Tag Archives: incarceration

national

MLaw letter to Forbes magazine responding to anti-cannabis hit piece

Dear Mr. Kroll,

It is very nice of you to express to your commenters that you don’t understand their comments, or ask for elucidation of the points raised by them, assuming your concern is genuine.

You should be aware as a self-described drug news reporter that people who are distressed about the troubles and inequities caused by the 80 year the war on cannabis are often met with expressions of feigned concern regaring definition of argument terms and the like, as well as knowingly misused appeals to authorities by on-the-take professionals (whether writers or assistant professors) that are in no way intended to foster discussion about legalizing cannabis but are rather often attempts to shut down discussion, so I forgive the frustrations displayed some of the commenters on your opinion piece – I hope that you can also.

taffe-and-kroll

I, like other commenters, have assessed that your researcher is peddling calculated half-truths, misinformation, scare tactics and misrepresentations. I, along with some of your readers, find it to be disturbing that your editors would allow to this thinly veiled prohibitionist effort be published by Forbes, even as an opinion piece.

We must remember that while one is entitled to their own opinion – it is dangerous and duplicitous to allow misinformation to be articulated for the purpose of deceiving the readers of your publication – that is called propaganda, not opinion.

This is an intended hit piece that employs some of the most simple to expose but most often deployed fallacies in support of the anti-cannabis agenda, it is not an opinion piece supporting the truth, Mr. Kroll. What the assistant professor is doing in this propaganda piece is re-asserting the same old tired tactics of the ilk that are disseminated by one of our country’s most prolific anti-cannabis propagandists, Kevin Sabet and supported by the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow.

Kevin Sabet has made a 30 year career of propagandizing against cannabis – in other words, like your researcher, Taffe; he makes his living supporting the continuation of cannabis prohibition. This is to indicate that Taffe is an interested party, not an objective scientist, as he purports to be for the purposes of your opinion piece. Taffe is paid by NIDA, headed by prohibitionist Nora Volkow, an organization which can only and has only researched the negative effects of cannabis – NIDA is barred by its charter and by its funding sources (the federal government, i.e. our tax dollars) from researching the benefits of cannabis.

Taffe knows that he only looks at the negative effects of a drug about which the the National Cancer Institute has said; “Cannabinoids may inhibit cancer tumor growth by causing cell death and blocking cell growth.”

Taffe is aware that cannabis is medicine under our laws. In my state, Illinois, cannabis is a regulated medicine that can be prescribed to physically deteriorated Parkinson’s victims and wasting AIDs patients, sick humans with traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, and children who are wracked with debilitating epileptic seizures. Taffe is aware of all of this as he spends his time and energies and our tax dollars exploring the alleged and overblown “addictive effects” of cannabis. As Brigadier General Smedely Butler said about war in general, and it is true about the war on cannabis as well, “war is a racket”, and Taffe is cleaning up, to the detriment of sick Americans.

Many citizens now realize that for law enforcers to have decided for us as a society, for our health researchers to have decided for us as a society, to not study the possible health benefits of cannabis, but to instead focus their efforts and our dollars on extending the bigoted and immoral war on cannabis, was quite possibly the most immoral, self-defeating and anti-scientific choice that we made as a country over the course of the last century.

After all of the needless suffering of our sick brethren and the thousands of needless arrests (about 700,000 young Americans arrested for cannabis possession every year over the past 30 years, mainly minority youths – in 2015, a cannabis possession arrest was made every 48 seconds), as these same arguments are employed over and over to frighten those credulous citizens who simply believed the lies that they have been told by anti-cannabis law enforcers for eight decades beginning with the disgraced Henry Anslinger, it is frustrating to the extreme to have to always bat down the tired propaganda memes, and for this reason I understand the frustration of the readers who have commented on your opinion piece.

While it is not difficult to speak to the calculated misrepresentations half-truths, and deceptive omissions employed by the likes of Taffe Sabet and others, it is chiefly tiresome and often useless to correct prohibitionists…but do it we must.

Taffe says Marijuana is addictive:
Our own government and other countries’ health researchers say quite clearly and consistently that cannabis is as addictive as caffeine – not addictive in the way that opioids, for example, are addictive. Jaffe knows this – as does every honest doctor in America – but he chooses instead to conflate the generally safe cannabis with dangerous and addictive substances such as heroin. Taffe’s choice is to be ambiguous for the intentional purpose of scaring your readers, not informing your readers.

Choosing to tell only a part of the story is termed an omission of materially relevant fact in our laws – an act that is deemed to be fraudulent in most jurisdictions.

Taffe says that 5-6% of high-school seniors use marijuana daily:
Taffe employs an intentional misdirection – and therefore a propaganda tactic. Taffe, and Sabet and Volkow and all prohibitionists know that there is no law currently being proposed or citizens’ initiative on any ballot anywhere that calls for allowing any person other than an adult to use recreational cannabis. Taffe knows that cannabis use by teens in Colorado has declined since the legalization of the substance. Taffe includes this for a single and duplicitous reason – to scare parents.

Attempting to frighten readers is scare mongering and scare mongering is not presenting an opinion, Mr. Kroll.

Taffe says Marijuana addiction is as “real” as any other:
See analysis of point one above.

Taffe says that there is no such thing as “psychological” versus “physical” dependence:
See analysis of point one above. Again, I do not stipulate that cannabis is non-addictive, but Jaffe is fully aware of the differences between heroin/alcohol/meth addiction and cannabis/caffeine addiction and to pretend or suggest that there is a similarity is expressing a misleading false equivalency.

Taffe might be a good researcher, but the argument that he presents is intended to deceive not elucidate.

Taffe says marijuana acutely impairs cognitive and other behavioral functions:
Again, Jaffe employs a logical fallacy in service of deception by failing to define how individuals are impaired by cannabis, for example, as in relation to individuals impaired by a legal drug, alcohol. We know, from our own government’s reporting, that every 2-hours, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes – is Taffe actually asserting that cannabis impairs users to the socially harmful and dangerous extent that legal alcohol threatens public safety?

The obvious answer is, Taffe’s cagy non-definition of impairment has the propagandist’s chosen effect of conflating the generally benign substance cannabis with truly dangerous substances that impair users to the point of being dangerous to the public.

Taffe says that behavioral tolerance with chronic exposure is substantial:
Another bit of propagandist demonizing innuendo that suggests that weed smoking demons will forever need more and more of the substance, a conjecture disproven by the facts on the ground in the four states in our union where cannabis is legal for adults to use recreationally.

Taffe says that THC is detectable in the body for a very long time compared with many other drugs of abuse:
Taffe, here, is knowingly perpetrating an act of deception when he makes this statement.

The fact is, and Taffe knows this, that tetrahydrocannabinol is NOT water soluble, unlike cocaine or alcohol or heroin, and for this simple and easily understandable scientific fact cannabis remains detectable in the fat of cannabis users for weeks, up to a month, unlike alcohol or heroin or cocaine. This does not mean that cannabis is active for two to four weeks after ingesting the substance. Taffe knows, and so do all propagandists, that the substance is active and capable of effecting as user for 2 to four hours. To state with no qualifications that “THC is detectable in the body for a very long time compared with many other drugs” is a fraudulent act done in service of frightening your readers.

These two points belie the real truth that Taffe is concealing as a researcher; this is, that law enforcement has determined that no scientist in the US can research the benefits of cannabis – but any researcher who wants to further explore the so-called “dangers” of cannabis can make an entire well paid career out of that.

This fact is the entire point of the DEA ruling earlier this year that determined cannabis will remain a schedule one substance along with heroin. The regulators use the same catch-22 reasoning that they have used to successfully maintain cannabis prohibition for decades; “No scientific study has shown that cannabis is not dangerous or has health benefits, so we must prevent the further study of cannabis because we assert that it is ‘dangerous and has no medical value’.”

The scheduling prevents further medical study and no medical research prevents legalization – a remarkable bit of regulatory circular reasoning that is also remarkably anti-science and which has the remarkable additional knock-on effect of promoting inequality in our legal system.

Taffe says, trying to make specific predictions about an individual who uses marijuana from general findings (there is always a central tendency or average around which the distribution of data points or individual outcomes varies) is a fools’ errand:
This final point is both is an extension of the circular reasoning that I described above, but it also is framed as a scare tactic, a commonly employed scare tactic used by the prohibitionists Sabet, Volkow and here Taffe.

What Taffe, and other self-interested prohibitionists often do is close their self-justifying argument chains with the intentionally threatening conjecture; “well, it may be true that we may have not seen any evidence of all of the scary things that I have just put forth to denigrate cannabis and cannabis users; but, do we really want to take the scary step of legalizing cannabis to find out when its ‘too late’ that cannabis is really the devil’s weed that will harm America in unknown and not provable ways forever?” I would think Mr. Kroll, that you have more respect for your readership than to stand by this self-justifying appeal to the unknown and the irrational.

In America, minority youths are being arrested every 48 seconds for cannabis possession and children are experiencing relief from agonizing seizures by using cannabis medicine. Taffe, a health researcher, apparently has no time for these facts as he self-justifyingly defends his golden goose, the failed, anti-scientific and bigoted war on cannabis. Taffe is an interested party whose personal existence is guaranteed by extending the criminality of cannabis, very much like law enforcers who target minorities with cannabis arrests to justify their own law enforcement budgets.

Opinion pieces are intended to spur thoughtful and valuable dialogue with the goal of uncovering the truth. Taffe has no intention of having a dialogue as he proffers innuendo, misrepresentation and deceptive framing to ensure the closing of discussion and rational thought rather the opening of minds.

national

A confederacy of immoral narcissists threatens public healthy and public safety in America

By Patrick Devlin

More arrests for cannabis possession than for violent crime in bizarro America
THC enables human brain cells to heal themselves and fight disease
All of the memes used by anti-cannabis warriors have been proven false by cannabis legalization

trump-clintion-asshats

Oregon police are baffled that legal cannabis has not brought about a mass crime wave
Former DEA agents call for end of war on cannabis so police can do some real work
Private prison food provider funds anti-cannabis effort in AZ
Researchers find cannabis can be deadly, but only if you are arrested by police for cannabis possession
Congress prohibits veterans from using cannabis medicine
UK approves cannabis medicine, while Ametican patients suffer
Archeologists find pre-Christian tomb with man’s body shrouded in mature cannabis plants

The headlines tell the despicable and sorry tale:

Prohibitionists who continue to place roadblocks to cannabis legalization are now committing immoral and illegal acts that threaten the public safety.

Elected officials who do not demand and work to establish laws legalizing cannabis are violation their oaths of office, are guilty of misappropriating tax payer monies and are enabling criminal enterprises.

Our political leaders, who do not immediately call for the legalization of cannabis are committing violations of public safety and enabling acts of discrimination.

“Laboratory and animal studies show that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells” – National Cancer Institute

“law enforcement agencies made 574,641 arrests last year for small quantities of (cannabis) intended for personal use, according to the report, which was released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. The marijuana arrests were about 13.6 percent more than the 505,681 arrests made for all violent crimes, including murder, rape and serious assaults.” – New York Times

As compassionate and patriotic Americans, mLaw asks you Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, President Obama and members of congress, Nora Volkow and Kevin Sabet, why do you allow the death, agony, inequality and racism to continue. What purposes are served, other than narissicistic, selfish and immoral personal aggrandizement and perceived political gain, by your calculated and inhumane inaction?

Hillary, Donald, Barack, Nora and Kevin, America implores you to act out of compassion and for the sake of justice. And we ask, “Why do you hate sick children and young minorities?

national

Sushrut Jangi’s Sleazy Schemes to Slay Self-created Straw Dogs Are Not Science

By Patrick Devlin

Can we please stop using deceptive and discredited propaganda techniques to scare Americans?

When a guy puts on a white doctor’s jacket and, having wrapped himself in the patina of medical respectability, begins to breathlessly describe how advocating for regulated medical experimentation and equal justice in our country in the twenty first century will endanger the lives of our nation’s precious children, we are obliged to stand up and remind everyone that advancing straw dog arguments in the service of supporting a socially destructive and immoral edifice of laws and brakes on the advancement of science is a shameful act of deceit.

Sushrut Jagi, Propagandist

Dr. Sushrut Jangi has shown in his recent opinion piece (published in the Boston Globe on October 8, 2015) that, while he may be a fine doctor, he has chosen to be a propagandist by deceptively asserting that those Americans who support the recreational use of cannabis or the medical application of the substance to treat sick patients are blasé, neglectful, dismissive or do not care about “the children” as he deploys a self-created straw dog that he can gallantly slay in his self-appointed role as protector of the children from drug craving, child harming cannabis advocates.

Newsflash to the editors of the Boston Globe: No person who advocates for the reclassification of cannabis by the Justice Department, no person who supports legalizing cannabis for medical use or recreational consumption has ever advocated for allowing children to recreationally use cannabis – no one.

The sleazy Sushrut sets forth his thesis early on in the piece establishing quite clearly to an observant reader that he has no intention of speaking as a licensed and trained medical professional:

“(U)nderscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody. It can, especially young people”,

and instead, intends only to obfuscate, misrepresent and terrify through an act of calculated and intentionally deceptive propaganda.

Dr. Jangi, can you please stop inferring the falsehood that the goal of cannabis activists is to in any way allow or make it easier for minors to use cannabis or to promote the use of cannabis by minors? The predicate of your propagandized rant is false. Your intentional fanning of the fear flames is deceptive, immoral and unethical.

I do not care how much you personally hate cannabis or how much of your professional existence is determined by our government’s funding the 45 year horror that has been the ‘war on cannabis’, your donning a doctor’s disguise while peddling faulty logic in the service of broadcasting political propaganda is disgusting, dangerous and deceitful. You may be a doctor, but as an essayist or opinion writer your premise is wholly concocted and your goal is not advancing knowledge but shutting down discussion by promoting bogus and chimerical fears.

It is really revealing when a person who is empowered by his education chooses to mis-use his status to promote patently false theories in support of a hidden agenda. I know that doctors are allegedly guided by the Hippocratic oath (to shorthand for the purpose of this discussion; ‘do no harm’). I ask, Sushrut, how can your misrepresentational assertion that cannabis advocates are not concerned for the health of our nation’s youth be considered as anything less than a lie and nothing more than an ethical failure. To assert that I do not care about “the children” is counter-factual, disparaging, deceitful, unethical and does great harm.

I would suggest, Doctor, if your desire is to engage in deceptive attacks in the world of public policy – take off the hospital scrubs disguise and seek employment at Fox News.

To be clear, this analysis has nothing to do with the so-called medical facts that Dr. Jangi uses to buttress his manufactured straw dog thesis and we have refuted the so-called evidence that Jangi re-hashes in the Globe opinion piece on many occasions. But rather it is with regard to Jangi’s choice to deceptively broadcast his medical credentials to give cover as he proffers a discredited and harmful load of propaganda.

If Jangi wants to be honest for a human second he will have to agree with mLaw that the concerns that he presents in his scare mongering piece will be settled quite easily – not by ending the normalization of legal cannabis in America, which is what he propagandizes in support of, but by re-scheduling cannabis so that we can finally do real scientific experimentation to understand the medical uses of cannabis, as we here at mLaw support.

As it stands, Jangi clearly throws his support behind the medieval and anti-science stance of continuing a knowing and immoral program of shutting down medical research for going on nearly 100 years that is concomitant with a knowing and immoral police policy in our land that has resulted in tens of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens being permanently saddled with an arrest record, if not a conviction record. It is difficult to gauge the cruelty and recklessness of such a stance.

I ask you doctor, have you no concern for the young Americans of color who have been imprisoned unequally and unfairly? Have you no concern for the children who are receiving blessed and unquestionable relief from medical cannabis today?

I ask you Sushrut, have you no human compassion for these, some of our “most vulnerable populations”?

I ask you Sushrut Jangi, have you no sense of decency at long last?

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.

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

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

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.

national

HillBilly on the same prohibitionist page as Choomer-in-Chief

Over the course of the past couple of weeks and culminating recently in an interview on Meet the Press, it appears that the woman who would be king and her first-mate to be, the HillBilly (sm), have laid out their dry-doper vision for speaking to the concerns of both America’s dire-medication needers and it’s life changing arrest-recorded-pocket-carrying weeders – “Who cares what you think”, in a manner of speaking and referencing a quip of the highly quotable GWBush.

What we have heard from the HillBilly is language that they know is crowd tested to seem mildly progressive in tenor and even hopeful (tm – Barack Obama), that cannabis may be medically useful and that the states are “laboratories of democracy”.

Thanks HillBilly, but we were already aware that the National Institutes of Health said in 2003 that cannabinoid “compounds have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in culture and animal models by modulating key cell-signalling pathways,” and then went further in 2012 when the NIH stated firmly that the properties of cannabis have “anti-cancer activities.” And, that in states such as Illinois where cannabis has been made legal for medicinal purposes, politicians agree with the medical establishment that asserts that cannabis is medicine that helps patients who are suffering from a long list of crippling and permanent medical maladies including these diseases that the HillBilly most assuredly do not have or do not want to contract or become afflicted with:

“Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency, syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia/wasting syndrome, muscular dystrophy, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, including but not limited to arachnoiditis, Tarlov cysts, hydromyelia, syringomyelia, Rheumatoid arthritis, fibrous dysplasia, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia, Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA), Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, Myoclonus, Dystonia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I), Causalgia, CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II), Neurofibromatosis, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus, Interstitial Cystitis, Myasthenia Gravis, Hydrocephalus, nail-patella syndrome, residual limb pain,” as well as “any other debilitating medical condition” recognized by Illinois Department of Public Health as being treatable with the useful and important medicine called cannabis.”

Hooray for the forward march of science.

And, HillBilly (sm), we are also aware that the states can indeed be “laboratories of democracy” – as we have seen over the past decades, where obstructionist politicians who are keenly concerned with pandering to the rubes (so as to keep their jobs) have labored to reduce Americans’ access to abortion, enable citizens to carry high powered rifles into restaurants and shopping malls, forestalled equality in marriage and voted over and over to ensure that we do not follow “shria law” in places like Oklahoma and Florida. And we have seen even in the past year, in states that have legalized cannabis usage for medical and recreational purposes, state level prohibitionists and suburban township cultural custodians effectively stymie the will of the people by imposing ridiculous “home rule” restrictions on the sale of cannabis for no other reason than to make it difficult for the citizens who they represent to use the legal substance.

Hooray for small “d” democracy.

When I hear the HillBilly talking like this, it’s hard for me to say hopefully that the statements that have come from both of the soon-to-be first couple reflect a growing “evolution” on matters related to cannabis. I think rather the stance is nothing more than self-serving dry-doper kick-the-can cowardly narcissistic bullshittery.

I am certain that the cynical liars HillBilly know full well that the current dry-doper in the White House has used this exact fake-assed framing throughout his tenure (when he wasn’t actually publically making fun of those Americans who understand the medical usefulness of cannabis and are cognizant of the bigoted pogrom that is the war on cannabis in America, by using his ‘bully pulpit’ as a dais from which to be a bully), as in when Obama told a New Yorker writer earlier this year that, “it’s important for it to go forward…And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

Hooray for “evolving”.

When I hear self-serving asshats talk like this it’s difficult for me to think of progress because, since Obama became president and decided to do nothing regarding cannabis for legacy burnishing reasons, more than 4.2 million of our fellow citizens have been arrested for possession of cannabis – the overwhelming majority of these arrests have been for small amounts of the substance (i.e. personal use – not drug trafficking) and the overwhelming majority of these arrestees have been minorities. Seems to me that’s a step backwards for our country.

I also think about the “smash and grab raids” that Obama’s DOJ has performed on medical cannabis dispensaries since he became president, and the fact that Obama’s DEA is currently threatening doctors in Massachusetts (a state that has legalized cannabis for medical use) that, if they prescribe cannabis as medicine, they will lose their license to prescribe any medications. Nice, that hopeful and evolving mindset, eminently reasonable.

I know, I know – why take such a hard stance against the clear and considered, callus and continual foot-dragging of our royal Democratic class members? Those Republicans are so mean and selfish and so much worse that our Democrats…and, by the way, it’s only cannabis, I can hear supporters of HillBilly intone patronizingly. Let me advise, I realize that it’s “only” cannabis.

So – let’s instead consider; banker bailouts, imperial wars, inescapable total surveillance, union busting, propping up the amoral health insurance industry, supporting polluters over our people, killing citizens in extra-judicial executions, funding illegally occupying religious zealots, criminalizing dissent, supporting the oxymoronic concept of “humanitarian war” and rehabilitating torture as US policy – these are the legacies of Bill Clinton and the vision for America that define the motivations of Hillary Clinton to run this nation.

Hooray for oligarchy.

“I recognized at once that we had never understood the meaning of these words, so common and yet so sacred: Justice, equity, liberty; that concerning each of these principles our ideas have been utterly obscure; and, in fact, that this ignorance was the sole cause, both of the poverty that devours us, and of all the calamities that have ever afflicted the human race.”
– Pierre Joseph Proudhon