Monthly Archives: July 2014

national

The Grey Lady turns Green

by Patrick Devlin

On the day after the day the NYT finished its internal discussions about the failures of cannabis prohibition the Grey Lady comes out as a green lady.

We at mLaw can’t disagree with the NYT’s reasons as stated and welcome this opinion maker to the world of compassionate and sensible people who abhor unequal application of the law, though it did take time to do all of that internal discussing. The NYT themselves report in their editorial that more than 600,000 US citizens were arrested as criminals in 2012 due to the war on cannabis.

We are reminded on the occasion of the grey turning green of all the years that have passed since Jimmy Carter said to the American people nearly 40 years ago in 1977:

Marijuana continues to be an emotional and controversial issue. After four decades, efforts to discourage its use with stringent laws have still not been successful. More than 45 million Americans have tried marijuana and an estimated 11 million are regular users.

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. We can, and should, continue to discourage the use of marijuana, but this can be done without defining the smoker as a criminal. States which have already removed criminal penalties for marijuana use, like Oregon and California, have not noted any significant increase in marijuana smoking. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations.

Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This decriminalization is not legalization. It means only that the Federal penalty for possession would be reduced and a person would received a fine rather than a criminal penalty. Federal penalties for trafficking would remain in force and the states would remain free to adopt whatever laws they wish concerning the marijuana smoker.

Today the grey lady becomes green and exclaims with mLaw and all who call for an end to cannabis prohibition: “The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana (cannabis),” and we go further with a call for amnesty for the victims of the war on cannabis.

national

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy part 4

by Patrick Devlin

Nothing to see here – move along…

When a gang of armed men smashed through the doorway of the 600 square foot home of 29 year old Jason Westcott’s partner, 22 year old Israel Reyes, Westcott acting upon directives he received from the Tampa Bay police, grabbed his weapon and was killed in a rain of semi-automatic gunfire.

Westcott had called the Tampa police earlier this year after being threatened by another citizen. As a result of Westcott’s complaint to the police; the person who had threatened Westcott was confronted by the police, but no arrests were made, and the police advised Westcott to avail himself of one of modern America’s most protected rights, not the right to privacy, not the right to a fair trial, not the right to not have the modern version of Caucasian American Christianity (that Christ himself would find objectionable) shoved into your face – but rather the ‘god given’ right to blow the crap out of anyone you feel threatened by with your concealed and carried and beloved human killing machine. The exact quote from the police to the frightened Westcott when he reported the threat was, “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Westcott was an armed drug dealer and was treated as such by the Tampa Police. The Tampa police sent a SWAT team to bring down the drug king pin of Seminole Heights – using whatever force they deemed to be required. Westcott’s evil drug dealing existence was terminated by Tampa’s finest (whose only goal in their action was to protect the community – especially the children, from the evils of cannabis). The police recovered two dollars worth of the dangerous narcotic.

Reyes has not denied in media interviews he has given since Westcott’s killing that he and his partner occasionally sold small amounts of cannabis to friends – but he maintains that this was not their sole source of income and, as Reyes framed it, “There weren’t people coming in and out of the house every day. It wasn’t paying the bills. We were still broke.”

The police dispute that characterization, as they described the SWAT Team raid to the media after the shooting.

They first said that the decision to raid the home was prompted due to complaints from neighbors. When reporters were unable to find such complaining neighbors, the Tampa police admitted that the raid was spurred by an investigation where an undercover Tampa police officer made cannabis purchases at the home. A freedom of information request was filed with the department regarding the incident, and the actual truth of the matter is that the inspiration to SWAT raid the Seminole Heights home came instead from an “confidential informant”, and in police work this could include a criminal who is trying to broker a deal after being arrested to get a lesser charge or not be prosecuted.

Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy told Tampa, when confronted with the cover-up the department orchestrated after the shooting that, “Each time the informant was at this house, he saw pre-packaged marijuana.” McElroy also claimed that the “confidential informer” had claimed to have seen a weapon in the home.

The chief of police in Tampa, Jane Kastor, took to the airwaves herself after the community questioned the actions of the department when it became clear that a young Tampa citizen was mowed down by officers over two dollars worth of cannabis, where she spoke a ritualistic incantation as if memorized that all TV news watchers in all American cities have heard and themselves been mesmerized by:

“Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers…If there is an indication that there is armed trafficking going on – someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm – then the tactical response team will do the initial entry.”

– conclusion

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released its findings after performing a review of the militarization of America’s local police forces in a report called War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. During their research, the ACLU became aware of the hundreds of SWAT team assaults on the homes of private citizens that have been carried out by local coppers over the past few years in cases similar to the narcotics raid that resulted in the death of Jason Westcott. The Union examined over 800 SWAT team assaults carried out by local police offices in the years 2011 and 2012 to discover that 79 percent of the gun brandishing, flash bomb utilizing, smash the door down raids were to serve simple search warrants, and of those SWAT raids carried out to simply serve warrants, 60 percent were warrants to search for drugs.

The Union pointed out in their findings that, “Even though paramilitary policing in the form of SWAT teams was created to deal with emergency scenarios such as hostage or barricade situations, the use of SWAT to execute search warrants in drug investigations has become commonplace… The use of a SWAT team to execute a search warrant essentially amounts to the use of paramilitary tactics to conduct domestic criminal investigations in searches of people’s homes.”

Furthermore, the Union reports that, “there is typically no single entity at the local, state, or federal level responsible for ensuring that SWAT is appropriately restrained and that policing does not become excessively militarized,” creating a situation where untrained local police are making decisions to use SWAT raids as they desire to carry out general run-of-the-mill police functions. As can be predicted, the Union also reports that SWAT team tactics are most often used against the poor and minorities – in their study they found that 42 percent of the homes local police raided with SWAT teams were the homes of African Americans and 12 percent were the homes of Latino Americans.

At the same time that SWAT team tactics are becoming the preferred technique used by militarized local police offices as they prosecute the drug war, American citizens are coming to the realization that treating drug addiction as an act of war by our citizens as opposed to treating drug addiction as a community health matter is both counterproductive and immoral.

As a citizen whose family members include police officers, it is difficult to argue against the mesmerizing mantra of police commanders who claim simply to be protecting their officers (and, by the way, the police involved in the killing of Jason Westcott were found by the Hillsborough County State’s Attorney to be justified in their use of deadly force against the decedent). But there is a group of folks who know that cannabis is not a narcotic and is essentially harmless, that communities of color are almost exclusively targeted by local rough and tough militarized small time police chiefs and officers in drug war raids, and that local coppers make boatloads of cash by banging down doors in the middle of the night to lock away cannabis users – both through In Rem forfeiture actions as well as being rewarded by the feds (both Congress and the DOJ) for doing their part to continue the failed, bigoted and immoral war on drugs and on cannabis in particular – these ‘folks’ are your congresspersons and senators and President Obama.

These diners off of tax payer paid for china dinner plates know full well that their self-interested promotion of the drug war is immoral, anti-science and dis-compassionate, that it is a failure, that it supports cartels and gangs in their violent businesses, and harms otherwise innocent Americans rendering them unable to participate in society – unable to help us lift up our country with their individual talents and energies – but they just don’t give a shit. Our leaders cravenly, stubbornly and, quite basically, with malice aforethought, know very clearly that their selfish non-actions with regard to cannabis will without question result in the needless and preventable deaths of other Americans’ sons, daughters, partners, patients, relatives, friends, neighbors – they know and do nothing…except spit out an uncomfortable (or perhaps a knowing, but certainly a not caring) laugh when a citizen asks if they “want a hit.”

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” – M. L. King

national

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-boy – part 3

by Patrick Devlin

The Grand Rapids Press and MLive Media reported Tuesday on the annual meeting of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) where conferees leveled a unified and scathing critique of the national ‘war on cannabis’ that is driven by self-serving local police, federal level prohibitionist politicians, private prison owners and purveyors of bigoted pseudo medical justifications, which has, according to attendees at this year’s NOBLE conference, “ruined the lives” of countless African American youths, stood as a force against medical treatment of addiction, intensified racial inequality and served to burn bridges of understanding and cooperation between law enforcers and the communities in which they serve.

Chief John Dixon III, police chief of Petersburg, VA, speaking at a session at the NOBLE conference titled, “Decriminalizing the Black Community”, characterized the continued federal prohibition of cannabis bluntly for conferees, stating, “It’s insanity. We know,” adding that after 40 years of prohibition’s failures, “The results haven’t changed.”

Dixon said that while police often view marijuana arrests as victories that ostensibly assist the user come to grips with their use of the illegal substance, the stark fact is that, “locking people up for a dime bag, for a joint,” and putting them into the criminal justice system “pretty much ruins the rest of their lives.” “We, as law enforcement professionals, we need to really take a look at how we can decriminalize marijuana, especially user amounts,” Dixon told the gathering, “Sometimes, we’ve got to say the things that most of law enforcement isn’t going to say.”

Dixon remarked on the devastating effects that criminalized cannabis has had on communities of African Americans across the US and noted that his real-life experiences had led him to conclude that drug addiction is best spoken to as a community health matter rather than as a law enforcement program.

The director of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Major Neil Franklin, a 34 year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, reminded the assembled law enforcement officials of the disturbing statistics associated with America’s failed drug war, stating that between 1990 and 2005 the size of the prison population incarcerated for drug offenses grew from 415,000 Americans to over 1.9 million convicts.

Franklin also expressed his concerns that the war on cannabis is driven by private prison owners who are seeking to have their jails filled with non-violent young minority men caught up in the drug war, and supported by law enforcement agencies which have come to rely upon drug forfeiture laws to extract cash and property from arrested drug users to support their departments in a time of reduced funding of public services across the country as politicians refuse to tax the wealthy and businesses to pay their fair share in supporting America’s communities. Franklin concluded, “Marijuana is one of the biggest money makers for law enforcement agencies today.”

Franklin asked his audience pointedly, “Who do you want to (control the flow of drugs) in your neighborhood? The cartels? The 20,000 gangs we have around the country? Or do we take control of it, regulate it?” Franklin echoed the comments of Chief Dixon when he challenged the audience of law enforcers, “There’s no more powerful voice than the people in the trenches.”

The 38th annual NOBLE conference, which was open to the public and presented sessions on all aspects of law enforcement and a job fair, took place in Grand Rapids Michigan between July 13 and 17.

Note: this news-opinion piece relies heavily upon the reporting of John Agar of the Grand Rapids Press and MLive and mLaw expresses its sincere appreciation for bringing this important event to our attention.

international

Time to Reschedule, President Laughy-Boy – part 2

by Patrick Devlin

A team of scientists from Canada, New Zealand, The United Kingdom and the United States has reported that even heavy users of cannabis have no greater chance of contracting lung cancer from their use of the substance than casual cannabis users or, remarkably, even non-cannabis users.

The study, which is to be published in the International Journal of Cancer, analyzed data from six case studies involving more than 5000 participants and found that there is “little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers.”

The review of research echoed previous medical studies, reported in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society in 2013, that revealed that “habitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function…Overall the risks of pulmonary complications of regular use of marijuana appear to be relatively small and far lower than those of tobacco smoking.”

The journal actually went further, as another article from 2013 posited that “cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that low doses (of) cannabis may be protective for both conditions.”

The findings support the conjecture of many in the medical community that cannabis contains “anti-cancer properties” including the ability to inhibit the growth of lung cancer tumors, but no studies have been performed on human subjects due in part to the embargo against researching the capacities of cannabis’ medical benefits as the substance is considered by law enforcement and the White House to be amongst the most dangerous illegal drugs, as dangerous and medically non-useful as LSD and peyote, but less safe less medically useful than methanphetamine, cocaine and synthetic heroin.

international

Time to Reschdule, President Laughy-Boy – part 1

by Patrick Devlin

Scientists in England are reporting what could be a significant breakthrough in the treatment of all forms of cancer stating that their research that suggests that cannabis’ psychoactive component, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), could act to shrink cancerous tumors in patients stricken with the deadly disease.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia, in the UK, have found that THC appears to effect two receptors found in cancer tumors called cannabinoid receptors helping to shrink the deadly growths.

The scientists bombarded human cancer cells in mice with doses of THC that were isolated into compounds for the research study. The compounds were found by the researchers to help shrink tumors. The scientists hope that their discovery can lead to the development of a synthetic form of the compound that can eventually provide relief for patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The UK researcher’s discovery supports the opinion of the US medical Establishment. Although medical researchers and the community of cancer patients in the US are laboring under an embargo on researching the possible medical benefits of cannabis that is coordinated by politicians and the scientists who are beholden to them, the nation’s medical researchers from the National Institutes of Health reported in July of 2012 that the “evidence accumulated during the last decade supports that cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa and their derivatives, possess anticancer activity.”

The scientists cautioned that the cannabinol compound that has the diminishing effect on cancer tumors was specially synthesized for the experiments and was targeted directly at the cancerous tumors in specific concentrations – a medical application that cannot be achieved by cancer patients by self-administering cannabis using common methods of cannabis ingestion.