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Gangs force children of eight to run guns and carry drugs

United Kingdom
Evening Standard (UK)

Bad Bills: Nevada Legislation Could Send Parents to Prison for 15 Years for a Single Plant

Building on a 2005 law that made it a felony offense for people to operate methamphetamine labs in homes where children are present, a Nevada legislator has introduced a bill that would subject people growing even a single marijuana plant to the same penalties. Under the bill, they could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

The bill, Senate Bill 6, was introduced by state Sen. Joe Heck (R-Las Vegas), who doesn't see any difference between undertaking a complicated and risky chemical process and growing a plant. "You are exposing children to dangers when you are selling any illegal substance out of your house or growing any illegal substance out of your house, so you should be held to the higher penalties," Heck told the Senate Human Services and Education Committee.

"If a guy has a couple of (marijuana) plants in there (now), he could be out in a week," Heck said. "But if there is a child present, with this, now he could serve five to 15 years for exposing that child to the dangers of this activity. The very behavior of small children puts them at risk around these materials, including marijuana," Heck said. "As any parent knows, the first place a toddler places anything they find is in their mouth. What if this object is a marijuana plant?"

But during the Monday hearing on the bill, representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Clark County (Las Vegas) Public Defenders Office urged legislators to think twice. "The way the bill is currently drafted states that someone could be growing marijuana for their personal use and not for the purposes of distributing it, selling it or engaging in drug trafficking and they would be treated as if they were engaged in those activities," said Gary Peck, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada.

The proposed new law amounted to "shooting fleas with cannons," Peck said, adding that it could impose an even greater burden on the state's overflowing prison population. "No one who is testifying in support of the bill can actually talk about the implications in respect to the incarceration rate," Peck said.

Applying the same penalties to meth lab operators and pot plant growers is inappropriate, said public defender Jason Frierson. "The reason that statute was written the way it was is because meth labs have a tendency to explode and the chemical components, the fumes and the chemical burns -- the exposure to those were the reasons for the greater penalties," Frierson said. "As I read it, this is treating the growth of one marijuana plant similarly with the existence of a meth lab in the presence of children."

The usual suspects supported the bill, including the Nevada District Attorneys Association, the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association and the Peace Officers Research Association. "It is our belief that anytime you have drugs and children together, it is a dangerous combination, a dangerous mix," said Kristin Erickson, a Washoe County deputy district attorney speaking for the state association.

Nevada is a state where medical marijuana is legal and patients or caregivers can grow up to three or four plants, but the bill makes no mention of that.

Public Service Announcement About Rockefeller Drugs Laws

Follow this link to view the PSA directed and edited by Emily Kunstler and Haskell King:
United States

A Special Letter from Ed Rosenthal

Dear Friend, As you probably know, I was tried in 2003 for providing marijuana starter plants to medical marijuana distribution centers. The exact charges were manufacture, providing a place to manufacture and conspiracy. The jury found me guilty on all three felony counts. Within four days of the trial eight of the jurors repudiated the verdict. After leaving the jury box they learned the whole truth. They had not been allowed to hear that I was appointed as a City Officer empowered to provide patients with medical marijuana. Jury members told the media that they felt that they had been used and worse. One of the jurors revealed that she had consulted a lawyer about the trial while she was a juror. After considering all the facts of the case the judge sentenced me to one day in prison, time served. I appealed the convictions on three grounds: improper actions by the juror, the fact that I was a city officer should have exempted me from prosecution under federal law and that even if I was not protected I had been led to believe I was by proper authorities and thus should be free from prosecution under the rules of estoppel, that is, when a person is advised by the government that his/her actions are legal, they shouldn’t be arrested even if the individual was ill-advised. The 9th circuit reversed the conviction on the basis of a juror’s fear of voting against the judge’s instructions and held that I could be re-tried. The trial was set for late October. However, just a few weeks ago the prosecutor filed a superseding indictment charging me with 14 counts including filing false tax returns, money laundering $1,854.77 as well as manufacturing and conspiracy. The sentencing structure for this case could put me away for the rest of my life. I don’t plan to lose this case. Just as it is for me, this is an extremely important case for the government. The Bush regime hopes that winning this case will give them a pass to attack all providers functioning under the California Medical Laws, as well as decimating progress made in the other states with medical marijuana laws. As you may know, the federal authorities closed all of the medical facilities in San Diego in September. In October they closed a few facilities in rural areas of California as well as San Francisco and in Los Angeles. Now in late January they are on another rampage in southern California. My success, not guilty verdicts, will send a message to the government that the public will not tolerate federal interference in state medical programs. It will be a major setback for the government’s efforts to contain the medical marijuana phenomenon I have recruited an extremely well qualified and dedicated legal team to work at a reduced rate. Even so we will need funds for court expenses as well as publicity. This is a critical moment and I am reaching out to my friends, to political activists and to all who have voiced concern about this issue as well as those concerned about my well being. Please help me fight these laws. Give me the tools so I can win this battle. The first trial cost over $350,000 and used up most of my savings. It left me in a critical, vulnerable position financially. I don’t have the money to finance this trial. Help me win this battle so to protect medical marijuana users and dispensaries throughout the state and country. To be honest, my experience in asking readers to help out the marijuana movement financially has been a failure in the past. Almost all of you will read this, sympathize with my position, and then turn the page, thinking that it’s not your concern. However, the outcome of my trial will have a direct impact on your lives. This is a cutting edge case that the U.S. government is attempting to use to intimidate activists in their battle against marijuana. You can help turn the tide by making a generous contribution to . Green-Aid is a tax deductible non-profit organization that with a goal of challenging the laws using tipping point court cases. This case will cost about $300,000. I am asking everybody who values their relationship with marijuana to contribute. Are you one of 300 people who value changing the laws as much as a quarter lb.? Or a thousand people who are willing to contribute the value of one ounce? If you can’t afford that, you could give the equivalent of a quarter ounce. Please help You can contribute online by credit card or by mail for checks. Donate at our website or send your check payable to “Green Aid” to: 484 Lake Park Ave. - Box 172, Oakland, CA 94610. Green Aid, The Medical Marijuana Defense and Education Fund is a non-profit 501(c)3 Charitable Corporation and all contributions to it are tax deductible. With your help these laws are doomed. Stay Free, Ed PS: Please find attached a full history of my case in 'The Bust and the Trial' and a note regarding a recent attack by the goverment on local authorities in 'CVAG Meeting'. The feds gameplan is to shut down all dispensaries & providers. Help me stop them.
United States

SAFER Press Release: Lafayette Council seeks jail-time for marijuana users

PRESS RELEASE, for Immediate Release -- Feb. 13, 2007 Lafayette Council seeks jail-time for marijuana users Measure's backers provide NO evidence to justify ten-fold increase in potential fine SAFER organizing opposition to unreasonable and unnecessary new ordinance Contact: Mason Tvert, SAFER executive director, 720-255-4340 DENVER -- Without presenting any evidence or demonstrating any public support, the Lafayette City Council has given initial approval to a new municipal ordinance that would drastically increase the penalty for private adult possession of a small amount of marijuana. Despite current state law that calls for such violations to be punishable by a maximum $100 fine and no time in jail, the new ordinance mandates up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. The measure is contrary to the will of the voters in Boulder County, a clear majority of which approved a statewide initiative in November to remove all penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Among the Boulder County residents opposed to the measure is Lafayette Municipal Court Judge Leonard Frieling, who according to press sources resigned his position in protest of the proposed ordinance. Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) is organizing opposition to the measure and will be holding a press conference next Tuesday, Feb. 20, prior to the Lafayette City Council's final hearing on the matter. More details on this event will follow. "Given that every objective study has found marijuana to be less harmful than alcohol, we do not see the logic in dramatically increasing legal penalties that will simply drive more citizens to use alcohol instead of marijuana," said SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert. "Last year, the Lafayette police killed a young man with a Taser for his suspected involvement with marijuana, a drug that has never killed a person in history. Now, they want to start locking people up for possessing small amounts. This is simply absurd." "We challenge the supporters of this measure -- particularly the council members and the activist judge who sought its introduction -- to provide evidence to support their claim that increasing penalties is necessary to reduce some specific societal harm. Further, we suggest that before they take further action on this proposal they examine the extent of alcohol-related problems in their community -- such as domestic violence and sexual assaults -- and attempt to determine whether those types of problems might occur more frequently if citizens are pushed toward the use of alcohol instead of marijuana." Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) is a Colorado-based non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the harmful consequences associated with alcohol, as compared to the safer—yet illegal—substance: marijuana. For more information, see
United States

NV: Senate considers marijuana, kids bill

United States
Reno Gazette-Journal

Meth battle sees new fronts

United States
The News Tribune (WA)

Latin America: Mexico Moves to Decriminalize Drug Possession -- So It Can Concentrate on Drug Traffickers

Legislators from Mexican President Felipe's Calderon's National Action Party (PAN -- Partido de Accion Nacional) have introduced a bill in the Mexican Senate that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs for "addicts." An even stronger drug reform bill that included higher personal drug possession limits and would have applied to all drug consumers passed both the Mexican Senate and Congress, only to be vetoed by then President Vicente Fox after strong objections from Washington.
DEA Spanish-language poster targeting Mexican trafficking organization
Under this year's version of the bill, which was introduced in the Senate Wednesday, people caught for the first time with less than two grams of marijuana and similarly small single-dose amounts of other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, would not be prosecuted. But persons caught more than once in possession of illegal drugs would be prosecuted unless they qualified as "addicts" by proving they were in drug treatment or under medical care. The bill retains a provision that would protect indigenous people engaging in religious drug use from prosecution.

But the proposed legislation may not mark a liberalization of Mexico's drug policy, but may instead broaden Mexico's ability to arrest and prosecute drug offenders by allowing state police and judicial systems to take action against drug offenders under them. Under current law, that ability is reserved to the federal government. The bill would allow authorities to concentrate on drug traffickers by freeing up resources to go after dealers, and it increases prison sentences for drug trafficking offenses.

"This isn't legalization," said PAN Sen. Alejandro Gonzalez, who heads the Senate's justice commission. "We're going to go much harder against drug dealers," he told a Mexico City press conference Monday.

Since taking office in December, President Calderon has declared war on Mexico's violent drug trafficking organizations with a vengeance. He has sent thousands of troops into hotbeds of drug trafficking, such as the state of Michoacan, as well as major cities plagued by prohibition-related violence and corruption, such as Tijuana and Acapulco.

Last year's version of the bill set higher personal use quantities, causing it to ultimately be vetoed, said Gonzalez. "An error was made, unfortunately, in the lower house, adding the (exemption for) consumers. That really betrayed the spirit of the reforms, by increasing (personal use) quantities, and that's why we're paying attention to the criticisms and making changes," he noted.

Is "the spirit of the reforms" then to facilitate Mexico's drug war rather than end it?

Marijuana: Colorado Judge Resigns to Protest City's Tough New Ordinance

BREAKING: We've just been informed that the town council has withdrawn the ordinance -- victory, at least for now, they will revisit the issue at a meeting April 3rd. Check the Speakeasy for more info shortly.

An associate municipal court judge in the Colorado town of Lafayette has resigned his position in protest of the city's preliminary harsh new penalties for marijuana possession. Judge Leonard Frieling, who is also a Boulder criminal defense attorney, had served in the position for the past eight years.
Leonard Frieling
Frieling said he could not remain as a municipal court judge because he was unwilling to enforce a new ordinance that would raise the fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana from $100 to $1,000 and a year in jail. Under Colorado state law, possession of under an ounce of marijuana has been decriminalized and those caught with pot face only a $100 fine.

The measure isn't a done deal yet. The Lafayette City Council gave preliminary approval to the ordinance last week, but a final vote isn't set until next week.

Frieling resigned anyway, saying since he doesn't want to enforce the law, he is ethically and morally unable to remain on the bench. Frieling also said he doesn't think marijuana should be illegal, but should instead be treated like alcohol, but he could live with the current $100 fine.

The move has drawn significant media attention to the council vote, with outlets covering it including the state's largest newspapers and television stations. Not all of the coverage has been accurate -- Frieling had to issue a press release on Wednesday to debunk claims that he was no longer a judge at the time he announced his resignation.

(Frieling has signed up as DRCNet's latest guest blogger. Click here to read Frieling's Wednesday press release and here for some further comments from Frieling.)

Mexico wants to partially decriminalize drugs

Mexico City
ABC News

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