Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

Drug War Chronicle #788 - June 20, 2013

1. Judge's Handyman Cops Plea in Georgia Sex, Drugs, Frame-Up [FEATURE]

A third man has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to falsely arrest a Georgia woman who accused a judge of sexual misconduct. But the judge has yet to even be indicted.

2. Federal Farm Bill Has Drug Policy Implications

Pending amendments to the House version of the Farm Bill include the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Votes are coming anytime, and activists are urging voters to get to the phones and call their representatives.

3. Juries Must Find Facts on Mandatory Minimum Sentences, Supreme Court Rules

In a decision that should cut back on prison time for some drug offenders, the Supreme Court has held that facts used to impose mandatory minimum sentences must be proven before a jury -- not a judge with a lower standard of proof.

4. Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Gear Up in Three States

2014 marijuana legalization initiatives are starting to pop up. There is action already in Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon.

5. Nevada Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Dispensary, Needle Bills

Nevada took steps on two drug refom fronts Wednesday, as Gov. Sandoval signed bills creating a medical marijuana dispensary system and decriminalizing syringe possession.

6. Medical Marijuana is Coming to New Hampshire

New Hampshire is poised to become the next medical marijuana state after House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise on the legislation that satisfies the concerns of Gov. Maggie Hassan. That means no patient grows.

7. North Carolina Partial Needle Decriminalization Bill Passes

A bill that would allow people carrying syringes to avoid arrest if they tell police they are carrying before a search has passed the legislature in North Carolina.

8. Texas to Drug Test Some Unemployment Applicants

Texas will start requiring some applicants for unemployment benefits to pass a drug test after Gov. Perry signed a bill into law last Friday.

9. Medical Marijuana Update

Well, at least the DEA didn't raid any dispensaries in the last week. In California, the battle continues at the local level, while progress is being made in several states.

10. Chicago Police Kill Fleeing Man in "Drug Area"

A Chicago man with a drug record who fled a traffic stop in an area of "drug activity" was shot and killed by police Sunday. Police said he was armed. His family said he wasn't, and that police shot him in the back.

11. This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two of our three cases this week involve cops protecting their steroids dealers. Go figger. The other one is a crooked police chief who bragged, "I'm the best cop money can buy."

12. Donations Needed This Month for Drug War Chronicle needs your support to continue our work during the most important time in drug reform we've ever seen. We have gifts to send you too, with donations of $15 or more.

13. Internships: Legislative, Writing/Research, Web, IT, Admin/Finance, Communications

Interns are making an important difference fighting the good fight with us at

1. Judge's Handyman Cops Plea in Georgia Sex, Drugs, Frame-Up [FEATURE]

Earlier this week, investigative journalist Clarence Walker published a Chronicle feature article, "Sex, Lies, and a Georgia Drug Frame-up," about how now ex-Murray County Chief Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran allegedly attempted to have local woman Angela Garmley framed on bogus drug charges after she accused him of seeking sexual favors in return for helping her in a pending court case.

CJ helped his boss, the judge, by planting dope for him. Now he's looking at prison time. (photo courtesy Angela Garmley)
Two Murray County sheriff's deputies have already pleaded guilty to participating in the frame job, which consisted of a handyman employed by the judge hiding methamphetamine on Garmley's vehicle and her subsequent arrest by a deputy alerted to be on the lookout for her vehicle by a sheriff's captain who just happened to be the judge's cousin.

Today, the handyman, Clifford "CJ" Joyce, pleaded guilty in federal court in Rome, Georgia, to his role in the conspiracy. Joyce copped to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and is now looking at up to 20 years in federal prison, although federal sentencing guidelines call for a much shorter sentence.

"CJ pled, and the government colloquy was great and agreed to, saying that he did conspire to distribute meth, to 'discredit' the woman who had made complaints about Judge Cochran," Garmley's attorney McCracken Poston told the Chronicle. "It also came out that he was a tenant in Cochran's trailer park, and there is a third party intermediary that also needs to come to justice. He was the go-between with Cochran and CJ. He was not mentioned in court but I know who he is and got it confirmed with CJ's lawyer, as I developed the information and gave it to the feds."

The plea came after federal prosecutors presented evidence that Joyce was a middleman in the plot to get Garmley falsely arrested.

"The defendant attempted to manipulate the criminal justice system to serve his own purpose by framing someone for drug possession," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "While the narcotics charges were ultimately dismissed, this outrageous conduct cannot stand."  

"The investigation and prosecution of persons involved in public corruption are a priority of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Many of the cases such as this require partnership of local, state and federal authorities," said GBI Director Vernon M. Keenan.

The three perpetrators of the Garmley frame-up have now all pleaded guilty in the case, but the alleged instigator, former Judge Cochran, is yet to even be indicted. And now, there's a fourth player. Stay tuned.

back to top

2. Federal Farm Bill Has Drug Policy Implications

The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 (Senate Bill 954), generally referred to as the Farm Bill, passed out of the Senate earlier this month and the House is now considering its version of the bill, House Bill 1947. There are at least three drug policy-related items in the bill -- hemp, drug testing for food stamps, and barring felons from obtaining food stamps -- and advocates are calling on supporters to act right now to encourage Congress to do the right thing.

[Update: The Hudson SNAP drug testing amendment has passed the House, and the Farm Bill of which it's a part is expected to pass. Efforts to block it now move to the conference committee.]

[Another update: The hemp amendment has passed!]

Industrial hemp advocates are urging supporters to contact their member of the House, where the House Rules Committee Tuesday night approved an amendment that would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where hemp is already legal under state law.

The Senate failed to get around to voting on a similar amendment to its version of the farm bill, but if supporters can get it passed in the House bill, hemp research in states where it is legal could be approved in the conference committee that will reconcile the two bills.

The amendment could be voted on at any time, and the Marijuana Policy Project has put out the call to action. "Please call your representative today, and tell him or her to support this modest, sensible step forward on hemp. When you're done, please ask your friends to do the same," the group urged.

['s own action alert, on the hemp amendment and another one discussed below, is online here.]

While the Senate couldn't get around to voting on the hemp amendment, it did manage to approve an amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that would require states to deny Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, previously known as food stamps) benefits to anyone convicted of a number of specified crimes, including drug offenses. Vitter's amendment is retroactive, and unlike the existing ban on food stamps for drug felon, it provides no provision for states to opt, nor does it provide a chance to get a waiver by demonstrating rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, the House Rules Committee Tuesday approved a number of amendments to its version of the Farm Bill, including three punishing Vitter-style amendments to create a new lifetime ban for certain offenses, an amendment to eliminate states' ability to opt of the food stamp ban, and one to permit states to require drug testing for food stamp benefits.

Some of those amendments could come up for votes as early as this week, and sentencing and drug reform groups are mobilizing to try to stop them. In the event the amendments pass and become part of the House bill, the last chance to stop them will be in conference committee.

back to top

3. Juries Must Find Facts on Mandatory Minimum Sentences, Supreme Court Rules

The US Supreme Court Monday dealt a blow to mandatory minimum sentencing, ruling that any facts used to trigger a mandatory minimum sentence are "elements" of the crime and must be proven by a jury, not left to a judge. The 5-4 ruling came in Alleyne v. United States.

Until Monday's ruling, judges had been able to find certain facts that would trigger mandatory minimum sentences, such as quantities of drugs involved in an offense, based on a "preponderance of evidence" in post-conviction sentencing hearings. Now, those facts will have to established by juries in the course of the trial using the higher standard of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt."

The case is the latest in a line of cases that began with the groundbreaking 2000 Supreme Court decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, which held that any fact that increases the range of punishments is an "element" of the crime and must be presented to a jury and proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Sentencing reform advocates were pleased by the ruling.

"Mandatory minimums for drug offenders will lessen, but it's difficult to say to what extent," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which opposes mandatory minimum sentences. "It's also likely that this will have beneficial effects in reducing racial disparity, because so many mandatory minimums are imposed for drug offenses, and because African-Americans in particular are on the receiving end of those penalties."

"No defendant should have to face a mandatory minimum sentence because of facts that are not considered -- or worse, considered and rejected -- by a jury," said Mary Price, vice president and general counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), which submitted a friend of the court brief in the case. "As Justice Thomas noted in Monday's opinion, 'mandatory minimums heighten the loss of liberty.' Today, those who face mandatory minimums do so with the Constitution more firmly at their backs."

Drug offenders are those most likely to be hit with mandatory minimum sentences.

back to top

4. Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Gear Up in Three States

The race to be the next state to legalize marijuana at the ballot box is on. Activists in three states -- Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon -- have taken initial steps to get the issue before the voters during the 2014 general election.

In Alaska, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell last Friday certified a ballot initiative application that would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults. Backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative would also set up a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Adults could grow up to six marijuana plants for their personal use.

Proponents will have one year to gather 30,169 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. But they have to wait a week or so for the state elections division to begin printing the petition booklets.

Alaska already allows for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes under the state Supreme Court's interpretation of the state constitution's privacy provisions.

In Arizona, Safer Arizona is sponsoring an initiative to amend the state constitution to allow for legal, taxed, and regulated marijuana use and commerce. The group filed the measure last week with the secretary of state. It now must gather 259,213 valid voter signatures by July 3, 2014 to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

Organizers there said it would be a grassroots campaign relying on volunteers. The conventional wisdom for initiatives in high signature-count states is that they require paid signature-gathering efforts to succeed at a rough cost of a dollar or more per signature obtained.

Arizona voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 2010, but that initiative squeaked through with barely more than 50% of the vote.

In Oregon, Paul Stanford, the controversial proponent of last year's failed marijuana legalization campaign, is back with two more measures, and other activists could file yet a third. Stanford's Oregon Marijuana Tax Act initiative largely echoes the language of last year's underfunded initiative, which picked up 47% of the popular vote, but reworks a contentious provision relating to a commission to regulate marijuana and hemp commerce. Stanford's second initiative would simply legalize the possession and production of pot by adults 21 and over with a proviso that the state could impose regulations.

Stanford's move has inspired other Oregon activists organized as New Approach Oregon to say that they will likely have a better alternative initiative. "Something will be on the ballot," the group's Anthony Johnson told The Oregonian. "Either it's going to be a responsible measure or something not as well-vetted."

Stanford said he will conduct polling on the various measures before moving forward.

If legislators can't get around to legalizing marijuana, activists in initiative states want to let the voters do it for them. That's three states aiming at 2014 so far, and we're still a year and half out from election day.

back to top

5. Nevada Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Dispensary, Needle Bills

Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, Wednesday signed into law two drug reform measures, one allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries and one removing syringes from the state's drug paraphernalia law.

On the medical marijuana front, Sandoval signed into law Senate Bill 374, which will establish a state-regulated system of dispensaries. The law envisions up to 66 dispensaries across the state, with up to 40 in Las Vegas, 10 in Reno, and at least one in each county.

"We applaud Gov. Sandoval and the legislature for their leadership and commend those law enforcement organizations that expressed support for this much-needed legislation," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, who testified in support of the bill. "It will make Nevada a safer and healthier place not only for medical marijuana patients, but for the entire community. This new law will provide patients with the safe and reliable access to medical marijuana that they deserve," O'Keefe said. "Regulating medical marijuana sales will also generate revenue and take a bite out of the state's underground marijuana market."

Introduced by Sens.Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) and Mark Hutchison (R-Las Vegas), the bill creates rules and regulations not only for dispensaries, but also infused product manufacturers and cultivation and testing facilities. It also imposes 2% excise taxes on both wholesale and retail sales, with 75% of those revenues going to the education fund and 25% going to cover the cost of regulating the medical marijuana industry.

The state's voter-approved medical marijuana law, passed twice in 1998 and 2000, required the legislature to create a medical marijuana program that included appropriate methods of supplying medical marijuana to patients. Now, the legislature has finally done so. Nevada will now join Arizona, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island on the list of states that have state-regulated dispensaries. Two more jurisdictions, Washington, DC, and Vermont should come on board this summer, and the rule-making process for dispensaries is underway in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

On the harm reduction front, Sandoval signed into law Senate Bill 410, which decriminalizes the possession of syringes by removing them from the state's drug paraphernalia list. That opens the way for the over-the-counter sale of syringes and needle exchange programs.

"Back in 1996 when first elected, I was asked what bills I'd be pursuing for my first legislative session," said Sen. David Parks (D-Las Vegas).  "My response was employment non-discrimination, HIV/AIDS state funding and decriminalization of hypodermic devices. Little did I know it would be my 9th session before decriminalization of hypodermic devices would come to fruition."

Nevada becomes the 37th state to decriminalize syringe possession and allow for the over-the-counter sale of needles, as well as needle exchange programs, both proven means of reducing the transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other blood-borne infections.

Nevada harm reduction workers said they were ready to get a needle exchange up and running as soon as the law takes effect.

"In addition to getting sterile syringe out to those who need them, our program will increase safe syringe disposal by individuals in the community," said Sharon Chamberlain, director of Northern Nevada HOPES in Reno. "We will educate these users about the new and needed community disposal options, and strongly encourage them to take advantage of this resource. Previously, no community initiatives provided safe disposal options. "

back to top

6. Medical Marijuana is Coming to New Hampshire

New Hampshire is about to become the 19th state (unless the Illinois governor strikes first) to allow for the medicinal use of marijuana. Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) Tuesday announced that she intends to sign a bill after House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise on language that would ease her expressed concerns.
Gov. Maggie Hassan (
"I have always maintained that allowing doctors to provide relief to patients through the use of appropriately regulated and dispensed medical marijuana is the compassionate and right policy for the State of New Hampshire. The compromise legislation as agreed to by the committee of conference addresses the concerns that I have heard and expressed throughout this session, and provides the level of regulation needed for the use of medical marijuana," Hassan said in a Tuesday afternoon statement.

"I appreciate the hard work put into this measure by members of the Senate and House, especially lead negotiators Senator Nancy Stiles and Representative Jim MacKay, as well as by scores of advocates dedicated to the well-being of all Granite Staters, and I encourage the full legislature to pass this compromise so I can sign this legislation into law," she added.

Gov. Hassan's announcement was released after House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise on the bill earlier in the day. The full House and Senate are expected to sign off on the committee of conference agreement next week. It will then be transmitted to the governor for her signature.

The compromise means that New Hampshire residents will be able to access medical marijuana, but only more than a year from now, when state patient ID cards are ready and state-regulated dispensaries are open. No patients will be able to grow their own medicine, and private marijuana cultivation for any reason will remain a felony in the Granite State.

"We applaud state lawmakers for coming together to ensure the passage of this important legislation, and we are pleased to hear Gov. Hassan intends to sign it into law," said Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project."This common sense legislation will make New Hampshire a safer and healthier place not just for medical marijuana patients, but for all of us."

House Bill 573, sponsored by State Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter), will allow residents with certain debilitating illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Patients will be able to obtain marijuana through one of four non-profit, state-licensed alternative treatment centers.

When first passed by the House, the bill allowed patients to grow up to three mature plants in their homes and to raise a defense in court if they were arrested before patient ID cards became available. But law enforcement raised concerns with the governor, who in turn raised concerns with the Senate, which amended the House version to eliminate patient grows and the interim medical marijuana defense. The Senate version also contained errors that made the program unworkable. House and Senate negotiators earlier Tuesday completed their work on a compromise bill, fixing the fatal flaws, but leaving intact the ban on patient grows.

"It is unfortunate that the measure will not provide immediate protection to those currently seeking relief from medical marijuana, but in time it will ensure seriously ill people will be able to do so without fear of arrest," Simon said. "The law will also provide patients with safe and reliable access to medical marijuana so that they no longer need to resort to the underground market."

Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia now allow medical marijuana. Medical marijuana legislation has also passed the Illinois legislature, and that bill is on the governor's desk.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit]

back to top

7. North Carolina Partial Needle Decriminalization Bill Passes

A bill that would partially decriminalize syringe possession and help prevent needle sticks has passed the North Carolina legislature. The state House passed it 111-2 last month, and it passed the Senate Wednesday on a unanimous 48-0 vote. The bill, House Bill 850, now goes to the governor.

The bill would allow people carrying syringes to avoid arrest if they admit to having them when asked by a law enforcement office. The measure won broad law enforcement support because it would reduce the chance of police officers getting stuck by needles when searching people.

Previous efforts to pass syringe decriminalization or exchange bills in the Tarheel State had foundered, but thanks to a smart and patient campaign by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and its allies, this effort has now made it through the legislature.

"A lot of legislators would like to support it, but view it as tough politically, so we are trying to do something a bit more progressive and a bit more conservative instead, which is to decriminalize syringe possession," the coalition's Robert Childs explained to the Chronicle last month. "With syringe exchanges, there are limits. You have to be a member to reap the benefits. But with decriminalization, we can decriminalize syringes entirely, no matter the source, what it's being used for or where in the state you live. So no matter if you have Addison's disease, diabetes or are a injection drug user, you can carry syringes and do not have to be part of a government sponsored program to get benefits."

In addition to addressing law enforcement concerns, syringe decriminalization also goes with conservative values, Childs said.

"Decriminalization will decrease law enforcement needle sticks, but what really resonated with the legislature was its emphasis on less spending on costly diseases, greater reliance on the community members, personal accountability and responsibility," he said. "We stand in solidarity with our conservative allies on this issue by solving these public health and public order issues through deregulation."

back to top

8. Texas to Drug Test Some Unemployment Applicants

With Republican Gov. Rick Perry's signature Friday, a bill that would require some people seeking unemployment assistance to undergo drug tests has become law. But critics say it is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

Gov. Perry signs unemployment drug testing bill. (
Perry signed into law Senate Bill 21, which will require applicants trying to find work in occupations where drug testing is already prevalent, such as aviation and truck driving, to undergo written screening for possible drug use. If that screening indicates possible drug use, the applicant would then have to take and pass a drug test. Failure to pass the drug test will lead to a denial of unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits are available to people who lose their jobs for lack of work. People who lose their jobs because of drug use are already ineligible for unemployment benefits.

The new law allows people to receive unemployment benefits despite a positive drug test if they immediately seek drug treatment or if they are taking a prescription drug under a doctor's supervision.

"Texas is a state where personal responsibility is very important, and recipients of unemployment benefits have a responsibility to be prepared to work when an opportunity presents itself," Gov. Perry said in a signing statement. "Our system is designed to provide assistance to people through a difficult time in their lives, not subsidize those who would misuse the system to live a drug-abusing lifestyle. This bill protects the resources that should be reserved for those truly in need."

"Senate Bill 21 was one of the most important bills I carried this session because it will help ensure someone who loses a job, through no fault of their own, will be ready to go back to work when another opportunity opens," bill sponsor Sen. Tommy Williams said. "My goal is to send a clear message and to get people help they need."

But neither Williams nor Perry provided any evidence that laid-off workers seeking benefits are any more likely to use drugs than anyone else.

Critics of the new law said it only "adds insult to injury" for workers laid off through no fault of their own. "The bill is in search of a problem that does not exist," the critics added. "There is no trend of increased drug use among those on unemployment. Data are also lacking to suggest people in need of government assistance are more likely to be drug users."

back to top

9. Medical Marijuana Update

Well, at least the DEA didn't raid any dispensaries in the last week. In California, the battle continues at the local level, while progress is being made in several states. Let's get to it:


Last Thursday, researchers reported that youth marijuana use rates did not increase in medical marijuana states. "Medical marijuana laws have not measurably impacted adolescent marijuana use," researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine report in a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. "In 40 planned comparisons of adolescents exposed and not exposed to MMLs [medical marijuana laws] across states over time, only two significant effects were found, an outcome expected according to chance alone. Further examination of the (nonsignificant) estimates revealed no discernible patterns suggesting an effect on either self-reported prevalence or frequency of marijuana use."

Also last Thursday, Americans for Safe Access reported that the Obama administration had spent nearly $300 million aggressively targeting medical marijuana providers in states where it is legal. That spending includes at least $8 million spent by the DEA conducting some 270 paramilitary-style raids, accounting for 4% of the agency's budget in 2011 and 2012. But that amount was dwarfed by the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on investigations before raids, indictments, lawsuits, and prosecutions, which totaled more than $200 million.

Also last Thursday, California NORML reported that medical marijuana providers have been sentenced to a cumulative nearly 500 years in federal prisons. More than 335 people have been charged with federal offenses for medical marijuana production or distribution, and 158 of them have been sentenced to a combined 480 years in federal prison. Some 50 people are still doing their federal sentences, while more are waiting to start theirs.


Last Tuesday, the Riverside city council voted to ban medical marijuana delivery services. The city had earlier banned dispensaries. Citing worries of running afoul of federal drug laws, council members voted to adopt an emergency ban on mobile marijuana dispensaries that took effect immediately. Attorneys for medical marijuana providers vowed to fight if the city took action against the delivery services.

Also last Tuesday, the city of Santa Ana reported that the number of dispensaries had dropped to 17. City officials had managed to shut down 42 more in the past month, bringing the total of dispensaries shut down there to 109. The city said it has closed a majority of the dispensaries through cease operations orders, a formal notice that serious consequences may follow. Both the US Attorney's Office and the city will be sending additional letters to the 17 dispensaries known to be still in operation with the goal of closing them. The letters will be followed by inspections and further enforcement. In addition to fines, the city can seek misdemeanor charges and sue. Dispensaries refusing to close operations will be issued criminal citations, city officials warned. The city attorney's office will work on the most problematic locations with the intent of filing civil action, while the Police Department, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, will continue its efforts to rid the city of the dispensaries.

Also last Tuesday, the Lakeport city council approved a new marijuana cultivation ordinance. The ordinance requires that marijuana grows be conducted in accessory outdoor structures, prohibiting outside grows and, according to city officials, placing emphasis on a complaint-driven process in which acts of noncompliance are infractions that garner citations and are handled through the city's administrative citation process. The council's vote was 5-0.

Last Wednesday, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner told dispensaries to stay closed until a new ordinance regulating them is adopted. "It's still illegal," Filner said. "There is no (land-use) zone that allows it and we will enforce it. And, in fact, code enforcement is investigating any report that we have of those violations. "The mayor was responding to a local media report that at least 15 dispensaries were operating within the city limits. Dozens of complaints have been filed with the city, yet no action has been taken since January when Filner ordered police and code compliance officers to stop investigating dispensaries. A draft proposal for a new dispensary ordinance has been created and it is currently going before local community and planning groups for review. No date has been set for a council vote. [Ed: Filner is one of a number of mayors sponsoring a US Conference of Mayors resolution calling on the federal government to respect state marijuana laws. Click the Marijuana Majority action link here to contact your mayor and to read more about it.]

Last Thursday, the Clearlake city council refused to pass a cultivation ordinance, instead sending it back to city staff for reconsideration. The ordinance would have limited plants according to parcel size, from six plants on parcels of half an acre or less up to 48 plants on 40 acres or more, and would also prohibit growing in mobile home parks -- unless garden areas are established and specified by management -- and multifamily dwellings and limits processing to the number of plants that can be grown on the site. The proposed ordinance had garnered little public comment at the May 23 meeting, but last week community members voiced concerns about the impact of marijuana cultivation in the city, urging the council to instead ban grows. Now, the council is looking at stiffening penalties for violating the ordinance.

On Tuesday, the Santa Cruz county board of supervisor said it would address local marijuana cultivation as part of a revised set of regulations on the distribution of medical pot. While the board made clear it didn't intend to cut off access to medical marijuana, it said unregulated grows, both in houses and on hilltops, is a land use, public safety and environmental problem that needed to be addressed. The county passed regulations in 2011, but they were suspended pending the recent state Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of localities to regulate or ban dispensaries. Those regulations are set to go into effect once a moratorium on new clubs is lifted in November, though the board is targeting that date for tweaking the rules.

District of Columbia

Last Tuesday, the Department of Health released patient application forms for medical marijuana. That was the last bit of lawmaking needed before patients could start seeking approval to use marijuana legally under DC law. Dispensaries are already stocked up and ready to do business, so they should be selling medicine to patients anytime now. It only took 15 years since voters approved medical marijuana in 1998.


Last Monday, the Lakeville town meeting voted to impose a moratorium on dispensaries. The moratorium will last for at least a year, to give the Planning Board a chance to create regulations.

On Tuesday, the Department of Public Health held a hearing on the dispensary licensing process. Some 70 people showed up with suggestions for improving the licensing process. Some call for forcing applicants to prove they have raised the mandated $500,000 application fee (!), while others called for the department to take community-service plans under consideration as well. The state licensing system will be merit-based, but regulators have yet to detail precisely what factors they will consider in awarding licenses.


Last Wednesday, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill that will allow dispensaries to operate in the state. The legislation foresees up to 66 statewide, with at least one in each county, 10 in Washoe County (Reno) and up to 40 in Clark County (Las Vegas). The new law also applies to other medical marijuana facilities and imposes taxes.

New Hampshire

On Tuesday, Gov. Maggie Hassan said she would sign compromise medical marijuana legislation, putting the Granite State in line to become the 19th medical marijuana state. The compromise eliminates patients' ability to grow their own and their ability to raise a medical defense before the state gets around to issuing patient IDs, but will allow for four nonprofit dispensaries to operate.


On Monday, prosecutors announced new charges against three dispensary operators who were raided last month. Southern Oregon NORML leader Lori Duckworth, her husband Leland, and David James Bond already faced multiple counts of conspiracy to deliver marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school and manufacturing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. They have all now been hit with additional charges of racketeering and money laundering. The SONORML office on West Sixth Street in Medford was one of four medical cannabis dispensaries raided by police on May 23. The office is a local affiliate of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Police allege the dispensaries were storefronts for illegal marijuana sales, but the Duckworths said they were in compliance with all state laws.

On Tuesday, it was revealed the state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum endorsed a pending dispensary bill. She did so in a June 10 letter to legislative leaders Sen. Floyd Prozanski and Rep. Peter Buckley. The bill, House Bill 3460, would create a system of state-licensed and -regulated dispensaries. Dispensaries already exist in Oregon, Rosenblum noted. "These facilities operate in a climate of uncertain legality and the absence of a clear regulatory structure makes ensuring compliance with the law difficult," she wrote.

On Wednesday, the League of Oregon Cities endorsed House Bill 3460. The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee that same day and is now headed for a House floor vote.


On Wednesday, medical marijuana supporters rallied at the state capitol in Olympia to protest an amendment to budget bills that would give the state Liquor Control Board control over the medical marijuana program. Patients worry that could lead to taxation of their purchases, as well as regulating their medical use.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit]

back to top

10. Chicago Police Kill Fleeing Man in "Drug Area"

Chicago police shot and killed a man early Sunday morning on the city's West Side as he fled after they tried to pull over his car in "an area known for drug activity." Antwoyn Johnson, 21, becomes the 15th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to WLS-TV and the Chicago Sun-Times, both citing police sources, officers tried to stop the vehicle in which Johnson was a passenger, and he jumped out and fled. The officers chased him into an alley in their vehicle, where they saw him slip and fall to the ground. They got out of their vehicle and approached him, with Johnson grabbing his weapon as he tried to stand. One officer fired his own weapon, fatally wounding Johnson.

"As he's running, he's got a gun in his belt, in his back. As he goes to the ground, he's falling and reaching for the gun at the same time. At that point, the officers open fire. I believe the offender is DOA," said Fraternal Order of Police's Pat Camden.

Police say they found a weapon at the scene. Johnson's family disputes the police version of events, according to DNA Info Chicago. Family members said police recovered no weapon and Johnson was shot three times in the back.

Johnson, who had arrests for cocaine dealing in 2008 and marijuana possession in 2011 and had spent time in jail, was uncomfortable around police, family members said.

 "They shot my son for no reason," Liberty Johnson said. "He panicked because he doesn't like police. He gets out of the car and runs. You automatically think just because he’s black, he has a gun on him?"

The Johnson shooting received short shrift in a city beset by its worst spate of violence this year. Over the weekend, 10 people were killed and more than 40 wounded in shootings.

back to top

11. This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two of our three cases this week involve cops protecting their steroids dealers. Go figger. The other one is a crooked police chief who bragged, "I'm the best cop money can buy." Let's get to it:

In Arlington, Texas, an Arlington police officer was charged last Wednesday with revealing the name of an undercover narcotics officer to an illegal steroids dealer. Officer Thomas Kantzos is accused of using state and federal law enforcement databases at least a half-dozen times to check names and license plates for the dealer, who also peddled the pills to Kantzos and another Arlington police officer, Danial Vo. Vo shot and killed himself last Tuesday. The first time Kantzos checked records for the dealer, the dealer discovered that the man with the laptop parked down the street was a member of a local drug task force and that someone had hidden a tracking device on his car. The investigation into Kantzos and Vo revealed that a number of Arlington police were using steroids, at least one of whom also ran a records check for the dealer, who has since become a cooperating witness. Kantzos is charged with exceeding authorized access to a protected computer, which carries a maximum 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

In North Bend, Oregon, a former North Bend police officer pleaded guilty last Tuesday to tipping off an illegal steroids dealer about an ongoing investigation. William Downing, 43, admitted to using steroids himself and was found in possession of them when his home was searched by federal agents in 2011. Downing went down in a spin-off from a broader investigation into fraud by a defense contractor, whose sons got steroids from the same dealer Downing did. When search warrants were issued in the fraud case, Downing notified the steroids dealer and warned him that the two sons were under investigation and the feds could be monitoring their calls. Downing will do five years probation.

In Pittsburgh, a former East Washington police chief was sentenced last Friday to more than 11 years in federal prison for extorting $8,000 from undercover FBI agents he thought were drug dealers. Former Chief Donald Solomon, 57, went down in a sting operation where he protected two staged drug deals and agreed to buy the dealers police-issue stun guns in return for the cash. A paid informant introduced Solomon to the fake drug dealers, and he was recorded saying, "I'm the best cop money can buy."

back to top

12. Donations Needed This Month for Drug War Chronicle
Dear friend, needs your help to continue our programs -- like this newsletter, Drug War Chronicle -- during this most important time in the cause there has ever been. Click here for some examples of how activists around the world rely on Drug War Chronicle in their work.

As our thanks for your support, we continue our full set of membership offers, some of them available with donations of $15 or greater to our organization. We also continue to offer, with donations of $35 or more, "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know," authors of which were recently hired to consult with the state of Washington on implementing legalization there.

The newest item is a pair of reports that highlight the US and international legal landscapes as legalization becomes a mainstream issue. (We'll send you both for the $15.) Though the text of each report can be found online, for $15 or more you can hold the nice printed copies -- the history in the making -- in your hands. They are:

  • "On the Limits of Federal Supremacy: When States Relax (or Abandon) Marijuana Bans," a Cato Institute Policy Analysis by Vanderbilt law professor Robert Mikos, explores the limits in federal law and resources for enforcing marijuana prohibition in states that have legalized.
  • "Governing the Global Drug Wars," a special report by London School of Economics IDEAS, details the history of the global prohibition regime; the obstacles it poses to nations seeking to explore legalization and other reforms, and efforts by nations and agencies to transform the system into one respecting public health and human rights.

We are also pleased to continue offering the following items (while supplies last), now also with donations of $15 or more:

  • Emperor of Hemp DVD, about the life and work of Jack Herer (memorial tribute edition)
  • strobe light
  • stamp and ink pad
  • mouse pad

Though we offer many items for $15, I hope you will consider making a larger donation if you are able, or supplementing your initial gift with a monthly one. If the gifts are not important to you, I hope you'll consider sending a donation that's just for our work.

Donations can be tax-deductible, supporting our educational work, or non-deductible, supporting our lobbying work. (Note that selecting any gift items reduces the amount of your donation that is deductible -- which with a smaller gift amount can be most of it.) They can be made online on our web site by credit card or PayPal, or sent by mail to P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. If you are donating by check, please make it payable to DRCNet Foundation (if tax-deductible) or Drug Reform Coordination Network (if not deductible).

If you wish to donate stock, the information to give your brokerage is Ameritrade, (800) 669-3900), DTC #0188, and account number 781926492 for tax-deductible gifts or 864663500 for non-deductible gifts -- please make sure to contact us if donating in this way.

Thank you for standing with us to stop the drug war's cruelties and meet the opportunity this time offers to make a brighter future. As recent events show: Time, and the truth, are on our side!


David Borden, Executive Director
Washington, DC

back to top

13. Internships: Legislative, Writing/Research, Web, IT, Admin/Finance, Communications works for an end to drug prohibition worldwide and an end to the "drug war" in its current form. We believe that much of the harm commonly attributed to "drugs" is really the result of placing drugs in a criminal environment. We believe the global drug war has fueled violence, civil instability, and public health crises; and that the currently prevalent arrest- and punishment-based policies toward drugs are unjust. Please visit our web site, and please read more about us.

We are seeking LegislativeWriting/ResearchWeb ContentInformation Technology, and Admin/Finance interns (potentially still this semester, depending on your interests, definitely for the summer). Communications may also be applicable to current organizational projects. Preference will be given to applicants with some demonstrated experience the relevant fields, and to applicants in the Washington, DC area. However, consideration will also be given to enthusiasm for drug policy and criminal justice reform.

Note that internships are unpaid. We reimburse for metro fare. Please also note that the organization has functioned as a "virtual office" environment since spring 2011. Staff will meet with interns on a regular basis during the semester, and can be available to meet and work together on a weekly or even daily basis, but this will happen in places like coffee shops or campuses.

In order to help our interns forge ties with the larger community, we are organizing intern networking social hours with other organizations in drug policy and justice reform. We are also arranging tours of the DC courts and possibly jail, and public health and other programs that have bearing on drug policy. Interns are also welcome to join us at the frequent legislative working group meetings that take place on our issues here in Washington.

Please send cover letter, resume, and any supporting material you'd like to include, to executive director David Borden, at [email protected]. (We recommend using a return receipt to ensure your emails are not blocked by any filters.) Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you. Information on our specific intern positions follows below.


Legislative interns will help, and in some cases play a leading role, on the following organizational projects:

  • Bill and vote tracking, at the federal and state level, including write-ups for our web site's legislative center (possibly in collaboration with Writing interns);
  • Creating action alerts on current legislation and other advocacy priorities, to be distributed through our web site and email list (possibly in collaboration with Writing and Web Content interns); and
  • Coalition outreach to secure partners for organizational sign-on letters to Congress.

Interns may also join us at working group meetings on issues including but not limited to sentencing reform, drug policy including marijuana law reform; collateral consequences of criminal convictions; and reinvigorating the presidential clemency/pardon system. Spanish-language skills may be useful.


Writing/Research interns will have the following opportunities:

  • Assist Drug War Chronicle editor Phillip S. Smith with ongoing article collection and research for feature articles on our web site (which are frequently reprinted on major news sites such as
  • Assist with research on special topics, the goal of which is the publication of special reports. Likely projects include but are not necessarily limited to follow-up research on US drug war killings (see our recent report here); procuring drug arrest data and possibly arrest reports from various jurisdictions for various months and years, to evaluate the results of recent policy reforms, particularly for marijuana.
  • Bill and vote tracking, at the federal and state level, including write-ups for our web site's legislative center (possibly in collaboration with Legislative interns);
  • Creating action alerts on current legislation and other advocacy priorities, to be distributed through our web site and email list (possibly in collaboration with Legislative interns);
  • Updating an archive of SWAT raids and other paramilitarized policing activity that went wrong (possibly in collaboration with Web Content interns); and
  • Assisting with updating or creating various special sections of our web site (possibly in collaboration with Web Content interns).

Interns with Spanish-language skills may be involved with reporting on the Mexican drug war.

Web Content

Web Content interns will assist with the following work:

  • Daily link and other content postings;
  • Development or maintenance of special sections of our web site (possibly in collaboration with Writing interns); and
  • General social media work, including a number special social media projects.

We may also initiate an informal web video series, for which intern assistance would be invaluable, but this has not been decided yet.

Information Technology

IT interns will assist with the following projects:

  • Backend web site programming, primarily involving streamlining of our donations processing system;
  • Server migration to a "cloud" arrangement;
  • Security including PCI compliance;
  • Selection and set up of needed software and services; and
  • Database-related projects.


Admin & Finance interns may assist with the following organizational needs, among others:

  • Bookkeeping;
  • Nonprofit accounting including intra-company allocations and 990 preparation;
  • Budget & cash flow analysis;
  • Membership administration;
  • Database work.

Admin & finance interns will gain familiarity with a significant range of nonprofits' administrative activities, and depending on schedule may have the opportunity to sit in on portions of board discussions or meetings with advisors.


As noted above, communications skills are applicable to a number of facets of our work this semester, and communications majors are encouraged to apply. We have not listed communications as a separate internship this semester, because we have not decided whether to engage in specific outreach efforts to mainstream media this semester. Along with the possibility that we will do so, other work of relevance to communications can be found in our Legislative, Writing, and Web Content internships.

Thank you for considering an internship with our organization. We look forward to hearing from you.

back to top
Permission to Reprint: This issue of Drug War Chronicle is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 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, Vaping, 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, Pill Testing, Safer 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, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School