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Russian Diplomat Takes Over at UN Drug Agency

As of Monday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is under new management. Russian diplomat Yury Fedotov , who was nominated for the post earlier this year by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has now taken over the organization that makes up a key part of the global drug prohibition regime. He replaces outgoing UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa.

Yuri Fedotov (courtesy Voice of Russia, ruvr.ru)
The Vienna-based agency, established in 1997, is charged with fighting the illegal drug trade, as well as other international crime, such as corruption and human trafficking. It also publishes annual reports on the global drug scene, as well as regional reports, including annual surveys of Afghan opium poppy production.

"Public health and human rights must be central" to his agency's work, Fedotov said in a statement Monday. "Whether we talk of the victims of human trafficking, communities oppressed by corrupt leaders, unfair criminal justice systems or drug users marginalized by society, we are committed to making a positive difference," he said.

"Drug dependence is a health disorder, and drug users need humane and effective treatment -- not punishment," he added. "Drug treatment should also promote the prevention of HIV."

Harm reductionists and AIDS activists had earlier urged Ki-moon not to appoint Fedotov, pointing to Russia's abysmal record on human rights, the treatment of drug users, and HIV/AIDS prevention. But on Monday, the International Harm Reduction Association told the Associated Press it was willing to give Fedotov a chance based on his early remarks.

"We certainly hope this sets the benchmark for the path he'll be taking," said the association's executive director Rick Lines. "For any public official, they're going to be judged by what they do with the responsibility they're given."

Vienna
Austria

Sensible Washington to Petition Again in 2011

Sensible Washington, the group behind this year's effort to place the I-1068 marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot, will be back next year, the group announced Friday at the 39th Annual NORML National Conference in Portland, Oregon. The effort this year fell short with organizers gathering about 180,000 signatures, about 60,000 fewer than the 241,000 required to make the ballot.

"We're going to try to put an initiative on the ballot again to remove all punishments for possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana," said Sensible Washington member and initiative co-author Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle defense attorney. "Some people say we're moving too soon, but don’t let that discourage you. There will be about 15,000 people arrested for marijuana in Washington next year. It's worth making a try, and we think we can do it," he said. "We have no choice but to try."

The group also picked up the endorsement of national NORML during the conference. "We are excited to once again enjoy the support of our friends at NORML, the nation’s oldest marijuana reform group," said Hiatt.

The initiative simply removes marijuana from the state's list of controlled substances and repeals associated penalties. It contains no provisions for regulating what would be a newly legal commerce in marijuana because, Sensible Washington argued, state law prevented them from addressing regulation.

Sensible Washington's strategy was challenged by the ACLU of Washington, whose Alison Holcomb released in February a letter saying the organization would not support I-1068 "because it does not provide a responsible regulatory system." Because the ACLU of Washington has a high profile on drug reform issues, its refusal to endorse hurt the initiative.

This year's effort suffered another serious blow in July, when after a brief courtship, the Service Employees International Union declined to help get it over the top. Washington SEIU spokesman Adam Glickman told Publicola at the time the initiative would be "open to a lot of attacks -- attacks around law enforcement issues" and that "losing the campaign wouldn't be very helpful."

But Sensible Washington is undeterred and is moving full-speed ahead on getting the measure on the ballot in 2011. Meanwhile, state and national movement leaders met over the weekend in a private meeting and at a public forum Sunday in a bid to reduce the chaos within the state's marijuana reform movement. Look for a Chronicle feature article in the coming weeks on the state of play of pot politics in the Evergreen State.

WA
United States

Michigan Bill Would Allow Roadside Drug Tests

Michigan could become the first state in the nation to drug test drivers if a Republican lawmaker has his way. Last week, Rep. Rick Jones (R-Grand Lodge) announced he was filing a bill that would allow police officers to administer roadside drug tests if they have probable cause.

traffic stop scene, from "10 Rules for Dealing with Police" (buy at stopthedrugwar.org/10rules)
Jones, a former sheriff, said the roadside tests could replace what is now an expensive and time-consuming process. Currently, officers who want to test drivers for drugs must get a search warrant to take a blood sample, which is then tested by backlogged state crime labs.

"A portable drug testing kit would be an extremely powerful tool to keep unsafe drivers off our streets. With a portable kit, officers will know in minutes whether the driver is high on drugs," Jones said in a statement

"The kit has the potential to save a great deal of tax dollars by reducing the need for state crime labs to do many tests," Jones continued. "Patrol officers now have to make a judgment call whether they believe a driver is under the influence of drugs. Science has now caught up with the need, and our patrol officers should have the option of using this valuable public safety tool."

Under the proposal, suspected drugged drivers would have to submit to a preliminary saliva drug test that can detect six kinds of drugs, including marijuana, methamphetamines, and cocaine. If the preliminary test, which produces results in minutes, came back positive, additional testing would occur.

The motivation for Jones' bill appears to be his opposition to the state medical marijuana law, enacted by the will of the voters in 2008. Last month, he introduced a bill that would bar medical marijuana "clubs and bars" throughout the state. In a statement then, the former sheriff worried about "clubs where users could get high and drive away, endangering people."

Jones' legislation is actually a three-part package, with House Bill 6430 covering motor vehicles, HB 6431 covering snowmobiles and ATVs, and HB 6432 covering trains.

[Ed: Along with the civil liberties issues, this proposal deserves scrutiny based on the drug test technology in use as well. Research has found that field drug tests commonly in use by police generate frequent false positives, sometimes from mere exposure to air.]

Lansing, MI
United States

NORML Lawyers' Advice to Marijuana Suspects: STFU [FEATURE]

A panel of marijuana criminal defense attorneys on the opening day of NORML's 39th Annual National Conference in Portland Thursday were unanimous and emphatic on one thing people with pot should do when confronted by police: exercise their right to remain silent.

"Don't talk to those people," warned Oakland defense attorney and NORML board member Bill Panzer. "Their job is to throw your ass in jail. They are not there to help you."

"Don't talk to the cops," agreed Seattle defense attorney Jeffrey Steinborn. "No matter what you say to a cop, they will write down what they want to hear. They can't misinterpret stone cold silence."

"Shut the fuck up," punctuated Seattle defense attorney Douglas Hiatt, noting that people were understandably under stress when having encounters with law enforcement. People are prone to try to talk their way out of trouble, he said. "This is not the time you're going to be doing quality thinking."

Less colorful variations on the theme also came from Columbia, Missouri, defense attorney and NORML board Dan Viets, Portland defense attorney John Lucy, and Florida defense attorney and NORML board member Norm Kent. All were members of the panel "Warning: Marijuana is Still Illegal for Non-Patients! Legal Defenses and Strategies for Cannabis Consumers," moderated by Kent.

Telling pot people they have -- and should exercise -- the right to remain silent isn't anything new. Groups from the ACLU to Flex Your Rights have long offered the same counsel, as will any defense attorney if you ask him. But with millions of marijuana consumers, legions of police ready to take them down, and 800,000 marijuana arrests a year, nearly 90% for small-time possession, this panel of pot friendly legal pros clearly felt it was a message worth reiterating.

The defense attorneys had plenty of other admonitions for pot smokers, growers, and dealers, all frankly designed to help them flout laws the lawyers consider immoral. The tough warnings were, however, leavened by outbursts of laughter as they shared stories of bumbling and hapless clients.

Like Norm Kent's tale of a home in Florida where police suspected a marijuana grow was going on, but lacked sufficient evidence to obtain a search warrant. They conducted a "knock and talk," where they simply knocked on the front door to see if the resident would let them in. Kent's advice: Don't talk to the police. In fact, you don't even have to acknowledge their presence.

That's not what happened. Instead a 17-year-old opened the door to the knocking police, was asked about marijuana being grown at the residence, and blurted out, "It's my dad's dope; not mine!"

Kent got a client he wouldn't otherwise have had because the kid didn't know how to respond properly (by not even answering the door, or not opening it). "You have the right to say no," he said. "Just say no."

"Don't even open the door," said Steinborn. "Make them break it down."

Steinborn, a white-haired veteran, said he had three rules: "Only break one law at a time," he said, especially when driving. "The second rule is leave the paraphernalia at home. Learn to roll a joint!" he exclaimed. "The third rule is to always be courteous, but ask them if you're free to go."

"Don't text message," groaned Panzer. "If you've got 'Dude, I loved the purp! Can I get 3 lbs?' on your phone, they will find it, even if you deleted it."

That proscription should apply to any use of electronic media for conducting marijuana business, the attorneys said. Pot leaves on your Facebook page could help police convince a judge their request for a search warrant had merit. Photos of you proudly displaying your garden would be even more incriminating.

"Anything on email or the Internet is out there," said Steinborn.

Hire them or attorneys like them for your own good, especially if you're growing or selling, they pleaded. And don't wait until after you've been arrested.

"If you're a pot grower or dealer and you don’t have a lawyer on retainer, you're nuts," said Lucy. "If you're going to engage in felonious conduct on a regular basis and you haven't spent $250 for a lawyer…" he trailed off.

Guns and marijuana don't mix, the defense attorneys warned, citing mandatory minimum federal and state sentencing enhancements that come into play if a gun is found in the home, even if it was not used or brandished. You can have your guns or you can have your grow, they said, but you shouldn't have both or you're exposing yourself to serious time.

The war on marijuana is ultimately a war on the people who grow, sell, and use it. This NORML panel was quite frank about being on the other side of the battle and was offering up some basic training Thursday afternoon.

Portland, OR
United States

Maine Police Chief Wants Cocaine Misdemeanors to Be Felonies

Portland, Maine, Police Chief James Craig is pushing to increase some crack and powder cocaine offenses from misdemeanors to felonies, but he isn't exactly receiving a warm reception from lawmakers concerned about prison overcrowding. He told the Portland Press Herald Tuesday that he plans to meet with other police chiefs, prosecutors, and legislators to plot his brave push backward into the 20th Century.

Looking Backwards: Portland Police Chief James Craig
Under Maine law, first time possession of up to four grams of crack and 14 grams of powder cocaine is a misdemeanor. A second offense is a felony, as is possession of more than those amounts.

"Crack cocaine breeds violence," Craig said. "Crack cocaine will destroy this community if we don't stay ahead of it."

He cited recent incidents in the city that he attributed to cocaine users. He said three home invasions, three robberies, and a stabbing in a recent one-week period were committed by coked-out individuals.

Rep. Anne Haskell (D-Portland), co-chair of the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, told the Press Herald she would listen to Craig's proposal, but expressed concern about costs.

"I'd be glad to have a conversation with Chief Craig and take a look at the kinds of things he's seeing. He's the person on the ground," she said. "If what he's seeing out there is what's happening, then folks ought to be held accountable, but we would have to find the money to do that," she said.

But Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Brunswick), the committee's senate chair, was more wary. "We're not going to start enhancing some of these crimes to fill up our prisons more than we have now," he said. "The legislature was very good at enhancing crimes and the time served, and we got ourselves in a pretty good mess."

Times have changed when cops looking for longer sentences for drug users are met by skepticism in the legislature.

Portland, ME
United States

Despite Decrim, California Marijuana Possession Busts Abound [FEATURE]

According to figures from the California Criminal Justice Statistics Center, more than 550,000 people were charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in the Golden State between 1999 and 2009. Last year, 61,164 people were charged with pot possession, down slightly from 2008's record 61,388.

The number of small-time pot arrests hovered at around 50,000 a year for most of the decade. But in 2007, it jumped to just under 60,000, and crossed that threshold in 2008.

That could change this year, though. A bill, SB 1449, approved by the state legislature last week would change the misdemeanor to a civil infraction. It awaits action on Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk. The Proposition 19 marijuana legalization initiative would allow people 21 or over to possess up to an ounce without fear of arrest and grow up to 25 square feet. It goes before the voters on November 2.

That wouldn't be a minute too soon, for some.  "It's morally offensive that in a state like California, where a majority of Californians favor outright legalization and where as far back as 1977 they thought they had it decriminalized, the law enforcement community continues to ignore the will of the citizens of the state," said Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

"This is just another example of why we need to end marijuana prohibition and why we hope California voters will pass Proposition 19 this November," said Mike Meno, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We're criminalizing people and turning their lives upside down simply for using a substance that's safer than alcohol. It's also a huge misallocation of law enforcement resources. Even if they're not going to jail, these busts are still taking up police officers' time and clogging up the court system. This is all the more reason I hope voters really flock to the polls in November."

Under California law, possession of up to an ounce is a misdemeanor punishable only by a maximum $100 fine for a first offense. But because it is a misdemeanor -- not a civil infraction -- you can be arrested, and each offense requires a court appearance, leading to costs for the criminal justice system, as well as costs and a criminal record -- at least temporarily -- for the arrestee.

"People are usually cited and released, but they could be arrested," said Omar Figueroa, a Sebastopol-based marijuana defense attorney. "The law says they can be arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession, and they will be if they don't have satisfactory proof of ID or if they ask to go before a judge."

It varies from locality to locality, Figueroa said. "In Berkeley, they try to process them in traffic court, even though it's technically a misdemeanor. A lot depends on the cop's discretion."

People charged with a misdemeanor have the right to counsel and the right to a jury trial. Ironically, both Figueroa and Dale Gieringer, longtime head of California NORML, said that exercising that right to trial could result in the charges being dropped.

"Some people have demanded jury trials," noted Gieringer, "and when you do that, you almost always find the charges getting dropped, because when the worst outcome is a $100 fine, it just isn't worth it."

"With the maximum sentence being a $100 fine, the system doesn't want to put out that much energy in picking a jury," said Figueroa, but don't count on it. "My first jury trial was pot possession misdemeanor in Los Angeles County. But if you're in San Francisco or Alameda County and you insist on your right to a jury trial, it will probably be dismissed."

Pleading guilty means a criminal record and all that entails, including collateral consequences like loss of access to public housing, but only for two years. Then, if you've managed to stay out of trouble, the conviction is expunged. But some judges push minor pot offenders into treatment, said Gieringer.

"Many judges railroad the defendants into not taking the misdemeanor plea, but instead doing a drug program, the advantage of which is that you have no conviction at all, but it's very expensive and time consuming," he said. 

Even having to show up for a court appearance can be burdensome, Gieringer said. "I know one UCLA student who had to go to Arcata [600 miles away] for a court appearance. It's also an inconvenience for the court. It's got to cost well over $100 for the state to assemble all the manpower for a pot misdemeanor hearing, and with 60,000 cases, that's $6 million wasted right there."

"It would be good to see that decrim bill signed into law or Prop 19 pass," said Stroup. "Or both," he laughed.

"Back when we did the decrim bill in the 1976, the district attorneys said it had to remain a criminal offense," said Gieringer. "The bill now pending would abolish that status. If Schwarzenegger can't sign this current decrim bill, there is something really sick in California politics." Gieringer laughed ruefully, adding, "Of course, we know there is something really sick in California politics."

"This same decriminalization proposal was defeated here three times in the past," said Gieringer. "I think its passage this year is an indication that you can get lawmakers to reduce penalties as a cost-cutting measure. The reason it passed this time was the budget crisis -- even the prosecutors and the courts supported the bill on the grounds of cutting costs."

That's just misdemeanor pot possession. An additional 135,000 people have been arrested on felony marijuana cultivation or distribution charges in the past decade. For all drug felonies, that figure rises to 1.4 million over the past decade.

An additional 850,000 arrests were made for non-marijuana drug misdemeanors. These are typically possession of personal use amounts of hashish, non-opiate prescription medications, and similar drugs on Schedules III, IV, and V of the state drug law, which can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. Figueroa called such charges "wobblers," since they can be charged either way.

While last year's 78,514 marijuana arrests (felonies and misdemeanors) is an all-time high, arrests for other drug offenses are declining. Narcotics (heroin and cocaine) felony arrests peaked at more than 56,000 in 2007, but declined to just under 44,000 last year, while dangerous drug felony arrests have declined by half since peaking at nearly 93,000 in 2005.

The huge number of drug arrests in general and marijuana arrests in particular come as the state is experiencing its lowest crime levels in three decades and a skyrocketing criminal justice system budget. In 1968, total criminal justice system (law enforcement, corrections, courts, prosecutors, public defenders) were at about $100 million, by 1984, when crime rates had already begun falling, the criminal justice budget was at about $5 billion. Last year, it was about $33 billion, mostly for police ($17 billion) and prisons ($15 billion).

Passage of Prop 19 or the signing of the decriminalization bill could begin to rein in the California criminal justice juggernaut, but that would just be a start. Still, you have to start somewhere. Real decrim would be good, but if California votes for legalization, it will be a political earthquake.

CA
United States

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Why do I feel like I just keep writing the same stories of law enforcement venality over and over again? More crooked jail guards, more sticky-fingered cops, more cops on the take, and another pervert power-tripper cop. Let's get to it:

too much cash can corrupt cops
In Graceville, Florida, a prison guard was arrested last Friday for trying to smuggle pot into the prison. Graceville Correctional Facility guard Brandon Sikora, 21, is charged with attempting to introduce contraband into a secure facility and possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana with intent to distribute. He went down in a sting after agreeing to meet a police informant, who gave him half a pound of marijuana to carry into the prison and $2,000 for his efforts. He's now suspended from his job, too.

In Riviera Beach, Florida, a Riviera Beach police officer was fired August 26 over allegations he had a relationship with violent drug dealers. Officer Nathan Gordon had been on administrative leave since July while the department's Internal Affairs Division investigates. He is now accused of providing the home addresses of fellow officers to drug gang enforcers. No word yet on any possible criminal charges.

In San Antonio, Texas, a San Antonio police officer was arrested August 31 for allegedly sexually abusing a young woman he pulled over and found had a small amount of marijuana and a pipe. Officer James McClure is charged with official oppression and is out on a $3,500 bond. McLure allegedly made the victim follow him to business center, where he strip searched her, groped her, and gave her pot back. The victim also claims McClure asked her for her phone number and called her for a date after a previous stop. He is on indefinite suspension.

In Milwaukee, a former Milwaukee police officer and state drug agent was sentenced September 2 to six months of house arrest after being caught stealing money in an FBI sting. Johnny Santiago was arrested in March after being filmed pocketing $1,100 of $17,000 found by him and other police officers during a drug investigation. He was working as a drug agent for the state Department of Justice at the time.

In Atlanta, a former Atlanta police officer pleaded guilty September 2 to federal charges after getting caught in a sting where the drug dealers he thought he was protecting were actually undercover FBI agents. Lucius Solomon III, 31, was charged in March with attempting to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possessing a firearm while participating in multiple cocaine sales. In the plea bargain, the gun charge was dropped. The nine-year veteran is now out on bail awaiting sentencing.

Israel Eases Medical Marijuana Bottleneck

The Israeli Health Ministry Sunday moved to broaden access to medical marijuana by approving five more doctors to prescribe it, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. Until now, the ministry had authorized only one doctor, Dr. Yehuda Baruch of the Abarbanel psychiatric hospital, to prescribe it to an ever-growing number of patients.

Israel Medical Marijuana banner (irxmj.org)
Sunday's announcement is part of a pilot program designed to increase the number of doctors allowed to prescribe medical marijuana. If this expansion of prescribing privileges pans out, it will then be extended to doctors who are department managers in Israeli health maintenance organizations.

The number of Israelis who have been prescribed marijuana was two in 2000, 10 in 2005, 700 in the middle of last year, and may be as high as 2,000 now. A Health Ministry official estimated that, with the lessening of the prescribing bottleneck, the number could increase to 5000 by year's end and tens of thousands in the future.

Doctors are authorized to prescribe medical marijuana to patients suffering from chronic pain, including patients with fibromyalgia, cancer, HIV/AIDS, neurological disorders, multiple sclerosis, asthma and glaucoma, as well as to Israel Defense Forces veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The broadening of prescribing privileges will also mean an increase in authorized production. Currently, only three of 14 authorized grow ops are operating, but that will probably change quickly. The medicine is provided free, but patients must pay a monthly fee of $95 to help cover growing expenses.

Israel

Kentucky Republican Governor Candidate Supports Legal Hemp

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett has come out in support of legalizing industrial hemp production. That makes him the second gubernatorial candidate in the state to embrace the idea. Perennial independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith has called for its legalization for years.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/philmoffett.jpg
Phil Moffett
Moffett is one of at least three Republicans contending for the party's nod to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Steven Beshear. The gubernatorial election is set for 2011.

Moffett, who along with US Senate candidate Rand Paul is part of the tea party insurgency within the Bluegrass State's Republican Party, came out on the issue in response to a question during a meeting with libertarian voters last Thursday and reaffirmed his support in an interview with the Associated Press last Friday.

He is ready to "go to the carpet" to legalize hemp production, he told the AP. "We're going to have to challenge the federal authority to keep us from growing a legitimate crop," he said. "Industrial hemp is not a drug, so it shouldn't be regulated by the DEA or any other federal authority."

Moffett said he supported hemp production both for economic reasons and as a means of reducing the power of the federal government. "It's a farm product that can be used in a number of different ways to create jobs, but it's also a way to get the federal government farther off our back," Moffett said Friday. "Right now, the Drug Enforcement Agency does not allow hemp to be grown, and it would be a great test case for us to fight against the federal government to be able grow a completely legitimate crop that the federal government has decided they don't believe is worthy of planting."

Moffett doesn't favor marijuana legalization and he opposes medical marijuana "on an official level," he said. "But on a personal level, if someone were dying of cancer and marijuana was the only way they could find comfort, I'm not going to get in the way," he said. "There's a humanitarian aspect to this."

While industrial hemp may be imported for use in this country, American farmers are barred from growing it by the federal government. Nine states -- Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia -- have passed legislation removing barriers to its production or research, according to the industry group Vote Hemp.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

KY
United States

Marc Emery Prosecutor Now Says Legalize Marijuana

(Update: On Saturday, September 18, Emery supporters are organizing Free Marc Emery rallies worldwide. Read the listings and other information here. Supporters are also calling on the Canadian government to repatriate Emery into the Canadian justice system, a right they have under treaty.)

In a Seattle Times op-ed Saturday, former US Attorney for the Western District of Washington John McKay defected to the other side. As the federal prosecutor in Seattle, McKay oversaw the indictment and prosecution of Canadian marijuana seed seller and pot advocate Marc Emery, who now sits in an American federal detention facility awaiting the formal handing down of a five-year prison sentence later this month.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/john-mckay.jpg
better late than never: John McKay
But while he thinks Emery and most pot-smokers are "idiots," McKay has come to see the futility of continuing to enforce marijuana prohibition. "As Emery's prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I'm not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety," he wrote.

Marijuana prohibition "has utterly failed," McKay concluded. "The demand for marijuana in this country has for decades outpaced the ability of law enforcement to eliminate it," he declared, ready to throw in the towel.

"Brave agents and cops continue to risk their lives in a futile attempt to enforce misguided laws that do not match the realities of our society," he wrote. "These same agents and cops, along with prosecutors, judges and jailers, know we can't win by arresting all those involved in the massive importation, growth or distribution of marijuana, nor by locking up all the pot smokers."

Pot prohibition fills the pockets of "Mexican and other international drug cartels and gangs," even though marijuana is nowhere nearly as harmful to users as other illegal drugs, McKay wrote.

"So the policy is wrong, the law has failed, the public is endangered, no one in law enforcement is talking about it and precious few policymakers will honestly face the soft-on-crime sound bite in their next elections. What should be done?" McKay asks.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/emeryprotest1.jpg
Marc Emery
It is a rhetorical question, of course, and McKay has answers: Recognize that the real public safety danger to Americans is not from marijuana but from prohibition, build policy on "sound science, not myth," and... drum roll please... "We should give serious consideration to heavy regulation and taxation of the marijuana industry (an industry that is very real and dangerously underground). We should limit pot's content of the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), regulate its sale to adults who are dumb enough to want it and maintain criminal penalties for sales, possession or use by minors, drivers and boaters."

Not to worry, though, McKay assures his erstwhile partners in the prohibition racket. There will be years to come of extirpating criminality from the former black market, and that means job security: "DEA and its law-enforcement partners must therefore remain well equipped and staffed to accomplish this task: to protect our families from truly dangerous drugs and to drive drug cartels, gangs and dope dealers from our society."

Still, a remarkably candid confession from a man who made a living prosecuting marijuana offenders. Too bad he didn't find himself on the road to Damascus when he still had the prosecutors' powers.

Seattle, WA
United States

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