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First Videos from the Conference

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Phil's first report from the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver last week highlights the picture that is emerging of the next most likely states to legalize marijuana. More conference-inspired reporting will be forthcoming soon, but there are also some initial videos our from the conference too.
First, a photo of Phil's award speech:

(who emceed) and Tony Newman (who introduced Phil and presented the award):

(These and many more conference photos were posted on Facebook by editor Doug McVay.)
The first video was shot by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union's Drugreporter team, whose work we've featured here before. This time they were the conference's official videographers. The video consists of highlights from the conference's first full day, and was shown in a plenary on the second day:
The next one is from Dean Becker and the Drug Truth Network, of a tour for conference-goers of the River Rock dispensary:
A few more came out early from HCLU: Itefayo Harvey of DPA, Rep. Jared Polis, Nadelmann, and Rev. Edward Sanders:
Check back and HCLU, DPA and Drug Truth for more to come, and here.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Free Rick Wershe!!


Richard Wershe Jr is serving a LIFE sentence for one *non-violent* drug charge he recieved as a minor (17 years old) back in May of 1987. Three years prior Rick was recruited by Federal agents and Detroit police as a teenage undercover  informant in Detroit's dangerous drug underworld of the 1980s. Rick's release is long overdue!! Letter from Ex Detroit cop -> Letter from a former Federal agent who worked with Rick:Page 1: 2: 3: 4:  =============== "The Rick Wershe Blog650 Life Law vs Current LawJanuary 14, 2013 at 7:59 PMBefore anyone can fully understand Rick Wershe’s case, they must first understand the original law he was sentenced under, and what the reformation of that law means for his possibilities of parole. In 1973, the 650 Lifer Law was signed into law in the State of Michigan. This law stated that anyone found in possession of 650 or more grams of a schedule 1 controlled substance, as defined by State of Michigan, is to be given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 1998, the 650 Lifer Law went under reformation. It now pertains to individuals found in possession of 1,000 or more grams of a schedule 1 controlled substance, and instead of being a mandatory life sentence, the law now has a punishment of “life or any term of years”. What this reformation did is give the parole board jurisdiction of 650 Lifer Law cases after the defendant has served a certain amount of years. In HB 4920, which was passed by Michigan’s 95th Legislature, the possibilities of parole for drug offenders who have been given life sentences is defined. Subsection (7) states that “A prisoner sentenced to imprisonment for life, other than a prisoner described in subsection (6), is subject to the jurisdiction of the parole board and may be placed on parole according to the conditions prescribed in subsection (8) if he or she meets the following criteria:”. Rick meets the criteria of (7)(c), which states, “Except as provided in subsection (12), the prisoner has served 17-1/2 calendar years of the sentence for violating, or attempting or conspiring to violate, section 7401(2)(a)(i) of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7401, and does not have another conviction for a serious crime.” Subsection (12), in short, states that an individual who has cooperated with law enforcement in eligible 2-1/2 years earlier than the time provided in subdivision (7)(b), and (7)(c), which may pertain to Rick’s case because of his cooperation with authorities. Subsection (6), in short, states the crimes for which a life sentence has been given, that are NOT eligible for parole after a certain number of years, none of which pertain to Rick’s case. Hundreds of inmates have been released as a result of the change in drug laws, however, Rick has not been as fortunate. Some of these individuals, who will be discussed in greater detail at a later date, have had cases with much greater amounts of drugs, and have not cooperated with law enforcement, but have still managed to be paroled by the same board that has denied Rick time and time again. Because of this, many questions have been raised as to why Rick is still in custody after 25 years. (On 1/13/13 I spoke with Rick on the phone. During our brief conversation I asked if he had a message he would like me to add to this first blog entry. He wants everyone to know he is happy that it his involvement with the police has finally been made public, and that the truth is finally out there for everyone to see.)"

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