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DEA Secures Another Medical Marijuana Conviction by Lying in Court

The highly controversial Charles Lynch trial has reached a disappointing conclusion:

The owner of a Morro Bay marijuana dispensary was found guilty today in federal court of five counts of distributing drugs.

Charles Lynch, the owner of the dispensary, faces a minimum of five years in prison.

His closely watched trial involved conflicting marijuana laws and went to a federal court jury Monday. Jurors were asked to determine if Lynch was guilty of violating federal drug laws.

During a week-and-a-half-long trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors sought to depict Lynch as a common drug dealer who sold pot to teenagers and carried a backpack stuffed with cash.

Lynch was charged with distributing marijuana, conspiring to distribute marijuana and providing marijuana to people under the age of 21. [LA Times}

Like other medical marijuana convictions, federal prosecutors were only able to prevail by blocking testimony about medical marijuana and misleading jurors about the true nature of the defendant's actions. reason.tv tells the truth about the Lynch case here:

Fortunately, while the federal government can lie to a jury, they cannot conceal their contemptuous conduct from a public already sickened by the vicious and embarrassing war on medical marijuana patients and providers. Their manipulative tactics will be fully exposed in the aftermath of today's result and will be greeted with the same widespread disgust that has characterized past persecutions prosecutions.

We must never mistake today's events for anything but what they are: a pathetic and purely symbolic attempt to obscure the obvious benefits of state medical marijuana laws. They are powerless against the tide of public opinion and the booming industry that has spawned amidst their intransigence. They now resort to petty martyrings, the brutal last resort of a disgraced tyrant, in the fading hope of intimidating a nation that has embraced democracy itself to subvert their hideous war.

Even in its hour of victory, the war on medical marijuana shivers naked before us, spitting desperately into the eyes of a public whose support it lost long ago.

Marijuana Offers Hope For Battling Colon Cancer

Marijuana's incredible medical potential becomes increasingly clear with every new study:

Raymond DuBois and colleagues at the University of Texas in Houston discovered that a key receptor for cannabinoids, which are found in marijuana, is turned off in most types of human colon cancer.

Without this receptor, a protein called survivin, which stops cells from dying, increases unchecked and causes tumour growth.

To better understand the role that the receptor, called CB1, plays in cancer progression, the researchers manipulated its expression in mice that had been genetically engineered to spontaneously develop colon tumours.

"When we knocked out the receptor, the number of tumors went up dramatically," says DuBois. Alternatively, when mice with normal CB1 receptors were treated with a cannabinoid compound, their tumours shrank. [New Scientist]

The body of evidence showing that THC may effectively treat tumors is already extensive, so there's nothing particularly surprising about this latest research. Rather, it provides yet another opportunity to point out just how much damage our government has done in the course of its relentless and fraudulent campaign to convince everyone that the marijuana plant is incredibly dangerous rather than incredibly helpful.

Imagine what we might have achieved if our nation's efforts over the past thirty years had been focused on identifying the plant's benefits rather than exaggerating its harms and vilifying its users.

Hey Politicians, Reforming Marijuana Laws is Smart Politics

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) signed on to Barney Frank's marijuana decriminalization bill because he thought it was the right thing to do. He certainly wasn't trying to score political points, but look what happened:

Clay was worried about the reaction. Supporting the liberalization of marijuana laws is not often seen as a political winner, especially in Midwestern cities like St. Louis.

But instead of stoner jokes, derision and righteous indignation, Clay was surprised to start getting praise from complete strangers.

“People are coming up to me saying this is a common-sense, sensible way to deal with the issue of personal use,” Clay said.

So far, he said, his calls, mail and contacts are running 80-20 in favor of the bill. He was impressed enough that he decided to go ahead and step before the cameras last week with Frank and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) at a news conference touting the bill. [The Hill]


One of the most pernicious artifacts still tainting the marijuana policy debate is the false notion that reforming marijuana laws is "politically risky." As Lacy Clay just learned, it isn't nearly that simple. Support for marijuana legalization has increased steadily for the last 20 years, according to a 2005 Gallup poll. While full legalization is still not the majority position, decriminalization enjoys 72% support according to Time/CNN.

It is just a fact that most Americans believe our marijuana laws are deeply flawed. This view continues to gain momentum despite mountains of misleading government propaganda designed to achieve the opposite effect. We are on a trajectory towards reform in terms of public opinion, yet many of our politicians remain hamstrung by antiquated conventional political wisdom, which holds that reform can't be marketed to the public. It's wrong, and it can be proven so through a process as simple as voting for decriminalization and watching as your constituents glow with praise and enthusiasm.

It is really just a matter of time before the political viability of marijuana reform is fully revealed, and when that happens, I suspect we'll discover that our movement has friends we didn't know about.

Marijuana: Joplin, Missouri, Decrim Initiative in Final Signature-Gathering Push

Organizers of a Joplin, Missouri, initiative that would decriminalize possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana are in a sprint to the wire in a last-minute bid to get the necessary number of signatures to get the measure on the November ballot. During the initial signature-gathering phase, canvassers gathered more than the required number of signatures, but many of them turned out not to be registered Joplin voters. Now the group has a 10-day window from August 5 until August 15 to come up with more valid signatures.

Organized by Sensible Joplin, the initiative would amend a city ordinance to make simple possession a civil infraction with a maximum $250 fine. That would remove the threat of a criminal record and all its collateral consequences from marijuana smokers and would save Joplin law enforcement resources currently being wasted on low-level pot busts, organizers argue.

To get on the ballot, the initiative needs 4,656 valid signatures, or roughly 15% of Joplin voters. Sensible Joplin originally turned in more than 5,600 signatures, but only 3,623 were valid. That means the group needs an additional 1,033 valid signatures in the next two weeks.

Organizers said it could be done. "It's definitely a workable situation," Kelly Maddy, president of Sensible Joplin and Joplin NORML told the Joplin Globe this week. "We still feel really good that we have a fighting chance to get this thing on the ballot."

Feature: Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Has Its Coming Out Party

For the first time in decades, a marijuana decriminalization bill is before the Congress. Actually introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in April, the Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults (H.R. 5843) got its coming out party Wednesday as Frank, a handful of other representatives, and leaders of prominent drug reform organizations held a Capitol Hill press conference to push for the bill.

In the eyes of many, the bill couldn't come soon enough. Since 1965, more than 20 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, 830,000 in 2006. Of those, nearly 90% were for simple possession. In addition to the jail time and other costs imposed on offenders, marijuana law enforcement costs society more than $7 billion a year.

While passage of a federal decriminalization bill would have little direct impact -- only 160 people were charged with federal marijuana possession offenses last year -- its symbolic impact could help break the marijuana law reform log-jam that has endured since the days of the hippies.

Here is the text of the bill in its entirety:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no penalty may be imposed under an Act of Congress for the possession of marijuana for personal use, or for the not-for-profit transfer between adults of marijuana for personal use. For the purposes of this section, possession of 100 grams or less of marijuana shall be presumed to be for personal use, as shall the not-for-profit transfer of one ounce or less of marijuana, except that the civil penalty provided in section 405 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 844a) may be imposed for the public use of marijuana if the amount of the penalty does not exceed $100."

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Reps. Lee, Frank and Clay at press conference (courtesy Drug Policy Alliance)
Frank and other advocates conceded the bill has no chance of passage this year, but lauded it as a long overdue beginning. Hearings could come next year, they said.

The federal government should stop arresting marijuana users, Frank said as he stood before the microphones flanked by Congressional Black Caucus members Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), and advocates Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML; Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, and Bill Piper, national affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Existing laws aimed at marijuana users punish otherwise law-abiding citizens and sick people whose doctors have recommended the drug, disproportionately impact African-Americans, and waste law enforcement resources, Frank said. They also amount to an unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of Americans, he said.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults and this should be of no interest or concern to the government," said NORML's St. Pierre. "In fact, the vast majority of marijuana smokers are adults who cause no harm to themselves or to anyone else, so there is no reason for the state to be involved."

Marijuana use should be treated like alcohol use, St. Pierre continued. "With alcohol we acknowledge the distinction between use and abuse, and we focus our law enforcement involvement on efforts to stop irresponsible use. We do not arrest or jail responsible alcohol drinkers. That should be our policy with marijuana as well," he said, noting that there were more than 11 million marijuana arrests since 1990.

Reps. Clay and Lee both emphasized the inordinate number of arrests of minority pot smokers. The application of the marijuana laws unfairly targets blacks, said Clay.

Clay called marijuana prohibition part of "a phony war on drugs that is filling up our prisons, especially with people of color." It is time for a "practical, common sense approach" instead, he said.

Lee also noted the disproportionate impact of marijuana law enforcement on the minority community, but as a representative of a state where medical marijuana is legal also singled out another group that suffers under the law. "This bill is about compassion," she said. "The federal government has better things to do than send sick people to jail."

MPP's Kampia noted that marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for "all violent crimes combined," and suggested that law enforcement concentrate less on pursuing nonviolent marijuana offenders. "Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform," he said. "It is important to eliminate the threat of arrest. For the many marijuana users who aren't arrested, they still live in fear of arrest."

Marijuana prohibition is "one of the most destructive criminal justice policies in America today," said DPA's Piper, noting that in addition to arrest and possible imprisonment, marijuana users face the loss of jobs, financial aid for college, federal benefits, and access to low-cost public housing.

Even while conceding the bill has virtually zero chance of passing this year, earlier in the week Piper said you have to start somewhere. "The goal is to raise the issue and have something that advocates can organize around," he said. "But just having this bill introduced is groundbreaking in itself."

It could also rub off at state houses across the land, Piper said. "This will encourage state lawmakers to introduce similar bills. This is also something we can now turn around and use to lobby with at state houses," he said.

"There's a growing sentiment in Congress that the prisons are overcrowded," said MPP spokesman Dan Bernath. "I think we are at or near a tipping point, and this bill is a good way to start chipping away at our marijuana laws," he said. "This will set the stage for sensible marijuana reforms at the state and local level, as well as more meaningful federal reforms in the future."

If reformers see little likelihood of anything happening this year, the federal government's anti-drug bureaucrats were taking no chances. Crashing the gate at the press conference were Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) chief scientist Dr. David Murray and two aides. They came carrying glossy ONDCP propaganda and hoping to immediately rebut any claims by reformers, but both press corps and event participants seemed more bemused by their appearance than interested in what they had to say.

Marijuana: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative in Signature Drive

An initiative that would make adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is now in the signature-gathering phase. Canvassers in the Ozarks college town need 3,600 signatures to make the November ballot. If it makes it to the ballot and is approved, Fayetteville would become the second Arkansas town to approve such a measure. Eureka Springs did the same thing in 2006.

Directed by Sensible Fayeteville, the initiative would mandate that:

  • Fayetteville law enforcement officers shall make law enforcement activity relating to marijuana offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, their lowest law enforcement priority. Law enforcement activities relating to marijuana offenses include, but are not limited to, investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult marijuana offenses.
  • Fayetteville's prosecuting attorney shall make marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia offenses, where the marijuana and paraphernalia was intended for adult personal use, the lowest prosecutorial priority.
  • This lowest law enforcement priority policy shall not apply to driving under the influence.

It would also order the city clerk to send letters every year to state and local representatives calling for marijuana law reform. That letter reads: "The citizens of Fayetteville have passed an initiative to de-prioritize adult marijuana offenses, where the marijuana is intended for personal use, and request that the federal and Arkansas state governments take immediate steps to enact similar laws."

"You know, in Arkansas, if you get caught a second time with marijuana, no matter what amount, it's an automatic felony. That destroys lives. That means you can't vote and you lose your financial aid to college," Sensible Fayetteville campaign director Ryan Denham told KNWA Fox 24. "This is clogging the court and jail system here in Washington County and it's taking away precious police resources," he said.

Lowest priority initiatives have already passed in six California cities (Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, West Hollywood), Seattle, Denver, Columbia, Missouri; Hailey, Idaho; and Missoula County, Montana.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Seizes Medical Marijuana Seized By Seattle Police

Washington state has a medical marijuana law, and the city of Seattle has an ordinance making marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority, but that didn't stop Seattle police from raiding the Lifevine medical marijuana co-op two weeks ago, seizing hundreds of patient files, as well as 12 ounces of dried buds and several pounds of leaf.

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California medical marijuana bags (courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
In the wake of pointed criticism, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg declined to press charges against co-op operator Martin Martinez and ordered the return of the patient files. But police did not return the co-op's stolen property -- the medical marijuana.

Now, it has become clear the medical marijuana will never be returned. The Seattle Police announced Wednesday that the DEA, acting at the request of US Attorney Jeff Sullivan, took the medicine last Friday.

The DEA tersely confirmed it had seized the medicine. "Accordingly, the DEA has seized and processed the marijuana for destruction; that concludes this matter," agency spokesperson Jodie Underwood said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

Marijuana Laws Killed Two People This Week

If we had a sensible marijuana policy in America, things like this wouldn't happen:

A routine marijuana check in Cass County, Michigan, turns deadly.

Michigan State Police say 51-year-old Niles Wilson shot himself when he realized he had been caught growing nearly 130 marijuana plants on his property. [wndu.com]

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, a young father was shot and killed (questionably) by police after fleeing during a traffic stop. It appears he fled because he had a joint of marijuana:

I don't think either of these people made smart choices. But the reason their judgment was clouded has everything to do with the frightening consequences of our drug laws. People are terrified of the drug war and sometimes make unfortunate decisions. Sure, they could refrain from using if they're afraid of jail, but that's no excuse for marijuana laws that hurt people worse than marijuana. Events like these are not the sign of a healthy society with a healthy drug policy.

If our laws cause suicides and police chases, they are quite clearly not making us safer.

Drug-Sniffing Turtle Discovers Marijuana

From The Washington Post:

A Montgomery County man was arrested after a researcher tracking a radio-equipped turtle in Rock Creek Park found the animal standing in a garden of marijuana plants in a remote area of the park, police said today.


The researcher notified authorities after finding the plants -- about a pound and a half of marijuana worth roughly $6,500 when sold in smaller amounts on the street, police said. Lachance said investigators covertly watched the marijuana garden until a man showed up to tend to the plants.

Although the turtle wasn't trained to sniff out marijuana, it's fairly obvious that's what happened. This is Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., a short distance from where I grew up. Trust me, those woods aren't crawling with clandestine cannabis cultivators. The turtle found what may have been the only outdoor marijuana growing in the whole city and I refuse to believe it was a coincidence.

Hypothesis: turtles are hippies. I assume the researcher has taken copious notes to that effect.

Hey, Dirtbags, Ya Wanna Know What Cops Think About Frank's Decrim Bill (and You)?

Pot smokers and drug reformers weren't the only people interested in Barney Frank's news conference yesterday about his decriminalization bill. The law enforcement web site Police 1 noted it as well and posted a short piece asking its readership what they thought. The piece, Are Small Pot Busts Taking Cops Away From Important Work? What Do You Think?, was a calm, unbiased look at the decrim bill and what it would (and wouldn't) do. I wish I could say the same about the responses. Now, before I get into the meat of the matter, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the responses are not necessarily reflective of police officers' views in general, but are only the responses of a self-selected set of anonymous posters who have registered with Police 1 and who Police 1 says are verifiably law enforcement personnel. That caveat notwithstanding, the posters offer a pretty depressing look into the mind-set of at least some cops. Here are some of them:
Raymundo: I think we all know that pot heads just want to be able to do what they want. Marijuana kills brain cells and they don't come back, hello we need those. Marijuana should stay illegal and I hope congress continues to see that it should be illegal.
SPD853: I think we waste time on plenty of crimes. It is our job. Those cops who think it is a waste of time just "wind test" it anyway (if they do anything at all).
I hadn't heard the phrase "wind test" before. I think that means when they just steal your property, open up the baggie and let the goodies blow away in the wind. That's pretty rude, but preferable to getting arrested, I guess.
Chr1s11: How many of those "small" pot busts have been turned over for info leading to a much larger bust for a much worse controlled substance. The pot heads tend to give up the crack dealer to save the misdemeanor record. Besides, it's still an illegal substance that causes serious dificulty for someone to be a productive individual. Pot heads are the loosers that turn into coke/crack/meth heads. Then comes the violent crime they have to commit to support the habbit.
Well, of course. We all know that pot smokers are crack heads who inevitably turn to violent crime to support their habits. The only other comment I have on this poster is that anyone who can't spell loser correctly probably shouldn't be calling other people losers. He would be better off going back to school and actually passing eighth grade this time.
Baltoblue: I'd rather lock people up for Marijuana all day long then taking 6 reports a day because people can't resolve small problems on their own. The fact is that people can't resolve small problems on their own. The fact is that Marijuana is great PC for searching vehicles (on smell), and also leads to larger cases. I for one, have never locked up a nuerosurgeon for pot, and most that I lock up for pot are involved in larger crimes.
A couple of things on this one: I know I shouldn't pick on people for misspellings, but when you're trying to call pot smokers dumb, you should probably spell "neurosurgeon" correctly. Secondly, Baltoblue's point that pot is great for providing PC (probable cause) for searching cars is a common theme on this board.
Mac25: It is already hard enough to get a conviction when they wont emit it is their property but now they will say it is for personal use and I am not selling. When you compare the drugs (marijuana/alcohol) they both have their down falls but seem to be the lesser evil of all the drugs out there. With that said, the battle on drugs including marijuana has gone on too long to turn around and try to make it legal. I would say most, at least 75, of the people that use marijuana are dirt bags and are involved in other crimes or some how connected to those that commit the crimes. The marijuana arrests are and can be used to assist us (police) in catching those criminals. If it is legalized it will be thrown in our faces day in and day out by these criminals.
This guy's reasoning skills are right up there with his spelling and composition skills. So, 75 (percent, I assume, unless he's personally counting up the dirt bags) of pot smokers are "dirt bags" and are involved in other crimes or know somebody involved in other crimes or live in the same country as people committing other crimes or something. But at least there was one poster who was sympathetic:
In 14 years of active road service as a cop, I have never responded to a call involving anyone who had smoked a joint and was ready to fight with their wife or anyone else for that matter. Yes, I think to much time is spent on arrests involving small amounts of pot. Alcohol, on the other hand, has cost our country Billions of dollars and a tremendous loss of life. While I don't think pot should be legal, I think we need to re-think this issue.
There are more comments on the web site. Check 'em out if you have the stomach for seeing what those people who are supposed to serve and protect you think about you. As for me, I always try to treat police officers with the same respect they show me.

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