Tag Archives: decriminalization

national

The Nation’s Drug Cops Prepare for the Worst as Happy and Creative Music Appreciators Threaten Public Safety

By Patrick Devlin
cross posted at the demise

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has released the 2017 edition of its illegal drug resource guide, Drugs of Abuse, and the agency has updated its warnings regarding the illicit schedule one drug called cannabis.

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The agency classifies illegal drugs using a five tiered system, with the least dangerous substances such as codeine cough syrup being categorized as schedule five drugs, and the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin, lysergic acid (LSD) and cannabis being categorized as schedule one drugs.

Drugs included in the agency’s schedule two, identified as being less dangerous than the schedule one drugs noted above include cocaine, oxycodone and Demerol.

This year the agency reconfirmed many of the long demonized alleged effects of cannabis, including problems with memory, distorted perceptions and loss of coordination – all of this rehashing of anti-cannabis propaganda was qualified by the agency’s admission that the “physiological, psychological and behavioral effects of marijuana vary among individuals.”

The agency includes in this year’s illicit drug guide warnings that clinical studies have revealed that cannabis users can experience additional frightening and debilitating effects including;

  • – Merriment, happiness and even exhilaration,
  • – Relaxation, increased sociability and talkativeness,
  • – Enhanced sensory perception, giving rise to increased appreciation of music, art and touch, and,
  • – Heightened imagination leading to a subjective sense of increased creativity.

    The agency also advises citizens that even though categorized as a dangerous schedule one substance, “No deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.”

    This relatively honest reporting by the DEA, after its 80 year demonization of cannabis, is from one perspective salutary, as their list of cannabis effects comports with the personal experience of millions of cannabis users over hundreds, even thousands of years of using the substance.

    On the other hand, the notion that our government’s drug enforcers actually believe that the public safety is threatened by merriment and happiness, that our law enforcers are fearfully stealing themselves to be able to respond to a relaxed and sociable citizenry, and that Americans have to be protected from music and art appreciators with heightened imagination is certainly thought provoking.

    I feel a burst of creative imaginative energy coming on.

  • national

    Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce Unclear on the Concept in Arkansas

    In Arkansas, organizations set up to assist business people and farmers in navigating and succeeding in the market place have joined forces to hobble small businesses and farmers by choosing to erect barriers to the marketplace.

    Arkansans will be able to vote on two initiatives regarding medical cannabis on this year’s ballot in Arkansas.

    arkansas farm bureau

    Strange as it may seem, and contradicting the stated mission of these private membership organizations, the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to block our nation’s most lucrative cash crop, cannabis, from entering the marketplace in that state.

    Ostensibly, these two organizations, which have previously been faithful advocates for farmers and small businessmen, would be expected to encourage and lionize the entry of cannabis as a legal product into the Arkansas commerce marketplace, given these groups’ historical support of the manufacturers and sellers all products, irrespective of how dangerous they may be, including the dangerous and addictive products sold by the tobacco and liquor industries.

    In the case of the product cannabis, these organizations would be expected to be on the forefront of lobbying for legal cannabis in Arkansas because of the remarkable success for businessmen, farmers and taxing authorities that legal cannabis has been in the states where it is legal, Oregon, Colorado and Washington.

    In OR, the state received $14.9 million in tax benefits from the sale of $60 million worth of legal cannabis in it’s first year of sales. And in CO, legal cannabis sales have brought in over $1 billion in sales since 2014 providing tax revenues of $135 million to the cash strapped state in 2015 alone, $35 million of which is targeted by law to fund Colorado’s schools.

    The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation’s Stanley Hill, vice president of public affairs and government relations, said the potential recognition of the medical benefits of cannabis could “be detrimental to the entire economy of the state in our opinion.”

    Rather than supporting the creation of a multi-million dollar market place for legal medical cannabis in Arkansas, the Chamber and Farm Bureau have called for simply ignoring the lucrative successes in CO, OR and WA and slamming the door shut for Arkansan businesses and farmers.

    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

    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

    Prohibitionist Lawmaker’s Dopey Scheme Goes Up In Smoke

    A republican end-around scheme to derail cannabis decriminalization in Washington DC has seemed to have backfired on the neo-prohibitionist law maker who sponsored a bill to remove funds from DC that it might have spent to carry out the decriminalization effort, creating a situation where cannabis could be technically legal in our nation’s capital.

    The DC decriminalization measure established that police can only give $25 dollar tickets (i.e. as opposed to arrest records) to people who are caught possessing small amounts of cannabis in the city. The measure to decriminalize cannabis possession was enacted by the city council to attempt to speak to the fact that treating cannabis possession as a crime in DC resulted in the arrests of great numbers of minorities and very few white people; 9 out of 10 arrestees for cannabis possession in DC were African Americans – a significant statistic due to the fact that the percentage of cannabis users across all races is similar.

    The move to stymie the decriminalization measure was made by Andy Harris, a republican representative from Maryland, who appended a rider to a broad financial services bill that prevents DC from spending money “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with possession use or distribution” of cannabis.

    The prohibitionist law maker, however, failed to replace the decriminalization rule, creating a circumstance where police could not ticket cannabis possessors, as this would violate the prohibition of spending monies to “carry out” the decriminalization rule, and DC could not act to re-criminalize cannabis, as doing so would also violate the provisions of the law.

    The situation may lead to, as the Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance described it to the DCist news organization, the “de facto legalization” of cannabis possession in the district.

    Although the legal catch-22 will certainly be spoken to by Congress with future legislation, as it stands today (technically) the citizens of the District of Columbia may be able to thank Rep. Andy Harris for ensuring that they can’t be profiled or arrested for holding on the hill.