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Medical Marijuana Shop, Home Searched By Feds

Location: 
Bakersfield, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
KERO-TV 23 (CA)
URL: 
http://www.turnto23.com/news/13234122/detail.html

Vote Hemp Press Release - North Dakota to DEA: Out of Our Hemp Fields

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 30, 200& CONTACT: Adam Eidinger Tel: 202-744-2671, E: adam@votehemp.com or Tom Murphy Tel: 207-542-4998, E: tom@votehemp.com North Dakota to DEA: Out of Our Hemp Fields New Law Allows Hemp Farming Without DEA License, Farmers to Challenge DEA BISMARCK, ND - North Dakota’s legislature wrapped up last week by telling the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that it would no longer require state-licensed industrial hemp farmers to seek DEA licenses. The law change removes the DEA license as a requirement of state law, but it can't protect farmers from federal prosecution. Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp advocacy group, will support a lawsuit brought by ND-licensed hemp farmers to prevent the DEA from enforcing federal marijuana laws against them. If the farmers' lawsuit, which will be filed in the coming weeks, is successful, states across the nation will be free to implement hemp farming laws without fear of federal interference. “With the broad authority that has been granted to them by Congress, the DEA could have easily approved the applications of the farmers in North Dakota,” says Tom Murphy, National Outreach Coordinator for Vote Hemp. “The DEA could have also easily negotiated industrial hemp farming rules with North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson who has been talking to them about this for a year. Instead, they kept stalling until the time to plant had passed,” says Mr. Murphy. “North Dakota had nothing left to do but cut the DEA out of the picture.” “I applied for my ND license in January and was hopeful the DEA would act quickly and affirm my right to plant industrial hemp this year. Unfortunately, the DEA has not responded in any way other than to state that it would take them a lot more time than the window of time I have to import seed and plant the crop,” said ND farmer, David Monson. “It appears that DEA really doesn’t want to work with anyone to resolve the issue”, Monson added. The hemp language in HB 1020 was the result of several months of fruitless negotiations between the DEA and North Dakota officials, who hoped to gain federal recognition for the state-licensed hemp farmers. It amends the state hemp farming law to explicitly remove the Drug Enforcement Administration from the process. “The legislative action is a direct response to the DEA's refusal to waive registration requirements, including $3,440 per farmer in non-refundable yearly application fees, and the agency's inability to respond to the farmers' federal applications in time for spring planting,” says Alexis Baden-Mayer, Vote Hemp’s Legislative Director. Read the DEA letter that was ND's last straw at http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/DEA_Letter_to_NDDA_03272007.pdf “The North Dakota legislature's bold action gives Vote Hemp the opportunity we've been working towards for nearly a decade. Now that there is a state with comprehensive hemp farming regulations that has explicitly eschewed DEA involvement, we can finally make the case that states have the legal ability to regulate industrial hemp farming within their borders without federal interference,” says Baden-Mayer. Adding, “And, because ND Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson actually did spend nearly a year trying to work out an agreement with the DEA, it’s clear that DEA isn’t going to act in a reasonable way and isn’t ever to going to acknowledge the practical differences between industrial hemp and marijuana and accommodate ND's plan to commercialize hemp farming.” # # #
Location: 
Bismarck, ND
United States

FAMM eGram: U.S. Sentencing Commission votes for changes to crack cocaine guidelines

[Courtesy of Families Against Mandatory Minimums] WASHINGTON, D.C.: For the first time in 12 years, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has approved guideline changes to federal crack cocaine penalties, tonight by a 6-1 vote. The amendment affects approximately 78 percent of defendants convicted of crack cocaine offenses, reducing their sentences by an average of 16 months. It will now be sent to Congress on May 1, 2007, along with other proposed sentencing amendments. "While this incremental change is a far cry from the 'equalization' of crack and powder cocaine the Commission recommended in 1995, it is a long overdue first step to improving crack sentences," said Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a national, nonpartisan sentencing reform organization. For 15 years the Commission has researched crack cocaine and its penalties and concluded current federal crack sentences are unjustifiable. Among the findings from its 2002 report to Congress, "Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy," are that crack penalties 1. exaggerate the relative harmfulness of crack cocaine 2. sweep too broadly and apply most often to lower level offenders 3. overstate the seriousness of most crack cocaine offenses and fail to provide adequate proportionality 4. and mostly impact minorities Despite this evidence, Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission have been in a stalemate for a dozen years over how to improve crack sentences. During that time, nearly 56,000 people were sentenced under the harsh federal crack cocaine statutes and guidelines. Now, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has taken the bold step of saying enough is enough. "While the Commission’s amendment does not solve the problem of excessive crack cocaine penalties it moves us closer to that goal, which is why FAMM supports the Commission's crack amendment," says Stewart. Congress has six months to consider the amendments before they automatically take effect on November 1, 2007. Congress would have to pass bills in both the House and Senate to stop the amendment. It is highly unlikely such an action will happen this year. If passed, the amendment will not affect people sentenced before November 1, 2007. The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s crack guideline amendment will be accompanied by language to Congress that urges them to address the crack cocaine mandatory minimum. Combined changes to the sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum statutes for crack cocaine would result in more appropriate penalties for roughly 5,000 defendants who face crack sentences each year. With their faces in mind, FAMM applauds the Commission for acting on an injustice that can no longer be tolerated. Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes just sentencing policies. For more information, visit: www.famm.org.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

FedCURE News: USSC Reduces Crack Cocaine Offenses Up to 16 Months

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2007 Contact: Michael Courlander, Public Affairs Officer at (202) 502-4597 U.S. SENTENCING COMMISSION VOTES TO AMEND GUIDELINES FOR TERRORISM, SEX OFFENSES, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFENSES, AND CRACK COCAINE OFFENSES WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 27, 2007) — The United States Sentencing Commission held its final public meetings for the 2006-2007 guideline amendment cycle, promulgating amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines today and on April 18, 2007, on several important issues. Among other actions, the Commission voted to promulgate and submit to Congress sentencing guideline amendments regarding offenses that include terrorism, sex offenses, and intellectual property offenses. It also took action to address sentencing disparities resulting from federal cocaine sentencing policies. On April 18, 2007, the Commission voted to promulgate amendments that include – - an amendment implementing provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007. The amendment establishes new guideline penalties for offenses created by the PATRIOT Reauthorization Act relating to (1) narco-terrorism, (2) smuggling of munitions or military equipment without the required validated export license, (3) mining of U.S. navigable waters, and (4) destroying or tampering with aids to maritime navigation. The amendment also addresses a new offense created by the Homeland Security Act pertaining to the construction, financing, or use of tunnels that cross the borders of the United States. - a multi-part amendment implementing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The amendment establishes guideline penalties for failure to register as a sex offender and provides significant sentencing enhancements if a defendant commits certain offenses after failing to register. Further, the amendment creates another guideline provision that provides additional punishment for certain aggravated offenses related to the requirement to register as a sex offender. This additional penalty would run consecutive to any sentence imposed for the failure to register offense or any sentence imposed for an enumerated underlying offense. The amendment also implemented other provisions of the Adam Walsh Act that provided enhanced penalties for sexual offenses. - a temporary, emergency amendment that implemented a directive in the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act regarding criminal infringement of copyright or trademark. Specifically, the amendment addresses convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 2318 (trafficking in counterfeit labels) and 18 U.S.C. § 2320 (trafficking in counterfeit goods or services). These offenses involve trafficking in counterfeit labels that are not affixed to goods. The amendment provides for increased sentences based on the retail value of the genuine good that the counterfeit label would help imitate if the label’s use would lead a reasonably informed purchaser to believe that the counterfeit good was an identifiable, genuine good. The amendment also provides increased sentences for cases involving use of a circumvention device under 7 U.S.C. §§ 1201 and 1204. Circumvention devices would include "mod" chips that allow game consoles to play pirated games. The amendment includes a specific sentencing enhancement for trafficking in such items. - emergency and permanent amendments implementing a directive in the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006. This Act creates a new offense at 18 U.S.C. § 1039 making it a crime to knowingly and falsely obtain confidential telephone records. The Commission implemented the directive by incorporating this new offense into an existing guideline covering other private or protected information (§2H3.1). - revisions to how a defendant’s criminal history score is computed for certain minor offenses. - guidance on motions by the Bureau of Prisons for reductions in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). At its April 18, 2007, public meeting, the Commission also announced its intention to form a standing victims advisory group to provide the Commission with input regarding federal crime victimization. In addition to those earlier actions, the Commission unanimously announced today that it will submit to Congress on or before May 15, 2007, a report on federal cocaine sentencing policy. The report will set forth current data and information that continue to support the Commission’s consistently held position that the 100-to-1 crack-powder drug quantity ratio significantly undermines various congressional objectives set forth in the Sentencing Reform Act and elsewhere. The Commission also will make recommendations to Congress in the report for modifications to the statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses. At today’s meeting, the Commission expressed its firm desire that this report will facilitate prompt congressional action addressing the 100-to-1 crack-powder drug quantity ratio. The Commission also voted today to promulgate an amendment that modifies the penalties for crack cocaine offenses. The Commission described the problems associated with the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio as so urgent and compelling that it promulgated the guideline amendment as a measure to alleviate some of those problems. The statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses require a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time trafficking offense involving 5 grams or more of crack cocaine, and a ten-year mandatory minimum penalty for a first-time trafficking offense involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. When Congress established these penalties in 1986, the Commission responded by incorporating the statutory mandatory minimum sentences into the guidelines to provide guideline sentencing ranges that are above the statutory mandatory minimum penalties. First-time offenses involving 5 grams or more of crack cocaine receive a sentencing guideline range of 63 to 78 months, and first-time offenses involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine receive a sentencing guideline range of 121 to 151 months, before accounting for other relevant factors under the guidelines. The Commission’s amendment modifies the guideline drug quantity thresholds to provide guideline sentencing ranges that include the statutory mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine offenses. Accordingly, under the amendment, a first-time trafficking offense involving 5 grams of crack cocaine will receive a guideline sentencing range of 51 to 63 months, and a first-time trafficking offense involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine will receive a guideline sentencing range of 97 to 121 months, before accounting for other relevant factors under the guidelines. Under the statutory mandatory minimum penalties, however, a five- and ten-year sentence will still be required, respectively. As a result, the Commission’s amendment provides some relief to crack cocaine offenders impacted by the disparity created by federal cocaine sentencing policy. The Commission emphasized and expressed its strong view that the amendment is only a partial solution to some of the problems associated with the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio. Any comprehensive solution to the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio would require appropriate legislative action by Congress. The text of the Commission’s amendments and its accompanying 2007 report to Congress, Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, will be available in the coming weeks on the Commission’s website, www.ussc.gov. The Commission was established by Congress in 1985 to develop national sentencing guidelines for the federal courts. Any amendments made by the Commission to the guidelines must be submitted to Congress on or before May 1 of each year and become effective on November 1 if not disapproved by Congress. http://www.ussc.gov/PRESS/rel0407.htm
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

N.D. lawmaker encourages hemp production in Vt.

Location: 
Montpelier, VT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Rutland Herald (VT)
URL: 
http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070430/NEWS04/704300371/1024/NEWS04

Colombian Seeks to Persuade Congress to Continue Aid

Location: 
Caracas
Venezuela
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/world/americas/30uribe.html?hp

Partial Crack Cocaine Sentencing Reform Approved by Sentencing Commission

The US Sentencing Commission has voted for a partial reform to the infamous crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity -- Families Against Mandatory Minimums announced Friday. According to FAMM the new rules would help about 78% of federal prisoners serving crack cocaine offenses by reducing their penalties about 16 months. We consider it a small but important step -- even equalizing the penalties would be kind of small when measured next to the vast federal gulag -- but it will help some people and it's a start. When the Commission voted 4-3 for equalization of crack and powder cocaine penalties almost 12 years ago, Congress voted -- for the first time in the history of the Sentencing Commission -- to block the reform. Had Congress not acted, the quantity thresholds triggering draconian five- and ten-year mandatory sentences for crack cocaine -- five grams and 500 grams, amounts that have been compared with a sugar packet and a candy bar, respectively -- would have been raised to the larger quantities that now trigger the same penalties for powder cocaine. The move by Congress sparked unrest in the federal prison system. If Congress leaves it alone this time, the new rules will take effect on November 1.
Location: 
United States

Mixed Result in Hurwitz Case

See NYT's John Tierney's initial post-Hurwitz trial blog post. Not the result we were hoping for by any means. On the other hand, the last time was far worse, and according to eyewitness accounts the prosecutors seemed really disappointed too. Judge Brinkema has the power to give a much less draconian sentence or even time served, and her handling of the case seemed pretty reasonable; we'll find out in July what she decides.
Location: 
United States

Pleas won't end probe of Atlanta police

Location: 
Atlanta, GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
URL: 
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2007/04/27/0427metjohnston.html

Reuters Admits Flawed Marijuana Reporting

Given ONDCP's ongoing claims of 20-30 fold increases in marijuana potency, yesterday's announcement that potency has merely doubled feels more like a concession than the latest drug war scare tactic. Yet thanks to lazy reporting, this lukewarm story became the next great threat to public safety.

From Associated Press:
The government estimates that 4.1 million Americans use marijuana. Use by teenagers has declined recently, but federal officials worry that marijuana is being cited more often in emergency room visits.
From Reuters:
The marijuana being sold across the United States is stronger than ever, which could explain a growing number of medical emergencies that involve the drug, say government drug experts.

Neither story explained the concept of "emergency room mentions" from which these claims were derived. And these two reports were republished in major papers everywhere from Dallas to Sydney.

Importantly, people who mentioned marijuana to doctors weren't in most -- if any -- cases directly injured by it. Upon admission to the emergency room, you're instructed to report any drugs in your system in case they could interfere with your treatment (and it's really not marijuana they're worried about). Patients who mention marijuana include everyone from heroin users to gunshot victims to various people who fell and couldn't get up.

Marijuana is growing in popularity as a medicine, which could also help explain why sick people report having used it.

Fortunately, thanks to incredulous readers, Reuters was forced to clarify:

Lots and lots of readers asked for examples of these emergencies. We updated the story with an explanation which should have been made clear from the start, that medical emergency "means that the patient mentioned using marijuana and does not mean the drug directly caused the accident or condition being treated."

Is it any wonder that readers were confused? Statements such as "marijuana is being cited more often in emergency room visits" or "a growing number of medical emergencies that involve the drug" clearly imply that marijuana caused or contributed to the patient's hospitalization. That was ONDCP's intention, passed along uncritically by Reuters and AP with the inevitable effect of confusing the public.*

Like many things you read in an ONDCP press release, the statement on emergency room visits was so misleading that it becomes false if you change any of the words. "Mentioned" is simply not the same as "involved." Thus the media reports became more misleading than the press release they were based on, which was pretty bad to begin with.

Even when properly explained, "emergency room mentions" remain a vague and ultimately unhelpful measure upon which to base alarmist claims. ONDCP's reliance on such tenuous, circumstantial evidence speaks to the credibility of their position on marijuana policy in general.

*Reuters made a partial correction, but AP has not. Contact them here.

Location: 
United States

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