News Brief

RSS Feed for this category

Immigration Law: Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Need Not Be Automatically Deported for Minor Drug Offenses

Immigrants who are in the US legally need not be automatically deported for minor drug offenses, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a unanimous decision. The case, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, involved a Texas man who was a permanent resident of the US, having lived here since he was five years old, who was ordered deported after a second minor drug conviction.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/supremecourt1.jpg
US Supreme Court
Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Texas in 2004 and served 20 days in jail. The following year, he was arrested again, this time for possessing a single Xanax tablet without a prescription, and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

That too was a misdemeanor offense. But federal prosecutors argued that Carachuri-Rosendo's Xanax bust amounted to an "aggravated felony" under federal immigration law, making his deportation mandatory. Under federal immigration law and a previous Supreme Court ruling, federal prosecutors can charge a second drug offense as an "aggravated felony," a policy that has led to near life-long residents of the US being deported to countries they never knew over small-time drug busts, even petty marijuana busts.

Although, the prosecution theory prevailed in the lower courts, the Supreme Court shot it down this week. Complaining that the interaction of various state and federal laws created "a maze of statutory cross-references," Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for seven justices, displayed the sort of common sense too often missing in recent Supreme Court decisions.

"We do not usually think of a 10-day sentence for the unauthorized possession of a trivial amount of a prescription drug as an 'aggravated felony.' A 'felony,' we have come to understand, is a 'serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death,'" Justice White wrote. "While it is true that a defendant's criminal history might be seen to make an offense 'worse' by virtue thereof, it is nevertheless unorthodox to classify this type of petty simple possession recidivism as an 'aggravated felony.'"

The ruling does not mean Carachuri-Rosendo is home free. He is still eligible for deportation, but under the ruling, he may now seek a discretionary waiver of deportation from the Attorney General.

Marijuana: Miami Beach Decriminalization Initiative Campaign Gets Underway

A group that wants to decriminalize marijuana possession in Miami Beach kicked off its campaign with a Wednesday night press conference. The next day, workers were hitting the Art Deco streets of the famed resort town to begin gathering signatures. They are aiming at putting the measure, which would amend the city charter, on the November ballot.

Organized by the Florida Campaign for Sensible Marijuana Policies, which is also organizing local decrim initiatives in Tallahassee, Orlando, Jacksonville Beach, and Atlantic Beach, the measure would allow Miami Beach police to issue a citation for a civil infraction instead of processing a misdemeanor marijuana possession arrest for small amounts of pot. The amendment would also increase the discretion of the state attorney to permit a plea to a civil infraction where appropriate.

Marijuana possession up to 20 grams would still be a misdemeanor under state law, and as they have done elsewhere, local police could ignore the will of the voters and continue to charge people under state law if the initiative passes.

The amendment needs some 4,400 valid signatures to make the November ballot. Thanks to a donation from a local film production company, it has the money to pay signature-gatherers, and organizers said they plan to far exceed the required number.

"The sum total effect of 72 years of marijuana prohibition and more than twenty million arrests since 1965 is that marijuana is now the largest cash crop in the United States and probably the most economically valuable agricultural commodity produced in the State of Florida. According to a recent report by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, Florida spends $573,366,000 annually on wholly ineffectual efforts to eradicate marijuana, a substance that every objective study has determined to be far less harmful than alcohol," said Ford Banister, chairman of the committee.

Banister said he is convinced Miami Beach is progressive enough to pass such a measure. "We are confident that the progressive and enlightened citizens of Miami Beach will agree that it's time we stop driving people to drink with excessive penalties for the use of a far safer substance," he said. "And if they do not yet know how much safer marijuana is than alcohol and the savings garnered by ending a failed policy, we will be working hard to educate them over the course of this campaign."

Florida is one of the bastions of Reefer Madness. It's high time somebody started pushing in the opposite direction in the Sunshine State.

Law Enforcement: Atlanta Police House Cleaning Marks End of Kathryn Johnston Case

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner officially announced June 10 that he had fired two veteran police officers for the roles in the 2006 killing of 92-year-old Atlanta resident Kathryn Johnston during a botched drug raid. The firings came after a department internal affairs report on the incident and a Citizens' Review Board report late last month that found Atlanta Police narcs were willing to break rules and lie in order to obtain search warrants.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/kathrynjohnston.jpg
Kathryn Johnston
That brings to 14 the number of Atlanta police officers disciplined in the wake of the killing, including five who pleaded guilty to federal charges after an FBI investigation, four of whom are still in prison. Another six officers have been disciplined, and one quit before facing departmental charges.

The two officers fired were Carey Bond and Holly Buchanan. Turner fired them for lying and falsifying incident reports and search warrant affidavits.

"We expect professionalism and integrity from all of our officers -- at all times," Turner said. "Policing is a difficult job, no doubt, but we must be expected to comply with the very laws that we are sworn to uphold."

Johnston was killed in November 2006 when Atlanta narcs raided her home using a "no-knock" warrant based on a tip from a single informant that he bought drugs there. As officers attempted to break down her door, the elderly woman fired one shot from a pistol. Officers on the scene returned fire, shooting 39 times, and leaving Johnston dead. When the officers found no drugs, they planted marijuana on her and attempted to get another informant to lie for them. That informant instead went to the FBI, breaking the case wide open.

In addition to the prosecution, firing, or disciplining of officers involved, Turner said the internal investigation revealed a need for systemic changes in the department, including the way confidential informants are handled and how warrants are served. Now, Turner said, the department requires three buys from a location before issuing a warrant.

Kathryn Johnston died a victim of over-zealous drug war policing. But her death may not have been in vain if the changes in the Atlanta Police Department mean there will be fewer "no-knock" raids and tighter controls on narcs and their snitches.

Latin America: 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 an estimated 23,000 people, with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 5,000 so far in 2010. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ciudadjuarez.jpg
Ciudad Juárez (courtesy Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia)
Thursday, June 10

In Guatemala City, Guatemala, four human heads were left to be discovered near the national Congress and three other locations in and around the city. A note threatening the interior minister and head of the national prison system was left with one of the heads. While leaving decapitated heads to be found happens with some frequency in Mexico, such cases are rare in Guatemala. Organized crime in Guatemala is integrally linked to Mexico, as Mexican cartels have an extensive presence in the country, which they use to move shipments of cocaine into Mexico from South America.

In Houston, Texas, federal authorities announced the arrest of 2,200 suspects linked to Mexican drug cartels. The arrests came during a 22-month probe which targeted cells of every major drug cartel. On Wednesday, some 400 people were arrested across 16 states. The probe led to the seizure of $154, 1,200 pounds of meth, 2.5 tons of cocaine, 1,400 pounds of heroin, and 69 tons of marijuana.

Friday , June 11

In the city of Chihuahua, 19 people were killed and four were wounded when gunmen raided a drug-rehabilitation clinic. At least 30 gunmen traveling in six vehicles stormed the Christian Faith and Life Center, using assault rifles to kill 14 people immediately, which was followed by the execution of an additional five. The attackers left a threatening message as they withdrew. The attack was similar to two which took place in Ciudad Juarez in September, which left 28 people dead. Initial reports from police suggest that the center may have housed members of the "Mexicles" gang, which is allied to the Sinaloa Cartel as it battles the Juarez Cartel for control of the Chihuahua drug-trafficking corridors.

In Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas, at least 20 people were killed in five incidents across the city. The incidents began late on Thursday night when police clashed with an unclear number of gunmen who were moving in vehicles in the city. Police later discovered bodies on a nearby beach on several other locations in Madero.

Sunday , June 13

In Tepic, Nayarit, eight gunmen and a policeman were killed during a chaotic gun fight in a crowded shopping mall. At least 1,500 shoppers were present during the incident, which began when police entering the shopping mall to investigate a report of suspicious activity were met by gunfire from at least 15 gunmen. At least one civilian, a taxi driver, was killed in the crossfire. Four other killings were reported in Tepic on Sunday, making it the most violent day in the city's recent history.

Monday , June 14

Across Mexico, 43 people were killed in drug-related violence. In Michoacan, 12 police officers were killed after being ambush near the town of Zitacuaro. One gunman was killed in the ensuing firefight. The army and police launched an immediate manhunt for the remaining gunmen, who escaped.

In Mazatlan, Sinaloa, 28 prison inmates were killed in a gunfight inside the confines of the prison. At least some of the inmates were said to be members of the Zetas Organization. The incident comes just a week after Sinaloa Governor Jesus Aguilar warned about the repercussions of overcrowding in the Mazatlan prison, which houses 6,000 inmates, many of the linked to drug-trafficking organizations. Sinaloa has long been at the heart of the Mexican drug trade.

Tuesday , June 15

In Taxco, 15 gunmen were killed during a 40 minute-long firefight with elements of the Mexican Army. No soldiers were wounded or killed in the fight, which began after troops came under fire while investigating a suspicious location. Initial reports indicate that the gunmen were part of the Beltran-Leyva Cartel faction loyal to US-born drug trafficker Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villareal, so nicknamed for his blue eyes and light complexion.

Wednesday , June 16

In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were murdered in a 15-minute span across the city, and 22 were killed by the end of the day. In one incident, six people were killed at a methadone clinic, including a man who was killed next to his two-year old son.

In Monterrey, seven police officers were kidnapped and executed by armed men. The bodies of the officers -- all showing signs of torture -- were later found on an abandoned plot of land along with a message. One of the men was decapitated. Three teenagers were also killed in a separate incident in Monterrey. In Santiago, 19 miles away from Monterrey, two police officers were found shot to death.

Thursday, June 17

In Costa Rica, 14 drug traffickers were arrested by police. Four of the suspects were found to Mexican nationals and representatives of an unspecified cartel. Costa Rica has seen an increased presence of Mexican drug trafficking organizations who seek new routes for cocaine headed north from South America.

Total Body Count for the Week: 416

Total Body Count for the Year: 5,210

Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.

Harm Reduction: Washington State 911 Good Samaritan Law to Prevent ODs Now in Effect

A law that provides some legal immunity for people who report a drug overdose in Washington state is now in effect, having kicked in on June 10. That makes Washington the second state to enact a "911 Good Samaritan Law." New Mexico was the first in 2007.

Under the measure, if someone overdoses and someone else seeks assistance, that person cannot be prosecuted for drug possession, nor can the person overdosing. Good Samaritans who manufactured or sold drugs could, however, be charged with those offenses.

The measure is aimed at reducing drug overdoses by removing the fear of arrest as an impediment to seeking medical help. According to the state Department of Health, there were 820 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2006, more than double the 403 in 1999.

The bill also allows people to use the opioid agonist naloxone, which counteracts the effects of opiate overdoses, if it is used to help prevent an overdose.

Washington is the first state this year to pass a 911 Good Samaritan bill, but it may not be the last. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island are considering similar measures.

Supporters of the new law held a press conference June 5 to tout its benefits. "In 2008, there were 794 drug overdose deaths in Washington state," said Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a drug overdose researcher from the University of Washington. "These overdoses do not need to be fatal. Death often takes several hours to occur," and people are often present. He said more information on the law is available at http://www.stopoverdose.org.

"We're here today to encourage people who don't work in hospitals to help saves lives," Attorney General Rob McKenna said. "More people are dying now from prescription drug overdoses (than traffic accidents) and yet fewer people are aware of it," McKenna said. He said drug overdoses are a hidden problem because they aren't as visible as other problems.

Sen. Rosa Franklin, who worked to pass the bill, said she worked as a nurse before becoming a legislator and wanted to address a problem she saw and read about. She said this bill will save lives. "We can no longer... put our heads in the sand and say that drug overdose is not happening."

Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington said drug overdoses wouldn't happen in an ideal world, and this law wouldn't be necessary. She said people do drugs to cope, find acceptance or escape. "We can continue to condemn such people as morally deviant and treat them as criminals," but, she said, that doesn't work. She said this law is an important step and a compromise agreement.

"My son, a bright, creative, compassionate and funny kid, began using prescription opiates... during his senior year of high school," John Gahagan said. Just weeks after graduation, his son died of a drug overdose. "The 911 Good Samaritan Law will save lives," he said, adding that his son was alone at the time of his overdose, but he knows parents of other teens who could have been saved. "This law will only be effective if there is awareness of it... Call 911 to save a life," he said.

Cops Kill Father-to-Be in Botched Marijuana Raid

Drug Raids: Las Vegas Narc Serving Marijuana Search Warrant Kills Father-to-Be In His Own Bathroom A 21-year-old father-to-be was killed last Friday night by a Las Vegas Police Department narcotics officer serving a search warrant for marijuana. Trevon Cole was shot once in the bathroom of his apartment after he made what police described as "a furtive movement." Police have said Cole was not armed. Police said Monday they recovered an unspecified amount of marijuana and a set of digital scales. A person identifying herself as Cole's fiancée, Sequoia Pearce, in the comments section in the article linked to above said no drugs were found. Pearce, who is nine months pregnant, shared the apartment with Cole and was present during the raid. "I was coming out, and they told me to get on the floor. I heard a gunshot and was trying to see what was happening and where they had shot him," Pearce told KTNV-TV. According to police, they arrived at about 9 p.m. Friday evening at the Mirabella Apartments on East Bonanza Road, and detectives knocked and announced their presence. Receiving no response, detectives knocked the door down and entered the apartment. They found Pearce hiding in a bedroom closet and took her into custody. They then tried to enter a bathroom where Cole was hiding. He made "a furtive movement" toward a detective, who fired a single shot, killing Cole. "It was during the course of a warrant and as you all know, narcotics warrants are all high-risk warrants," Capt. Patrick Neville of Metro's Robbery-Homicide Bureau said Friday night. But a person identifying himself as Pearce's brother, who said he had spoken with his sister, had a different version of events: "The police bust in the door, with guns drawn to my little sister and her now deceased boyfriend," he wrote. "My sister is 8 ½ months pregnant, two weeks until the due date. But they bust in the door, irritated they didn't find any weapons or drugs, drag this young man into the restroom to interrogate him and two minutes later my sister hears a shot. They shot him with a shotgun, no weapon. For what? My sister is a baby, this young man is a baby, now my sister is at his house telling his mom her son is dead, and he is barely 21." Pearce herself told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Monday that police forced her to kneel at gunpoint in the bedroom and that she could see Cole in the bathroom from the reflection of a mirror. According to Cole, police ordered Cole to get on the ground, he raised his hands and said "Alright, alright," and a shot rang out. According to Pearce and family members, Cole had no criminal record, had achieved an Associate of Arts degree, and was working as an insurance adjustor while working on a political science degree at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He was not a drug dealer, Pearce said. "Trevon was a recreational smoker. He smoked weed, marijuana. That’s what he did," she told KTNV-TV. "They didn't have to kill him. We were supposed to get married next year, plan a black and white affair,” she said. "He was all I ever knew, we were gonna make it." LVPD Monday identified the police shooter as narcotics detective Bryan Yant, a 10-year veteran of the force. This is the third time Yant has controversially used his police firearm. In 2002, he shot and killed a robbery suspect, claiming the suspect, who was on the ground, aimed a weapon at him. But although the suspect's gun was found 35 feet away, a jury took only half an hour to find the shooting justified. The following year, he shot and wounded a man armed with a knife and a baseball ball who had been hired to kill a dog that had killed another neighborhood dog. Yants claimed the man attacked him and that he mistook the bat for a shotgun, but the man said he was running away from Yants when Yants fired repeatedly, striking him once in the hip. Because there was no death in that case, no inquest was held, but the department's use of force board exonerated Yants. Yants is on paid administrative leave while the department investigates. The family has hired an attorney to pursue a civil action. And another American has apparently been killed for no good reason in the name of the war on drugs. "Narcotics warrants are high risk warrants," said Capt. Neville. The question is for whom, and the answer is obvious: The people on the receiving end of them. The police? Not so much, as we have shown in our annual surveys of police casualties in the drug war.
Location: 
Las Vegas, NV
United States

Washington State 911 Good Samaritan Law to Prevent ODs Now in Effect

A law that provides some legal immunity for people who report a drug overdose in Washington state is now in effect. That makes Washington the second state to enact a "911 Good Samaritan Law." New Mexico was the first in 2007. Under the measure, if someone overdoses and someone else seeks assistance, that person cannot be prosecuted for drug possession, nor can the person overdosing. Good Samaritans could, however, be charged with manufacturing or selling drugs. The measure is aimed at reducing drug overdoses by removing the fear of arrest as an impediment to seeking medical help. According to the state Department of Health, there were 820 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2006, more than double the 403 in 1999. The bill also allows people to use the opioid agonist naloxone, which counteracts the effects of opiate overdoses, if it is used to help prevent an overdose. Washington is the first state this year to pass a 911 Good Samaritan bill, but it may not be the last. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island are considering similar measures. Supporters of the new law held a press conference Monday to tout its benefits. “In 2008, there were 794 drug overdose deaths in Washington state,” said Dr. Caleb Banta-Green, a drug overdose researcher from the University of Washington. “These overdoses do not need to be fatal. Death often takes several hours to occur,” and people are often present. He said more information on the law is available at www.stopoverdose.org. “We’re here today to encourage people who don’t work in hospitals to help saves lives,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “More people are dying now from prescription drug overdoses (than traffic accidents) and yet fewer people are aware of it,” McKenna said. He said drug overdoses are a hidden problem because they aren’t as visible as, for example, traffic accidents.. Sen. Rosa Franklin, who worked to pass the bill, said she worked as a nurse before becoming a legislator and wanted to address a problem she saw and read about. She said this bill will save lives. “We can no longer … put our heads in the sand and say that drug overdose is not happening.” Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington said drug overdoses wouldn’t happen in an ideal world, and this law wouldn’t be necessary. She said people do drugs to cope, find acceptance or escape. “We can continue to condemn such people as morally deviant and treat them as criminals,” but, she said, that doesn’t work. She said this law is an important step and a compromise agreement. “My son, a bright, creative, compassionate and funny kid, began using prescription opiates … during his senior year of high school,” John Gahagan said. Just weeks after graduation, his son died of a drug overdose. “The 911 Good Samaritan Law will save lives,” he said, adding that his son was alone at the time of his overdose, but he knows parents of other teens who could have been saved. “This law will only be effective if there is awareness of it … Call 911 to save a life,” he said.
Location: 
WA
United States

Prisons: Marc Emery in Solitary Confinement for Podcast of Prison Phone Call

Canadian "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery hasn't even been formally sentenced yet, but he's already being punished for what he does best: opening his mouth for the cause of marijuana legalization. Emery's wife, Jodie, told Canada's CNews Saturday that Emery is now in solitary confinement for violating prison rules.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/emeryprotest1.jpg
Marc Emery
According to Jodie Emery, she recorded his calls from prison and played them as a podcast on the couple's Cannabis Culture magazine web site. That violated a prison rule that phone calls can only be made between a prisoner and the intended recipient and cannot be directed to a third party.

Jodie Emery said Marc had read the prison rules and did not think the podcast would be a violation. Now he will spend at least a week in solitary pending a hearing to determine the full extent of his punishment.

Emery, Canada's most famous legalization activist, pleaded guilty May 24 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, the culmination of a five-year battle between Emery and Canadian and US authorities to extradite and prosecute him for selling pot seeds over the Internet. Two of Emery's employees arrested along with him, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey, earlier copped pleas and received probationary sentences to be served in Canada.

Emery plowed the profits from his business back into the legalization movement, earning the wrath of the drug prohibition establishment in both countries. When Emery was busted in 2005, then DEA administrator Karen Tandy gloated in a press release that it was "a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the US and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement."

Under federal prison rules, Emery is allowed 300 minutes of phone calls a month and he can communicate via email through a closed computer system called CorrLinks, under which he can log onto a computer and compose a message that is read by prison officials before they send it over the Internet. Emery had used CorrLinks to post numerous dispatches from the gulag, but now, he is denied those privileges and could lose them for up to two months.

Emery will remain in the Seattle-area federal detention facility until his formal sentencing September 10. Then he will be transferred to the federal prison at El Reno, Oklahoma, where prison officials will decide where he will be sent to serve his time.

Emery's campaign to avoid extradition has now shifted to a campaign to persuade Canadian authorities to allow him to serve his sentence there, as has typically been the case with Canadians convicted of offenses in the US. But the Conservative government has in recent years begun to refuse to accept Canadians imprisoned on drug charges in the US.

Drugged Driving: Michigan Supreme Overturns Itself on Marijuana Metabolites Issue

The Michigan Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that it is not illegal to drive while having marijuana metabolites in the body, reversing a 2006 decision by a more conservative version of the court. Marijuana metabolites are not a controlled substance under state law, and their mere presence thus cannot be the basis of a conviction under the state's drugged driving law, the court held.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/driving.jpg
The ruling came in People v. Feezel, in which the court overturned the conviction of a driver in the death of a severely drunk pedestrian walking in the middle of a five-lane road at night. The driver, George Feezel, was himself borderline intoxicated on alcohol, blowing a 0.009, and also tested positive for marijuana metabolites, which can linger in the system for days or weeks after the pot high is gone. Feezle was found not guilty of drunk driving causing a death, but convicted of second-offense drunk driving (a misdemeanor in Michigan), leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and driving under the influence of marijuana -- although there was no testimony to the effect that he had used marijuana that evening and there was testimony to the contrary.

The court ruled that a Washtenaw County jury should have been allowed to hear evidence the victim was drunk, remanding the case back to circuit court. But in ruling that marijuana metabolites are not a controlled substance, the court invalidated what was in effect a per se zero tolerance drugged driving law that allowed for people to be convicted of driving while impaired when they were not actually shown to be impaired.

"We hold that 11-carboxy-THC is not a schedule 1 controlled substance under MCL 333.7212 [controlled substances act] and, therefore, a person cannot be prosecuted under MCL 257.625(8) [drugged driving act] for operating a motor vehicle with any amount of 11-carboxy-THC in his or her system," read the opinion.

The opinion, largely a demolition of the previous Supreme Court's 2006 ruling in People v. Derror that marijuana metabolites are a controlled substance, thus allowing for drugged driving convictions based solely on their presence, noted that Michigan is now a medical marijuana state and that allowing Derror to stand would unfairly impact medical marijuana patients.

Under Derror, Justice Corrigan wrote for the majority, "Individuals who use marijuana for medicinal purposes will be prohibited from driving long after the person is no longer impaired. Indeed, in this case, experts testified that, on average, the metabolite could remain in a person's blood for 18 hours and in a person's urine for up to 4 weeks."

It's not just about medical marijuana patients, the opinion suggested: "Thus, under Derror, an individual who only has 11-carboxy-THC in his or her system is prohibited from driving and, at the whim of police and prosecutors, can be criminally responsible for choosing to do so even if the person has a minuscule amount of the substance in his or her system. Therefore, the Derror majority's interpretation of the statute defies practicable workability given its tremendous potential for arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement."

It is neither fair nor just nor in the interest of public safety to charge people with drugged driving who aren't impaired. Finally, there is a Michigan Supreme Court that recognizes this.

Marijuana Legalization: With No Cash, Doubts Grow Over Whether Washington State Initiative Will Gather Enough Signatures

After a weeks-long courtship with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) failed to be consummated with cash, organizers of the Washington state marijuana legalization initiative, I-1068 are, on one hand, vowing to fight on, and on the other, suggesting the effort could be called off soon for lack of funds.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hempfest2009-1.jpg
Seattle Hempfest, 2009
Sensible Washington campaign chairman Doug Hiatt told the Associated Press Monday that the group had gathered 100,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, but they need 241,000 valid signatures by July 2 to make the ballot. The group had been counting on the SEIU to help with paid signature gathering, but on Monday, the SEIU said it had decided not to support the effort.

Adam Glickman, vice president of SEIU Local 775, told the AP the union had contributed $10,000 to the campaign for polling and signature vetting and that research had suggested having the initiative on the November ballot could increase liberal turnout in the fall. But Sensible Washington's lack of financial resources raised questions about whether it could in fact get out the vote come November.

He also cited the ACLU of Washington's opposition to the initiative. The ACLU opposes the initiative because, it says, it does not provide a regulatory framework. The ACLU is correct -- the initiative simply removes marijuana offenses from the criminal code -- but Sensible Washington argues that if the initiative were to pass, the legislature and local authorities would be quick to act to set up a regulatory regime.

"There's some merit in the campaign," Glickman said. "It seemed worth looking at as a good policy proposal. But as we looked more into it, there were too many questions about the policy, too much division among the stakeholders. We concluded it wasn't the right time to get involved."

"It's really unfortunate, but you cannot do this without money," Hiatt said of the SEIU's decision. "I never intended I-1068 to be an all-volunteer effort. We'll make a decision in a couple days about whether we're going to go forward."

Campaign spokesman and initiative coauthor Philip Dawdy was less fatalistic. "Politics in this state stinks," he said in a press release Monday. "Marijuana smells better. It's disappointing that SEIU and others have walked away from us, but this campaign will fight on because the issue is simply too important."

"If we get some more volunteers, we can legalize marijuana in Washington State," added Jeffrey Steinborn, an initiative coauthor and Seattle-based attorney who has defended marijuana users for three decades.

The group said it has 20,000 petitions in circulation -- enough for 400,000 signatures -- and is urging activists to send them in sooner rather than later. But now, it's beginning to look like Sensible Washington's uphill battle just got a lot steeper.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School