky agriculture commissioner brings pro-hemp message to Lexington

Posted on January 4, 2013. Filed under: Industrial HEMP, LATEST NEWS | Tags: , , , , , , |


 

hemp-300x200

 

 

Published: January 3, 2013

By Beverly Fortune — bfortune@herald-leader.com

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer brought his pro-hemp message to the Lexington Forum on Thursday.

Since taking office in 2011, Comer has held town meetings in all 120 Kentucky counties, inviting local legislators to attend, to promote industrial hemp. In the early 19th century, Kentucky was the nation’s leading hemp producer.

Comer is backing a bill in the General Assembly that would permit industrial hemp to again be cultivated.

Hemp would produce income for farmers and create manufacturing jobs for products using hemp, he said.

Farmers growing hemp would have to be licensed by the state and their fields inspected regularly, Comer said.

The Department of Agriculture, the state’s largest regulatory agency, would oversee cultivation and sales of the crop.

Hemp is a sustainable, annual crop that "is easy and cheap to grow," he said. "It grows well in this climate and requires very little fertilizer or insecticides." The plant grows best in marginal soils found in many Central and Eastern Kentucky counties.

For people, including law enforcement officers, who are concerned that marijuana might be grown in hemp fields and the hemp and marijuana plants confused, Comer said the two look completely different.

Marijuana is a short, bushy plant with lots of leaves; industrial hemp is tall, with a thick stalk and few leaves.

When grown near each other, hemp and marijuana cross-pollinate, and the hemp destroys buds on the marijuana plants, he said. "Industrial hemp is an enemy of marijuana," Comer said. "Law enforcement should be for industrial hemp."

The long-dormant Industrial Hemp Commission, revived under Comer, has contracted with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture to conduct an economic-impact study.

For the crop to be grown successfully, there has to be a market for the fibers, Comer said. "Many products we make from plastic, like car dashboards, armrests, carpet and fabrics, are made from hemp in other countries. Hemp is also used to make paper."

Comer said one major benefit of growing hemp would be the manufacturing jobs created to produce items using hemp fibers, seed and oil.

"The United States is the only industrial country in the world that doesn’t allow industrial hemp to be grown, yet many products Americans buy have hemp as an ingredient," he said. Hemp is legally grown in Canada and China, and throughout Europe.

If the General Assembly approves growing industrial hemp, the federal government would have to lift restrictions before it could be grown. "I want us to be ready when the federal government gives the go-ahead. I’m convinced they’re going to do that," Comer said.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/03/2463466/state-agriculture-commissioner.html#storylink=cpy

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Forget the “Unbridled Spirit”….

Posted on January 2, 2013. Filed under: Kentucky & KY State Gov., LATEST NEWS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


KentuckyForKentucky.Com

KentuckyForKentucky.Com

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HR 2306 `Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011′

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Read the Bills | Tags: , , |


HR 2306 IH

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2306

To limit the application of Federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marihuana, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 23, 2011

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts (for himself, Mr. PAUL, Mr. CONYERS, Ms. LEE of California, Mr. POLIS, and Mr. COHEN) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To limit the application of Federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marihuana, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the `Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011′.
SEC. 2. APPLICATION OF THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT TO MARIHUANA.
    Part A of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`SEC. 103. APPLICATION OF THIS ACT TO MARIHUANA.
    `(a) Prohibition on Certain Shipping or Transportation- This Act shall not apply to marihuana, except that it shall be unlawful only to ship or transport, in any manner or by any means whatsoever, marihuana, from one State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, into any other State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or from any foreign country into any State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof, when such marihuana is intended, by any person interested therein, to be received, possessed, sold, or in any manner used, either in the original package or otherwise, in violation of any law of such State, Territory, or District of the United States, or place noncontiguous to but subject to the jurisdiction thereof.
    `(b) Penalty- Whoever knowingly violates subsection (a) shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.’.
SEC. 3. DEREGULATION OF MARIHUANA.
    (a) Removed From Schedule of Controlled Substances- Schedule I(c) of section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)) is amended–
      (1) by striking `marihuana’; and
      (2) by striking `tetrahydrocannabinols’.
    (b) Removal of Prohibition on Import and Export- Section 1010 of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 960) is amended–
      (1) by striking subparagraph (G) of subsection (b)(1);
      (2) by striking subparagraph (G) of subsection (b)(2); and
      (3) by striking paragraph (4) of subsection (b).
SEC. 4. CONFORMING AMENDMENTS TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT.
    (a) Section 102(44) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(44)) is amended by striking `marihuana’.
    (b) Part D of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841 et seq.) is amended as follows:
      (1) In section 401–
        (A) by striking subsection (b)(1)(A)(vii);
        (B) by striking subsection (b)(1)(B)(vii);
        (C) by striking subsection (b)(1)(D); and
        (D) by striking subsection (b)(4).
      (2) In section 402(c)(2)(B), by striking `marihuana’.
      (3) In section 403(d)(1), by striking `marihuana’.
      (4) In section 418(a), by striking the last sentence.
      (5) In section 419(a), by striking the last sentence.
      (6) In section 422(d), in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking `marijuana’.
      (7) In section 422(d)(5), by striking `, such as a marihuana cigarette,’.
SEC. 5. CONSTRUCTION.
    No provision of this Act shall be construed to affect Federal drug testing policies, and each Federal agency shall conduct a review of its drug testing policies not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act to ensure that the language of any such policy is in accordance with this section.

END

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HR 6335 `States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act’

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Read the Bills | Tags: , , , |


HR 6335 IH

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6335

To amend the Controlled Substances Act so as to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical-marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

August 2, 2012

Ms. LEE of California (for herself, Mr. POLIS, Mr. FARR, Mr. STARK, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. HONDA, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, and Mr. MCGOVERN) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To amend the Controlled Substances Act so as to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical-marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the `States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act’.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
    Congress makes the following findings:
      (1) 17 States and the District of Columbia have, through ballot measure or legislative action, approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a physician.
      (2) Marijuana has long-established medical uses as an effective treatment for conditions that include HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, gastro-intestinal disorders, chronic pain, and others as well.
SEC. 3. CIVIL FORFEITURE EXEMPTION FOR MARIJUANA FACILITIES AUTHORIZED BY STATE LAW.
    Paragraph (7) of section 511(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 881(a)(7)) is amended–
      (1) by striking `(7) All’ and inserting `(7)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), all’; and
      (2) by adding at the end the following:
      `(B) No real property, including any right, title, and interest in the whole of any lot or tract of land and any appurtenances or improvements, shall be subject to forfeiture under subparagraph (A) due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.’.

END

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HR 6134 ‘Truth in Trials Act’ to provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Read the Bills | Tags: , |


HR 6134 IH

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6134

To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 17, 2012

Mr. FARR (for himself, Mr. PAUL, Mr. COHEN, Mr. ROHRABACHER, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Ms. LEE of California, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. STARK, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. MORAN, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. POLIS, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. WAXMAN, Mr. AMASH, Mr. RANGEL, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, and Mr. NADLER) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the `Truth in Trials Act’.
SEC. 2. PROVIDING AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE FOR THE MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA; SEIZURE OF PROPERTY.
    (a) In General- Chapter 221 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking section 3436 and all that follows through the end of the chapter and inserting the following:
`Sec. 3436. Affirmative defense for conduct regarding the medical use of marijuana; seizure of property.
    `(a) Any person facing prosecution or a proceeding for any marijuana-related offense under any Federal law shall have the right to introduce evidence demonstrating that the marijuana-related activities for which the person stands accused were performed in compliance with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana, or that the property which is subject to a proceeding was possessed in compliance with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana.
    `(b)(1) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution or proceeding under any Federal law for marijuana-related activities, which the proponent must establish by a preponderance of the evidence, that those activities comply with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana.
    `(2) In a prosecution or a proceeding for a marijuana-related offense under any Federal criminal law, should a finder of fact determine, based on State law regarding the medical use of marijuana, that a defendant’s marijuana-related activity was performed primarily, but not exclusively, for medical purposes, the defendant may be found guilty of an offense only corresponding to the amount of marijuana determined to be for nonmedical purposes.
    `(c) Any property seized in connection with a prosecution or proceeding to which this section applies, with respect to which a person successfully makes a defense under this section, shall be returned to the owner not later than 10 days after the court finds the defense is valid, minus such material necessarily destroyed for testing purposes.
    `(d) Any marijuana seized under any Federal law shall be retained and not destroyed pending resolution of any forfeiture claim, if not later than 30 days after seizure the owner of the property notifies the Attorney General, or a duly authorized agent of the Attorney General, that a person with an ownership interest in the property is asserting an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana.
    `(e) No plant may be seized under any Federal law otherwise permitting such seizure if the plant is being grown or stored pursuant to a recommendation by a physician or an order of a State or municipal agency in accordance with State law regarding the medical use of marijuana.
    `(f) In this section, the term State includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and any other territory or possession of the United States.’.
    (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 221 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking the item relating to section 3436 and all that follows through the end of the table and inserting the following new item:
      `3436. Affirmative defense for conduct regarding the medical use of marijuana; seizure of property.’.

END

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H.R. 1983 ‘States Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act’

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: LATEST NEWS, Read the Bills | Tags: , , , |


HR 1983 IH

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1983

To provide for the rescheduling of marijuana and for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 25, 2011

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts (for himself, Mr. ROHRABACHER, Mr. STARK, and Mr. POLIS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


A BILL

To provide for the rescheduling of marijuana and for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    This Act may be cited as the `States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act’.
SEC. 2. CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT.
    (a) Schedule-
      (1) Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, shall submit to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration a recommendation on the listing of marijuana within the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and shall recommend a listing other than `Schedule I’ or `Schedule II’.
      (2) Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration shall, based upon the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, issue a notice of proposed rulemaking for the rescheduling of marijuana within the CSA, which shall include a recommendation to list marijuana as other than a `Schedule I’ or `Schedule II’ substance.
    (b) Limitations on the Application of the Controlled Substances Act-
      (1) IN GENERAL- No provision of the Controlled Substances Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict in a State in which the medical use of marijuana is legal under State law–
        (A) the prescription or recommendation of marijuana for medical use by a medical professional or the certification by a medical professional that a patient has a condition for which marijuana may have therapeutic benefit;
        (B) an individual from obtaining, manufacturing, possessing, or transporting within their State marijuana for medical purposes, provided the activities are authorized under State law; or
        (C) a pharmacy or other entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical marijuana to individuals authorized to possess medical marijuana under State law from obtaining, possessing or distributing marijuana to such individuals.
      (2) PRODUCTION- No provision of the Controlled Substances Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict an entity authorized by a State or local government, in a State in which the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal from producing, processing, or distributing marijuana for such purposes.
SEC. 3. FEDERAL FOOD, DRUG, AND COSMETIC ACT.
    (a) In General- No provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict in a State in which the medical use of marijuana is legal under State law–
      (1) the prescription or recommendation of marijuana for medical use by a medical professional or the certification by a medical professional that a patient has a condition for which marijuana may have therapeutic benefit;
      (2) an individual from obtaining, manufacturing, possessing, or transporting within their State marijuana for medical purposes, provided the activities are authorized under State law; or
      (3) a pharmacy or other entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical marijuana to individuals authorized to possess medical marijuana under State law from obtaining, possessing, or distributing marijuana to such individuals.
    (b) Production- No provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict an entity authorized by a State or local government, in a State in which the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes is legal from producing, processing, or distributing marijuana for such purpose.
SEC. 4. RELATION OF ACT TO CERTAIN PROHIBITIONS RELATING TO SMOKING.
    This Act does not affect any Federal, State, or local law regulating or prohibiting smoking in public.

END

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Trading Sex for a "F–cking Happy Meal?

Posted on December 28, 2012. Filed under: CIVIL RIGHTS, Drug War, LATEST NEWS, Marijuana & the Law, WTF! | Tags: , , , , , |


Mom Can’t Get Food Stamps After Drug Offense, Resorts to Prostitution to Feed her Kids

If she’d committed murder, Carla could have gotten assistance to feed her children. But because the crime she committed was related to drugs, she can’t.

December 21, 2012  |  

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Carla walked into my office with despair in her eyes. I was surprised. Carla has been doing well in her four months out of prison; she got off drugs, regained custody of her kids, and even enrolled in a local community college. 

Without much prodding she admitted to me that she had retuned to prostitution: “I am putting myself at risk for HIV to get my kids a f—ing happy meal.”

Despite looking high and low for a job, Carla explained, she was still unemployed. Most entry-level jobs felt out of reach with her drug record, but what’s worse, even the state wasn’t willing to throw her a temporary life preserver.

You see, Carla is from one of the 32 states in the country that ban anyone convicted of a drug felony from collecting food stamps. With the release of the Global Burden of Disease Study last week, it bears looking at how we are perpetuating burdens among the most vulnerable Americans with our outdated laws.

If she’d committed rape or murder, Carla could have gotten assistance to feed herself and her children, but because the crime she committed was a drug felony, Carla joined the hundreds of thousands of drug felons who are not eligible.

The 1996 passage of the Welfare Reform Act was supposedly implemented to prevent drug addicts from selling their food stamps for drugs. But that concern is virtually unwarranted today. Unlike old food-stamp coupons, today’s food stamps are distributed electronically, which makes selling or trading them quite difficult.

Nonetheless, the law persists.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nine states have a lifetime ban for food-stamp eligibly for people convicted of drug felonies.  Twenty-three states have a partial ban, such as permitting eligibility for persons convicted of drug possession but not sale, or for persons enrolled in drug treatment programs.

Denying food stamp benefits to people convicted of drug offenses is an excessive and ineffective crime control strategy. The policy increases an individual’s risk of returning to prison by making it more difficult for people to survive after they get out, slowing or possibly even preventing their reintegration into society. People without the financial cushion necessary to get through the initial period of job searching and re-establishing a life have little choice but to turn to illegal means to make ends meet.

What’s more, the food-stamp ban is a law that works against good public health policy. As a doctor who cares predominantly for people who are released from prison, I see the damaging consequences of this ban on food stamps. I have seen patients of mine with diabetes go without food and end up hospitalized with low blood sugar, and still others with HIV skip their antiretrovirals because they don’t have food to take with their pills.  Not having access to food is associated with bad health outcomes including worsening diabetes, HIV, depression. Young children face anemia, diabetes, and depression.

Women with children are especially affected. It’s estimated that 70,000 women and their children are banned from obtaining food stamps. This means mothers who are simply trying to feed themselves and their children, and who are trying to get back on their feet after serving their time, are banned from receiving the money to pay for the basics necessary to survive.  Meanwhile, 46 million others, including college graduates and PhDs with far more resources, can receive food aid.

No other criminal conviction results in such a ban—not arson, not rape, not even murder.

Carla was arrested at 20 for selling marijuana.  At the time, she had also been making money working for her “boyfriend” as a sex worker.  Her boyfriend was also arrested for robbery.  He could qualify for food stamps upon release. But not Carla. She continues to pay for selling marijuana— a drug which two states have now voted to legalize outright—and the price is health risks for herself and for her children. 

CONTINUE READING….PAGE 2…

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Right now, five adults await death in prison for non-violent, marijuana-related crimes. Their names are John Knock, Paul Free, Larry Duke, William Dekle, and Charles “Fred” Cundiff.

Posted on December 26, 2012. Filed under: Drug War, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoners | Tags: , , , , |


Marijuana Crimes: Five Senior Citizens Serving Life Without Parole For Pot

AlterNet  |  By Kristen Gwynne Posted: 12/26/2012 11:16 am EST

Should five non-violent offenders die behind bars for a crime Americans increasingly believe should not even be a crime?

December 23, 2012  |  

Photo Credit: Farsh/ Shutterstock.com

Right now, five adults await death in prison for non-violent, marijuana-related crimes. Their names are John Knock, Paul Free, Larry Duke, William Dekle, and Charles “Fred” Cundiff. They are all more than 60 years old; they have all spent at least 15 years locked up for selling pot; and they are all what one might call model prisoners, serving life without parole. As time wrinkles their skin and weakens their bodies, Michael Kennedy of the Trans High Corporation has filed a legal petition with the federal government seeking their clemency. Otherwise they will die behind bars for selling a drug 40% of American adults have admitted to using, 50% of Americans want legal, and two states have already legalized for adult use. Since these men were convicted of these crimes many years ago, public opinion and policy related to marijuana have shifted greatly. Should these five non-violent senior-citizen offenders die behind bars for a crime Americans increasingly believe should not even be a crime?

1. John Knock, 65, has been incarcerated for more than 16 years. The only evidence against him was the testimony of informants; Knock was convicted of conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana. The judge sentenced him to 20 years for money laundering plus not one, but two terms of life-without-parole — a  punishment typically reserved for murderers. Despite the uniquely unjust sentence, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court denied his pleas for reconsideration via appeal or court order.
Waiting for death in jail, Knock suffers from chronic sinus problems linked to an untreated broken nose. Due to circulatory problems, one of his ankles swells to twice its size. Knock also suffers from what the legal petition called “untreated" hearing and vision problems. Easing some of his pain are visits from his family and his participation in prison programs. He has taught home building and physical education inside the prison that has become his home. According to the legal petition, he is assured employment and a home should his sentence be commuted.

2. Before he was incarcerated, Paul Free obtained a BA in marine biology and was starting a school while teaching English in Mexico. Now 62, he has continued his passion for education behind bars, where he has lived for the past 18 years. Free helps inmates prepare for the General Equivalency Diploma tests, and according to the petition, prison officials have applauded Paul’s hard work and his students’ high graduation rate. Paul suffers from degenerative joint disease, failing eyesight, sinus problems, and allergies, and he has had 11 skin cancers removed.

3. Once a union carpenter, Larry Duke, a 65-year-old decorated Marine, has spent the last 23 years of his life behind bars for weed. On top of the difficulties life in prison lays on the psyche, Duke suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from multiple tours in the Vietnam war. Like Knock, Duke received two life sentences without parole for a non-violent marijuana conspiracy, and was unsuccessful at appeal. According to the legal petition, Duke is the longest-serving nonviolent marijuana prisoner in the nation.  
Despite his incarceration in a country that has failed him, Duke works from behind bars to design patentable concepts that would assist the general public. While locked up, he has already managed to obtain a federal patent for a water-delivery system he plans to market to the U.S. Department of Defense. According to the legal petition, Duke enjoys the support of his wife and a growing family including two children, two grandsons, three siblings and many nieces and nephews. “They all want him to come home and be part of their lives and dreams,” the petition said.

4. William Dekle, 63, is also a former U.S. Marine serving two life sentences without parole, 22 of which he has already completed in a Kentucky penitentiary. Despite the depressing possibility that he will die behind bars, Dekle has participated in more than 30 prison courses, including counseling other inmates. Before his conviction, Dekle was a pilot certified in commercial and instrument flying, as well as multiengine aircraft. Now he suffers from a chronic knee injury. He is supported by his wife, two daughters, and grandchildren, who call him “Papa Billy.” Dekle’s relatives would ensure a stable home environment should he be granted clemency, the legal petition said.

5. Charles “Fred” Cundiff is a 66-year-old inmate who has served more than 20 years of his life sentence for marijuana. Before the marijuana arrest that changed his life forever, he worked in construction, retail and at a plant nursery. In prison, he worked for Unicor (Federal Prison Industries) for 12 years before his declining health interfered with his ability to work. Battling skin cancer, eye infections, and severe arthritis in his spine, Cundiff uses a walker. While the legal petition makes no mention of family, it says he is regularly visited by “friends from his youth.”
While these men have all spent many years behind bars for crimes they were convicted of many years ago, the same draconian punishments are handed down to marijuana criminals — young and old — to this day. Conspiracy charges, combined with mandatory minimums for marijuana sale and firearms charges, can quickly add up to decades behind bars. Should anyone in the entire criminal operation have a gun (legal or not), everyone involved can be charged with firearm possession during a drug offense, a five-year mandatory minimum that can reach 20 if the person is charged with continuing criminal enterprise — a long-term, large-scale operation. In the end, these sentences are often not applied, but used to encourage guilty pleas in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Marijuana prisoner Chris Williams is an example of one such case. He was recently facing a mandatory minimum of 85 to 92 years behind bars for providing medical marijuana in Montana, where it is legal. Citing a moral opposition to plea bargains forced by the threat of a lifetime in jail, WIlliams rejected a deal that would have drastically reduced his sentence by cutting away mandatory minimums. Then, this Tuesday, federal prosecutors agreed to drop six of eight of Williams’ charges, provided he waive his constitutional right to appeal. Now Williams faces a mandatory minimum of five years for the firearm-related charge, and another five for distribution.

“With the rest of my life literally hanging in the balance, I simply could not withstand the pressure any longer,” Williams said in a statement. “If Judge Christensen shows mercy and limits my sentence to the five-year mandatory minimum, I could be present at my 16-year-old son’s college graduation. This would most likely be impossible had I rejected the latest compromise.”

Kristen Gwynne covers drugs at AlterNet. She graduated from New York University with a degree in journalism and psychology.

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UPDATED: Marijuana Reformers Have Mixed Feelings About Drug Warrior Dianne Feinstein Heading Up Judiciary Committee

Posted on December 20, 2012. Filed under: Federal Government, legislation | Tags: , , , , |


Mike Riggs|Dec. 19, 2012 2:53 pm

Big, big update: CNN is reporting that Leahy has passed up the Appropriations Committee chair position, and will stay with Judiciary.

Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) bolstered the hopes of marijuana policy reformers last week when he sent a letter to President Obama’s drug czar discouraging federal raids in Colorado and Washington and promising to hold committee hearings on the conflicts between state and federal drug laws.

A week later, Leahy’s letter might as well have been a dream. He’s leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee to take over Sen. Daniel Inouye’s seat at Appropriations, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a committed drug warrior, is set to take over Judiciary.

"It took a moment or two for my fingers and toes to uncurl" after hearing the news, wrote Allen St. Pierre, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in an email.

Despite the fact that "cannabis is more socio-politically accepted [in Feinstein's base of San Francisco] than any where else in the nation…[Feinstein] is one of the most anti-cannabis politicos in the modern era," St. Pierre said.  "Looks like most of the reform action will continue at the state level for the next few years, notably if Feinstein bottles up any federal legislation that may have a chance of rising out of committee hearings."

St. Pierre has good cause for concern. In 2009, Feinstein wrote a letter to a constituent saying that while she "recognizes marijuana may have medicinal properties" and doesn’t "oppose further research on the potential medical efficacy of marijuana," she is opposed to "the legalization of any narcotic drugs, including marijuana." In 2010, Feinstein spoke out against Prop 19, the California ballot measure that sought to legalize recreational marijuana, calling it "a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, our workplaces and our communities less safe."

Whether she still feels this way is yet to be seen. As incoming head of the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein has already said her first priority in 2013 will be gun control.

Still, some marijuana reformers are hopeful that Feinstein, in light of the success of ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington, will be better on marijuana than her record suggests. 

"We look forward to working with Sen. Feinstein to develop a federal marijuana policy that respects the will of the voters in those states that have chosen to replace the underground marijuana market with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol," the Marijuana Policy Project’s Steve Fox said in a statement.

"President Obama recently highlighted the need for a conversation about how to reconcile state and federal marijuana laws. We hope Sen. Feinstein will facilitate that discussion so that we can arrive at a legislative solution that advances a state-based approach that does not undermine federal interests."

Others are coming down between Fox and St. Pierre–hopeful, but not too hopeful.

"While she hasn’t exactly been a friend to marijuana reform over the years, the fact is that public opinion is squarely on the side of letting states legalize marijuana if they want to," said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "And politically speaking, it’s just going to be increasingly difficult for a Democrat to get away with using the Judiciary Committee chairmanship as a platform for drug war cheerleading."

Angell hopes that Feinstein will "move forward with Chairman Leahy’s plans," but also sees a way for Leahy to affect drug policy on the Appropriations Committee. "Hopefully Sen. Leahy, if he does indeed take over the Appropriations chairmanship, will help see to it that some of the most ineffective punishment and interdiction-focused drug war programs are de-prioritized or eliminated."

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NJ Weedman – Explains his defense …

Posted on December 18, 2012. Filed under: Ed Forchion NJ Weedman | Tags: , , , , , , , , |


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Leahy Wants Clarification on State Marijuana Laws

Posted on December 16, 2012. Filed under: legislation, Marijuana & the Law | Tags: , , , , |


  • By John Gramlich
  • Roll Call Staff
  • Dec. 13, 2012, 5:36 p.m
  • Leahy pressed the administration on how it will react to new state drug laws.

     

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy is asking the Obama administration to clarify its position on the recreational use of marijuana, which two states legalized by referendum Nov. 6 but remains illegal under federal law.

    The Vermont Democrat on Thursday released a letter he sent to Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske on Dec. 6 asking how the agency intends to react to new state laws in Colorado and Washington that allow adults to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal purposes. The states’ laws also allow adults to create licensing schemes for the cultivation and distribution of the drug. Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, with cultivation, possession and distribution punishable by prison time.

    Leahy pressed the drug control office, which is part of the White House, on how it intends “to prioritize federal resources” in light of the new state laws and whether the administration can guarantee that it will not prosecute state officials who are involved in the licensing process.

    “What assurance can and will the administration give to state officials involved in the licensing of marijuana retailers that they will not face federal criminal penalties for carrying out duties assigned to them under state law?” Leahy wrote.

    Leahy also said Thursday that he will call a Judiciary Committee hearing early next year on those questions and others involving marijuana policy.

    State-federal discrepancies over marijuana policy are nothing new. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, 18 states and the District of Columbia now allow the use of medical marijuana, even though the federal government does not. For the most part, the Justice Department has not prosecuted violations of federal law in those states, but there have been notable exceptions in California and elsewhere.

    The new laws in Colorado and Washington go significantly further than the medical marijuana measures, however, and have raised concerns among state and federal lawmakers alike over how the legal differences will play out on the ground.

    State officials from Colorado and Washington have asked the administration for guidance, with the department so far saying only that its position “remains unchanged.”

    A bipartisan group of House members, meanwhile, is sponsoring legislation (HR 6606) that would prevent federal law from pre-empting state marijuana laws, an approach that sponsor Diana DeGette, D-Colo., has called a simple way to keep federal laws while respecting the state measures.

    In his letter Thursday, Leahy suggested that he could be open to supporting legislation like DeGette’s.

    “Legislative options exist to resolve the differences between federal and state law in this area and end the uncertainty that residents of Colorado and Washington now face,” he wrote. “One option would be to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law.”

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    OPEN Letter to Ohio Legislators and Washington DC

    Posted on December 11, 2012. Filed under: Opinions, Patients | Tags: , , , , , , |


     

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    by Tonya Davis on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 9:33pm ·

    Lawmakers… Please don’t let me die knowing that this plant could have saved me and you denied the same access as 18 states and DC as well as the 4 federal patients. You can stand up for me and many folks like me..

    (I just want to say thank you for reposting my Open Letter Note.)

    Come on Obama Administration… I need access to the whole plant of cannabis. I do not buy …. sell or grow… I should have the right to grow it like tomatoes for my medicine. I should be able to use its oils and juice its leaf or eat is raw. or smoke a joint whichever I need at the time.End marijuana Prohibition TODAY!!! and also SAVE Americans at the same time. This plant is the only thing that could save my life. Facebooker’s will you share this everywhere please.

    This is an open letter to my Ohio legislators.

    I have nowhere else to turn. I hope you hear my cries for help and I hope you stand up for me. Representative Bobby Hagan will be  Re introducing the Ohio medical compassion act which I hope you will consider cosponsoring  in January 2013.

    It would merely allow Ohio’s doctors and patients to decide whether or not medical cannabis could benefit them or not. It would allow the department of health to keep an eye on the program and make sure there were no abuses. Anyone that is in the program would be in a database so that you can keep track of this act of compassion.

    We also believe that it would save Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars by not arresting, incarcerating  and prosecuting folks for making a choice using cannabis as medicine. we also believe that the Obama administration would not bother our program because there would not be storefronts or dispensaries selling the product.

    Over 73% of Ohioans support the compassionate use of marijuana..I am not sure you are aware but our sister state of Michigan has a medical cannabis program. We believe that we should have the same rights as those folks  just across our border.

    Also Colorado and Washington just legalized marijuana for personal use.

    My name is Tonya Davis and I’m your constituent. I am a mother, grandmother, sister, daughter. I could be your neighbor, friend, coworker. You have seen me at the Ohio Statehouse over the last decade in a suit rolling around in my wheelchair trying to bring your attention to alternative medication that is actually safer than aspirin. Yes I’m talking about medical cannabis and this has been my choice of medicine. For a long time you said to me to "bring in a doctor that supports this issue" I have!  you have said "bring in the science that supports cannabis as medicine" I have.. You have said " get a Republican on board" WE HAVE… we have jumped through the hoops that you have asked us to jump through.

    We have a certified petition for the Ohio alternative treatment amendment that was certified by the SOS and the AG October of last year. We currently have house Bill 214  that is being ignored in the health committee because our speaker of the house refuses to give it a hearing. Now I’m asking you to save my life.

    My whole life I have begged for help no one ever hears me. I will be heard this time because  this is my life I’m fighting for and I’m going to die on my terms.

    Our government knows that cannabis is a medicine and that it is a neuro protective and antioxidant. they have  patents on it.  I am literally fighting for my life and my independence as well as tryin to keep my cognitive thinking okay.  By allowing me the same access as the 18 states plus Washington DC as well as the four patients that are currently allowed on federal level …it is not harming anyone.

    I deserve that same access even though I am in the state of Ohio. I should not have to go die like a wounded animal in the woods. (going to a state that does have medical cannabis laws) where  I have no family and a support system.

    I am not a drug addict, suffer from mental illness or have any type of criminal record.

    I do have my Ohio doctors support , I have my pharmacist support… I have my out-of-state written recommendation from my cannabinoid specialist .  I have lived in same place for the decade ive fought for this issue. Here is a video clip of me and my cannabinoid specialist 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP5QOvkv77Y&feature=share

    My neurologist came into my hospital room and told me a year ago that there was nothing that they can do for me anymore except keep me comfortable and treat symptoms. I have massive calcium deposits on my brain. I have pseudo-hypo parathyroidism which has completely disabled me and caused major medical problems such as crippling arthritis ,diseased esophagus, hiatal hernia ….inflamed bowel disease with adhesions wrapped around it…. severe hypocalcaemia…. very high phosphorous..  my blood pressure is all over the map … my heart rate is through the roof. All of this can be proven and backed up. Will you do the right thing and support compassion not corruption?

    My future is bleak but I have an opportunity to change things and to protect what brain that is not damaged yet.  and most importantly die on my terms.

    I CHALLENGE YOU TO SEND THIS TO ALL YOUR COLLEAGUES IN WASHINGTON.

    ADDITIONALLY, MS. DAVIS WROTE THE FOLLOWING…..

    If anything happens to me I blame my government for not allowing me the same access as my sister state Michigan or the other 17 states and DC …. I want my President to open his heart and allow me to fight for what life I have left with dignity and feel like I belong in this world as well. No ones ever heard me. As a child being abused and molested raped …I tried to tell anyone that would listen I was not heard or protected from age 5 to 12 when someone believed me I was removed to an orphanage. This is just the beginning of how my life spirals I am asking you remove sick people out of this drug war. I can not understand for the life of me how you can do anything you want to smoke a lot of pot do not get caught and you can be president of the United States. But If you do get caught with one joint it can ruin your life. Can we use common sense for drug policy when it comes to cannabis? why can the sister state Michigan get compassion and we don’t? I could go on about my life and I will but not right now. So as you can see there is a way you can save me. If our doctors are smarter now which I believe they are. They are licensed in the state of Ohio… We trust them to write prescriptions / with our lives in their hands anyway why can’t we trust them on determining whether or not their patient can benefit from the use of cannabis as a medicine? DEA will still have their work because people will still break the law. let our law-enforcement get real bad guys those committing domestic violence, violent crimes, home invasions harder drug addictions anything where there is a victim. There has to be a middle ground. I am tired of feeling like I’m a criminal and I don’t deserve to have to live in fear. It is the worst feeling ever. Let me know what you think on the subject. President Obama you are the one president that could change my life forever. What harm does it cause to allow someone like me to use cannabis as a medicine? I should be allowed to use that plant in any form. You could be America’s hero you could be my hero. Please read my open letter to share with your friends I would like you to care enough to stand with me. You all know this drug war is a lie? Have a lot to say tonight. I also want to say I am watching my friends die off one by one and I’m ready when father God calls me home… I don’t have to die right away I believe that with all my heart. Okay I’m done for a while… I may continue my talk if my community is watching ,thank you for being tolerant of me. You guys gave me my voice. Some day you will hear my whole story my life didn’t change until my mid-30s. It’s been a vicious cycle of domestic violence rape home invasion theft..even kidnapping my life has been a nightmare. No one has ever heard me I always fell before things changed. my life is make life movie. I would call it "If Only Heard" I have a strong testimony and willing to share it as well.. God has been a big part of my survival. seems like I had to experience all this to understand so id be a strong servant. my life is in Gods hand as well as our government…

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    $1.5B worth of marijuana confiscated in Appalachia

    Posted on December 7, 2012. Filed under: Drug War | Tags: , , , , |


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    By Roger Alford on December 05, 2012

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies confiscated more than $1.5 billion worth of marijuana this year in central Appalachia, a region where widespread unemployment may be turning some people to pot farming.

    Ed Shemelya, head of marijuana eradication in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, released preliminary figures Tuesday showing that aerial spotters guided ground crews to more than 760,000 plants during the 2012 growing season in the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

    They also arrested more than 400 growers in the region.

    Shemelya said nearly 430,000 of this year’s marijuana plants were found in Kentucky, a substantial increase for that state over 2011. The figures showed more than 192,000 plants were confiscated in West Virginia and more than 147,000 in Tennessee.

    The overall haul was down from last year, when law enforcement eradicated 1.1 million plants valued at more than $2 billion. But the total for this year is expected to rise. The final tally will be available by mid-January.

    The Appalachian region, a haven for moonshiners during Prohibition, has a near-perfect climate for marijuana cultivation, plus remote forests that help growers camouflage their crops.

    Marijuana can be lucrative, at least for those who don’t get caught. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates the street value of an average mature plant at $2,000.

    Shemelya said counties where the most marijuana was eradicated tended to be the ones that are struggling economically.

    "I think economic conditions in Appalachia drive the marijuana trade, and will continue to do so until such time that we start to see a recovery in Appalachia," he said.

    Double-digit unemployment rates are common in coalfield counties in Kentucky. At last count, Bell, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Leslie, Magoffin and Letcher counties had unemployment rates ranging from 13 percent to 15.5 percent.

    The federal Office of Drug Control Policy concentrates resources in the Appalachian region because so much marijuana is grown there — often in small plots of fewer than 100 plants that can easily be tended by a single grower. Only California produces more of the clandestine crop than Appalachia.

    "Our climate, hydrology, soil are ideal for cultivating cannabis," Shemelya said. "You can’t find a better mix for cultivating cannabis anywhere in the country."

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    Kentucky Mayor Danny Sparks Busted for Selling Marijuana Near School

    Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Drug War | Tags: , |


     

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    By Heather Manes, Thu, November 29, 2012

    The mayor of a Kentucky town was arrested Wednesday evening for selling marijuana near a school, according to police.

     

    The arrest took place after Danny Sparks, the mayor of Olive Hill in Carter County, sold the drugs to an undercover witness working with police.

    Sparks faces a class D felony charge for trafficking marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.

    According to the police chief Bobby Hall, the bust took place in a parking lot next to an elementary school.

    Sparks resigned Wednesday night after his arrest.

    Hall said the arrest came after a series of tips were submitted to FADE drug task force officers, which is a coalition between five police departments.

    “We had been looking into it for some time,” he said.

    Sparks was re-elected mayor of 2,000-population town in 2010, and has been serving at least a decade, according to Hall.

    “We’ve got drug problems, lawsuits, floods, this town has seen it all,” Hall said. “This is the last thing this town needs to deal with, it’s an embarrassment.”

     

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    Barren County Man Pleads Guilty to Huge Marijuana Grow

    Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Drug War | Tags: , |


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    BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The last of eleven defendants charged in one of the state’s largest indoor marijuana grow operations pleaded guilty this week in United States District Court before Chief Judge Thomas B. Russell to manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance, money laundering and possession of firearms by a convicted felon, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

    According to information presented in court, Dallas Norris, age 70, of Barren County, Kentucky, and ten co-defendants operated a sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operation, considered by Kentucky State Police (KSP) to be one of the largest of its kind discovered in the Western District of Kentucky. An initial tip to KSP led troopers to Norris’s Glasgow, Kentucky home, where they discovered 1,267 marijuana plants on November 12, 2011.

    “The successful prosecution of this multi-defendant drug production and distribution organization was made possible by a collaborative law enforcement approach,” stated David J. Hale, United States Attorney. “We are grateful for the good work of the State Police, the ATF and the Warren County Drug Task Force. As drug organizations become more sophisticated and often more brazen, we will rely on effective cooperation between federal and state authorities to protect the public and prosecute the offenders. Our communities are safer as a result of these efforts.”

    “Kentucky State Police is committed to combating the marijuana drug trade,” said Rodney Brewer, KSP Commissioner. “These enterprises have no limits and further fuel other illicit criminal organizations and their violence.”

    The investigation by KSP, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Warren County Drug Task Force revealed that the grow became operational in 2008 and had been producing seven to ten pounds of marijuana approximately every two weeks. Court records allege that Norris was selling the marijuana for $2,500 to $3,000 per pound and that he had taken elaborate measures to avoid detection of his operation including: illegally tapping the local power company main line to power the grow; and pumping and purifying cave water located on the property to water the extensive grow operation.

    According to the plea agreement, between February 1, 2011 and November 12, 2011, Norris was the leader of the conspiracy involving ten indicted co-defendants and others to manufacture over 1,000 marijuana plants at premises maintained by Norris for the purpose of manufacturing, storing, and distributing marijuana. Between February 28, 2008 and March 12, 2008, Norris structured three transactions with financial institutions by purchasing three cashier’s checks each in the amount of $9,000. Norris used the cashier’s checks and an additional personal payment of $6,114 to purchase a 2006 Ford truck. Norris admitted to structuring these transactions to evade bank reporting requirements. At the time of his arrest, Norris, a convicted felon, based upon his previous conviction for manufacturing marijuana, was in possession of two firearms.

    The ten co-defendants, charged in a May 16, 2012 federal superseding indictment, have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and await sentencing. The defendants are Josephine Polan of Flagler Beach, Florida; Roger L. Goheen, Shelli Goheen and Dennis Cain Goheen of Wellston, Ohio; Darryl G. Newsome, Kimberly Newsome, and Darryl Allen Newsome of Springfield, Ohio; Vanessa Golden of Covington, Kentucky; and Gary and Victoria Kampschaefer of Louisville.

    At sentencing, Norris faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, supervised release of five years, and a fine of $21,500,000. Norris will forfeit to the United States, a 2006 Ford F-250 truck, property located in Barren County, Kentucky and Jackson County, Ohio, $22,621 US currency, and miscellaneous farm equipment and collectibles.

    All defendants are scheduled for sentencing on March 5, 2013, before Senior Judge Russell in U.S. District Court, Bowling Green, Kentucky.

    This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mac Shannon and was investigated by KSP, ATF and the Warren County Drug Task Force.

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    Why Are We Testing Newborns for Pot?

    Posted on November 29, 2012. Filed under: CIVIL RIGHTS, Drug War | Tags: , , , , , |


    The science is alarmingly inconclusive, but the punishment for mothers is severe.

    November 23, 2012  |  

    Employees at US hospitals are testing more and more newborns for cannabis exposure. And, with alarming frequency, they are getting the wrong results. So say a pair of recent studies documenting the unreliability of infant drug testing.

     

     

    In the most recent trial, published in the September edition of the Journal of Clinical Chemistry , investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine evaluated the rate of unconfirmed "positive" immunoassay test results in infant and non-infant urine samples over a 52-week period. Shockingly, authors found that positive tests for carboxy THC, a byproduct of THC screened for in immunoassay urine tests, were 59 times less likely to be confirmed in infant urine specimens as compared to non-infant urine samples. Overall, 47 percent of the infant positive immunoassay urine samples evaluated did not test for the presence of carboxy THC when confirmatory assay measures were later performed.
    Immunoassay testing – the standard technology used in workplace drug testing – relies on the use of antibodies (proteins that will react to a particular substance or a group of very similar substances) to document whether a specific reaction occurs. Therefore, a positive result on an immunoassay test presumes that a certain quantity of a particular substance may be present in the sample, but it does not actually identify the presence of the substance itself. A more specific chemical test, known as chromatography, must be performed in order to confirm any preliminary analytical test results. Samples that test positive on the presumptive immunoassay test, but then later test negative on the confirmatory test are known as false positives.
    False positive test results for cannabis’ carboxy THC metabolite are relatively uncommon in adult specimens. Among newborns’ specimens, however, false positive results for alleged cannabis exposure are disturbingly prevalent.
    In April, researchers at the University of North Carolina reported in the journal Clinical Biochemistry that various chemicals present in various baby wash products, such as Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash and CVS Baby Wash, frequently cross-react with the immunoassay test to cause false positive results for carboxy THC.

    “[The] addition of Head-to-Toe Baby Wash to drug-free urine produced a dose dependent measureable response in the THC immunoassay,” the investigators concluded . “Addition of other commercially available baby soaps gave similar results, and subsequent testing identified specific chemical surfactants that reacted with the THC immunoassay. … Given these consequences, it is important for laboratories and providers to be aware of this potential source for false positive screening results and to consider confirmation before initiating interventions.”

    Following the publication of the UNC study, researchers at the University of Utah screened for the presence of baby soap contaminants in infant urine. Surprisingly, they didn’t find any . Rather, they concluded that the disproportionately high rate of false positive test results discovered among their samples were the result of a cross-reaction with some other yet-to-be determined constituent. They cautioned: “Until the compounds contributing to positive urine screen results in infants are identified, we encourage the use of alternative specimens for the detection and investigation of neonatal exposure to cannabinoids. Screen-positive cannabinoid results from infant samples should not be reported without confirmation or appropriate consultation, because they cannot currently be interpreted.”
    Yet despite these warnings, in many instances, hospitals fail to confirm the results of presumptive drug tests prior to reporting them to state authorities. (Because confirmatory testing is more expensive the immunoassay testing, many hospitals neglect to send such presumptive positive urine samples to outside labs for follow-up analysis.) Ironically, such confirmatory tests are required for all hospital employees who test positive for illicit substances. But presently, no such guidelines stipulate that similar precautions be taken for newborns or pregnant mothers. Explains Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women : “NAPW has had calls from numerous parents who were subjected to intrusive, threatening, and counterproductive child welfare interventions based on false or innocent positive test results for marijuana. We have learned that pregnant patients receive fewer guarantees of accuracy than do job applicants at that same hospital.” 

    Regardless of whether or not the drug screen results are confirmed, the sanctions for those subjects who test positive are often swift and severe. Typically, any report of alleged infant exposure to cannabis will trigger a host of serious consequences ranging from the involvement of social services to accusations of child endangerment or neglect. In some instances, mothers whose infants test positive for carboxy THC will lose temporary child custody rights and be mandated to attend a drug treatment program. In other instances they may be civilly prosecuted. At least 18 states address the issue of pregnant women’s drug use in their civil child neglect laws; in 12 states prenatal exposure to any illegal drug is defined by statute as civil child abuse. (One state, South Carolina, authorizes the criminal prosecution of mothers who are alleged to have consumed cannabis, or any other illicit substance, during pregnancy and carry their baby to term.) 
    Of further concern is the reality that the hospital staff’s decision to drug test infants or pregnant mothers appears to be largely a subjective one. There are no national standards delineating specific criteria for the drug testing of pregnant women, new mothers, or their infants. In fact, the only federal government panel ever convened to advise on the practice urged against its adoption. As a result, race and class largely influence who is tested and who isn’t. A study published in the  Journal of Women’s Health reported that "black women and their newborns were 1.5 times more likely to be tested for illicit drugs as non-black women," after controlling for obstetrical conditions and socio-demographic factors, such as single marital status or a lack of health insurance. A separate study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported similar rates of illicit drug consumption during pregnancy among both black and white women, but found that “black women were reported [to health authorities] at approximately 10 times the rate for white women.”
    How many mothers have been accused of child neglect or abuse because of false positive drug test results? Nobody knows for sure. But no doubt some mothers have been penalized solely as a result of the test’s inherent fallibility – and many more are likely to face similar sanctions in the future. That’s because the practice of drug testing infants for cannabis exposure remains a relatively popular even though there exists limited, if any, evidence to justify it.
    “No child-health expert would characterize recreational drug use during pregnancy as a good idea,” writes Time.com columnist Maia Szalavitz. “But it’s not at all clear that the benefits, if any, of newborn marijuana screening – particularly given how selectively the tests are administered – justify the potential harm it can cause to families.”
    Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform agrees, telling Time.com that the emotional damage caused by removing an infant child from their mothers, as well as the risk of abuse inherent to foster care, far outweigh any risks to the child that may be caused by maternal marijuana use during pregnancy. 
    In fact, the potential health effects of maternal marijuana use on infant birth weight and early development have been subject to scientific scrutiny for several decades. One of the earliest and most often cited studies on the topic comes from Dr. Melanie Dreher and colleagues, who assessed neonatal outcomes in Jamaica, where it is customary for many women to ingest cannabis, often in tea, during pregnancy to combat symptoms of morning sickness. Writing in the journal  Pediatrics in 1994, Dreher and colleagues reported no significant physical or psychological differences in newborns of heavy marijuana-using mothers at three days old, and found that exposed children performed better on a variety of physiological and autonomic tests than non-exposed children at 30 days. (This latter trend was suggested to have been a result of the socio-economic status of the mothers rather than a result of pre-natal pot exposure.)
    Separate population studies have reported similar results. A 2002 survey of 12,060 British women reported, “[C]annabis use during pregnancy was unrelated to risk of perinatal death or need for special care.” Researchers added that “frequent or regular use” of cannabis throughout pregnancy may be associated with “small but statistically detectable decrements in birthweight.” However, the association between cannabis use and birthweight failed to be statistically significant after investigators adjusted for confounding factors such as the mothers’ age, pre-pregnancy weight, and the self-reported use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and other illicit drugs.”

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    A Kentucky Congressman wants to see the production of industrial hemp in the Bluegrass State

    Posted on November 28, 2012. Filed under: Industrial HEMP, KENTUCKY WEED | Tags: , , , , , , |


     

     

    A Kentucky Congressman wants to see the production of industrial hemp in the Bluegrass State.

    Thomas Massie is co-sponsoring legislation that would require the federal government to honor state laws allowing hemp production.

    The proposed Industrial Hemp Farming Act would exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana.

    Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is co-sponsoring a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.

    Massie, of northern Kentucky, says industrial hemp could be an important agricultural product for farmers. 

    However, federal and state law enforcement are against its growth in the U.S.

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    Law, Science, and the Coming Brawl Over Marijuana

    Posted on November 15, 2012. Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana | Tags: , , , , , |


    The federal government is on the wrong side of science over medical marijuana. Until that changes, there’s no chance for legalization.

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    Colorado’s newly-passed Amendment 64 contemplates a brave new world in which adults in the state will be able to lawfully smoke small amounts of marijuana purchased from licensed (and heavily taxed) local retailers. But that world isn’t even scheduled to begin until 2014, and only then if there are significant changes in the many assorted ways in which federal law criminalizes recreational marijuana possession and use. There is the legal component to the issue. There is the political component to it. And of all the paths forward there is one that is clearest and the most fair. What are the odds that it is the one Washington now chooses?
    Since Colorado (and Washington state) legalized the use of recreational marijuana last week, the national conversation about what comes next has focused primarily on the obvious conflict between federal and state authority. On the one hand, we have the Controlled Substances Act, the venerable federal statute that for the past four decades has labelled marijuana as a "Schedule 1" substance on par with heroin. And on the other hand we have a clear policy choice made by voters in the election of 2012 that marijuana should be treated like alcohol. There’s been a rebellion out west, in other words, which the feds are destined to win.
    But there is another conflict here that’s been splayed open by the ballot initiatives, one which is more fundamental to the future of lawful marijuana use than any argument the feds will now use to stop the state initiatives. It’s the ongoing conflict over the science of marijuana, over the quality of proof of its medicinal values, which is central to the coming court fights. Until the Drug Enforcement Administration changes its marijuana classification, until lawmakers recognize its therapeutic uses, reformers like those in Colorado and Washington will be crushed in court.
    The federal policy choice on marijuana’s classification is the horse. The Justice Department’s coming use of that policy against the states is the cart. And that’s why the timing of the state initiatives is so compelling. Just last month, a few weeks before the election, a panel of three federal judges in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments in a case on this very point called Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration. The feds say that studies of the virtues of medical marijuana are not rigorous enough to warrant a change in DEA policy. The reformers say there is enough proof, and testimony, to justify the change.
    So far, the case hasn’t gotten nearly as much coverage as it should have, and as it would have had the hearing been held this week (last Tuesday, Massachusetts also became the 18th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana). But here’s all you need to know about the institutional forces of the law which are working against the reformers. Referring to the DEA, Judge Merrick Garland asked a question a million judges before him have asked when evaluating whether to push a federal agency to do something it hasn’t before wanted to do: "Don’t we have to defer to their judgment?"
    Their judgment. The Colorado and Washington initiatives are the most forceful and populist responses yet to the antiquated judgment of DEA policy makers. The state measures also are a repudiation of Congress’ discriminatory marijuana laws and the law-and-order lobby’s priorities. And even if the new state laws stand today on poor legal ground–let’s face it, they do–the success of the initiatives out West already has sent a strong political message to Washington on marijuana policy: You can’t go back. You can no longer stay still. The only choice left is to figure out the smartest way to go forward.
    Something’s gotta give. Right now, a White House that prides itself on being on the right side of science when it comes to global warming is on the wrong side of science when it comes to medical marijuana. Right now, a Congress that praises states’ rights is hampering the ability of states to experiment with new sources of revenue. Right now, the federal government in all its forms is taking a position which may have made sense in the early 1970s but which is now directly at odds with the testimony of thousands of military veterans who say marijuana helps ease their pain.
    The faces of the movement aren’t just the young voters out West who think it’s absurd that they can drink alcohol but can’t get high. They aren’t just the entrepreneurs in Colorado who are making the marijuana industry a burgeoning, tax-revenue-generating retail industry. They aren’t the conservative figures who want to stop paying the prison costs of incarceration for marijuana offenses. They are also American war veterans like Michael Krawitz. He’s a disabled plaintiff in the ongoing DEA lawsuit in Washington. Here’s how The Guardian explains why:

    Krawitz had been receiving opiate-based pain relief from the VA until they discovered a prescription for medical marijuana he had received while abroad. They asked him to take a drug test and when he refused, they stopped his treatment. "It said right there in the contract that if they find illegal drugs in your system they they will not give you any pain treatment," he said. "I found that offensive. I’ve been getting this pain treatment for years."

    The Colorado and Washington measures aren’t likely a tipping point for marijuana legalization. But they may be a tipping point toward a federal drug policy that recognizes that marijuana is different from heroin–and even that would be a long-overdue step in the right direction. The Justice Department soon will challenge the state initiatives in court and the feds almost certainly will win. No federal judge wants to be the one to declare marijuana "legal" before Congress or the DEA does. What the White House ought to do in the meantime, however, is demand a broad new review of the federal government’s marijuana policies.
    At a minimum, such a review ought to embrace the following truths, which appear to millions of Americans, including millions of young people who came out to vote for President Obama, to be self-evident. The Controlled Substances Act didn’t come down from the mountaintop. Marijuana’s "Schedule 1" classification isn’t engraved in stone. And the DEA and its policy experts are hardly the Sanhedrin. Whatever else they mean, the Colorado and Washington laws mean the time has come for the feds to better justify a drug policy that has lost key pillars of its factual and political support.
    If the administration undertakes this sort of review–"hopefully, the historic in in Colorado will help pressure the federal government to bring a more science-based approach to drug laws," coyly says Brian Vicente, one of the attorneys behind Amendment 64–it will help insulate the White House from progressive complaints about the coming federal litigation to block the two legalization measures. And it will hardly outrage conservatives, many of whom, like the Koch brothers, support legalization efforts. Such a review, you could say, is the very least the President could do for all those people who came out to vote for him these past two cycles.
    That, anyway, is the larger view. For a closer look, I asked Professor Sam Kamin, who teaches at the University of Denver Law School, to share his thoughts on what’s likely to happen next in Colorado. Kamin has closely followed Colorado’s successful embrace of medical marijuana as well as its new dance with outright legalization. Here is a (slightly) edited transcript of our email interview:
    COHEN: The voters have spoken. Colorado’s Constitution is changed. But isn’t the next step legislation and regulation within the state to determine how it is all going to work? I’m sure you’ve thought about happens now within the state government. As specifically as you can, please walk me through the next few weeks and months.

    KAMIN: Everything now depends on what the federal government does next. We know that our governor has been in conversations with the Attorney General Holder about what the Justice Department will do next, but so far he has not been particularly forthcoming about what he has learned. If the federal government indicates a willingness to permit Washington and Colorado to proceed with legalization- and I very much doubt that it will–then the legislature and administrative agencies in these states will begin work on how the industry will be taxed and regulated. This should not be a particularly complicated task; Colorado has regulated and taxed medical marijuana since 2010. Little would need to change about this regulation except removing the requirement that those seeking to buy marijuana from a licensed retailer obtain a doctor’s recommendation first.

    COHEN: The average citizen in Colorado who voted for this Amendment is wondering when she’ll be able to buy marijuana and smoke it legally without a medical certification. Is that completely dependent upon how the coming legal fight plays out? And is the expectation that the feds will challenge the initiative at the point of sale? 

    KAMIN: I think this is the crucial question. The federal government has always had the power to shut down state experimentation with marijuana legalization. Marijuana remains a controlled substance whose sale and manufacture are prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Thus, every sale of marijuana in every state–whether it has legalized marijuana for medical purposes or otherwise–remains a federal crime. The federal government could thus arrest every person who sells marijuana in these states or at least arrest enough of them to make the others reconsider their choices.

    A less confrontational approach would be to file suit–as the federal government did in Arizona to enjoin the enforcement of SB 1070–to prevent the implementation of Amendment 64.  Interestingly, there is little the federal government could do about Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana–the federal government lacks the power to force the states to criminalize any particular conduct. The states are under no obligation to mirror the CSA or to help the federal government enforce it. Thus, the states may presumably repeal their marijuana prohibitions without running afoul of federal law.

    However, the second part of Amendment 64–requiring the state to set up procedures for the licensing of recreational marijuana dispensaries–is more problematic. The federal government could allege that such state-level sanctioning of marijuana businesses would constitute an impermissible obstacle to the enforcement of the CSA. Where state and federal law conflict, the federal law is supreme.

    COHEN: The Justice Department has said since the election that Amendment 64 doesn’t change federal law and of course it doesn’t. Is there any way for the initiative to survive without a change to the federal classification of marijuana as a controlled substance on par with heroin? How can Colorado and Washington (state) move Washington to reevaluate that classification?

    KAMIN: A little-understood aspect of the marijuana legalization movement is that the reclassification of marijuana would likely prove fatal to the legalization movement. Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I narcotic, a drug whose manufacture and sale are strictly prohibited. If it were re-classified to a less serious category it would then be available as medicine, likely subject to a doctor’s prescription. Of course, such a rule, which the federal government would likely enforce more strictly than it has the current prohibition, would forbid the licensing of recreational dispensaries in the states. Marijuana law reform has been proceeding along parallel tracks–in the courts, Congress and in the states–and those different tracks are beginning to create tensions.

    COHEN: Look into your crystal ball. What’s the most likely outcome here? If there is to be a surprise, legally or politically, what do you figure it will be?

    KAMIN: I imagine we will see something less than the dramatic federal response described above. I imagine the federal government will offer the states a return to the status quo prior to November 6. That is, I can imagine the Justice Department telling the states that it will continue to grudgingly permit the states to continue with medical marijuana but that full legalization is a bridge too far. This was essentially the message that Attorney General Holder sent to the California voters who ultimately rejected Proposition 19 in 2010. It was a difficult message for the Obama administration to send in a presidential election year in a swing state, however. With the election now passed, we may see a repeat of 2010. Like everyone else, though, I’m simply guessing.

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