Chronicle AM -- July 16, 2014

The House okays marijuana banking, DC decriminalizes tomorrow, DC expands its medical marijuana program, Miami-Dade taxpayers pay for a particularly heinous killer drug raid, a lot of states did sentencing reforms last year, and more. Let's get to it:

Marijuana businesses could go to the bank under a measure passed by the House today. (Drug Policy Alliance/Sandra Yruel)
Marijuana Policy

House Votes to Let Banks Take Deposits from Marijuana Businesses. In a historic vote this afternoon, the US House has approved an amendment to the Treasury Department appropriations bill barring the agency from spending any money to punish financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses where it is legal. The amendment was sponsored by Reps. Heck (D-WA), Perlmutter (D-CO), Lee (D-CA) and Rohrabacher (R-CA). It passed with bipartisan support.

DC Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect Tomorrow. As of one minute after midnight, the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will be decriminalized in the nation's capital. Jail time for pot possession will be replaced with a $25 fine. A Republican-led effort in the House to block it remains alive, but will not stop the law from taking effect -- at least for now. That effort still has to get through the Congress and overcome White House opposition, and that looks like a long-shot at this point.

Grosse Point, Michigan, Initiative to Legalize Up to an Ounce Turns in Signatures. A municipal initiative campaign to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of pot in the Detroit suburb of Grosse Point turned in more than 600 signatures today. The group needs 493 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Grosse Point is one of a handful of Michigan towns with similar campaigns this year, including Berkley, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, and Pleasant Ridge.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Initiative to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession Turns in Signatures. Progress Now New Mexico and Drug Policy Action (the campaign arm of the Drug Policy Alliance) have submitted more than 7,000 signatures for an initiative that would decriminalize the possession of up to an once of marijuana. They need 5,763 to qualify for the ballot.

Medical Marijuana

DC City Council Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion. The city council Tuesday approved legislation to loosen restrictions on the District's medical marijuana program. The measure replaces a restrictive list of defined illnesses and conditions with a blanket authority for doctors to recommend medical marijuana for "any condition for which treatment with medical marijuana would be beneficial, as determined by the patient's physician."

Michigan Legislature Set to Vote on Medical Marijuana Improvement Measures This Week. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R) said he expects the Senate to vote this week on a pair of measures to improve the state's medical marijuana program. One would allow localities to govern their own dispensaries; the other would allow the sale of edibles and concentrates.

LA Medical Marijuana Farmers' Market Hit With Temporary Injunction. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order shutting down a medical marijuana farmers' market that drew thousands when it opened a couple of weeks ago. A hearing on a permanent injunction is set for August 6.

Thousands Sign Petition Supporting Fired University of Arizona Researcher. A petition demanding that the University of Arizona research scientist Dr. Suzanne Sisley be rehired after being fired after she won federal approval to study marijuana for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder has received more than 27,000 signatures. Sisley made no bones about blaming conservative Arizona political figures for her firing. Click on the link to read her comments.

Harm Reduction

Ohio Cops Slow to Carry Overdose Reversal Drug. Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a law allowing law enforcement officers to carry and administer the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone in March, but Ohio police are slow to get with the program. Police in Columbus said they have no plans to carry it "anytime soon," and many rural agencies are also unwilling to do it. About 17 people a week are dying from opiate overdoses in Ohio. Under the new law, the drug is also available to friends, family members, and "others who may be in a position" to assist with reversing overdoses.

Law Enforcement

Miami Agrees to Pay in Death Squad-Style Police Drug Robbery Sting Killings. Miami-Dade taxpayers will shell out $600,000 to the families of three men killed by a Miami-Dade SWAT team during a drug house robbery sting. Four men, including an informant for the police, were gunned down when they appeared on the scene of a home they had been told was stuffed with drugs for them to rob. The informant's family didn't join the settlement; it is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. Police video of the raid shows officers firing dozens of shots into the body of a man already on the ground. It also shows the informant surrendering to police moments before they shot and killed him, too. Prosecutors suspect police officers of misconduct but were unable to develop enough evidence to charge any of them.

Almost All US Wiretaps Are for Suspected Drug Deals. A new Administrative Office of US Courts report reveals that not only did wiretaps hit an all time high last year, but that nearly 90% of them were for drug investigations. Of the 3,576 wiretaps sought by federal law enforcement agencies, 3,115 were for drug investigations.

Sentencing

Vera Institute of Justice Releases Report on 2013 State Sentencing Reforms. The report, Recalibrating Justice: A Review of 2013 State Sentencing and Corrections Trends, finds that 35 states passed at least 85 bills to reform sentencing and corrections last year. The legislation generally focused on reducing prison populations, strengthening community-based corrections, supporting reentry, and creating better research and analysis to drive policy decision-making.

International

Dutch Border Town Cannabis Café Owner Cleared of Most Charges. The owner of the Checkpoint Café in the in the town of Ternuezen near the Belgian border has been cleared of most charges against him by an Amsterdam appeals court. The café was closed in 2007 for violating government rules on soft drug sales, and the owner was found guilty of membership in a criminal organization. But the appeals court ruled that the state had not proven Checkpoint knowingly broke the rules. It was the second such decision in the past month.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Where's the outrage?

For all of the fervor Edward Snowden's revelations generated, one might think that this story would have legs. But if no covers it, the story can't resonate with the public. For many liberals offended by the NSA's wiretaps, they might be willing to give them a pass if they were used on drug suspects. This is a debate I would love to see, however it won't happen.

why are cops in ohio,

why are cops in ohio, ignoreing an easy inexsepensive to save lives? what other reason then to help people?

Almost 90% of US Wiretaps for Suspected Drug Deals.!?

 The son of a dear friend of mine recently quit a decades long law enforcement career in despair over our county's drug prohibition policies. He remarked to his father something to the effect that 'If the US really wants to help the drug problem, it needs to GET OUT OF THE DRUG BUSINESS ITSELF.' What do you suppose he meant by that?   Yup. True, that... But this wiretap disparity is even a surprise for some of us who have known the score for quite awhile! Fuck. No wonder the gov't is so angry with Snowden! He is really kinda spoiling the sanctity of their top secret, cushy scams! I HOPE THAT AMERICA IS LOOKING CAREFULLY AT THIS INFORMATION. Really, it tells us all we need to know about our friendly neighborhood Drug War Crusaders, and about a TRULY INSANE WASTE OF RESOURCES! While real criminals go practically unpursued at all in comparison, it is no surprise that OUR GOV'T IS HOT ON THE TRAIL OF DRUG LUCRE, with Super-Cop Franchised Gangsters daily confiscating (read stealing) dope for their own pockets, hiding it from or stealing money and dope from evidence rooms, skimming profits from dope houses while supposedly 'running informants' and 'sting' operations, many of which are really little more than insidious entrapment and blackmail scams, etc. ALMOST ALL OF THIS IS PERFIDY IS RIDING ON THE BACKS OF PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM THE MEDICAL PROBLEM OF ADDICTION, WHO ARE THE MAJOR VICTIMS IN THIS SCAM. Not the perpetrators! Odds are, one of these victims could be your own family member. These people are often victims, rather than criminals. Oh. There's no clean money to be made from that viewpoint, is there? Well, read the stats and and GET IT! Almost 90 FUCKING PERCENT... If you have had a close family member killed as my wife has, and then when you realize that the person who killed her mother is back out on the street after several years, well, we need wonder why no more!  Our law enforcement machine CLEARLY doesn't care about protecting the lives and dignity of its citizens. FOR THERE IS NO LUCRE TO SNIFF OUT FROM A SIMPLE RAPE OR A MURDER. NO 'EVIDENCE' TO 'TEST' BY SNORTING IT UP YOUR OWN NOSE. NO PILE OF LUCRE TO SNEAK OFF WITH. NO HUMVEES TO SEIZE FOR THE DEPARTMENT IN SUCH CASES. Who wants to concentrate on JUSTICE when you can throw your weight around, play with flash bang grenades, confiscate all kinds of goodies, bust down doors and violate people's lives, extort fines and slave labor, fill the pockets of prison contractors and arms dealers, and perpetrate what are no less than crimes themselves----ALL THIS, WHILE THE COPORATE WHORE MEDIA PUTS A FUCKING HALO OVER YOUR HEAD! It is so egregious that it is just absolutely and utterly appalling. Thank you, Edward Snowden! Guys like you, and the people at StopTheDrugWar.org are truly the answer to the prayers of many millions of people who are also fed up with this assinine and ludicrous spectacle.

521 cases and it cost $21,914,495 in 2013

According to the data provided by the US courts they spend $21,914,495 of taxpayer money for 521 cases in 2013. I pay taxes and do not want my hard earned tax dollars to be spent on this insanity. Our law enforcement machine is out of control, expensive and broken. Imagine what else we could do with over 21 million dollars. 2875 people were convicted which means we paid $7,633 just to investigate one person.

Thanks you for providing such a great forum for information to be released to the public.

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