Tag Archives: local government

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

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.

national

Arizona Supreme Court Actually Takes a Smart Approach to Marijuana and Driving

The Arizona Supreme Court has overturned an appeals court ruling that allowed police to arrest drivers who are legal medical cannabis users who are in no way impaired.

The state’s lower court had agreed with state prosecutors who argued that Arizona’s zero-tolerance style law regarding driving with detectable remnants of cannabis use, some of which remain inactive in the blood stream for as long as 30 days after using the medicine, allowed police officers to arrest medical cannabis users who were not under the influence of the substance.

The court ruling establishes that, in Arizona, for a driver to be arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis, the driver has to actually be under the influence of cannabis. Only after finding active cannabis metabolites in the blood of a driver can the police make a DUI arrest for cannabis.

The court’s decision arose from an incident where a driver was stopped by Arizona police for speeding. When the driver advised the officer that he had used cannabis the previous evening, the driver was blood tested and arrested.

The decision rendered by the court stated plainly that the officer’s interpretation of the law “leads to absurd results. Most notably, this interpretation would create criminal liability regardless of how long the metabolite remains in the driver’s system or whether it has any impairing effect.”

Hold-out Justice Ann A, Scott-Timmer, who remained unconvinced by the other justices’ clear-cut understanding of the matters involved in the case, wrote as the sole dissenter that, in her mind, arresting drivers whose blood stream contains inactive cannabis metabolites that in no way effect or impair drivers for DUI serves to “enhance detection and prosecution of drugged driving.”

The practice of arresting patients who are not under the influence of cannabis, a knowing misinterpretation of the intent of Arizona’s traffic safety laws, was viewed to be a form of harassment by police (some of whom do not personally agree with medical cannabis) due to the fact that simple common sense should indicate to an honest person that it is physically impossible for a cannabis user to be under the influence of a drug that they consumed weeks or even months earlier.

The questionable and aggressive interpretation of the state’s zero-tolerance rules was enshrined as standard operating police procedure when Arizona state prosecutors warned all medical cannabis users to simply stay off Arizona’s roads or risk being arrested for driving under the influence. Medical Cannabis advocates and patients, outraged over the suggestion that cannabis using patients could never drive again because they are administering legal medications, correctly analyzed that the prosecutors’ threat criminalized their usage of the legal medicine.

Across the US, 26 states have passed legislation allowing for cannabis to be used by patients as medicine. As it stands today the laws regarding how cannabis in the blood stream of drivers is measured to identify impaired drivers are inconsistent and contradict each other. Eight of these states have rules similar to Arizona, where the laws do not distinguish between active and inactive cannibidiol metabolites creating Catch 22 situations for patients; choose to use medicine and risk being arrested on criminal charges, or do without needed medications.

In 2013 the Supreme Court of Michigan held that medical cannabis patients have to be shown by police to actually be impaired by cannabis usage before being criminally charged with driving under the influence.

The attorney for the arrested Arizona medical cannabis patient, Michael Alarid III, told the Associated Press that the court’s the ruling on the matter and the clarity that the decision provides can “have far reaching impacts on medical marijuana patients” in that it “corrects an error in the interpretation of the law.”

national

64.5 percent of Dane County Residents want to Spark a Prairie Fire

An overwhelming majority of residents in Dane County, WI (home of Madison, the state’s capitol and the University of Wisconsin) voted to express their desire for the state’s politicians to legalize cannabis in the state on Tuesday.

fightin' Bob LaFollette,
the 'Prairie Fire'

Though the referendum is not binding and, unlike the measures passed by voters in Washington and Colorado, does not have the force of law, the measure does reflect the broad-based and active support of the voters in Dane County for legalizing cannabis for recreational use by adults who are, by the measure, demanding that state, county and local politicians do their putative jobs; “represent” and “legislate”.

The voting in the referendum revealed some surprises. In some Dane County towns that overwhelmingly voted to retain republican governor Scott Walker, voters voiced their strong support for legalizing cannabis – indicating that even in areas that are republican strongholds and where conservatives live, support for the notion of ending prohibition, re-evaluating efficacy of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ and consideration of the benefits of the taxation of legalized cannabis are commonly held oppinions of both conservative and liberal Wisconsin voters.

And, while some republican strongholds did not vote their support for the referendum signifying somewhat of a partisan divide on the the issue, the significant support for the referendum in traditional democratic locales in Dane County should embolden timorous democratic politicians to step from the shadows and join the majority of Americans who now are calling for the end of cannabis prohibition and acknowledging their awareness that cannabis is an important medical substance.

national

Gaming the system: guns and ganja in Georgia

The state legislature in Georgia has adjourned failing to pass a well-supported law allowing young sick Georgians to seek relief with cannabis medicines as US citizens in 20 other states are allowed to do.

A bill legalizing heavily restricted sales of cannabis to child patients who suffer from seizure disorders in Georgia landed on the trash pile after elected officials failed to move on the legislation.

The senate version of the medical cannabis bill was encumbered with an amendment that ensured that the measure would fail in the republican dominated senate. The amendment, which upon analysis by any compassionate American should have increased support for the measure, would have mandated insurance company coverage for the treatment of autism.

A supporter of the concept that the medical condition of autism should in fact be recognized and covered by health insurance companies who sponsored the amendment in the state’s house, Republican Representative Allen Peake, correctly predicted that the insertion of the amendment in the senate bill would lead to its demise in the state’s senate due to the fact that small businesses would fight the autism amendment perceiving that providing coverage for children afflicted with the tragic aliment would increase business costs.

While the state failed to address the needs of sick and young patients, Georgia’s politicians did extend the rights of gun toting second amendment misinterpreters allowing them to carry loaded weaponry into establishments of spirit worship and of the worship of spirits. The legislature passed a bill that allows conceal and carriers to bring their weapons into bars and taverns and churches and chapels.

The new Georgia law allowing partyers and pray-ers to be armed and dangerous does allow individual bar owners to determine if they want liquored up sharp-shooters in their drinking establishments and allows church congregations to decide if they are comfortable with having prayerful potshots in their houses of worship.

The OK-to-carry-loaded-weapons-anywhere law also allows the Georgia’s “hunters” to use silencers on their high-powered rifles.

Republican State Representative Rick Jasperse, the lead sponsor of the gun-toter measure in the state’s house, celebrated the measure’s success stating, “For the past two years we’ve worked hard to improve the Second Amendment rights of Georgians. It has been a long and winding road.” Republican State Senator Fran Millar lamented, “We did nothing for kids, but we passed a gun bill.”

Sarah Caruso, the mother of a 5-year-old girl with epilepsy and cerebral palsy said that “silly political games” had caused the failure of the measure supporting the provision of medical cannabis to sick children. “We were only asking not to be prosecuted for getting our child the medicine that she needs,” the mother told reporters, her cheeks stained with tears. “There will be kids who will die during this year,” due to the inaction of the gun-loving legislature, Caruso promised, and, “I will be back with their pictures.”

national

Barney Fife alert: don’t look suspicious in Kilgore’s County

A Sheriff in rural Nevada is defending his office’s new use of an old tactic in his own private battlefield as the world-wide-war-on-cannabis continues to sputter and stumble. Sheriff Ed Kilgore of Humboldt County Nevada, a rural county in Northwestern Nevada, says that the two speeding stops that his deputies carried out where more than $60,000 was seized even though no criminal charges or allegations were made against the two drivers were legal and not speed-trap shakedowns.

In one of the instances, Tan Nguyen was stopped for driving 78 in a 75 mph speed zone. Nguyen’s attorney, who filed a federal lawsuit against Humboldt County, asserts that the police stop last September, was a “profile stop” based upon the suspicion that Nguyen was transporting drugs in the rental car that he was driving through Humboldt County. No drugs were found during the police search of Nguyen’s vehicle, and Nguyen was given a simple warning (instead of a speeding ticket).

Nguyen was told during the stop that if he handed over the $50,000 he was carrying with him, he would be freed. Nguyen was required to, as a condition of his release, sign a “property for safekeeping receipt” that indicated that the money Nguyen was forced to relinquish during the police roadside take-down was abandoned or seized and was therefore not returnable. Deputy Lee Dove is alleged in the federal lawsuit to have intimidated Nguyen into signing the release telling the speeding suspect his vehicle would be impounded unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.”

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s office and the Humboldt County District Attorneys Office have refused to comment on the two arrests that are the subject of the federal lawsuits stating, “as a matter of policy, we never comment on pending litigation.” But at the time of Deputy Dove’s roadside cash bonanza speed-warning incident, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office issued a self-congratulatory press release that included a photo of Deputy Dove and the $50,000 seized from Nguyen, which said in part; “This cash would have been used to purchase illegal drugs and will now benefit Humboldt County with training equipment. Great job.” Would have been used…really?

The speed concerned sheriff’s deputies of Humboldt County stopped Denver resident Ken Smith in December who was also, according to the federal lawsuit that he filed against the county, required by deputies to relinquish $13,800 he was carrying. Smith, also stopped by Deputy Dove, was held, according to the deputy, because of an outstanding warrant for a man named Smith. Smith was never charged with a crime and was eventually released, but the money he was carrying and a handgun were “seized” by Deputy Dove. As it turns out, the Smith that Deputy Dove stopped, held and seized property from was born on a different day and is of a different race than the wanted Smith (personal identifiers that Deputy Dove was well aware of during his speed-confiscation-stop). Held due to a warrant…really?

The tactic that Humboldt County is manipulating, civil forfeiture, is both legal and controversial. In situations where an arresting officer suspects an individual obtained property illegally or intends to use property for illegal purposes, police officers can seize the property of an arrestee or suspect. But, in situations such as those detailed in the federal lawsuits filed against Humboldt County, where police stops are based upon subjective determinations made by officers on the ground, allegations of profiling have given rise to further allegations regarding police shakedowns and conflicts of interest.

Humboldt County deputies are “trained to recognize evasiveness during questioning”, and report that they have seized over $180,000 from suspicious drivers over a two year period. Money that they proudly report via press release that they have targeted uses for within their police force. When property such as money is charged with a civil offense – the basic idea behind asset forfeiture, former property possessors have a steep judicial hill to climb in having their property returned to them. In many incidents, as in the two cases that resulted in federal lawsuits in Humboldt County, there is often no criminal arrest or criminal charges filed against the property possessor. The Humboldt County District Attorney is correct in stating that individuals whose property (including cash) is seized have a right to make a claim for their property in the courts.

But, in such proceedings, in a topsy-turvy fashion, the person claiming the property, who may have never been even charged with a criminal violation, is required to prove that his possessions are his possessions and that he came into possession of what was confiscated by officers lawfully; i.e. putting the claimant in the position of having to prove his or her innocence – contrary to most other instances in American jurisprudence, where one is innocent until proven guilty.

It is because of instances of civil forfeiture like those Humboldt County has been sued over that “civil asset forfeiture has been harshly criticized by liberals and civil liberties advocates for its greatly reduced standards for conviction, reverse onus, and financial conflicts of interests arising when the law enforcement agencies who decide whether or not to seize assets stand to keep those assets for themselves”

Humboldt County law enforcers claim that their confiscatory efforts are indeed well intended, stating; “We’re trying to combat crime in our own little way in the war on drugs. We’re not just talking about people driving to buy medical marijuana. These are drug traffickers with guns who may be staying in our hotels.” Staying in your hotels…really?

An interesting side note in all of this is that Humboldt County’s rough and tough Sheriff, Ed Kilgore – a gun-lover, has “put the Obama Administration on notice” with regards his interpretation of the second amendment, advising the president that he will not enforce any new gun laws that he feels violate his personal interpretation of the constitution. His vision of the constitution…really?

Additionally, Humboldt County was the subject of a lawsuit that made its way up to the US Supreme Court in 2004, where sheriff’s deputies’ practice of requiring uncharged citizens to identify themselves at the threat of arrest was challenged. The Supreme Court agreed that (given precedents set in other cases) requiring citizens who have done nothing wrong and are not the subject of a law enforcement investigation to identify themselves on the threat of being arrested was all A-OK with “folks” on the court who opined that the narrow requirements of Nevada’s “stop and identify” law were met and the petitioner’s rights had not been violated in that case.

The majority opinion was, however, countered by two justices (Stevens and Breyer) who both recognized that the acquiescent to and in service of America’s para-militarized drug-warring local coppers majority opinion was problematic. Stevens wrote, “The officer in this case told [Hiibel] that he was conducting an investigation and needed to see some identification. As the target of that investigation, [Hiibel], in my view, acted well within his rights when he opted to stand mute. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.” And, Breyer conveyed his concern that giving on-the ground police such latitude to question an uncharged citizen would be dangerous and could open the door encouraging aggressive police officials to tramp upon the constitutional rights of Americans.

So, in sum – A self-promoting county sheriff, who thinks he has the right to not prosecute laws due to his personal interpretation of the US Constitution, has conveyed that his officers have done nothing wrong and broken no laws as they stop “certain vehicles” and confiscate large sums of money from US citizens who have not been charged with any crime, so he can buy a bunch of cool-neato law enforcement equipment, in a county where sheriff’s deputies (it was in fact Deputy Dove whose behavior landed the state in the Supreme Court because of his 2004 “stop and demand ID on the threat of arrest” incident) seem to feel they can stake out their own personal territory when it comes to enforcing (or forcing as the case may be) the state’s laws against just the specific types of folks that they “know” are really law breakers.

As a majority of our Supreme Court Justices – supremely attentive to the needs of the military, law enforcement, the national security state and corporate oligarchs – would surely exclaim: “no laws broken – nothing to see here – move along now.”

national

Money, Medicine, Marijuana and Moonbeams

The national cable network Comcast has begun running what is the first advertisement regarding medical cannabis of the post-prohibition era. The advertisement, that has begun to run in markets where medical cannabis has been legalized through acts by state legislatures, including in Illinois and New York, will be rolled out into additional markets that are served both by Comcast Cable and by elected officials who understand the humanity in providing medicines to our sick neighbors.

The paid advertisement promotes Marijuanadoctors dot com, which is a business that connects doctors who have experience prescribing medical cannabis with sick patients who are unable for many reasons to get the medical authorization to purchase prescribed medications in their state. Even though cannabis has been legalized as medicine in 20 states (with 13 additional state legislatures considering legalizing medical cannabis), many patients still have difficulty finding a doctor who is willing to prescribe medical cannabis leading to the dangerous, untenable and perverse consequences of, for example, a horribly sick Parkinson’s Disease patient turning to the illicit market to obtain needed medicine. In effect, turning deathly ill Americans into criminals who have to risk both arrest by police and theft and injury by drug dealers in pursuit of life saving and pain ending medications.

Comcast has taken the bold step to be the first media outlet in America to run medical cannabis advertisements because, as Comcast told the on-line news journal the Verge, “It went through our legal department, and they approved it.”

With nothing more from Comcast to analyze, the company’s effort (that is historically the first advertisement that has been presented to Americans on their TV screens involving the nascent commercial cannabis market) may have been inspired out of an altruistic concern for its viewers some of whom are sick and need the relief that medical cannabis can provide them and advertising the services offered by Marijuanadoctors has not been outlawed, or the motivation could have come from the company’s desire to cash in on a truly new and massive market – one can only speculate. But the historic advert does indicate we are living in a changed world.

When the sick and diseased have easily satisfied needs, when suburban moms are lobbying statehouses in red and blue states to repeal prohibition, when international political leaders are finding their courage to confront failed drug warriors, when hippies and international corporations arrive at commonality, when state level politicos and cable company honchos realize the cash that they may be leaving on the table, the finger wagging and tut-tutting of dry-doper politicos and cultural custodians who are intent on maintaining cannabis prohibition are revealed to all as obvious self-serving, self-exculpating and legacy burnishing talking points that have only the effect of consigning more minorities in our country to lives with arrest records and more patients in our land living out lives in pain and desperation – arrests that don’t have to happen and pain and desperation that can be ended by compassionate Americans.

national

Kentucky legislator calls on the phantom parents of the nonexistent children killed by pot

In a committee hearing held in the legislature of the state of Kentucky, a Republican state representative has offered to do what the worldwide medical establishment has not been able to do for going on the entire course of human history, produce evidence that the natural and curative substance cannabis kills users.

State Representative Robert Benvenuti, in a hearing exploring whether or not Kentucky should join the rest of Americans who believe that withholding medicine from the sick is both scientifically backward and immoral and instead allow patients to use cannabis for medicinal reasons without being arrested, advised the Kentucky legislature’s House Health and Welfare Committee;

“I could…fill this committee room with first responders, law enforcement officers and parents of dead children based on the effects of marijuana.”

An amazing feat given that the US Government itself (following a remarkable streak of over 240 years) reported in 2010 that zero drug deaths were caused by cannabis. In fact, the government tells us that the overwhelming majority of the 38,329 overdose deaths in 2010, 57.7 percent, were caused by prescribed pharmaceuticals.

What Representative Benvenuti may have been thinking of, because I will accord him the benefit of the doubt by assuming he is not either a dumbass or a liar, are the sad and preventable deaths in the US that are caused by alcohol (more than 25,000 as reported federal government in 2010) or perhaps it was the government estimated 440,000 deaths each year in America that are caused by tobacco (40,000 of those deaths caused by the inhalation of second hand tobacco smoke) that effect families across America. Perhaps these widows and widowers and parentless children are the people he was claiming could fill the statehouse committee room.

Representative Benvenuti’s claims are also counterintuitive when one takes into consideration the myriad scientific studies that tell us of the possible medical benefits of cannabis (“the useful substance”, Thomas Pynchon). USA Today reported last May on a study that found that cannabis use is tied to lower bladder cancer risk. Also last May, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that cannabis causes “complete remission” of Crohn’s Disease with “no side effects.” The federal government also has stated quite clearly that the compounds in cannabis called cannabinoids, actually and miraculously reduce the size of cancer tumors. These are the beautiful and hopeful words from scientists that were published by our government that Representative Benvenuti may have missed;

“Experimental evidence accumulated during the last decade supports that cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa and their derivatives, possess anticancer activity. Thus, these compounds exert anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic, anti-migratory and anti-invasive actions in a wide spectrum of cancer cells in culture. Moreover, tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis are hampered by cannabinoids in xenograft-based and genetically-engineered mouse models of cancer.”

Representative Benvenuti also suggested to the committee that cannabis is known by scientists to cause automobile accidents and child abuse when he said in his statement to the panel; “In driving intoxicated, in child abuse, we’ve already heard today from folks who talk about intoxicants and its (sic) role in child fatality and child abuse.”

Benvenuti concluded his testimony by declaring that the obvious reason why people support legalizing cannabis to treat the sick is to create a “Trojan horse to legalize recreational use of marijuana”, dismissing the testimony given by patients and the parents of deathly sick children who attended the hearing to voice their support for legalizing medical cannabis out of hand. Benvenuti said that providing relief and cures to diseased Kentuckians would “open the floodgates and create a different kind of suffering” in the Bluegrass State.

Although Benvenuti, who is a freshman Republican state representative, who was once an adjunct professor at a Catholic college and who loves to read about “God and Ronald Reagan”, may not realize it, his “views” on cannabis are surprisingly shared by the Obama administration to a degree – to the degree to which they both shamelessly conflate cannabis with dangerous and deadly narcotics and the way they massage and misrepresent the science on the matter.

The Obama Administration’s policy to combat drugs in America, released last May and found here, is predicated upon dual overarching assumptions; that if a substance has been outlawed federally, then it is a harmful and addictive substance the legality of which cannot be reconsidered; and, that the use of banned substances is a fiscal drag on the US economy. Although Benvenuti did not weigh in on his views regarding how legal medical cannabis could possibly destroy the American economy, the representative’s conflation of the curative and fundamentally benign substance cannabis with the other widely known to be debilitating, addicting and life destroying drugs (some of which are legal, advertised on TV and sold at the local grocery) is as cynical, deceptive, fear mongering and propagandistic as our Democratic leader’s.

Beyond this, and most importantly as the Kentucky legislative hearing explored legalizing cannabis for medical use in the state, Benvenuti and Obama share a level of immorality that is chilling. I would speculate that the numbers of citizens begging their government to provide them or their suffering friends, siblings, children, and spouses the relief that medical cannabis offers could today fill thousands of Bluegrass State committee rooms.

national

Sauschuck foresakes redemption

This week Americans in several cities and small towns decided to stop waiting for their putative “representatives” (whether in DC or their local statehouses) to, you know, “represent” their interests by legalizing cannabis for consumption by adults. We are all aware – and for some time now – that a majority of Americans seek the end of the violence inducing, life destroying, bigoted, wrong-headed and not in the least effective prohibition of cannabis in the US.

We also have seen push back by self-appointed cultural custodians and propagandized law enforcement who fear losing a raison d’etre for their discompassion, their smug self-righteousness, their bigotry, their orgies of taxpayer-dollar funded militarized storm-trooping police equipment procurement, their drug bust quotas, their tacit support of the dangerous and debilitating drugs tobacco and alcohol and their blithe shit-canning of arrested and convicted cannabis users as not-possibly-able-to-contribute-to-society. It is important to remember that such people are liars, who have supported societally harmful lies for nearly a century.

The comments by police chief of Portland Maine, Michael Sauschuck (an appointed by the mayor public service position in that city, which voted overwhelmingly to allow adults to consume cannabis for recreational purposes earlier this week) exemplify the predictable but tragic ‘sore loser’ mindset of these prohibitionists who are facing their own extinction. Sauschuck stipulated that his police force will not take into consideration the will of the electorate, you know, as in American Democracy, but will rather continue to arrest Portlanders who, following the local laws, choose to use cannabis recreationally.

Sauschuck personally wants to make sure that Portland residents who carefully follow the recently enacted law and possess 2.5 ounces of legal in Portland cannabis for personal consumption but who are arrested by his coppers will be fined between $350 and $1000 and given an arrest record. And, Sauschuk wants everyone to know that he ensures that, should his patrolmen decide to consider that the Portland residents who are arrested because they are in possession of legal in Portland cannabis may have thought of selling the substance, well then that criminal will be charged criminally and face possible jail time and a lifetime of being an ex-con. That is brave Sauschuck’s threat, and he wants you to know it. He assures that the only reason for his harsh application of laws that the electorate of the city he was hired by just days ago rejected out of hand, is because of his respect for the law, the state law that outlaws the use of cannabis. That is the only reason that Sauschuck will forever damage the unlucky college kid’s life. It is, after all, his duty.

There is an alternative, as in Michigan, where cannabis use by adults was legalized in 3 cities (Lansing, Ferndale and Jackson) and where local police have advised the people who they protect that they will honor the “will of the people” and cease arresting cannabis users (and instead use their resources to protect the citizens of their towns from actual crime).

Sauschuck, who was appointed as Portland Police Chief in 2012, was lauded by city councilman Vern Malloch, who said that the city council “couldn’t have made a better choice” upon Sauschuck’s appointment because he’s “fair, he’s compassionate, and he has the utmost respect of everyone inside the Police Department” and because he said he would not speak ill of his fellow police officers. All of which, I suppose, would make Sauschuck a fine work peer. But his job as the police chief is actually to be “fair,” “compassionate” and “have the utmost respect for” the citizens of Portland-not members of its police force.

Another of the confused as to who he is supposed to serve&protect copper Sauschuck’s credentials that propelled him to his position from which he commands that he will simply disregard the will of the people of the fair city of Portland, was his receipt of the Enrique Camarena Memorial Award from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. This award, according to the MDEA, is granted to a “unit or individual that through outstanding effort continued the battle for which Special Agent Camarena gave his life” – that being “trying to protect his fellow citizens from the too often violent and seedy world of narcotics”.

Now, I don’t want to throw a wet blanket on award winners and the ‘awards’ that they are given- but I have to stipulate that cannabis users are not violent, that is a simple fact. They don’t steal things to support their usage (as opposed to addiction) – and, by the way, cannabis is not addictive (well, less so than caffeine). Prohibition is the cause of violence, not cannabis. And, I just have to point out that the award giver’s description of the “violent and seedy world of narcotics” to describe cannabis users in the United States is fanciful at best if not sleazily bigoted on its face. I suspect that our dry doper presidents would likely have their Secret Service goons tackle and arrest a MDEA member if they had walked up to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama and called them violent and seedy…although if I had the chance I would probably choose “violent” as one of my personal descriptors for these narcissistic war criminal baby killing machines.

I rather think that, as with many well paid and high status promoters of cannabis prohibition in both politics and law enforcement, Sauschuck and other low level drug warriors really don’t give a shit that their entire structure of bullshit science, lies of omission, misrepresentation and conflation and hair-on-fire scare tactics have led to 80 years of prison sentences, ended careers, lost opportunities, broken families and unimaginable pain from disease suffered by Americans from Maine to Hawaii. They are concerned for only their careers and their personal wealth and status in the world of law enforcement tough-guy high school hippy hazers. Oh so dangerous…

But, it is really unfair (and fairly simple) to castigate this low-level city cop drug warrior for failing to recognize his personal role in the world-wide conspiracy of rich private prison contractors, drug manufacturers and tobacco and alcohol sellers, scheming political hacks (see the list from above of our dry doper presidents) and the whole peanut gallery of cultural custodians and finger wagging teachers and clerics – when we all know (including the small minded and wrong-headed Sauschuck himself) that local enforcers of the drug war are simply low level pawns. And, as it is, these local tin-pot dictators’ days are numbered.

The Barney Fifes and the real owners of the ‘drug war’ and its profits reaped both in trillions of black-market cash and electoral successes over the careers of drug warring pols still have the capacity to do great harm while cannabis is legalized in the US, and this is only more harm on top of the years of harm. When cannabis legalization comes to the USA it must include broad amnesty for the arrested and convicted, or we will not have truly “freed the green”.

national

Cannabis legalization landslides in Maine and Michigan

Following the forward thinking Uruguayans and leaping out in front of twentieth century minded politicians in Washington DC and at the level of the states, 70 percent of the electorate in Portland ME and 63 percent of the citizens in Lansing MI voted to legalize cannabis for recreational use in their cities, smashing 80 years of prohibition and sounding a challenge to cities across America to call for an end to the failed drug war.

The Portland city measure allows adult residents of Portland to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. The measure passed into law by the cities’ residents does not allow the retail sale of cannabis, therefore no system of growers and distributors or tax program has to be created for the law to go into effect.

In Lansing MI, the measure amended the city’s charter to legalize the possession, use and transfer of an ounce of cannabis by any adult 21 years and older on private property. Two smaller Michigan cities, Ferndale and Jackson, also passed measures yesterday legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

Washington and Colorado passed laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis by adults last year, but citizens in those states await the creation of laws governing the farming, taxation and distribution of cannabis and therefore, though legal, cannabis is still not available for purchase.