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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Four Queens men sue NYPD after being held for 30 hours, busted for laughing at cops

Four Queens men claim they were locked up for more than 30 hours by cops seeking revenge on a crowd of men who laughed at an officer who couldn’t catch a fleeing drug suspect.

The men insist they didn’t even laugh, says their lawyer Gabriel P. Harvis, who filed suit against the NYPD and 10 unidentified officers in Brooklyn Federal Court. They believe they were arrested because cops wanted to take their frustration out on them, he said.

“The cops knew my clients had done nothing wrong, but they didn’t care,” said Harvis, who represents Abdul Kabba, Isaiah Barnes, Hasan Allen and Ishmial Deas. Police “were embarrassed, so they abused their power by locking them up anyway.”

The four were held for 27 hours in the 103rd Precinct stationhouse before the Queens district attorney’s office dropped the charges.

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Move over, Big Pharma and Big Oil, Big Marijuana is here

Legalization ‘looking inevitable,’ spokesman says

If there’s one group of people who get their way in Washington, it’s lobbyists.

Now, advocates of marijuana legalization may have a reason to cheer that political reality: They’re getting their own marijuana lobby group.

And just Big Pharma and Big Oil lobby for greater leeway for their businesses, so too will Big Marijuana push for their industry to be given the freedom to succeed.

Aaron Smith, executive director of the newly formed National Cannabis Industry Association, says that marijuana legalization is “looking inevitable.”

Smith told McClatchy news service: “It’s pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is becoming recognized more and more by the mainstream as a fully legitimate part of the economy.”

Legalization “didn’t happen in 2010, but it’s likely to happen in 2012,” he added. “It’s going to be relatively soon we’re going to see states move from medical marijuana into broader legal markets. And the federal government needs to catch up. Frequently the American people are ahead of the Congress.”

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Calilfornia marijuana Legalization debate gets interesting

Two Norfolk teachers put on leave over material about police

Two Norview High School teachers were placed on paid administrative leave this week after a parent complained that they distributed classroom materials that gave advice on how to deal with police if stopped.

The materials – a one-page handout and a video distributed and aired in a 12th-grade government class – are sponsored by two organizations, one a nonprofit that supports legalization of marijuana and one that calls itself a “decentralized anarchist collective.”

The last paragraph of the flier, titled “When Dealing with Police” states, “Remember You have legal rights, but many police will not respect your rights. Be careful – Be Street Smart.”

Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Thiel Mather said division leaders are investigating the incident over concerns that the materials were unauthorized.

The parent, who asked not to be named out of fear that her daughter could be ostracized or get a lower class grade, told The Pilot that she contacted the division and police after her daughter described the leaflet and video.

“She came home recently and said, ‘You won’t believe what we are learning in Government. They are teaching us how to hide our drugs,’ ” the parent recounted.

Last week, an Oakwood Elementary School employee was placed on leave with pay in connection with the distribution of plastic fetus models to children, which division leaders also considered unauthorized material. Oakwood’s principal was also put on leave in connection with the incident, and an investigation is continuing.

Mather said it is uncommon to have to put staff on leave for using inappropriate materials. The division typically gets no more than two parent complaints a year about the suitability of textbooks or library materials, she said.

The leaflet handed out at Norview describes the rights citizens have if they are stopped or arrested by police or witness police activity. It is posted on the Web here.

A credit on the leaflet reads, “Assembled by the Crimethinc Police Unwelcoming Committee.” On its website, Crimethinc.com calls itself a “decentralized anarchist collective.”

The video, “Busted: Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters,” is posted online here.  It opens with a portrayal of young adults stopped by a traffic officer who searches their car and arrests them for marijuana possession. Other scenes depict police questioning a young man at a bus stop and patrol officers who visit a home where loud partiers are smoking marijuana.

A commentator on the video states, “Whether or not you break the law, this video is designed to explain what the law is and how you can legally and properly assert your constitutional rights through even the most stressful police encounters.”

For each scene, the commentator explains how legal rights apply to police searches of vehicles, homes or individuals and how people can cite those rights during encounters with police.

The video was created by Flex Your Rights, a nonprofit that advocates educating the public about how constitutional protections apply during encounters with law enforcement. The production has gotten 2.3 million viewings on YouTube since November 2006.

The video’s end credits cite funding from the MPP Foundation, which is part of the Marijuana Policy Project. On the Web, the group advocates legal regulation for marijuana and noncoercive treatment for problem marijuana users.

Pilot writers Hattie Brown Garrow, Lauren Roth and Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer contributed to this report.

Steven G. Vegh, (757) 446-2417, steven.vegh@pilotonline.com

Gun Running, Drugs and Flamenco: US Army Human Terrain System Has It All

See also:  Nature: Shut Down Army’s Human Terrain Program

A member of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command management team in Afghanistan, according to sources, is a “gun runner.” That individual is allegedly listed in an “Federal Bureau of Investigation database” and has “ties to Ahmad Wali Khan Karzai and the drug business.”

Another Human Terrain System leader has apparently been accused by “local nationals…of being a pedophile—touching young Afghan children while out in the field and making disturbing comments about them.” Members of a US Army Stryker group in Afghanistan have made the same comments.

These comments appear outrageous but, then again, this is the US Army Human Terrain System. It’s a head-shaker that the US Army (TRADOC) and Lieutenant General William James Lennox Jr. heap praise upon it even as the US Congress, House Armed Services Committee, has said the program needs a good scrub, as reported by the authorities on HTS at Wired the Washington Independent.

HASC is to be applauded for this action. And it could not come at a better time.

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VicPD Officer Ordered to Stay Quiet

Snails on speed

Biologists turned snails into tweakers to learn more about how crystal meth seems to improve memory in humans. According to the Washington State University and University of Calgary researchers, memories formed while on methamphetamine may be more durable. (They ran another snail study in 2006 using cocaine instead of meth.) Their work could someday provide a deeper understanding of addiction.

…The team wondered whether meth could improve the snails’ memories. First they immersed the snails in meth-laced pond water, then they moved them into regular de-oxygented pond water and gave them a training session that the snails should only recall for a few hours. In theory the snails should have forgotten their training 24 hours later, but would the meth improve the snails’ memories so they remembered to keep their pneomostomes closed a day later? It did. A dose of meth prior to training had improved the snails’ memories, allowing them to recall a lesson that they should have already forgotten. And when the team tested whether they could mask the meth memory with another memory, they found that the meth memory was much stronger and harder to mask.

“Snails on methamphetamine”

San Jose union begins organizing pot workers

A major California labor union is organizing medical cannabis workers in Oakland, a move that analysts say will help efforts to legalize marijuana and open the door for the union to organize thousands more workers if state voters pass a measure in November to allow recreational marijuana use by adults.

The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including “bud tender” – a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.

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Stupid Drug Story of the Week: The Associated Press on the arrival of “deadly, ultra-pure heroin.”

Yesterday, the Associated Press moved a story completely devoid of historical context. The piece, titled “Deadly, Ultra-Pure Heroin Arrives in U.S.,” claims that in “recent years”—a time frame that goes undefined—Mexican dealers have started peddling “ultra-potent” black tar heroin and are selling it for as little as $10 a bag.

In alarmist prose, the article asserts that the ultra-smack’s purity ranges from 50 percent to 80 percent heroin, up from the 5 percent purity of the 1970s, and this potency is “contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation.” But reports of high-potency heroin being sold in the United States are anything but “recent.” My source? The AP itself. Over the decades, the wire service has repeatedly reported on the sale of high-potency heroin on the streets. Here are a few examples of AP coverage culled from Nexis.

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2010 National Drug Control Strategy

President Obama’s 2010 National Drug Control Strategy uses a multifaceted approach to combat drug abuse and drug use in America’s communities.

This Strategy “provides a collaborative and balanced approach that emphasizes community-based prevention, integration of evidence-based treatment into the health care system, innovations in the criminal justice system, and international partnerships to disrupt drug trafficking organizations. Because nearly all Americans are impacted by the consequences of drug use, the Strategy is designed to be relevant at the local level. Whether you are a parent looking for information, a community member interested in treatment resources, a police officer or local elected official searching for new approaches to drug-related crimes, or someone who wants to know more about the Administration’s drug policy, the National Drug Control Strategy will serve as a useful resource.”

Columbia, Missouri Police Chief on Board With Legalizing Marijuana?

War on drugs goes literal: biowarfare on poppies

US and British forces in Afghanistan have been accused of waging biological warfare on poppy fields to stymie opium crop production.

Last week, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported:

Poppy plants have been suffering from a mysterious disease which leaves them yellow and withered and slashes the yield of opium resin which is sold on and processed into heroin.

According to the Telegraph, yields have dropped by up to 90 per cent in some fields. Some Afghan farmers are blaming British and American soldiers for spraying the crops with the disease. Officials have denied involvement.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan (UNODC), said that plant samples were currently being tested to confirm whether the origins of the disease are natural or human-induced.

Considering that spraying has been forbidden by the president of Afghanistan, “we start with the belief that this is a natural phenomenon,” says Lemanhieu. It could be due to insects such as aphids, or fungi, he says.

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California To Collect $100 million in Cannabis Taxes This Year

While the State of California begins to debate the consequences of taxing and regulating cannabis for personal use, it’s important to note the state is already taxing and regulating the agricultural product used by 2.9 million Californians monthly. California Board of Equalization official Anita Gore told the Express this week that the board estimates it collects anywhere from $50 million to more than $100 million in sales taxes per year from medical cannabis dispensaries.

That’s on top of the millions of dollars municipalities like Oakland have begun collecting in local sales taxes and fees. Gore said the board doesn’t have more precise figures because dispensaries are not required to report the exact business they are in. Their taxes come in under several categories of business like “retail” and “pharmacy,” Gore said.

The board estimates the state can make $1.4 billion annually from fully integrating the vibrant cannabis market into the economy.

Another fascist pig home invasion

Wildomar moves to allow medical marijuana in its city

Once drafted, and if passed by council member vote, the new ordinance would establish Wildomar as the only Southwest Riverside city to allow medical marijuana within its borders.

In front of a standing-room-only audience, and after more than two hours of discussion and heated debate, the Wildomar City Council passed a motion during its council meeting Wednesday night that paves the way for medical marijuana in its city.

In a 4-1 vote, council members passed a motion to draft a new zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana collectives to legally operate in Wildomar.

Mayor Bridgette Moore cast the lone dissenting vote.

Existing city zoning ordinances currently prohibit marijuana businesses of any kind to operate in Wildomar.

Once drafted, and if passed by council member vote, the new ordinance would establish Wildomar as the only Southwest Riverside County city to allow medical marijuana operations within its borders.

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San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney Bruce Brown with marijuana activists

New Study: Drug law enforcement contributes to gun violence and high homicide rates and increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting organizations involved in drug distribution could unintentionally increase violence

See also: Study links drug enforcement to more violence

Today, the newly formed International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) released their first report: Effect of Drug Law Enforcement on Drug-Related Violence: Evidence from a Scientific Review.

“Given the growing emphasis on evidence-based policy-making and the ongoing severe violence attributable to drug gangs in many countries around the world, a systematic review of the available English language scientific literature was conducted to examine the impacts of drug law enforcement interventions on drug market violence.”

The results of the review found that “an increase in drug law enforcement interventions to disrupt drug markets is unlikely to reduce violence attributable to drug gangs. Instead, from an evidence-based public policy perspective and based on several decades of available data, the existing evidence strongly suggests that drug law enforcement contributes to gun violence and high homicide rates and that increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting organizations involved in drug distribution could unintentionally increase violence. In this context, and since drug prohibition has not achieved its stated goal of reducing drug supply, alternative models for drug control may need to be considered if drug-related violence is to be meaningfully reduced.”

Another Mexican Politician Wants Legalization

The state governor of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera Beltrán, has called for the legalization of marijuana as one tool to reduce the narco-violence that plagues Mexico. He acknowledges that it is not a “silver bullet” that would eliminate the cartels or related violence (the straw man argument that many against legalization use to support their gossamer stance). But, he argues that it would be one approach to reducing the funds that fuel the carnage similar to the repealing of the prohibition of alcohol in the US initiated a reduction of violence in the ’30s. He also added that with the legalization of marijuana would not come the unfettered free marketing of the drug by private business (as is the case with Nike or Coca-Cola…another facile bugaboo of the anti-legalization cohort) but that the state would have the responsibility to regulate and control it, as it does with pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol etc).

CNN poll confirms: Most Americans believe their government is a threat to their welfare

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken – though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what’s broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Major Drug Conference in Mexican Drug War Says Prohibition Has Failed, Calls for New Policy

Coming as Mexico‘s war on drugs turns bloodier by the day, the conference concluded that current prohibitionist policies are a disaster.

Editor’s Note: With 137 people killled last week in the Mexican drug war, a conference on this topic couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

On Monday and Tuesday in Mexico City, political figures, academics, social scientists, security experts, and activists from at least six countries came together for the Winds of Change: Drug Policy in the World conference sponsored by the Mexico City-based Collective for an Integrated Drug Policy (CUPHID). Coming as Mexico’s war on drugs turns bloodier by the day, the conference unsurprisingly concluded that current prohibitionist policies are a disaster.

“The principal conclusion is that we need a more integrated drug policy based on prevention, scientific evidence, and full respect for human rights,” summarized CUPHID president Jorge Hernandez Tinajero. “It remains clear that, yes, there exist alternatives to the current strategy.”

In a press release after the conference, CUPHID emphasized the following points:

  • The so-called war on drugs has failed and, without doubt, we need “winds of change” to advance toward alternative policies to address the problematic of drugs across the globe.
  • The prohibitionist paradigm has been ineffective, and furthermore, for the majority of countries it has implied grave violations of human rights and individual guarantees, discrimination, and social exclusion, as well as an escalation of violence that grows day by day, ever broadening the scope of impunity for organized crime.
  • Drugs are never going to disappear. Thus, a more realistic drug policy should focus on minimizing the harms associated with drug use – overdoses, blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDS, and violence. This concept is known as “harm reduction,” and must be the backbone of any drug policy.

The Chemist’s War

The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.

Before hospital staff realized how sick he was—the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom—the man died. So did another holiday partygoer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it. Within the next two days, yet another 23 people died in the city from celebrating the season.

Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government.

Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.

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U.S. Senators Seek Changes to Plan Colombia

WASHINGTON – Three influential Democratic senators have urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to review the U.S. contribution to the counter-narcotics initiative known as Plan Colombia in light of Bogota’s scant progress in reducing cocaine production or curbing human rights abuses.

“Given U.S. record budget deficits, we cannot afford to continue assistance that is not achieving sufficient results,” Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said.

Feingold sits on the Senate Foreign Relations, Budget and Intelligence Committees, Leahy chairs the Judiciary Committee and Dodd is chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Narcotics Affairs.

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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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Cop Says Drug Prohibition Places All the Power in the Hands of Criminals

David Bratzer enforces the law, but he doesn’t necessary agree with it when it comes to illegal drugs.

“One of the sad things about the prohibition of drugs in our society is that despite more than four decades of heavy drug enforcement, we see today that drugs are cheaper, more available and more pure than ever before,” said Bratzer, an active officer with the Victoria Police Department who sees the war on drugs as a failure.

“Drug enforcement now dominates what police officers do, so every day in my job I find myself trying to manage the consequences of drug prohibition.

“All of these issues are more related to the prohibition of drugs than drug-use itself.”

Which is why Bratzer decided that in his off-duty hours, he’d work independently with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
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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

Noriega Will Be Extradited to France, His Lawyer Says

Former Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno will extradited to France after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal against the extradition, his lawyer said, though the final say on the matter belongs to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Noriega “has exhausted all his legal options. He has to go to France,” defense attorney Frank A. Rubino told Efe. “It could be in a week or a month. I don’t know.”

The general, who remains inside a federal prison in Miami, had asked the high court to find that as a prisoner of war, he was entitled to return to the República de Panamá after serving a reduced 17-year sentence in the United States for drug trafficking and money laundering.

A U.S. federal judge found in 1992 that Noriega had POW status by virtue of his having been captured during the December 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.

Noriega, who ruled Panama from 1983-1989, was due to be released from prison in September 2007, but has remained in custody pending the outcome of France’s request for his extradition.

As his scheduled release drew near, Paris asked the United States to extradite Noriega, who was sentenced in 1999 to 10 years in prison by a French court that convicted him in absentia on charges of laundering some $3.1 million in drug money through the purchase of an apartment.

“I have no idea how they can know where the money came from,” Rubino said Monday. “We’re extremely discouraged by the (Supreme Court) ruling.”

France has promised to give the Panamanian a new trial if he is extradited.

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Three Indiana teen girls sue city over strip search

MADISON, Ind. — The high school girlfriends weren’t known as troublemakers. One was a cheerleader, another a soccer player and the third grew up working on her family’s farm.

But the Madison Consolidated High School seniors found themselves shivering on a winter night three years ago in a deserted church parking lot, surrounded by police, being questioned about drugs — and then strip searched.

“We were all so scared,” one of them, Kristy Lessley, said in the first interview the women have granted since the incident Jan. 19, 2007. “We just froze.”

The fear and embarrassment, however, soon turned to anger for Lessley and her friends, Kara Rhodehamel and Kayla Messer, who sued the city of Madison, former Mayor Albert Huntington, former City Attorney Robert Barlow, former Police Chief Robert Wolf, City Councilman James Lee and four police officers, claiming they were illegally strip-searched and confined.

The Madison Police Department has publicly denied any wrongdoing, but the individual defendants declined to comment except for Wolf, who has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached.

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California is free to make its own drug laws

The Times raises two objections in its Jan. 13 editorial, “Legalize pot? Not so fast,” to a proposed state bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older.

First, the editorial claims that the purpose of California Assembly Bill 390 (Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act) is “simply” to raise tax revenue for the state. This alone, The Times says, does not justify what it calls “rash and reckless” public policy. Second, The Times writes that California “does not have the authority to take such a step.” Both assertions miss the mark.

There are plenty of reasons to support AB 390 apart from the estimated $1.3 billon it would add to the state’s coffers. It would allow law enforcement the time and resources to actually prioritize public safety. In the last 20 years, while arrests for all criminal offenses in California dropped by 40%, arrests for marijuana possession have more than doubled. These arrests (about 78,000 occurred in 2008 alone) constitute a waste of precious resources that could have been spent protecting Californians from violent crime.

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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.

Prisons too expensive

The Extravagance of Imprisonment Revisited

How much could the government save by cutting prison costs?

According to a new report issued by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, billions of dollars could be saved through reforming the United States prison system. California alone could save an estimated $1.4 billion.

As of 2006, the United States has imprisoned over 1.6 million people. The United States also has the highest incarceration rates in the world. This rate is predicted to rise as “get tough on crime” laws continue to be issued.

This report “analyzes prison and jail populations in the United States as a whole and in four key states–California, Florida, New York, and Texas–to determine 1) how many prisoners are non-serious offenders and what it costs to lock them up, 2) what proven effective alternatives are in use and what they cost, and 3) what savings could be realized if a portion of the non-serious offenders were sentenced to alternatives instead of prison and jail.”

LEAP’s Cops and Clergy Initiative

We are pleased to officially announce Law Enforcement Against Prohibition‘s latest project, the Cops and Clergy Initiative.  The initiative features an unstoppable alliance of representatives of the faith and law enforcement communities collaborating to make speaking appearances at places of worship and in the media across the country.  Earlier this month in California, prohibitionist police and religious groups came out in force attempting to impede the progress of legislation that would legalize marijuana.  While the bill did pass the Assembly’s public safety committee, such public opposition to legalization and regulation from cops and clergy who perpetuate the failed war on drugs emphasizes the need for LEAP’s Cops and Clergy Initiative. Combining the experience, expertise and credibility of these two professions, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative and the Ordinary People Society join LEAP in the effort to counter the prohibitionist’s standard use of those communities to thwart drug policy reform.

Please view our video, “Cops and Clergy Talk About the War on Drugs,” by clicking here.  If you are able to host a Cops and Clergy speaker at your place of worship or are interested in showing our video on your local public access station, please contact us at CopsAndClergy@leap.cc . Please visit www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/Donate to support this project and all LEAP’s work.

LAUSD Sued for Educators Using 12 Year Old in Drug Sting

LOS ANGELES– The parents of a 12 year old boy who was asked by educators to buy drugs from another student are suing the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges that educators at George K. Porter Middle School gave the boy cash and told him to buy drugs from a student they suspected was a drug dealer, even though the sting was not sanctioned by the police.

The sting was enacted on February 18th 2009, after the 12 year old boy told school administrators that a 14 year old, who was possibly a gang member, was selling marijuana on campus, the lawsuit states.

As a result of the sting, the child was ostracized, threatened and harassed, according to the family attorney.

“The kid is extremely scared,” said attorney Alexander Gerard Calfo. “He is now known as the snitch. The family was active in the community, now everything has changed.”

The L.A.U.S.D. has not yet released any comment.

The three school administrators who asked the boy to buy the drugs have been removed from their positions, but it is unclear if they had been fired.

Police had investigated the case and presented their findings to the district attorney’s office, which on March 17, declined to press charges.

Asking a minor to buy drugs is a felony, Calfo said.

The damages the lawsuit is seeking were unspecified

Current TV Bashes “Anti-Drug” Propaganda Campaign

Walter McKay on Police Accountability and Reform

I’m pleased to share a new blog with LEAP supporters. Walter McKay‘s blog is titled Police Accountability and Reform. It’s been around for a while, but recently he started posting on it more regularly. He lives in Mexico and so much of his writing focuses on the violence of the drug cartels in that country. He keeps a close tab on the latest developments, especially in terms of the daily killings, the weaponry used, the police corruption, the methods of intimidation, etc.

I was first introduced to McKay’s work sometime around 2004 when I watched a documentary called Through a Blue Lens. This movie is certainly one of most powerful films I have ever watched about the horrors of drug abuse. It was produced by a group of Vancouver police officers who were part of a non-profit society called Odd Squad Productions. McKay was one of the founding members of this group. And I didn’t know it at the time – I wasn’t even a police officer back then – but we would eventually end up working together as members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

After twelve years in policing, McKay left the Vancouver Police Department to pursue his interests in criminal justice reform. He received an M.A. from Simon Fraser University and then began his PhD studies with a focus on police ethics. He now lives in Mexico City where he is project director for the Instituto para la Seguridad y la Democracia (INSYDE), a non-profit organization focused on police reform.

I’m reasonably certain that Walt is qualified to talk about the War on Drugs. Please take a moment to visit his blog and say hello.

Seattle’s new city attorney to dismiss cases of pot possession

Seattle‘s new city attorney is dismissing all marijuana-possession cases, starting with those that were already under way under the old city attorney.

City Attorney Peter S. Holmes, who beat incumbent Tom Carr in November, said he dismissed two marijuana-related cases in his first day on the job, and several others are about to be dismissed.

In addition, his new criminal division chief, Craig Sims, said he is reviewing about 50 more cases. Unless there are “out of the ordinary circumstances,” Sims said, the office doesn’t intend to file charges for marijuana possession.

“We’re not going to prosecute marijuana-possession cases anymore,” Holmes said Thursday during a public interview as part of Town Hall’s Nightcap series. “I meant it when I said it” during the campaign.

Seattle voters approved Referendum 75 in 2003, making marijuana the lowest priority for local law enforcement. City records show that Carr still prosecuted many cases.

In the first six months of 2009, Carr declined eight of the 62 marijuana-related cases filed with his office, a city report shows. Of the cases he took up, marijuana was the only charge in 21 cases. In the second half of 2008, Carr dismissed 21 marijuana-related cases and filed 60 others. Of those, marijuana possession was the only charge in 20 cases.

Holmes’ policy change comes amid several state-level efforts to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.

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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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Just a reminder to the pig-sucking, brain-dead, flacid, perpetually-Recovering City of Big Bear Lake Council

Paul Chabot would love this commercial:

Teens Too Smart To Buy Anti-Drug Ads

A kid of about 13 wanders through a house party.  He goes outside where there are a quartet of pot smokers who offer him a joint.

He thinks for a moment, then there are all these quick flashes of him with pills, hiding stuff under his bed, getting into fights with his family, falling asleep in class and getting busted at school.

The ad implies that trying pot once will turn you into a full-on drug fiend within days.  This flies in the face of all science on the subject, but since when were facts used in anti-drug ads?

So the kid just shrugs and goes back into the party — ostensibly to eat more junk food and, quaff ‘energy drinks’, and listen to L’il Wayne and Snoop Dogg.

Does anyone really think kids will believe this fear-mongering balderdash?

In the 1980s, when I was a teen, they tried to stuff all this ‘Just Say No’ stuff down our throats and all it did was make us think that adults were morons.  If this new ad campaign is anywhere near as effective as previous government-run, anti-marijuana messages, we should see the number of teen drug users increase 10% within the next few years.


Now, instead of representing their constituents, like the pretty girl above, our mayor and council work for these guys…

Top row:  Rodney (“Baby Rod”) Hoops and Floyd Tidwell.  Bottom row: Gary Penrod and Cindy Beavers

And these guys work by preying on you.

Bob (RIP) and Mayor Liz, by the way, used to run a little back-room operation from their tourist shop.  They would purchase and re-sell meals to the Sheriff’s Department for their inmates.  They could have bought them direct, but were feeding their sheep while primping for the Master’s Work.

Liz, you’re supposed to be a psychologist.  Do you remember that little thing that Erikson called “ego integrity?”  Where will you find yours?  Tell the truth, Doc.

Lima, Ohio, to pay $2.5 million to family of woman killed by police in drug raid

LIMA, Ohio — The insurance carrier for the City of Lima, Ohio, has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the family of a woman who was shot and killed by a Lima Police Department sergeant in January, 2008.

City Law Director Tony Geiger said Thursday afternoon that the company and the family of Tarika Wilson agreed to settle the lawsuit that is pending in U.S. District Court in Toledo.

Wilson, 26, a biracial woman, was shot to death by Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, who is white, during a drug raid at her south side home. Wilson’s 1-year-old son, Sincere, was injured in the gunfire.

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Welcome To The NORML Women’s Alliance

Attention, Big Bear Ladies:  Let’s Rock!  The Secret to Legal Marijuana? Women

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the nation’s oldest and most well respected grassroots marijuana law reform organization, is pleased to announce the launch of the NORML Women’s Alliance.

Click image for details

Cocaine Vaccine Leads Users to Take 10 Times More Cocaine

Over the last decade, the advances in neuroscience that led doctors to view addiction as a disease, rather than a desire or personal failing, raised the natural question of whether or not addicts could be vaccinated against drug use as if it were a virus. While the theory remains valid, the recent clinical trial of one of those vaccines, called TA-CD, highlights the complexity of the issue.

TA-CD works by preventing cocaine from entering the brain, thus stopping the user from getting high. It does not, however, stop cravings, leading some test participants who received the vaccine to take 10 times as much cocaine in the hopes of overriding the vaccine and getting high, or to bankrupt themselves while trying to do so.

According to the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, some participants in the study bumped more yeyo than the researchers conducting the study had every seen before. Others lost all their money buying one cut of charlie after another in the vain hopes of finding a package that actually got them high.

Amazingly, none of the test subjects overdosed.

[Read more at PopSci]

Minnesota monitoring prescription drugs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Starting this week, Minnesota residents who fill prescriptions for addictive drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin are going into a new state database.

The aim is to stop drug abusers and dealers from shopping around for prescriptions.

Pharmacies were required to start reporting to the Minnesota Prescription Monitoring Program on Monday. By March, doctors, dentists and pharmacists can use the system to identify patients who get too many habit-forming medicines.

The state database is expected to track more than a million prescriptions a year.

Patients should see signs announcing the new system, or get information on a handout or receipt with their prescription.

Hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and clinics that administer pain medications directly to patients are not part of the tracking program.

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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Rival Gangs Doing Business Together in L.A.

LOS ANGELES — Some neighborhoods in Southern California are experiencing a kind of truce between rival gangs that used to fight each other.

The decrease in gang violence in recent years has led some experts to theorize that gangs are now working together.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Los Angeles told La Opinión that although they are not investigating a particular case of collaboration between rival gangs, they are aware of a trend in which gangs of different ethnicities are working together.

“We know Latino gangs are working with African-American gangs to get drugs or arms, and we are already doing intelligence work,” said Robert Clark, special agent with the FBI’s Criminal Division. “It’s a trend we are seeing among different groups. And I think if they see an opportunity to collaborate across these barriers, they’re going to take it,” he added.
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NYC Government Releases Guide To Heroin Use

The New York City Health Department and Mental Hygiene has released a 16-page pamphlet that, among other things, teaches the city’s citizens how to shoot heroin. Also useful for tourists who need to learn these things fast during their visit. From the New York Post:

The city spent $32,000 on 70,000 fliers that tell you how to shoot heroin, complete with detailed tips on prepping the dope and injecting it into your arm.

The 16-page pamphlet features seven comics-like illustrations and offers dope fiends such useful advice as “Warm your body (jump up and down) to show your veins.”

The manual does have some sound advice. It stresses the importance of kicking the habit, seeking professional help and not sharing needles. The Health Department defended its brochure, saying it was helpful and necessary, and has been distributed only to addicts or those at risk of becoming abusers.

Wife of slain El Monte civic leader didn’t think drug war would touch her family

[ When you live in a democratic society, you are equally responsible for the crimes you allow your "po-po" to commit.  Take back control of your life from him  Stop the drug war. See Law Enforcement Against Prohibtion. ]

Betzy Salcedo cited an old Mexican saying: He who doesn’t owe anything has nothing to fear. She always figured that people who had nothing to do with drug trafficking would not be targets in the country they loved.

The wife of Agustin Roberto “Bobby” Salcedo, the El Monte civic leader abducted and killed in Durango, Mexico, during a vacation with her, talked to The Times’s Mexico City Bureau chief Tracy Wilkinson about what happened.

“We were just going out with a group of friends,” Betzy Salcedo said, speaking slowly and casting her eyes downward. “You are careful, you look around, but you never think this kind of thing can happen … to innocent people. We were having a good time. Then we were in the mouth of the wolf.”

Hours later, Bobby Salcedo was dead, hauled away from the bar with five other men, their bodies dumped in a dried-grass field on the outskirts of town.

Arrangements were being made Saturday to repatriate Salcedo’s body. The 33-year-old, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, was an assistant principal and school board member in El Monte.

His slaying underscores the random volatility of the violence in Mexico and the ease with which the pain it causes can seep past the country’s borders.

Read Tracy Wilkinson’s full story here.

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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Drug Smuggling At Costa Rica’s Main Airport Up 63%

Perhaps it is due to the economic crisis or just a fast way to get rich, as many more this past year have decided to take the chance and smuggle drugs out of Costa Rica by was of the country’s major airport, the Juan Santamaría International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría), in San José.

The Policía de Control de Drogas (PCD) – drug enforcement police – reports that drug smuggling at the airport was up 63% in 2009 over 2008, confiscating some 37% more cocaine than the previous year.

The majority the 35 “burros” detained in 2008 were Europeans.

During the period of January 1 to December 31, the PCD reports confiscating 88 kilos of cocaine at the Santamaría, however, the haul for 2009 was 209 kilos.

The PCD attributes the higher level of detections to better surveillance at the airport, with the support of some 61 officers of the Policía Aeroportuaria (airport police) and the Fuerza Pública (regular police) that took the time to follow up on suspected passengers.

Most of the detainees were detected moments before they were ready to board their flight, much to do with being too nervous in the eyes of the police.


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Shining Path Indoctrination School Dismantled in Lima Jail

LIMA – Authorities at Lima’s Canto Grande Prison dismantled a school of the The Communist Party of Peru (Partido Comunista del Perú), more commonly known as the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), terrorist group that was indoctrinating inmates and their families in that jail, the local press reported on Saturday.

According to the daily El Comercio, the alarm sounded in October when the Counter-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE – Dirección Contra el Terrorismo) anti-terrorist police got wind of Shining Path prisoners there involved in raising awareness among relatives of inmates convicted of terrorism.

The situation in Canto Grande had become so overwhelming that prison officials banned entry into cellblocks controlled by Shining Path prisoners – some 80 per block – while some entrances had been closed off from the inside with metal fittings.

El Comercio said that the work of jailers was almost nonexistent, since they could only perform guard duty from outside each cellblock.
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7,724 Slain in Mexico in 2009

MEXICO CITY – Last year was the deadliest in Mexico in the past decade, with 7,724 people killed in violent incidents attributed to organized crime, Mexico City daily El Universal said on Friday.

That total translates into an average of more than 21 homicides a day.

The newspaper, which has been keeping a daily tally of the number of deaths from Mexico’s drug war, said there have been 16,205 organized crime-related killings in Mexico since President Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa took office in December 2006.

Chihuahua was far and away the most violent state in Mexico last year, with 3,250 murders, followed by Sinaloa (930), Durango (734), Guerrero (672), Baja California (444), Michoacan and Sonora, according to El Universal.

Mexican authorities do not provide homicide figures stemming from the cartels’ battles with each other and the security forces.

The Mexican government has deployed more than 40,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police nationwide to combat the drug cartels and other organized criminal outfits in the country’s most violence-ridden states.

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