national

‘Uprooted’ War on Cannabis Boondoggle Could Become First Win in 45 Year War

by Patrick Devlin

The federal government’s cannabis warriors are given millions of dollars every year to search for and uproot clandestine cannabis grows on federal lands across the US. In 2014, the DEA received $18 million tax payer dollars to uproot cannabis and seize the assets of cannabis criminals (the Asset Forfeiture Fund for the Domestic Cannabis Suppression/Eradication Program).

Federal drug warriors who receive the yearly cash infusions have been able to justify receiving the monies by suggesting that clandestine cannabis farms in the US have links to and ultimately support ‘narco terrorists’ in Mexico and (gasp) worldwide, routinely characterizing cannabis grows on federal lands as “cartel grows.”

Although recent analysis of such links to international terror organizations suggests that these connections exist only in the propaganda addled brains of our fearless anti-drug soldiers, the cannabis eradicating warriors’ need for funding is real, and so the pot-pulling raids continue and continue to rack up costs, even as the citizens of the US, the folks who hire these cannabis-stopper-coppers, have decided that the war on cannabis is (at best) misguided and (more likely) immoral and wasteful.

Last year’s stunning example of this self-justifying, fake-assed anti-terror, overzealous drug war boondoggling pot plant pulling stupidity came from the great state of Oregon, where cannabis is legal for recreational consumption by adults, and where our nation’s DEA spent $960,000 to destroy just over 16,000 “illegal” pot plants.

The simple math shows that taxpayers ponied up 60 dollars per destroyed pot plant in a state where cannabis is legal to purchase by adults and where cannabis sales tax revenue is supporting education and health care.

As all in the law enforcement game will advise, “freedom ain’t free” and we need to pay real dollars for real programs to “keep our kids safe”, and with that in mind, lets run the numbers on this described as important program in our country’s war on cannabis:

The feds spent $960,000 to uproot 16,000 cannabis plants in Oregon in 2014.

The DEA reports that the total value of the assets seized by the DEA under the program (including cannabis plants and property, such as weapons) in 2014 in Oregon was $259,484.

So…the self-justifying fully funded anti-cannabis crusaders in the legal cannabis state of Oregon spent 369.965% more than the value of the assets that they destroyed in the effort to eradicate illegal cannabis in a state where cannabis is legal.

And, if the utterly transparent make-work boondoggle (exposed proudly in a self-congratulatory DEA press release, no less) of 2014 did not bilk tax payers boldly enough, our always vigilant cannabis warring federal authorities have earmarked $760,000 dollars for cannabis eradication in Oregon for 2015!

Thankfully, some law makers agree that uprooting cannabis plants in legal cannabis Oregon is a wasteful folly and have taken steps to end the make work boondoggle. In the mean time we suggest the following course of action;

As an alternative to spending $760,000 to eradicate Oregonian cannabis plants this year, why not use the federal funds to purchase legal cannabis in Oregon that could be distributed cost free to federal tax payers in Oregon who use cannabis?

In the states where cannabis is legal for recreational consumption by adults, the substance sells for about $20 per gram. So, again, let’s run the numbers:

$760,000 / $20 = 38,000 grams of legal commercially sold cannabis.

The federal dollars will go to newly established legal businesses in Oregon, and the state will reap tax benefits from these sales that will support the health care and education of Oregonians, creating a brand new federal DEA drug war program to support communities in Oregon; which could be called: “the Anti-Cannabis Warrior Eradication Program.”

You know, this suggested use of our federal tax dollars by the DEA could be the only victory that our disastrous and immoral drug war has acheived in 45 years of warring.

national

The Inevitability of Democratic Dry-Doperism

by Patrick Devlin

“It would be irresponsible for me as the chief law enforcement officer to take a position based on its popularity without thinking it would actually work” – Kamala Harris, candidate for California Attorney General, 2014

“I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana, there’s a certain inevitability about it.” – Kamala Harris, newly re-elected California Attorney General, 2014

“Be the change you want to see” – Gandhi

Well, it was inevitable.

That a sitting Democrat, even one from the avant state of California, would admit the obvious after running away from the obvious as she ran for re-election, and come clean, fess up, speak reality and stop with the timorous mealy-mouthery and calculated misrepresentation on cannabis legalization.

Freshly re-elected California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently told Californians that she made a craven choice to obfuscate as the silly season was unfolding – that she believes (a belief shared by about 99 percent of Americans, including the paid prohibitionist anti-cannabis propagandists Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet) legal cannabis in her state and the country is “inevitable”.

What we also know by now, after four states and Washington DC have legalized recreational cannabis consumption, it is inevitable that modern elected Democrats will either hem and haw about their position on legalization or stake an outright (and untenable) prohibitionist stance against cannabis legalization and work to keep the substance illegal – ensuring the arrest of more minority Americans and the pain and suffering of many of their fellow citizens.

And, in this year’s California Attorney General’s race, Ms. Harris shown as a masterfully scheming dry-doper politician, segueing effortlessly from coy quips and chuckles to strongly worded finger-wagging morality plays (see above), ensuring both to-be-arrested young minority males and scared-as-shit suburban parents that she will not lend a hand to equal justice demanding Californians, claiming the tough law enforcement territory on legalized cannabis. In fact, Harris’s republican challenger, the wacky straw-dog candidate Ron Gold, actually took the medically responsible and certainly more rational, law enforcement cost saving and equal justice uplifting pro-cannabis legalization position in the race. It is understood that Gold didn’t stand a chance against Harris with his odd-ball Libertarian worldview, but, who can really argue with the statement; “It is common sense, reasonable and rational to change laws that have driven the market for marijuana into the hands of drug cartels and street gangs.” The answer…Kamala Harris.

Harris’s reaction to questions from the media regarding her challenger’s stance on cannabis legalization, (a very Obama like laugh-off when Harris said with a derisive guffaw, “He’s entitled to his opinion”) angered Californians who are serious about legalizing cannabis, driving some very liberal voters to support the republican from a standpoint of principle – voters who had never voted for a republican in their lives. Harris may have angered some hippies, but she certainly received the support of law enforcement in the 2014 election cycle. And, she didn’t have to admit that law enforcement unequally applies the laws prohibiting cannabis or explain to suburban mommies why she is hanging with those dirty hippies.

While Harris’s crass self-obsessive posturing, her effort to not anger law enforcement constituencies as she scans the horizon of her political career shooting for the stars (again, in a very Obama like fashion – the state senator who supported both cannabis decriminalization and the creation of a Palestinian state for reasons, looking back, that were purely political) may have made her forget the public that she has promised to serve, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome (also newly re-elected) chose to insert cannabis legalization as a plank in his 2014 re-election campaign.

As cannabis legalization is forced by the will of the people in state after state and as medical researchers discover the usefulness of the substance after 80 years of the federal government’s suppression of medical research, we can expect to see more self-serving Democratic politicians sheepishly come to grips with Legal Cannabis America and reverse course on the subject.

This is not to suggest that these dry-doper Democrats will reverse course out of principle or personal integrity or compassion. This does not mean that these liars will admit that their clinging to cannabis prohibition (that is antithetical to both equal justice and scientific research) so as to be elected over and over again by both stoking and appealing to fears and bigotries in their constituencies that they once saw as a requirement for ‘tough on crime’ Democrats, was immoral and wrong and served to give tens of millions of young Americans arrest records and limit the quality of life of patients who have terminal diseases. They will admit that cannabis should be legal simply because their future political careers hang in the balance.

That’s not bravery and honesty; it is, rather, cowardice and narcissism.

international

Cultural Custodians, Capitalists and Cannabis Companies Create Candy Consumption Confusion

by Patrick Devlin

With Halloween creeping up on us, cannabists are being exposed again to the annual defamatory ritual, sprung from the minds of manipulative propagandists, mouthed by local, state and federal police forces and consumed like fun-sized candy bars by ill-informed and scared silly suburbanites (really, scared to the point of believing out-and-out factually unsupported silliness), the warning from our ‘concerned for the kids’ law enforcers that reefer fiends want in the worst way to get their costumed kiddies “hooked” on the evil weed by spiking their children’s Halloween candy with cannabis.

The hysterical and nonsensical notion that is part and parcel to the urban myth – a myth that began when I was a youth and at that time took the form of dire warnings from police authorities that evil-doers were buying razor blades and inserting them into candy so children will become horribly injured when they scarf down their orange and black waxed paper wrapped peanut butter chewies or Zagnut candy bars – is that cannabis users in general are evil and demented freaks who, at the risk of being jailed and at the expense of purchasing costly legal cannabis, desire to harm innocent children.

Hate to break it to you, but there is not a single documented case of cannabis users tricking children to enter the realm of the devil to be locked forever in a hell of addiction or lie convulsing on the floor of a hospital emergency room by spiking children’s Halloween candy.

With all of the press-releasing and all of those reporters trying to ‘get to the bottom of the story‘ on all of those cannabis using candy spiking psychos out there it only makes sense that pharmacies and their employees who want their patients to know about the prescribed drugs that they are taking (including their possible dangers, paramount among these is warning patients of the importance of keeping drugs away from children) are happy to pass their important advice along – makes sense.

This is especially the case with regard to cannabis edibles that are sold as chocolate, gummy bears and soda, just like alcohol lollipops, these products, of course, should not be given to children. But remember, it is not cannabists who designed these products to trick our kiddies, but rather capitalists who want to make cash. And, while you may not agree with me that the consumption cannabis (by adults) is a patriotic duty of all citizens concerned about the trajectory of American society – capitalism is supposed to be all patriotic and it is capitalist devils, not cannabis fiends who are flooding the market with BabyJane, BudderFinger and mrGreenbud cannabis candies. A salutary component of cannabis legalization is that these capital blinded candy creators can be regulated by the appropriate authorities in WA and CO to ensure that these products are not marketed to children (as tobacco products are regulated) because, you know, legalization is regulation.

Luckily, and speaking of cannabis monetization, a company from Florida has stepped up to allay to the fears of cannabis-candy-concerned parents, selling a candy-drug testing kit that parents can use to tell if their child’s candies can be consumed.

Now, if you have used cannabis, these types of stories- rooted as they are in deep misunderstandings about the substance that are the fruit of eighty years of knowing law enforcement and political deceit – are best to be ignored…it may be sad and silly, but it really just ain’t worth the time and energy to refute these zombie propagandist memes as they appear year after year. I agree.

But it really seems to make sense, however, in the year that many Americans are reassessing what they have been told by self-interested parties in politics and law enforcement and in light of the full legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, to state for the record that the suggestion that cannabis users are demented sociopaths who dream of harming children is both unfounded and offensive. And, by the way the propagandists who mouth the meme know it is unfounded and intend for their propping up of the myth to be defamatory and offensive.

The clear intent of these propaganda-pushers is to infer that ‘pot heads’ are evil addicts who actually desire to harm children. And that is a sick way to attempt to foreclose upon the constructive and commonsense nationwide effort to bring compassion and equality to our land by legalizing cannabis.

national

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Wall!

by Patrick Devlin

Over the past months the national media have stumbled upon the fact that the Great American Prohibition of cannabis has some pretty nasty consequences for regular ‘folks’, as the president likes to refer to us. Perhaps you have followed the stories of the knowing and on-going aggressive application of our nation’s antiquated and unjustly applied local, state and federal laws regarding cannabis.

The national press has reported on how the war on cannabis harms our sick citizens. There has been sympathetic reportage of the plight of families who have become medical refugees, forced to up-root their lives and other parents who have chosen to break the law so their suffering children can get the medical treatment they need in America.

There have been stories about patients who, because they work for institutions that receive federal funding, have to choose between being employed and using medicine. And the press commendably understands the nature of the disturbing threat of our Veteran’s Administration to refuse medical care to veterans who use cannabis to treat their battle injuries and symptoms of post-war-fighting-stress.

Also of note, a stream of reports of grossly overzealous actions against cannabis criminals that seem to be more acts of police force enrichment than acts of public safety enforcement.

In bizzaro America, as even the milquetoasty left media are finally reporting on the failure that is our disastrous war on drugs and how it has been based upon years of self-serving lies, amped up local coppers, go-getter prosecutors, an amalgam of frenzied state and federal agencies, rigor mortis judges and even private gun-wielding helicopter anti-cannabis posses are still hunting prey as our dry-doper politicos duck their heads and kick the cannabis can down the road until they are safely retired.

I know that the ‘we got to respect law enforcement’ crowd pulls out the ol’ “well, it’s still illegal, ain’t it?” dodge when the press reports on aggressive enforcement actions taken by politically motivated prosecutors and bigoted officers to justify prosecuting small time cannabis users – so I want to remind that police and prosecutors are never required to take the most aggressive action allowed under the law and are given tremendous leeway to make prosecutorial decisions. End-of-cannabis-prohibition arrests and ambiguities really don’t need to happen.

An example of this capacity to apply discretion is contained in the letter that the Department of Justice sent to all US Attorneys in 2009 advising that they should make “efficient and rational use of (the Department’s) limited investigative and prosecutorial resources” and should use their “plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters” in situations involving cannabis, reminding US attorneys that they are “invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion” in the exercise of their authority.

That makes sense to most Americans, but our cowardly federal politicians still hide behind deceptively deployed medical research and the intentionally stoked fears of propagandized voters to take no action on the federal legalization of recreational and medical cannabis.

We are put by self-interested politicians in a position of having to live in an America with a barrier that has been erected to support the failed war against cannabis – a barrier that separates us from one another.

We know, for example, that political inaction on cannabis legalization has created a permanently stigmatized class in our country – 600,000 cannabis arrestees or more added every year. 18 million of our fellow citizens over the course 30 years, the vast majority of whom are African and Latino Americans. This is only one way the war against cannabis harms all of us.

In our attempts to end this fixable travesty we are stymied by self-serving politicos who are fearful of angering constituencies, and who must, therefore, ‘evolve’ on the issue before taking the logical, compassionate and equality enhancing step of legalizing cannabis.

We all know of the unfair application of justice now.

We all know that the sick can be treated using cannabis today.

As long as this war against cannabis exists, as long as this barrier of political inaction is permitted to stand, it is not only the casualties of the war; patients, young African and Latino Americans, our students – our brethren, who are consigned to lives marked by unfairness and suffering, but it is all Americans, at least all Americans who care.

We are barricaded from stepping together hopefully into post-prohibition America.

Mr. Obama, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, if you seek liberalization, consider this barrier.

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!

national

Cali Patients Find Relief, National Prohibitionists Looking Pallid

by Patrick Devlin

An analysis of data collected in 2012 through the annual California Behavioral Risk Factor survey revealed that a significant majority of patients who use cannabis for serious medical conditions self-reported that the substance was effective in alleviating symptoms or treating serious medical conditions. 92 percent of respondents who admitted using medical cannabis reported that the substance brought them relief from their symptoms, including relief from the symptoms of debilitating and life threatening diseases such as chronic pain, migraines, arthritis and cancer.

The annual computerized phone poll, conducted by the Public Health Institute, randomly surveyed over 7500 Californians about all kinds of health concerns and conditions – the study did not focus specifically on medical cannabis users. The study revealed that an average of five percent of Californians use medical cannabis, a population that included adult Californians of all ages, races and backgrounds. Although more young adults reported choosing cannabis as medicine to treat their illnesses, the study’s authors reported that “the absolute difference in prevalence (of cannabis use) between the racial/ethnic groups is less than three percent.” A difference in usage rates that the authors consider being insignificant.

The study’s authors said that their analysis of the telephone poll revealed that the percentage of cannabis patients for all demographics is consistent across the population of patients in California and there is no evidence of a single demographic over using or abusing the medicine. Also, and importantly, the authors’ review found that medical cannabis users seek relief from the medicine for “medical conditions for which mainstream treatments may not exist…or may not be effective, including for chronic pain and cancer.”

The findings of the scientists who reviewed the data also conclusively refute one of the more pernicious and arrogant prohibitionist talking points: that cannabis is not medicine, the movement to recognize medical cannabis as a medicine is a cynical scheme by hippies who really are seeking the legalization of recreational cannabis, and patients who use cannabis medicine to treat their illnesses are either liars or pawns.

Patients are listening to their bodies, doctors are listening to their patients; however, police and politicians still refuse to engage, learn and move to reclassify and decriminalize as the states push bravely and with no federal support toward a future where American patients can receive the medicine they need.

national

A Holder of Political Ideology, not Justice

by Patrick Devlin

If you ask an attorney if torture is OK, if broad based warrantless wiretapping is allowed, if wealthy private corporations can be absolved of felonies just because they are wealthy corporations, if American citizens can be executed with a no charges leveled against them or trial – it really doesn’t matter what political party they are affiliated with – a member of the bar will generally agree that none of the above statements make sense, and in fact, these statements actually contravene our laws, our treaties and our constitution.

But, if you are asking these questions of a member of the personal staff of the President of the United States, who happens to be an attorney, you can expect to get answers that turn your concepts of fair treatment under the law, constitutional guarantees and international law into shredded and masticated gloppy pulp.

Over the past decades the nation’s top attorneys, using the magic and misleading mumblings and deliberately deceptive diatribes of their clients, presidents of our United States, our Attorneys General have navigated into new territory as they justify clearly unlawful actions for their clients and set precedents, which have gone unchallenged by our elected officials, that will serve to deform the legal landscape in America for decades, generations.

As in:
“The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas.”
Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General, Congressional hearing, 01.17.2007

“Due process and judicial process are not one in the same.”
Eric Holder, US Attorney General, Northwestern University Law School, 03.06.2012

The retiring US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has recently claimed, after six years, that he believes that cannabis should be considered for rescheduling, removing the substance from the Department of Justice’s list of most dangerous drugs. No useful purpose, susceptible to being abused, a designation that (oddly) also applies to the drug LSD but (oddly) not to the drugs heroin, meth and cocaine.

As is obvious to any sentient being – torture is always wrong and always at the apogee of immoral human behavior, recording and storing forever the private conversations of our citizens with no judicial order violates the Constitution, killing our citizens with no trial, no judge, no jury, no charges, no right to even articulate a defense makes a mockery of the basic principles that are woven into American law as it grew out of fundamental rights recognized by humans since before our country was founded, and cannabis is essentially benign and medically important, the prohibition of which has resulted in life changing arrests for over 600,000 Americans every year that Holder has held his appointed position as US Attorney General – that’s over 3 million Americans since Barack Obama became president, 3 million Americans who are overwhelmingly African Americans and Latino Americans.

I wonder, now that he soon will be no longer ‘retained’ by his former client, if Holder will eventually confide to Katie Couric that, he really, really believes, like all moral humans, that torture is wrong, warrantless surveillance violates our rights, corporations can be charged with crimes and every person deserves a fair trial before being executed.

link to comic courtesy of verbatim&v2

national

Mother’s Misdemeanors Manufactured by
‘Merica’s Marijuana Madness

by Patrick Devlin

A frightening circumstance driven by the failure of timid and narcissistic former cannabis imbibing politicians to take action to set federal standards for the legal use of cannabis medicine has led to the indictment of a Minnesota parent who sought relief for her brain injured son using cannibidiol oils to relieve his chronic pain.

Angela Brown was charged with two gross misdemeanor violations (child endangerment and causing a child to need protection) when she was reported to police for administering cannabis oils to her ailing son, Trey, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2011. Each of the child endangerment-related counts Brown faces carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. The charges came in spite of the fact that in May this year Minnesota’s governor, Mark Dayton, signed a law allowing patients to use cannabis as medicine upon a doctor’s recommendation. The law goes into effect next summer and Minnesota patients should be able to purchase cannabis medicines by 2016.

The Browns traveled to Colorado, where cannabis is legal for both recreational purposes and medical purposes, earlier this year in a desperate effort to find a medicine for their son that would help to combat what his mother describes as “extreme body pain.” Brown told Minnesota City Pages that Trey’s “headaches were so bad he couldn’t function.” Brown detailed how she had to hold her son down to prevent him from harming himself due to the intense pain he was experiencing because “he was suicidal.”

The journey to Colorado revealed to the family the dramatic pain relieving effect of cannibidiol oil, an extraction of the cannabis plant that does not contain psychoactive components. Brown said that the cannabis medicine would calm Trey’s muscle spasms and the young patient said he could feel the cranial pressure releasing when the medicine would take effect.

Trey’s symptoms reduced visibly to the point where Trey’s teachers noticed that he was feeling better. Ms. Brown told Trey’s teachers that the dramatic change was due to prescription cannabis oil from Colorado and within a week local police showed up at the family’s home asking that Ms. Brown “hand over” the medicine. Next, Minnesota Family Services confronted Trey while he was at school and asked him, according to his mother, “how much I was making him smoke and how high I was making him get.” Finally, Ms. Brown received papers through the mail advising her that she had been charged with two counts of committing a gross misdemeanor.

A spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington D.C. based cannabis legalization lobby group, Bob Capecci told Local Minneapolis TV station KARE 11 that, while prosecutors have discretion in which cases they choose to investigate, he was “stunned” when he heard about prosecutors pursuing the Brown family. “I can’t think of an instance,” Capecci said, “where an individual has been brought up on charges like this simply because the effective date hasn’t come around yet for the law that has already been passed.”

Complicating the matter, in March of this year Governor Dayton, reportedly advised parents of sick children, who he met with privately to discuss the pending medical cannabis law in Minnesota, that they should “buy pot off the street” to treat their children who can only be helped by cannabis medicines. The governor’s office has denied that Dayton made the statement.

Sadly, this instance of unnecessary harm being inflicted on the sick and the innocent is only one example of how the our federal politicians’ inaction on cannabis legalization is not some kind of undergraduate level poly-sci experiment in “the states being laboratories of democracy” as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have waxed in self-serving interviews conducted by fake journalist, but rather conscious and determined political positioning.

Witness the tragic and growing phenomenon in America of citizens who become medical cannabis refugees, the Brown family says that they intend to move to Colorado after Ms. Brown’s court case is resolved. Also, the bizzaro attempts by tough-guy local police and prosecutors at enforcing their interpretation of “justice” as they hammer unrelentingly at low-level cannabis users and medical cannabis users. It seems almost as if these prohibitionist law enforcers are determined to bag as many ‘final scores’ as they can, sending as many kids to jail and confiscating as much property and cash as they can before the inevitable federal legalization of cannabis.

The self-exculpating dodge of using the words “laboratories of democracy” to justify no action at the federal level is a common ploy for cowardly and amoral political animals. We have seen this over the course of 50 years where a woman’s right to choose has been under a prolonged and concerted attack by anti-democratic zealots, which has led to the embarrassing and dangerous situation where abortion, a fully legal medical procedure in the US, is unavailable to patients in 98 percent of America’s counties. Inaction on the federal decriminalization and rescheduling of cannabis dressed up as “allowing the states to be laboratories of democracy” is as bigoted, small minded, rooted in brute political calculation and, in a word, immoral as the abusive power wielding that anti-abortionist politicians have practiced over a half a century.

Every self-interested politician who mouths the weasel-words “laboratories of democracy” knows that cannabis medicine saves lives and relieves pain, that allowing cannabis to remain criminal will permanently label over 600,000 Americans every year as arrestees and that the vast majority of these citizens will be young African Americans and Latino Americans.

national

Coppers Ride the Cannabis Arrest Tide, Allow Criminals to Slide

by Patrick Devlin

Statistics compiled by the US Department of Justice reveal that arrests of Americans for simple cannabis possession have increased by over 300 percent nationwide since 1991. Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham analyzed data provided by the DOJ to find that since 1991 cannabis arrests have tripled even though arrests for all crimes, including violent crimes, have reduced over that same period. Ingraham noted that the figures reported by the DOJ with respect to cannabis possession arrests “are likely even higher,” as some states do not report arrest data to the agency.

Ingraham found that 42 percent of all drug arrests in 2012 were arrests for simple possession of cannabis (as opposed to arrests for possession of cannabis with the intent to distribute the substance) and that cannabis possession arrests constituted 5.4 percent of all criminal arrests in 2012. The 2012 statistics as reported by the DOJ exemplify a trend over the course of 23 years reflecting a knowing and considered mindset of local and state police enforcers: cannabis arrests are easy, safe and, in light of failures to combat real crime and violent crime, serve to portray that police forces are doing their jobs promoting public safety. Ingraham also noted that his review of DOJ statistics revealed that, in 2012, 53 percent of all reported violent crimes in the US went unsolved, the perpetrators of these crimes remaining at large.

The government’s figures report that over that same 23 year period between approximately 600,000 and 700,000 Americans were arrested each year for simple cannabis possession. As we know from a raft of academic studies, and even from comments made by President Obama, the overwhelming proportion of cannabis possession arrestees during the past two decades have been African Americans and Latino Americans. While Ingraham notes that not all of the individuals who were subject to cannabis possession arrest ended up in prison, all of the arrestees were faced with the burdens of the costs of defending themselves and the on-going personal costs of living with an arrest record that impacts the arrestee’s employment opportunities, housing choices, ability to apply for student aid and a myriad of life-long road blocks to becoming full participants in our society and economy.

Ingraham’s review of the DOJ data also revealed the widely divergent law enforcement attitudes toward arresting simple cannabis possessors that are reflected in a state-by-state comparison of cannabis arrest rates. Cannabis users in Louisiana and Nebraska are 40 times more at risk for arrest than cannabis possessors in Massachusetts. And, the arrest disparities are even evident between so-called blue states. Ingraham reports that one of every eight arrests in New York is for cannabis possession, while in the bordering state of Massachusetts, cannabis possession arrests number only 1 out of every 1000.

The statistics that our own government provides detail how our citizens have been harmed by a conspiracy between law enforcers who see the value in spending time and resources busting minorities for non-violent victimless crimes and politicians who see the value in promoting the divisive and counterproductive drug war – both seeking to score points with their constituents by looking drug-war tough. But, are the costs to society worth the self-interested grandstanding? The data that Ingraham reviewed shows that the drug war has failed to end cannabis use but has become a perpetual motion machine, serving to promote law enforcement and political careers at the cost of harming the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens every year for decades and thwarting research into the medical possibilities of cannabis.

Alas, in policy considerations there is never a magic bullet…but wait, reclassify, decriminalize, both of which can be done easily. All that is required is a bit of agreement and concerted effort by our law enforcement officials and politicians…but wait

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