Medical Marijuana Business Attracts Hedge Funds, Venture Capitalists

Marijuana has been a cash crop for many years in this country. The only problem is that most of that crop had been grown illegally. Now, that medical marijuana is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia, legalized marijuana has quickly become so popular it is attracting attention from hedge fund managers and venture capitalists, not to mention a whole new batch of entrepreneurs.

Doctors still can’t prescribe marijuana because it is categorized as a schedule one drug like LSD. But they can recommend it and that’s all anyone needs to get a medical marijuana license that allows them to buy marijuana legally in those 15 states, with three more states about join them.

Each license sells for around $130 and some clinics selling the licenses have brought in more than a million dollars in just their first year. The once illegal joint is selling like hot cakes throughout middle America to consumers who no longer have to worry about getting arrested for possession, at least by local or state authorities.

The federal government still outlaws marijuana possession but it’s unlikely someone with a medical marijuana license will be busted by an FBI or DEA agent if caught smoking in his or her own home. In fact, just last year U.S. enforcers promised to leave medical marijuana operations alone if they complied with state law.

That prompted a significant increase in interest among entrepreneurs. Today, there are an estimated 2,400 medical marijuana dispensaries from California to Maine. In Colorado, they outnumber Starbucks two to one.


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Rep. Lewis passed over for powerful chairmanship

Republicans passed over  Rep. Jerry Lewis in favor of a veteran Kentucky lawmaker Wednesday to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The party’s steering committee rejected Lewis’s request to waive term limits that bar him from reclaiming the post he held when Republicans last held the majority.

The decision deprives Lewis of a position that would have given him control over the federal government’s purse strings and a heightened ability to direct millions of dollars to his home district, which includes some of the Pass area.

See also: CREW’s Most Corrupt: Rep. Jerry Lewis

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Mexicans Say U.S. Drug Crackdown Feeds Violence

Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – A Mexican law enforcement agency is blaming recent violence along the border in large part to a U.S. crackdown on drug traffickers, prompting skepticism from American government agencies.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública) reported that in the past six months the value of cocaine in Mexico has escalated from $431 million to $811 million because fewer of the illegal shipments are making their way into the United States since Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

Obama administration anti-drug efforts have included sending an additional 400 Department of Homeland Security agents to the border, which included specialists from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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A little brain food for the perpetually Recovering City of Big Bear Lake Council and other prostitutes of the Prison-Industrial Complex

Big Bear’s Out, Aspen’s in Cannabis competition coming to Aspen this spring aims to find out

[ Don't waste your time in the Recovering Big Bear, where the Nazi Republican pigs are stinking, business sucks and attitudes offend visitors.  Big Bear is now devoted to AA and urine samples.  Let's head for Aspen! ]

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — It’s like a beer competition for marijuana.

A cannabis festival in Aspen, Colorado, this spring will be the first in the state for approved growers to put their strains in a contest.

The Western Slope Cannabis Crown will have about 50 medical marijuana growers enter their strains of weed. The marijuana strains will be diagnostically tested for their THC levels. Growers will also be able to sell to medical marijuana patients. The customers would vote on a “people’s choice” strain.

The Cannabis Crown organizer, Bobby Scurlock, says about 1,500 tickets have been sold for the two-day event.

Meth hype by DEA Agent, prosecutor, gets life sentence overturned

Some 3-1/2 years ago I highlighted a case out of my hometown in Tyler, Texas, where

two newlyweds were sentenced to life in prison for possessing 255 grams of meth. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent testified at trial that 255 grams was enough to get 45,000 people “high” — “If those people were lined up side by side, they would form a line from downtown Tyler to Bullard about 17 miles, he said.”

Last month the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned punishment phase of the trial – on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel because the defendant’s lawyer failed to object to testimony by a DEA Agent Downing (first name omitted), as well as for failing to call an expert witness to rebut the absurdist claims about 255 grams of meth getting 45,000 people high..

The court also found the prosecutor in the case made prejudicial arguments during closing by telling the jury that “[p]eople are bringing [methamphetamine] through our county to its destination: Our kids and our family members, so it will poison them and turn them into addicts.” As I pointed out at the time:

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Jury selection begins in trial of Ohio DEA agent

CLEVELAND — Jury selection began Wednesday in the trial of a federal drug agent charged with framing 17 people in a case that could influence the way confidential informants are handled.

Prospective jurors crowded the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. for the opening of the government’s case against Lee Lucas, 41. Lucas, a 19-year U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration veteran, sat between his two defense attorneys and took notes, watching prospective jurors as they responded to the judge’s questions.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Lucas, whose work included a stint in Bolivia fighting drug traffickers, faces 18 charges including obstruction of justice, making a false statement, perjury and violating civil rights. If convicted, he could face more than five years in prison.

Lucas, who was turned aside interview requests, has pleaded not guilty. He is on administrative leave.

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Small Town Illinois Sheriff Charged With Pot Dealing And Murder-For-Hire

Raymond Martin had been sheriff in tiny Gallatin County, Illinois, for 20 years. So when he was arrested on federal drug and gun charges last May for allegedly running a large-scale marijuana dealing operation out of his police SUV, residents were shocked.

But that was only the beginning.

On Saturday, when Martin’s wife Kristina Martin and 20-year-old son Cody Martin came to visit him at the jail, they were both promptly arrested. All three were charged Monday on state murder-for-hire charges.

According to the complaint, the trio arranged to have two men — identified as Kevin B. and Thomas H. — carry out first degree murder. The charging documents don’t detail the alleged plot. But citing a source close to the investigation, ABC affiliate WSIL reported that the subjects of the alleged murder plot were two witnesses in Raymond’s upcoming drug trial.

The three are scheduled to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court today.

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Old school meth: Mexican cartels go back to basics

Mexican cartels are increasingly going “old school” to keep supplying America with methamphetamine despite an ingredient squeeze.

Some gangs have responded to a Mexican crackdown on their meth chemical of choice — pseudoephedrine — by reviving a production method so old, it was used by U.S. motorcycle gangs and bathtub chemists in the 1970s and ’80s, recent seizures show.

The re-emergence of the “P2P method” demonstrates how frustrating it is to crack down on a synthetic drug that — unlike cocaine, heroin and marijuana — comes from recipes of chemical ingredients, known as “precursors,” instead of a plant.

When police succeed in cutting off the supply of one precursor, traffickers move on to or make another.

“Chemical restrictions are like squeezing mud, the stuff just comes out between your fingers,” said Steve Preisler, who wrote the “Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture” under the nom de plume Uncle Fester and is considered the father of modern meth-making. “They make life difficult for the smurfers (home producers) but for people with connections, well, they find it to be no problem at all.”
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FARC in Colombia : A History of Armed Resistance

CARTAGENA DE INDIES, Colombia — In May 2003 a leak from the Bush Treasury Department indicated that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) was about to add to its extensive narcotics traffickers list. This time it would add someone in Colombia.

OFAC would be using one of the enlightened Republican Congress’s new drug war laws, the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. I was pretty sure who the new addition would be. The word “kingpin” was a dead giveaway.

It had to be the guy who had attained high office; whose brother had organized 20 or more death squads and maintained a couple of them out at the family hacienda; whose cousin in the Colombian Congress was the mouthpiece for those death squads as well as a close friend and promoter of various well known narcotraficantes, including the legendary Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria; someone whose own father was wanted by the Colombian police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for cocaine trafficking when he was killed in an abortive kidnap plot; and who himself was removed from his position as mayor of Medellín for having well-known ties to drug runners.

Who else could it be, but master criminal and El Presidente himself, Álvaro Uribe Vélez?

Imagine my surprise when it was announced the next day, that it was not Uribe after all, but the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo) and 15 of their known or suspected leaders, even though I already knew they had to be a bad bunch of hombres. Five years before, in 1997, they were named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State.

It couldn’t have been easy to make it to the top of two government lists at the same time (the terrorist list and the narcotraficantes list) and be the defining designees of a whole new hyphenated word, “Narco-terrorist”! That should keep them from gaining credibility with anyone with media access in the U.S.! I started wondering who these FARC guys were. Somebody needed to check them out, find out where they came from, and why.

See also:

New Year Greetings from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC)

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Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

News out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India reports massive corruption at the highest levels of government, corruption that could only be financed with drug money. In Afghanistan, the president’s brother is known to be one of the biggest drug runners in the world.

In Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari is found with 60 million in a Swiss Bank and his Interior Minister is suspected of ties to American groups involved in paramilitary operations, totally illegal that could involve nothing but drugs, there is no other possibility.

Testimony in the US that our government has used “rendition” flights to transport massive amounts of narcotics to Western Europe and the United States has been taken in sworn deposition.

American mercenaries in Pakistan are hundreds of miles away from areas believed to be hiding terrorists, involved in “operations” that can’t have anything whatsoever to do with any Central Intelligence Agency contract. These mercenaries aren’t in Quetta, Waziristan or Federally Administered Tribal Areas supporting our troops, they are in Karachi and Islamabad playing with police and government officials and living the life of the fatted calf.

The accusations made are that Americans in partnership with corrupt officials, perhaps in all 3 countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, are involved in assassinations, “unknown” criminal activities and are functioning like criminal gangs.

There is no oil. There is nothing to draw people into the area other than one product, one that nobody is talking about. Drugs.

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Dutch MP: Curaçao is US spy base

Mr. Harry an Bommel has asked Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen whether he is aware that a Boeing RC-135 aircraft has been making regular reconnaissance flights from the Caribbean island’s Hato International Airport airport over the past few weeks.

War on drugs
The flights were the cause of angry reactions by Venezuelan president Hugo Rafael Chávez, who accused the Netherlands of colluding with the United States. The Hague government is contributing to rising tensions between Venezuela and Colombia, according to the Venezuelan authorities.

The opposition MP said it is up to the Netherlands to help de-escalate these tensions. He is asking for a ban on American military flights over Colombia from the Antilles. Ostensibly such flights are part of the US “war on drugs” but Mr. Van Bommel claims they are also used in a “war on guerrillas”. The MP wants to scrap the US-Netherlands Forwards Operations Location Treaty enabling the Americans to use airfields in Curaçao and the Antilles for anti-drugs flights.

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US to stop funding scandal-prone Colombian spy agency

The US Congress has voted to stop subsidizing Colombia’s soon-to-be dismantled Administrative Department of Security (DAS – Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) intelligence agency.

The Colombian government recently decided to disband DAS, after it was found to have illegally wiretapped the phones of several public figures, including the chief of the Colombian National Police (Policía Nacional de Colombia), the Minister of National Defense, as well as those of former Presidents, Supreme Court judges, prominent journalists, union leaders and human rights campaigners.

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Record High Federal Prosecutions in 2009

FY 2009 Federal Prosecutions Sharply Higher

Analyzing data from the United States Department of Justice, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University has released this report showing a 9% increase in federal prosecutions compared to last year. At a total of 169,612, the swell in prosecutions is attributed to “an unusual flood of immigration prosecutions.” According to the report, immigration and narcotics cases represented the majority of prosecutions, with the former at 54% and the latter at 16%.

In regards to what agencies referred cases for prosecution, Customs and Border Protection filed 46.5%, Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed 12%, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed 9%, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed 6%, and all other agencies filed 18%. The report also touches on the administrative priorities of the Justice Department.

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Mumbai terror suspect David Headley was ‘rogue US secret agent’

A key terror suspect who allegedly helped to plan last year’s attacks in Mumbai and plotted to strike Europe was an American secret agent who went rogue, Indian officials believe.

David Coleman Headley (aka Daood Sayed Gilani), 49, who was born in Washington to a Pakistan diplomat father and an American mother, was arrested in Chicago in October. He is accused of reconnoitering targets in India and Europe for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based terror group behind the Mumbai attacks and of having links to al-Qaeda. He has denied the charges.

He came to the attention of the US security services in 1997 when he was arrested in New York for heroin smuggling. He earned a reduced sentence by working for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) infiltrating Pakistan-linked narcotics gangs.

Indian investigators, who have been denied access to Mr. Headley, suspect that he remained on the payroll of the US security services — possibly working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — but switched his allegiance to LeT.

“India is looking into whether Headley worked as a double agent,” an Indian Ministry of Home Affairs official said yesterday.

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A video to warm the heart of Big Bear’s new “appointed” shill, “Doc” Harris

Another win for Big Alcohol: The Recovering City of Big Bear Lake Council bows to the prison-industrial complex

[ BBOP Comment: There's a related post at Cactus Thorns.

Liz, didn't you and your deceased husband once feed yourselves by brokering jailhouse meals?  Still in the business?

Greg, enough with the deceitful propaganda.  Your boss, like Assembly candidate Paul Chabot, is developmentally disabled from childhood trauma due, significantly, to the war on drugs.  Direct him to seek counseling from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - and become a real cop.

The latest poll shows that the MAJORITY of American want pot legalized, period - not just medical marijuana.  And the DEA was forced to remove its false statements about marijuana from its website when the American Medical Association stepped into the act.  That woman who was pistol-whipped...?  Tell us why, Greg.  What was the assailant after, and why?  A good argument for legalization, would you not say?  As quoted in this Grizzly article, you are a liar, if by omission.  Who, exactly do you represent?

You all SHOULD be red.  Where are those new clothes, Emperor? This is what you and your Brownies serve.

The truth is that legalization is the key to ending drug violence, Eliot Ness. This issue has now become a matter of national security (even if that mattered, in the face of more important PEOPLE).  It is time to eliminate welfare for terrorists.

Your legacies, as will be known to your children and future generations, are a matter of your choice. Stand up, tall and proud, and choose yours. ]

The city of Big Bear Lake is saying no to marijuana dispensaries. During the Dec. 14 City Council meeting, council members unanimously approved two ordinances prohibiting dispensaries within the city limits.

The city’s director of building and planning, Jim Miller, said the ordinances will clarify the city’s stance in prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries. “(The development code) does have language prohibiting land use in violation of federal law,” Miller said. “We felt it was important to strengthen our municipal code.”

Medical marijuana dispensaries are prohibited by federal law under the Controlled Substances Act. These same dispensaries are legal under the state of California’s Compassionate Use Act. The city of Big Bear Lake does not have specific language in its municipal code regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance will clarify local regulation of land use, Miller said.

According to Miller, the city has received several inquiries and one business license application to establish medical marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. The city denied the requests based on Development Code Section 17.01.030 (F) that prohibits land use in violation of federal, state or county plans, regulations or laws.

The City Council also passed a second ordinance that serves as an interim regulation while the municipal code is amended. The interim urgency ordinance places a 45-day moratorium on the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance can be extended for an additional 10 months and 15 days after public notice and a public hearing.

Miller said in light of recent problems in Los Angeles County and San Diego County, city staff believes it is necessary to immediately address the issue. There seems to be an increase in the potential risk of criminal activities near dispensary sites, according to the staff report. “This has created a lot of controversy,” Miller said.

Capt. Greg Garland of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department urged the City Council to approve the ordinances. “San Diego is going through the same problems that we’ve been reading about in Los Angeles,” Garland said. Recently, a woman was pistol-whipped while inside a San Diego dispensary, he said.

“We’re looking at how other counties are dealing with the rules and regulations,” Garland said. “We just want additional time to research.”

Mayor pro tem Bill Jahn asked why the moratorium couldn’t automatically extend to the full 10 months. Miller explained that state law requires the 45-day moratorium and subsequent expansion.

The moratorium allows city staff to do more research before recommendations are made to amend the municipal code.

Arizona Dictator Sheriff Joe Arpaio Approaching Retirement

The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious “sweeps,” in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

“I wanted to show everybody it didn’t make a difference,” Arpaio said of the Obama administration’s order.

Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and remains widely popular across the state. For two decades, he has basked in publicity over his colorful tactics, such as dressing jail inmates in pink underwear and housing them in outdoor tents during the brutal Phoenix summers.

But he has escalated his tactics in recent months, not only defying the federal government but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him. He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.
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‘Counterinsurgency’ to Fight U.S. Crime? No, Thanks

After the sickening murder of a 9-year-old boy in Washington, our friend Spencer Ackerman made an impassioned plea: U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus for D.C. metro police chief. The idea of America’s leading counterinsurgent taking on one of its most crime-ridden towns definitely has a certain visceral appeal. But militarizing our approach to policing is an idea that could backfire in a hurry.

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ACTION ALERT: Force DEA to Tell the Truth About Medical Marijuana

In a significant reversal, the American Medical Association on November 10 acknowledged the medical value of marijuana and called for the U.S. government to reconsider marijuana’s current classification as a Schedule I substance (drugs that the government says have “no currently accepted medical use”).

However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still claims on its website that, “The American Medical Association recommends that marijuana remain a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Please use the form at to send a message to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice, asking them to correct this misinformation on a government website.

Mexico : Drug Decrim and the 10,000-Ton Monkey

Pot smoker in Mexico City. Mexicans consume an estimated 342 tons of marijuana a year. Photo by Castillo / AP.

Legalization is the only answer…
Mexico’s massive drug problem

As poet Juan Pablo Garcia posited long ago in his 1985 Pacheco (marijuana user) Manifesto: ‘drugs don’t make us criminals but laws against drugs do.’

By John Ross / The Rag Blog / November 9, 2009

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has a 10,000 ton monkey on its back and its name is Washington D.C.

While U.S. drug enforcers gloat that 15-foot walls, high tech sensors, drones, blimps, spotter planes and rampant militarization have put a significant dent in the flow of cocaine across its porous southern border, drug use escalates exponentially south of that border. The reason: Colombian-Mexican cartels are now holding their loads longer in Mexico, waiting for the appropriate arrangements to be made to move the blow into El Norte.

Inevitably, the cocaine and to a lesser extent crystal meth and heroin (marijuana is readily available in the U.S., the world’s largest producer of the weed) leak into the Mexican street where fierce competition for sales and consumption is out of control. As a result, over 13,000 lives have been lost since President Felipe Calderon went to war with the drug cartels in December 2006, many of them in turf battles over trans-shipment routes and retail sales in Mexican cities.

Moreover, in the three years of Calderon’s drug war, which is being underwritten by $3,000,000,000 in Washington’s Merida Initiative funds, the number of “addicts” on this side of the border has risen by 460,000 and now totals almost a million, according to the estimates provided by the National Council on Addictions, and first-time users have jumped from 3.5 million to 4.5 million — some drug experts calculate that 10 million would be closer to the mark, depending on definitions of “user” and “addict.” One dangerous corollary: the Mexican prison system is bursting apart at the seams and lethal violence is on the rise.

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The Strength of the Pack: The People, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA

Through interviews with former narcotics agents, politicians, and bureaucrats, this exposé documents previously unknown aspects of the history of federal drug law enforcement from the formation of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) up until the present day. Written in an easily accessible style, the narrative examines how successive administrations expanded federal drug law enforcement operations at home and abroad; investigates how the Central Intelligence Agency comprised the war on drugs; analyzes the Regan, Bush, and Clinton administrations’ failed attempts to alter the DEA’s course; and traces the agency’s evolution into its final and current stage of “narco-terrorism.”

is a former private investigator and consultant and the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, The Strength of the Wolf, and TDY. He lives in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Visit the author’s site for more info, and the author’s blog.

The Drug War Leads to Gun Control

A fundamental principle of interventionism holds that one government intervention inevitably leads to more interventions, in order to “fix” the problems of the previous interventions. At the end of this road lies omnipotent government and the loss of freedom.

A good example of this phenomenon is being provided by a group called the Binational Task Force , whose co-chairman , Robert C. Bonner, is former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The group, which also includes two former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico, wants to reinstate the assault-weapon ban that was enacted during the Clinton era.

Guess what the group cites as its justification for such gun control: the drug war. Yes, that war that everyone admits has failed to achieve its objectives despite 45 years of vicious warfare. The task force is saying that reenacting the assault-weapons ban will reduce the drug-war violence that now pervades Mexico.

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Feds issue new medical marijuana policy (to Good Ol’ Boy Hoops)

WASHINGTON – Pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states that allow medical marijuana, prosecutors were told Monday in a new policy memo issued by the Justice Department.

Under the policy spelled out in a three-page legal memo, federal prosecutors are being told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

The guidelines issued by the department do, however, make it clear that federal agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes.

The memo advises prosecutors they “should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

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Is war on drugs worth it? Maybe not, new FBI data suggest

Many law enforcement officers now say the drug interdiction effort is costly and unsuccessful. The bulk of drug arrests in 2008 were for simple possession, almost half for marijuana.

Atlanta – Every 18 seconds, an American is busted for drug possession, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s (FBI) crime statistics released Monday.

The new statistics point to a continued emphasis on drug interdiction – otherwise known as the “war on drugs” – that more and more law enforcement officers are now questioning. While many experts hold the anti-drug campaign to be the key reason for the decline in the crime rate in the US, especially violent crime, since the 1990s, these police officers, as well as current and retired judges and prosecutors see, instead, thousands of American lives ruined for small drug infractions in a costly and possibly unwinnable “war.”

“Not only do these officers see the terrible results that their work has had on individuals’ lives, but a lot of what I hear from beat officers and undercover narcotics agents is they’ve seen colleagues die in the line of fire trying to enforce laws that have no positive impacts,” says Tom Angell, a spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) in Washington. “For a lot of them, this is about trying to keep good cops alive by repealing stupid prohibition laws.”

According to the latest FBI figures, 82.3 percent of all drug arrests in 2008 were for possession, and 44.3 percent of these for possession of marijuana. Arrests totaled more than 1.7 million.

“You can get over an addiction, but you will never get over a conviction, said Jack A. Cole, a retired undercover narcotics agent and LEAP director, in a statement Tuesday about the “collateral consequences” of the war on drugs.

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Report: Top anti-drug official was ’secret ally of drug lords’

DEA says key ICE official sold info about informants, ran Panamanian cocaine to Spain via US ports

Richard Padilla Cramer, a 26-year veteran anti-drug official, is behind bars, arrested after officials accused him of directing a massive cocaine shipment to Spain via the United States, and selling important information in law enforcement databases to a vicious Mexican drug cartel.

In other words, Cramer, a key Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who worked in Guadalajara and Nogales, Arizona, was allegedly “a secret ally of drug lords,” reported The Los Angeles Times.

“The suspected criminal activity that Richard Padilla Cramer has been charged with occurred in 2007 while he was working as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to a criminal complaint issued on Aug. 28 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami,” noted The Arizona Star.

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The former chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration‘s Miami office, who led the agency’s cases against infamous Panama strongman Manuel Noriega and Medellín Cartel kingpin, Fabio Ochoa Vázquez, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for ordering the shredding of records belonging to disgraced banker Allen Stanford.

Tom Raffanello, who left the DEA five years ago to become Stanford’s local security chief, was charged with ordering workers to destroy thousands of documents just days after government agents shut down the banking empire in a massive fraud case.

Prosecutors say the records — including secret background reports on employees and potential investors — were hauled away from the company’s security bunker in Fort Lauderdale after a federal judge ordered that no company paperwork be destroyed.

The Justice Department wages war on pain relief

No good deed goes unpunished when a private citizen is up against the federal drug warriors–those members of the Department of Justice who have been seeking, with increasing success in recent decades, to effectively control the practice of pain relief medicine. But a current drama being played out in federal court in Kansas portends an even darker turn in the DOJ’s war–a private citizen is being threatened with prosecution for seeking to raise public and news media consciousness of the Feds’ war against doctors and patients.

The current contretemps in Wichita has its roots in 2002 when Sean Greenwood, who for more than a decade suffered from a rare but debilitating connective tissue disorder, finally found a remedy. William Hurwitz, a Virginia doctor, prescribed the high doses of pain relief medicine necessary for Greenwood to be able to function day-to-day.

Yet when federal agents raided Hurwitz’s clinic in 2003 and charged the pain management specialist with illegal drug trafficking, Greenwood’s short-lived return to normalcy ended. He couldn’t find another doctor willing to treat his pain–the chances were too good that the “narcs” and the federal prosecutors who work with them would assert impossibly vague federal criminal drug laws. Three years later, Greenwood died from a brain hemorrhage, likely brought on by the blood pressure build-up from years of untreated pain.

Greenwood’s wife, Siobhan Reynolds, decided to fight back. In 2003 she founded the Pain Relief Network (PRN), a group of activists, doctors and patients who oppose the federal government’s tyranny over pain relief specialists.

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Feds will help battle cartels

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the Obama administration can help area officials fight street gangs in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier.

Speaking at a downtown news conference where he announced the distribution of $30 million in federal stimulus money, Holder said the federal government will continue to strengthen its fight against Mexican drug cartels supplying contraband to street gangs through the Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme.

“The guns, drugs and bulk cash that are the backbone of the cartels’ business contribute to addiction and drug-related violence in our communities,” Holder said.

But he stressed the feds need help from local agencies to combat the problem.

“All the best ideas don’t come from Washington, D.C.,” Holder said. “The first thing we need to do is listen to the law enforcement officers who are out on the street.”

While no money was specifically given to the Los Angeles region, officials believe positive effects will be felt locally.

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DEA Agent Lee Lucas indicted on perjury, civil rights charges; pleads not guilty

CLEVELAND — Lee Lucas, the federal drug agent whose full-throttle approach led to major convictions and questions about his credibility, faced the toughest court appearance of his 19-year career Wednesday.

His own.

A federal grand jury in Cleveland charged Lucas, 41, of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in an 18-count indictment that accuses him of perjury, making false statements and violating three people’s civil rights.

The charges stem from a bungled drug sting in Mansfield that led to the arrests of 26 people in 2005. Lucas led a DEA task force that used informant Jerrell Bray to make undercover drug buys and help scoop up drug dealers. But Bray lied his way through the probe.

Seventeen people were wrongly charged, according to the indictment, as Bray intentionally misidentified people he bought drugs from and purposely staged scripted phone calls with friends, making the conversations sound as if he was setting up drug deals.

Of those 17 people, 12 were collectively sentenced to about 70 years in prison. Four were acquitted, and one spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial.

Thirteen of the 15 drug buys Bray made were bogus, prosecutors said.

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Drug-Friendly Netherlans to close prisons for lack of criminals

For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse. They may have trouble wrapping their little brains around this:

The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate.

Just for fun, let’s compare the Netherlands to California. With a population of 16.6 million, the Dutch prison population is about 12,000. With its population of 36.7 million, California should have a bit more than double the Dutch prison population. California’s actual prison population is 171,000.

So, whose drug policies are keeping the streets safer?


CLEVELAND (AP) – A federal drug enforcement agent has pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment that accuses him of framing 17 people during controlled drug buys through an informant.

Lee Michael Lucas, 41, of Cleveland appeared Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver on charges, including obstruction of justice and violating civil rights. Lucas allegedly used a drug informant in 2005 to make controlled drug buys and then put false information in his reports on the transactions.

He was released on personal bond, and has a Jan. 6 trial date.

The informant pleaded guilty in 2007 to related charges and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

(This version CORRECTS that Lucas pleaded not guilty instead of guilty.)

Department of Justice News Release

Cheap High: Cocaine Prices Still Falling

The findings appear to contradict claims by U.S. law enforcement officials that the drug has become more expensive. “[Over] the last two years there’s been a sustained increase on the price of cocaine,” said Drug Enforcement Administration operations chief Tom Harrigan in a recent interview with ABC News. Harrigan credited efforts by the United States, Mexico and local U.S. governments.

But the retail price for cocaine in 2007, the most recent year studied, was less than half what it was in 1984, when Jay McInerney‘s novel of a coke-addled Manhattanite, “Bright Lights, Big City,” was first published, according to the report by the policy group Washington Office on Latin America, which cited a newly-released analysis by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The cocaine market portrayed by the report contrasts with boasts made by the Drug Enforcement Administration last year that cocaine prices were soaring in part due government counterdrug efforts, experts say.

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GAO Report on DEA’s Post-9/11 Drug Control Responsibilities

Drug Control: Better Coordination With the Department of Homeland Security and an Updated Accountability Framework Can Further Enhance DEA’s Efforts to Meet Post-9/11 Responsibilities

“Given the global context of the war on drugs-coupled with growing recognition since September 11, 2001 (9/11), of the nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism-the mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and efforts to forge effective interagency partnerships and coordination are increasingly important. the Government Accountability Office was asked to examine, in the context of the post-9/11 environment, DEA’s priorities, interagency partnerships and coordination mechanisms, and strategic plan and performance measures. GAO reviewed DEA policy, planning, and budget documents and visited 7 of DEA’s 21 domestic field offices and 3 of its 7 regional offices abroad-sites selected to reflect diverse drug-trafficking threats, among other factors. GAO also contacted other relevant federal agencies-including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-and various state and local partner agencies.

GAO recommends that the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security take actions to enhance the effectiveness of interagency partnerships involving DEA, ICE, and CBP and the multiagency Special Operations Division and the OCDETF Fusion Center. DOJ agreed. DHS responded that discussions with DOJ are ongoing. DHS neither explicitly agreed nor disagreed with GAO’s recommendations but suggested revisions to the wording, which GAO did not make.”

Why Secretly Funded DEA Surveillance Planes Aren’t Flying

WASHINGTON — The first sign of trouble with the Drug Enforcement Administration‘s new surveillance planes surfaced almost immediately.  On the way from the manufacturer to the agency’s aviation headquarters, one of them veered off a runway during a fuel stop.

The malfunction last spring was only the beginning.  A month later, the windshield unlatched in mid-flight and smashed into the engine.  Then, in a third incident on the same plane, a connection between the propeller and the engine came loose and forced an emergency landing.

In January, after less than 10 months of operation, the cascade of mechanical problems forced the DEA to ground the planes.

The planes recently were scheduled to be “cannibalized” so the DEA could sell the parts and recover as much of its money as possible.

The story behind why the DEA sought out the three planes, only to become the second federal agency to give them up, illustrates the pitfalls of “black,” or classified, budgeting in which Congress approves tens of billions of dollars for intelligence agencies outside the public’s view.

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Justice Department will stop medical marijuana raids, Attorney General says

In a little-noticed remark Wednesday, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries established under state laws but technically prohibited by the federal government.

The decision marks a shift from the Bush Administration, which was more draconian in its approach to hunting those who sought to dispense marijuana for medical purposes.

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DEA Spends $123,000 To Fly Agency Chief To Colombia

WASHINGTON — The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration spent more than $123,000 to charter a private jet to fly to Bogota, Colombia, last fall instead of taking one of the agency’s 106 planes.

The DEA paid a contractor an additional $5,380 to arrange Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart‘s trip last Oct.  28-30 with an outside company.

The DEA scheduled the trip as the nation was reeling from the worst economic crisis in decades and the national debt was climbing toward $10 trillion.  Three weeks later, lawmakers slammed chief executive officers from three automakers for flying to Washington in private jets as Congress debated whether to bail out the auto industry.
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Last of 36 DEA agents leave Bolivia

Morales demanded the DEA’s exit in November as part of a dispute between U.S. and Bolivian officials that included his expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the Bush administration’s decertification of Bolivia as ineffective in the drug war.

The departure over recent weeks of three dozen agents ends the DEA’s presence in Bolivia after more than three decades. Senior law enforcement officials said it was the first time a DEA operation had been ordered out of a country en masse.

DEA officials declined to comment on the departures but said earlier that the agents will be reassigned to countries bordering Bolivia to monitor the situation.

See also:

¡Adios DEA!

Why Bolivia Quit the U.S. War on Drugs

Bolivia orders US enforcement agency out of country

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