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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Narcs get rowdy at a narc convention and a pair of cops who couldn't keep their paws off the pills. Let's get to it:

In Hyannis, Massachusetts, a group of men attending the New England Narcotics Officers Association is accused by a Cape Cod DJ of twice attacking him at a bar after he tried to non-violently intervene on behalf of a woman being harassed by one of them. The narcs were in town for a convention. Duane Alves, better known as DJ Alvzie filed a report with Barnstable Police after the incident in which he said one of the men dumped a drink on his head, then punched him. The man's comrades joined in the beating. Alves also said that the men then blocked the exits from the bar and attacked him again when he tried to leave. The second attack resulted in serious injuries, including broken bones around his right eye and a damaged nasal cavity. Alves managed to grab a cell phone of his attackers dropped, and Barnstable Police confirmed it belonged to someone who attended the narc-fest, but would not identify the owner. Barnstable Police continue to investigate.

In Napoleonville, Louisiana, a former Assumption Parish sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty May 24 to a whopping 438 malfeasance and drug charges for using seized drugs to feed his own habits. Louis Lambert, 48, had been the evidence room technician for seven years when deputies discovered missing drug case evidence in April 2010. Lambert was arrested in June 2010 and fired and indicted in October. He copped to 336 counts of malfeasance for evidence tampering, 35 counts of pot possession, 24 counts of cocaine possession, 11 counts of prescription drug possession, one count of Oxycodone possession, one count of steroid possession, once count of Alprazolam possession,10 counts of drug paraphernalia possession, 14 counts of possessing a firearm while in possession of illegal drugs, four counts of firearms theft and one count of theft under $300. Charges against about 20 drug suspects had to be dropped because of the missing evidence. He faces up to 1400 years in prison when sentenced July 6.

In Yorkville, Illinois, the Yorkville Police deputy chief was arrested last Friday on charges he stole pain relieving pills from the department's drug collection program.  Deputy Chief Dave Delaney is charged with possession of hydrocodone and theft of government property. Yorkville Police had become suspicious that some of the drugs turned in were missing and contacted the Illinois State Police, who conducted a week-long investigation. They marked some of the hydrocodone pills, then confronted Delaney and found he had several on him. He faces up to three years in prison on each count.

Chicago Housing Authority Wants to Drug Test Residents

The Chicago Housing Authority wants to require all current and future adult residents -- including senior citizens -- to pass a drug test. A positive drug test would result in an eviction notice for the resident.

The CHA wants you to pass a drug test if you live in the Kenmore or any other CHA properties. (Image courtesy CHA)
The proposal is one of several changes to the CHA's Admission and Continued Occupancy Policy submitted by CEO Lewis Jordan. Jordan and other agency officials argue they need more tools to fight crime and drugs in the housing projects.

The American Civil Liberties Union accused the CHA of subjecting the poor to a double standard, while resident leaders said the proposal was humiliating.

"The ACLU opposes drug testing in the absence of suspicion as a condition of residency in public housing," senior lawyer Adam Schwartz told the Chicago Sun-Times. "From our perspective, drug testing without suspicion is humiliating. It's stigmatizing. There's a double standard here," he said. "All across our city and our country, when most of us who are in whatever income bracket rent housing, we don't have to take a drug test. This is an emerging one standard for poor people and another standard for everyone else."

"Singling us out for this type of humiliation is a slap in the face of what this whole 'Plan for Transformation' supposedly is about," Myra King, chair of the central advisory council of tenant leaders for all CHA housing in the city, told the Sun-Times. "CHA says they're doing this plan to make us privy to the same standards as any other citizen in any other community. If that's true, why are we the only citizens to be drug tested?"

Lewis's "Plan for Transformation" also includes eliminating the "innocent tenant defense," which allows residents whose relatives or guests committed a drug offense or crime of violence to avoid eviction if they can show they were unaware of the activity. In a 2002 case, the US Supreme Court ruled that housing authorities could evict innocent tenants, but they are not required to. Former CHA head Terry Peterson had reached an agreement with tenants that allowed the continued use of the defense if it could be proved in court.

Spokeswoman Kellie O'Connell-Miller defended the proposals, pointing out that several CHA mixed-income properties currently require drug testing. "These are policies to help strengthen and improve the safety of our public housing communities," O'Connell-Miller said. "We're constantly hearing from law-abiding residents that they want us to hold the non-law abiding residents more accountable. We're trying to tighten up our lease with some of these issues. Drug dealers won't come where there are no buyers. If you remove the folks who are interested in drugs, hopefully it will remove some of the problems," she said.

Making the policy system wide would apply it to some 16,000 families living in family and senior public housing. The CHA has not estimated the cost of the proposal, O'Connell-Miller said.

The proposals are open to public comment through June 16, with a public hearing set for Thursday. If the proposal is adopted, it must then be approved by the CHA Board and then the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

And then the CHA can spend good money fighting (and most likely losing), the inevitable legal challenges. The precedent here is the state of Michigan's 1990s law mandating the suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients. It was rejected by the federal courts in 2003 for violating Fourth Amendment proscriptions against unreasonable search and seizure.

Chicago, IL
United States

Florida Welfare Drug Testing Bill Signed Into Law

Florida welfare applicants and recipients, mostly women with children, will now have to undergo drug tests at their own expense to receive cash benefits after Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law a drug testing bill, HB 353, that passed the state legislature earlier this month. Scott also signed HB 1039, a law banning "bath salts," or new synthetic stimulant drugs.

Gov. Rick Scott (R) scores political points on the backs of the poor. (Image courtesy state of Florida)
More than 21,000 Floridians receiving benefits as heads of households will have to pay for and take the drug tests, as well as any new applicants. If they pass the drug test, they will be reimbursed for the cost. If they fail the drug test, they become ineligible to receive benefits for one year or until successfully completing drug treatment. Children of heads of household who test positive would still be eligible to receive benefits through a designated third party.

Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature argued that the law is necessary to stop welfare recipients from using the money to buy drugs. But opponents cited studies demonstrating that drug use is no more common among welfare recipients than among the general public.

"While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction," Scott said in a press release. "This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars."

The ACLU of Florida was quick to attack the new law. It noted that the only other state law mandating suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients -- one in Michigan -- was overturned by the federal courts in 2003 for violating the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unwarranted searches and seizures.

"Once again, this governor has demonstrated his dismissal of both the law and the right of Floridians to personal privacy by signing into law a bill that treats those who have lost their jobs like suspected criminals," said ACLU of Florida head Howard Simon in a statement Tuesday. "The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn, as well as their families, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse."

Citing the Michigan decision, Simon continued: "Surely the governor knew this, and the ACLU testified in the legislature that the bill was a significant and unnecessary invasion of privacy. The new law rests on an ugly stereotype that was disproven by the state's own earlier experimental drug-testing program," he said. "Nevertheless, their zeal to score political points on the backs of Florida's poor once again overrode their duty to uphold the Constitution. Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound policy. Today, that unsound policy is Florida law."

Wednesday the ACLU of Florida announced it was filing suit against the governor over an executive order he issued earlier this year requiring suspicionless drug testing of state employees. At the same time, it promises an announcement soon about how it plans to respond to the welfare drug testing law. 

Tallahassee, FL
United States

A Million Medical Marijuana Patients in California?

In an analysis released Tuesday, California NORML estimated that the number of medical marijuana patients in the Golden State is at least 750,000 and could be as high as 1,125,000. Those figures represent 2% and 3% of the state's population, respectively.

medical marijuana containers with vaporizer (image via Wikimedia.org)
In earlier analyses, California NORML had estimated the number of patients at 75,000 in 2004, 150,000 in 2005, and 300,000 in 2007.

Because patients are not required to register with the state, nobody knows for sure what the real number is. California NORML arrived at its estimate by looking at registration rates in other medical marijuana states that have similar wide access to medical marijuana clinics and dispensaries, most notably Colorado and Montana.

In Colorado, 2.5% of the state population is on the medical marijuana registry, while in Montana, the figure is 3%. Other registry states have lower percentages, but those can be attributed to the lack of dispensaries, limits on dispensaries, or, in the case of Michigan, the relative newness of the program.

In accepting a figure in the 2.5-3% range, California NORML is being cautious. California's medical marijuana law has been in effect for longer than those states and it is the most inclusive, allowing a recommendation to be issued for virtually any reason.

Despite the high number of medical marijuana users, there is no evidence that easy access to medical marijuana has spurred pot use in California, the group argued, citing federal and state government surveys. California is only slightly above the national average for past month or past year use and use among teenagers has actually declined, California NORML pointed out.

Based on the population estimates, per patient consumption of between one-half and one gram a day, and an average price of $320 an ounce, the group estimated the total retail value of medical marijuana consumed in the state each year at between $1.5 billion and $4.5 billion.

"The data show that medical marijuana users are becoming an increasingly important constituency," said California NORML Director Dale Gieringer. "It is time for the federal government to stop ignoring the facts and recognize their right to medicine."

CA
United States

Iran to Hang 300 for Drug Trafficking

Three hundred people convicted of drug trafficking offenses are on death row in Iran, the Islamic Republic's judiciary said Monday. According to the anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain, at least 126 people have already been hanged for drug offenses so far this year.

The hangman has been -- and will be -- getting a real work out in Iran. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
"For 300 drug-related convicts, including those who were in possession of at least 30 grams of heroin, execution verdicts have been issued," said Tehran prosecutor-general Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, according to a Reuters report.

An annual British report on human rights put the number executed in Iran last year at more than 650, up from 388 in 2009. Of last year's executions, a whopping 590 were for drug trafficking, according to that report.

Members of the Iranian government have confirmed that drug executions make up a huge part of all executions, but added that if the West was unhappy with the killings, Iran could simply quit enforcing its drug laws.

"The number of executions in Iran is high because 74% of those executed are traffickers in large quantities of opium from Afghanistan bound for European markets," said Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran's Supreme Council for Human Rights, during a press conference in May.

That press conference came after a meeting with representatives of South Africa, which had criticized Iran's quick resort to the death penalty.

"There is an easy way for Iran and that is to close our eyes so drug traffickers can just pass through Iran to anywhere they want to go," he said."The number of executions in Iran would drop 74%. That would be very good for our reputation."

[Editor's note: That's actually not the worst idea.]

For information on ongoing efforts to curtail the use of the death penalty for drug offenses, visit the International Harm Reduction Association's Death Penalty Project.

Iran

No Drugs in Home of Ex-Marine Killed By SWAT Team

No drugs were found in the home of a Tucson man shot and killed May 5 by a Pima County Sheriff's Office SWAT team, the Arizona Star reported Friday. Former Marine Jose Guerena, 26, was killed by SWAT team members after confronting them with a rifle in his hand as they broke into his home to serve a search warrant related to a complex drug investigation.

Jose Guerena survived two tours in Iraq, but not his encounter with a Pima County SWAT team.
Guerena's was one of four homes searched by SWAT teams in the investigation that day. Police said they found about $95,000 in cash, an unspecified amount of marijuana, and firearms during the raids, but nothing especially incriminating was found at Guerena's house.

Police said items seized at Guerena's house included a pistol, paperwork, tax returns, insurance papers, bank statements, and a bank card. They also found body armor in a hallway closet and US Border Patrol hat in the garage. Owning weapons, body armor, and Border Patrol hats is not illegal.

No arrests were made at any of the homes searched. Guerena had no criminal record.

Guerena's wife, Vanessa, and their four-year-old son were in the home when it was raided. Vanessa Guerena has said she saw armed men moving around her house and woke her husband, who was sleeping after working all night at his job in a mine. She and the child hid in a closet while Guerena went to confront the intruders.

Police originally said Guerena fired at officers before they returned fire. They had to revise that statement when it was revealed that the safety on Guerena's gun had not been switched off.

Tucson, AZ
United States

Dutch to Ban Foreigners from Cannabis Cafes

The Dutch cabinet announced last Friday that it is moving ahead with plans to effectively bar foreigners from the country's famous cannabis coffee shops. It plans to turn the coffee shops into private clubs limited to 1,500 members, who can only join if they are over 18 and can prove they are Dutch citizens or legal residents, according to Dutch News.

An Amsterdam cannabis coffee shop. If you want to check it out yourself, you better hurry. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
While the government must win approval from the Dutch Supreme Court for its ban on foreigners, it hopes to accomplish as much by limiting membership in the clubs. Proprietors will be forced to choose between local customers and foreign visitors.

The Netherlands has for more than 30 years tolerated the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana, turning the country into a mecca for marijuana aficionados from around the world. But the conservative coalition government, tilted even further to the right after the last election by the addition of the far-right anti-immigrant party of politician Geert Wilders, is now tightening the screws in a bid to reduce drug tourism and what it says is crime and nuisance associated with the coffee shops.

"In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking, the open-door policy of coffee shops will end," the Dutch health and justice ministers wrote in a letter to the country's parliament last Friday.

But officials in Amsterdam, home to 220 of the country's 500 or so cannabis cafes, said the proposals to turn the cafes into provide clubs would actually increase criminality and reduce public safety. The city council there opposes the move.

"We are concerned about the problems that will arise from large-scale street dealing," said a spokesman for Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. "There are also health concerns, because with street dealing we cannot monitor the quality of the soft drugs or the age of the buyers," he said.

But the government said it would increase policing and deepen its efforts to drive organized crime out of marijuana sales and production. While coffee houses can sell marijuana, the law makes no provision for their suppliers. The industry is estimated to be worth about $3 billion a year.

The plan will be rolled out in the border provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and Zeeland by the end of the year and the rest of the country next year, government officials said. Border towns such as Maastricht and Terneuzen have already restricted the sale of marijuana to foreigners, while other towns, including Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom have gotten rid of the coffee shops altogether.

Netherlands

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug-related police corruption comes in many varieties. We've got several this week. Let's get to it:

In Piscataway, New Jersey, a Piscataway police officer was arrested April 25 on charges he stole cocaine while working as the department's evidence officer. Albert Annuzzi, 47, is charged with one count each of official misconduct-theft by unlawful taking and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors said he took the cocaine for personal use. They did not announce his arrest until last week.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, one Wake County sheriff's deputy has been arrested and another is under investigation for the theft of drugs and cash from the department. Deputy Balinda Manley, 34, was fired after her arrest last month when she was charged with two counts of embezzlement and one count of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana. She went down after a routine audit showed that she signed out drugs and $6,435 in cash last June, but didn't return it. When prosecuted requested the evidence for trial, she returned drugs, and then, five days later, what she said was the cash. But when investigators opened the package, they found a pile of blank paper sandwiched between two $100 bills. Investigators found a deposit slip for $1,800 in Manley's care and one for $940 in the car of a second deputy, Chad Hines. He is now under investigation.

In Duanesburg, New York, a University at Albany police investigator was arrested May 16 along with her husband after a search of their property turned up 100 marijuana plants growing in a pole barn. Wendy Knoebel, 48, and her husband face a federal charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. The pair has been released on bail.

In San Leandro, California, a San Leandro Police narcotics officer was arrested last Friday on charges he furnished marijuana to a confidential informant for sale. Detective Jason Fredriksson, 38, allegedly provided more than a pound of pot to the snitch, who planned to sell it, police said. He is also the subject of an internal investigation for having an "improper relationship" with the snitch. He has been on the San Leandro force for nine years, and most recently has been a detective in the vice/narcotics unit and a member of the 14-person SWAT team.

In Phoenix, a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy and two detention officers were arrested Tuesday on drug and human trafficking charges. Deputy Ruben Navarette and detention officers Marcella Hernandez and Sylvia Najera face felony charges. Seven other sheriff’s employees were being investigated for their possible involvement. The three arrested are accused of being part of a Phoenix-based international drug smuggling ring. Hernandez told authorities she is eight months pregnant with the child of the ring's leader, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel. Navarette admitted to passing information about the sheriff’s crime-prevention operations to the group. The deputy also was accused of being part of a separate human trafficking ring that smuggled illegal immigrants from Arizona to California. Deputies found two illegal immigrants when they searched his home. He is also alleged to be an active member of the drug smuggling ring that brought loads of heroin from Mexico to Phoenix. Ten pounds of heroin and nearly $200,000 in cash, weapons, vehicles and stolen property were seized during searches. Hernandez, 28, was found with $16,000 cash when she was arrested Tuesday after arriving for work. She is being held on charges that include transporting drugs and money laundering. Najera is charged with money laundering and controlling a criminal enterprise.

In San Antonio, a former Bexar County sheriff's deputy was sentenced May 19 to six years in prison for trying to smuggle heroin to inmates using barbacoa tacos. Robert Falcon, 48, went down after another deputy found a note in a jail cell with Falcon's address on it that spelled out a smuggling strategy. A sting was set up in which $50 in marked bills, the taco ingredients and 4 grams of fake heroin were left on his doorstep. The fake drugs were recovered from his lunch bag when he arrived at work, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in November to bringing drugs into a correctional facility, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Falcon is on suicide watch after he vowed to kill himself if not granted probation.

Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 38,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Drug prohibition funds the bloody mayhem in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Thursday, May 12

In Arizona, two Border Patrol officers were killed after their vehicle was hit by a freight train while chasing two suspected Marijuana smugglers attempting to reach Interstate 8. The area where the incident occurred is a well-known transit zone for drugs and people being smuggled from Mexico to the United States.

Saturday, May 14

Near Ciudad Juarez, a small town police chief and two of his officers were abducted in the town of Nuevo Casas Grandes and later found dead near a Mennonite community in the town of Janos. Manuel Martinez Arvizo was the public security chief for the nearby town of Ascension, which, like many towns in the northwest part of Chihuahua, has been plagued with extremely high levels of drug-related violence.

Tuesday, May 17

In the Peten region of Guatemala, the government declared a state of siege after the massacre of 27 farm workers by Guatemalan drug traffickers thought to be tied to the Zetas. Both the Zetas and Sinaloa cartel have a significant presence in Guatemala, through which substantial quantities of South American cocaine transit on their way to Mexico and then to the United States.

Wednesday, May 18

In a rural area outside Matamoros and near the US border, three gunmen were killed and three others were captured in a large fire fight with the army. The incident began when a military helicopter came under fire after having spotted a 17-car convoy. Reinforcements clashed with gunmen in several rural communities and confiscated a large arsenal which included grenade launchers, a rocket launcher, and over 18,000 rounds of ammunition. 17.6 pounds of cocaine were also recovered.

Thursday, May 19

In Cuernavaca, Mexican authorities arrested a leading member of the South Pacific Cartel. Victor Valdez is believed to be the second in command of the cartel after Hector Beltran Leyva. A local police chief, Juan Bosco, was also arrested on suspicion of being in collusion with Valdez.

Friday, May 20

In Mexico City, a former general and key figure in Mexico’s drug war was shot and killed after a traffic accident. It is unclear whether General Jorge Juarez Loera was killed by cartel gunmen, but the federal prosecutors office has taken charge of the investigation because it suspects the involvement of organized crime.

In Reynosa, a leading Gulf Cartel figure was captured at his own birthday party. Gilberto Barragan Balderas, 41, is thought to be a leading enforcer in the Gulf Cartel is also wanted by the DEA, which had previously offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction.

Saturday, May 21

In Ciudad Juarez, two young women, aged 15 and 16, were shot dead by heavily armed gunmen who arrived to their home in a luxury SUV.

Sunday, May 22

In Monterrey, nine people were killed in a series of gun battles. The incidents began when heavily armed gunmen shot dead four people outside a popular café. Three of the bodies were then whisked away by unidentified individuals who faced no opposition from police officers who were already on the scene. Later on, five gunmen were killed when the SUV they were in crashed during a car chase with a military patrol.

In Ciudad Juarez, six people were murdered. Among the dead were three known car thieves who were shot over 40 times by unidentified gunmen while they were in the act of dismantling a car. According to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy, this brings the death toll in the city to 105 for the month of May and 912 for 2011 so far.

Tuesday, May 24

In Coahuila, Mexican Marines captured the alleged head of the Zetas for the Hidalgo, Coahuila area.

In Monterrey, a soldier was wounded  after a military patrol came under fire from gunmen who were waiting on an overpass bridge, after having been lured to the site by a group of trucks which ignored the soldiers commands to stop.

Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last years. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx): 4,300

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

Mexico

Arizona Governor Moves to Block Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that she has instructed the state attorney general to file a federal lawsuit to seek clarification of the legality of the state's medical marijuana law. That means that the dispensary licensing portion of the program will most likely be put on hold pending a "declaratory judgment" sought by the governor.

Those scary US Attorneys get to another governor. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Under the Arizona law, most patients would have to rely on a system of licensed dispensaries to obtain their medicine. They or their caregivers cannot grow their own unless they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary.

Brewer said she was prompted to act because of a threatening letter sent by US Attorney Dennis Burke. In that May 2 letter, Burke warned Department of Health Services Director Will Humble that the state's medical marijuana law conflicted with the federal Controlled Substances Act.

"Growing, distributing and possessing marijuana, in any capacity, other than as a federally authorized research program is a violation of federal law," Burke wrote. "Compliance with Arizona laws and regulations does not provide a safe harbor, nor immunity from federal prosecution."

Brewer said Tuesday that Burke's letter made her fear for state employees who would be issuing dispensary licenses and patient and caregiver registration cards.

"I just cannot sit on the sidelines and allow the federal government to put my state employees at risk," Brewer said. "That letter really muddied the waters... I intend to get answers because peoples' lives and careers are at stake."

Brewer's move comes little more than a month after the program went into effect, and 3,600 patients have already registered, but the dispensary portion of the program is not fully up and running yet.

"We are moving in the direction" of ordering the Department of Health Services not to issue dispensary permits, Brewer said.

A Brewer spokesman, Matthew Benson, told the Arizona Republic later Tuesday that the governor's advice to the department on dispensary permits was "imminent, in the next few days."

Brewer, who opposed last November's initiative making medical marijuana the law of the land, said she was not trying to overturn the election results, nor was she defending the medical marijuana law.

"We will not take a substantive position, either to thwart the will of voters or to try to impose our own policy views," Horne said. "We are simply saying to the federal court, 'We need a resolution of these competing pressures.'"

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which helped draft the medical marijuana initiative, wasn't buying it. "We are deeply frustrated by this announcement," said MPP executive director Rob Kampia. "The law Gov. Brewer wants enjoined established an extremely well thought-out and conservative medical marijuana system. The law was drafted so that a very limited number of nonprofit dispensaries would serve the needs of patients who would be registered with the state. Governor Brewer is trying to disrupt this orderly system and replace it with relative chaos," he said.

"Patients would not purchase their medicine at state-regulated dispensaries, Kampia continued. "Instead, they or their caregivers would grow marijuana in homes across the state. Some will even be forced to find their medicine on the streets. We cannot think of a single individual -- aside from possibly illegal drug dealers -- who would benefit from Gov. Brewer's actions today. She has done a disservice to her state and its citizens."

Brewer is only the latest politician to use threatening letters from federal prosecutors as a reason to back away from medical marijuana dispensaries. Earlier this month, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee halted the state's dispensary program after getting a letter from the feds, and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire gutted a dispensary bill that had reached her desk citing the same reasons.

Phoenix, AZ
United States

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