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Prosecutor Getting Nervous in the Ryan Frederick Case

…as well he should since Ryan Frederick is innocent and the whole thing is a colossal travesty. Radley Balko notes that the prosecution is hoping for a change of venue:The special prosecutor in the case against Ryan Frederick, the Chesapeake man accused of killing a city detective, wants the murder trial moved out of the Hampton Roads area.The commonwealth has urged the court for a change of venue from Chesapeake to a court elsewhere in the state. Frederick is to stand trial Jan. 20 in Chesapeake Circuit Court on charges of capital murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. [PilotOnline.com]It’s a devious move, necessitated by the fact that a lot of folks in and around Chesapeake, VA know that Ryan Frederick didn’t do anything wrong. Police thought he was growing marijuana, but he wasn’t. When they raided his house, he thought he was being robbed and fired on the intruders, killing an officer that he didn’t realize was a cop. The marijuana growing operation they were looking for just wasn’t there and I’m still unclear on why they’re pursuing distribution charges for the tiny amount of pot found in his home.Let’s hope the judge has the sense to see through this sham of a trial and blocks these pathetic efforts to gain leverage for charges that should never have been filed to begin with.

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Republicans Promise to Continue the Drug War

Pete Guither points out that the Republican Party’s newly released platform pledges to continue the disastrous and increasingly unpopular war on drugs:Continuing the Fight against Illegal DrugsThe human toll of drug addiction and abuse hits all segments of American society. It is an international problem as well, with most of the narcotics in this country coming from beyond our borders. We will continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributors of illegal substances through the collaboration of state, federal, and local law enforcement. In 2008, I’m beginning to doubt that anyone is going to win any votes with this kind of language. Given the risk of rubbing the libertarian crowd the wrong way, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see this rhetoric left out altogether. Of course, that would have been a conspicuous omission, I suppose, and you can bet that we’d have more than a few words to say about that.On the plus side, Pete noticed that the section called "Locking Up Criminals" omits drug crimes from the list of offenses for which the Republicans support mandatory minimum sentencing:We support mandatory sentencing provisions for gang conspiracy crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, rape, and assaults resulting in serious bodily injury.That’s really a rather positive sign, indicating that we may be moving towards a bipartisan consensus that our drug laws have gone too far. I’m also tempted to theorize that Obama’s decision to bring Biden onto the ticket may have been a contributing factor here. Months ago, Dick Morris editorialized in favor of attacking Obama on sentencing reform, arguing that by supporting revised crack sentencing guidelines, Obama wants to let thousands of crack dealers out of jail. It’s cynical and ruthless ploy that becomes considerably harder to pull off with Biden on the ticket. Given his central role in pushing through the original sentencing disparity, and his recent evidence-based reversal, Biden has all the credibility to blow any "soft on crack" attacks back to the '80's where they belong. I’m no fan of Biden’s drug war record, but there’s an interesting dynamic here, which I'll concede to those who've argued that Biden's awful history could end up providing cover for reform.Which brings us to the obvious question: if the democrats don’t support mandatory minimums for drug offenses, and the republicans don’t support mandatory minimums for drug offenses, who does?(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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BREAKING: People Smoke Pot at Outdoor Concerts

In a daring undercover investigation, anti-marijuana activist Lisa Silverman has exposed the seedy criminal underworld that lurks along the lawn at a Ziggy Marley show:In August, Silverman attended a Ziggy Marley concert at the Del Mar Racetrack, just as she had the previous year, to see if pot smokers were as abundant as before. Sure enough, bongs, blunts and joints were ablaze.Not only were the pot-puffing reggae fans not intimidated by security guards, they offered some to anti-marijuana crusader Silverman, 49. [San Diego Union-Tribune]Actually, when the pot-smokers said "You want something, lady?" they weren’t really offering her a hit, they just wanted to know why she was crawling around on all fours sniffing people’s belongings and blowing out their matches."There were very few attendees who were not smoking marijuana," Silverman said, recounting her reconnaissance mission recently to a stunned board of directors for the fairgrounds.The board of directors was indeed stunned by Silverman’s story, given that they’d posted signs at every entrance reminding security not to let the notorious complainer and buzzkill, Lisa Silverman, into any more reggae concerts.At a recent concert at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg concluded his set by urging listeners to "smoke some chronic," slang for high-grade marijuana."Almost immediately, you could see the plumes of smoke go up," Kelly said.San Diego songwriter Steve Poltz said he remembers attending an outdoor concert featuring James Taylor when the mellow superstar caught a whiff of marijuana smoke."Ah, yes," Taylor mused. "The fine scent of herb being carried on the evening zephyr."At which point someone shouted "Dork!" and Taylor was struck with a flying beer can, proving yet again why people shouldn’t be allowed to use marijuana in public.

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$20,000 Bond for One Ecstasy Pill

As I read through my Google News alerts each day, I usually just ignore the multitudes of petty drug arrests that made headlines for no reason. But this one jumped out at me:Police: Winston-Salem man had ecstasy pillGastonia Police arrested a Winston-Salem man Saturday and charged him with having the party drug ecstasy. Jasmon Delshon Mackey, 27, of the 2200 block of Bethabara Point in Winston-Salem, was arrested at the Kingsway convenience store at 1418 W. Garrison Blvd. He had one ecstasy pill, according to a police affidavit. [Gaston Gazette]Who cares? Why is this in the newspaper? It shouldn’t even be a crime, but if it is, one would hope you’d have to have more than, say, one pill in order to find your name in the f#%king newspaper. The only thing newsworthy about this is the embarrassing fact that possession of one ecstasy pill is apparently a serious crime that can only be resolved by a whole team of criminal justice professionals.Mackey was charged with felony possession of a Schedule I controlled substance. He was jailed on a $20,000 bond.For having a pill whose side effects include happiness, empathy, and dancing.

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How Much More Public Support Does Medical Marijuana Really Need?

CNN hosted an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday which featured democratically elected questions courtesy of the popular website Digg.com. Unsurprisingly, one of the top questions was about marijuana policy reform. Here is her response (it’s the 3rd question): Obviously, Pelosi is very supportive of medical marijuana and despite her pessimism about achieving full-scale legalization, she didn’t actually say she opposed it. Ideologically, I’d have to say this was pretty good coming from the Speaker of the House. But, as Paul Armentano points out, Pelosi’s advice to supporters of medical marijuana just doesn’t add up. She laments Congress’ intransigence on the issue and encourages constituents to contact their representatives, as though this is all just a matter of showing politicians where the people stand. Alas, we kinda tried that already. Public support for medical marijuana has been overwhelming for a long time. Reformers are 9-1 when it comes to passing state-level medical marijuana laws at the ballot box. State legislatures in Hawaii, New Mexico and Rhode Island have passed laws to protect patients, drawing praise from constituents. The only memorable instance of a politician being damaged for his position on medical marijuana involved Bob Barr, who lost his House seat following attacks for opposing medical marijuana. He’s come around since then.What, other than legalizing medical marijuana in a dozen states, could the people possibly do to show the politicians in Washington, D.C. that we’re serious about this? You want us to go legalize medical marijuana everywhere else in America? We’ll do it. You want more research proving that it works? Let us know when you’re done reading what we’ve already given you, and we’ll gladly send the rest. Worried about the message to young people? Teenage use is down in states with medical marijuana laws.You see, our feet are tired. Our throats are hoarse. Our keyboards are cracking, our sharpies are dry and we’re almost out of posterboard. With all of that in mind, Nancy Pelosi, since you do agree with us and you’re the Speaker of House now, we were hoping there might be something else you could do.

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New Medical Marijuana Regulations Are a Good Thing

Bruce Mirken at the MPP Blog points out this observation from the LA Times:Most of the negative consequences can be attributed to the gap between state and federal marijuana laws. The fact that even sellers considered legitimate by the state can be prosecuted and ruined by federal agents encourages black-market dealers, who endanger their communities by ignoring fire codes, selling to healthy minors and fighting turf wars with other dealers.…Overall, Proposition 215 has done more good than harm. In addition to marijuana's medical benefits, its legitimate sale brings in $100 million a year in tax revenues, and even though it can be abused by users, it isn't demonstrably more dangerous to society than tobacco and alcohol. The state's new guidelines will help reduce the measure's harmful side effects, but the only long-term solution is for the feds to stop the medical marijuana raids and leave California law enforcement to California officers.The longer Californians live under Prop. 215, the clearer that central point becomes. Federal interference is the obvious remaining source of chaos in California’s medical marijuana economy. Once that obstacle is removed, everything else will fall into place. By developing formal guidelines for legally providing medical marijuana, Attorney General Brown has taken an important step towards further legitimizing medical marijuana distribution.Of course, the flipside is that the new regulations will give local police more leverage to go after dispensaries that don’t follow the guidelines. Providers will be required to operate on a "not-for-profit" basis, which means "reinvesting excess revenue (after salary and overhead) in patients services for members, advocacy for patients, or other typical nonprofit activity."It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds and I imagine there will be problems, but I’m not sure the San Francisco Chronicle quite understands what this is all about:California Attorney General Jerry Brown has ordered a crackdown on medical pot clubs that are selling the drug for big profits.The move puts the state a bit more in line with the feds in dealing with the explosion of questionable marijuana dispensaries since the passage of Proposition 215 more than a decade ago.The single most important thing to understand about the new regulations is that they forbid police from disrupting legitimate medical marijuana activity as authorized under Prop. 215. To say that this somehow brings the state "a bit more in line with the feds" is dubious since federal law prohibits any medical marijuana distribution whatsoever. Since the DEA has often claimed that their enforcement is focused on operations that violate California law, the new regulations could effectively render DEA’s involvement obsolete, while protecting any provider with enough common sense to follow the guidelines. So while the new rules are likely to create problems for some participants in the medical marijuana economy, the overarching concept behind all of this is that California’s medical marijuana laws should be enforced by California’s police, not the DEA. It is a necessary step towards further legitimizing medical access in the years to come.

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Police Cannot Identify Good Marijuana

Via DrugWarRant, here’s another typical case of police wildly exaggerating the value of a marijuana seizure:CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - North Charleston police have scored a major pot bust, seizing 500 pounds of marijuana with a street value of more than $2 million.…Police said there was so much marijuana they couldn't let reporters see it because the smell would overpower them. They instead showed pictures of the haul.Charleston Police earn bonus points here for claiming the pot’s odor would "overpower" reporters, even though no one in the history of the world has ever gotten a buzz from standing near some marijuana. Moreover, photographs reveal the pot to be ugly, brown and stemmy. It was shipped from Arizona, indicating that it is exactly the sort of ubiquitous Mexican commercial garbage that its appearance suggests. I doubt it’s worth even half of the $2 million pricetag proposed by police.Again and again, we find law-enforcement recklessly exaggerating marijuana prices to the point of absurdity. In fairness, prices shift dramatically depending on quality, but it is precisely because police often lack the subtle ability to judge marijuana quality that they so often issue such laughable claims. As I’ve explained before, exaggerating the value of marijuana encourages people to grow and sell marijuana.

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"Extremely Small Amount" of Marijuana Causes Panic Throughout Massachusetts

It all started when an "extremely small" package of marijuana fell from the pocket of 19-year-old Sean LaCroix at his grandparents’ house, where he lived. His grandmother found it and put it in the car so she could turn it over to police. The car belonged to her husband, John LaCroix, fire chief of Newton, MA and was subsequently discovered when fire-fighters cleaned his vehicle at the station.I know, this is really one of the most uninteresting stories one could possibly imagine, but here’s how the press reacted throughout Massachusetts: Marijuana found in car of Newton Fire ChiefBoston Globe, United States - Aug 22, 2008By Rachana Rathi, Globe Staff Police are investigating Newton Fire Chief Joseph LaCroix after his firefighters allegedly discovered marijuana in his ...  Marijuana found in fire chief's vehicleWHDH-TV, MA - Aug 22, 2008NEWTON, Mass. -- During the routine cleaning of Chief Joseph LaCroix's City issued vehicle, firefighters discovered an envelope that contained a small ...  BREAKING NEWS: Marijuana found in Fire Chief's carWicked Local, MA - Aug 22, 2008By Gail Spector, TAB staff Firefighters cleaning Chief Joseph LaCroix's car yesterday found a bag of marijuana, mayoral spokesman Jeremy Solomon confirmed...  Drugs are found in car of Newton Fire ChiefWHDH-TV, MA - Aug 23, 2008NEWTON, Mass. -- Newton Fire Chief, Joseph Lacroix, is fighting back against the discovery of marijuana found in his city issued car. ...  Newton Fire Chief Joseph LaCroix said he does not know how ...Newton TAB, MA - Aug 22, 2008By Chrissie Long and Gail Spector, staff writers A bag of marijuana was found inside Newton fire chief Joseph LaCroix’s car on Thursday but the chief says ...  Newton fire chief says he does not know how marijuana got into his ...Daily News Tribune, MA - Aug 22, 2008By Chrissie Long and Gail Spector, staff writers A bag of marijuana was found inside Newton fire chief Joseph LaCroix’s car on Thursday but the chief says ...  Sorry, Grandpa: Marijuana in Newton Fire Chief's car belonged to ...Boston Globe, United States - 2 hours agoThe marijuana discovered last week by firefighters in Newton Fire Chief John LaCroix's city-issued car belonged to his grandson and was mistakenly put in ... What is this, if not a towering monument of idiocy? All of this serves as a frustrating reminder that there are two kinds of people in America: those who believe marijuana poses a grave threat to public safety, and those who actually know what marijuana is. The latter group typically believes it should be regulated like alcohol, while the former believes we are all just one stoned fire-fighter away from perishing in a terrible conflagration.Nevermind that the marijuana turned out not to belong to the fire chief. Even if it had, wouldn't the citizens of Newton know by now whether or not their fire chief was capable of arranging for local fires to be put out?As amusing as it may be to witness this colossal media circus surrounding something so mindbogglingly trivial, don't forget that Chief LaCroix nearly had his career ruined over this. If his grandson hadn't taken responsibility, he'd likely have been forced into retirement, unable to prove his innocence. Can you even imagine how many times a small bag of misplaced marijuana has led to an absurd outcome like that? It is the legacy of our nation's brain-dead marijuana policy to produce epic fiascoes like this on a daily basis.

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California Attorney General Tells Police to Uphold Medical Marijuana Laws

Ten years after the passage of Proposition 215, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has finally clarified that law-enforcement must respect the state’s medical marijuana law:California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued long-awaited guidelines on medical marijuana today with support from advocates and law enforcement alike. The guidelines direct law enforcement on how to approach encounters with medical marijuana patients and establish a road map for local police policies. However, more significantly, the guidelines provide recommendations for operating medical marijuana dispensaries in accordance with state law.…The guidelines firmly establish that as long as patients and caregivers are abiding by local and state laws, they "should be released" from police custody and "the marijuana should not be seized." In the event that medical marijuana is wrongfully seized from a patient or caregiver, and the court orders its return, the guidelines state that police "must return the property." Affirming that California's medical marijuana law is not preempted by federal law, the Attorney General further directs "state and local law enforcement officers [to] not arrest individuals or seize marijuana under federal law" when an individual's conduct is legal under state law. [Americans for Safe Access]While Prop. 215 has gone a long way towards protecting the medical marijuana community from harassment by state law-enforcement, there have been continuing regional problems such as unjustified confiscation of medicine. The new guidelines should remind police that their duty is to uphold the law, not circumvent it.

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Biden is a "Moderate" on Crime Issues?

The Chicago Tribune on Biden:He has proven to be a reliable moderate on crime issues--particularly where narcotics are concerned--and was a principal author of the 1994 crime bill which sought to put 100,000 more police officers on the streets through a federal grant program. That bill also expanded the reach of the federal death penalty.Um, Biden coined the term "drug czar" and created ONDCP, the propaganda wing of the federal drug war. He tried to one-up the Republican anti-drug plan by calling for larger foreign drug war investments. He authored the RAVE Act to allow federal prosecution of property owners who fail to successfully prevent drug use. He championed research into biological warfare techniques to eradicate South American drug cultivation, even after experts said it was way too dangerous to even consider. He was last seen proposing ridiculous drug war legislation only a month ago. Really, the list just goes on and on.So no, Joe Biden is not a "moderate" when it comes to crime issues. His hard-line authoritarian record speaks for itself, runs out of breath, and then speaks for itself some more. To call him a "moderate" is just ignorant and wrong, to the point of utterly trivializing the word and conjuring a wretched spectacle of what it would take to earn a more fitting description of his extensive jail-mongering credentials.I can only assume this profound mischaracterization of Biden's record was arrived at through the tired assumption that democrats are "soft" on crime, republicans are "tough," and therefore "moderates" are democrats who support harsh laws. Joe Biden is exactly the reason such stereotypes should be avoided by responsible journalists.(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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preposterous SCarolina story from 23AUG08

I found this in the local paper while visiting my family in Augusta GA

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Joe Biden's Awful Record on Drug Policy

Among the likely choices for Obama's running mate, Joe Biden was not the person reformers were hoping to see on the democratic ticket. Radley Balko sums up Biden's drug war credentials:…from a policy perspective, it’s a disaster. Biden has sponsored more damaging drug war legislation than any Democrat in Congress. Hate the way federal prosecutors use RICO laws to take aim at drug offenders? Thank Biden. How about the abomination that is federal asset forfeiture laws? Thank Biden. Think federal prosecutors have too much power in drug cases? Thank Biden. Think the title of a “Drug Czar” is sanctimonious and silly? Thank Biden, who helped create the position (and still considers it an accomplishment worth boasting about). Tired of the ridiculous steroids hearings in Congress? thank Biden, who led the effort to make steroids a Schedule 3 drug, and has been among the blowhardiest of the blowhards when it comes to sports and performance enhancing drugs. Biden voted in favor of using international development aid for drug control (think plan Columbia, plan Afghanistan, and other meddling anti-drug efforts that have only fostered loathing of America, backlash, and unintended consequences). Oh, and he was also the chief sponsor of 2004’s horrendous RAVE Act. On the other hand, Biden has recently spoken out against the crack/powder sentencing disparity and introduced legislation to address that issue. Pete Guither also notes that Biden's votes on civil liberties issues have consistently improved over the years, which may be a sign that he's evolving in his thinking. But I see no evidence that Biden has ever stepped back in any meaningful sense from his rabid drug warring ways. If he's made any philosophical realignments on drug policy in general, he hasn't said so out loud. Thus the silver-lining may be that as Vice President, Biden would no longer be serving on the judiciary committee, where he's exerted his influence in the form of the various atrocities outlined above. As VP he'd technically be losing his authority over drug policy issues, except to whatever extent Obama may seek his advice when selecting the drug czar and so forth. It's certainly possible that Obama's more enlightened views would prevail within his administration, or even that Biden's "tough on crime" credentials could provide cover for reform, but Biden would be a strange ingredient in the behind-the-scenes reform agenda that's so often attributed to Obama by liberal reformers. It was bad enough when Obama softened his reform positions to avoid attacks from the right. Will he now begin watching his step around his own running mate?(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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An Interesting Poll

A poll conducted by whattheyplay.com, the parents guide to video games, asked the following question.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Chemical Muse

The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of We

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Truisms In Support Of Abolishment Of Anti-Constitutional Prohibition Laws

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of intemperance.

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Panel Calls For No Marijuana Enforcement During Democratic National Convention

Police in Denver must be so sick of Mason Tvert. But in case they haven't noticed, he's not gonna stop calling them out until they stop wasting valuable public safety resources on petty pot busts:A panel set up to review Denver's marijuana policies has recommended that police refrain from busting adults who fire up during the Democratic National Convention.Police will have to deal with numerous security issues next week when thousands of people - ranging from protestors to delegates - descend on Denver, said Mason Tvert, leader of a group that sponsored a law mandating that marijuana be a low-enforcement priority."It is absolutely absurd for the police to be spending any of their time worrying about adults using a drug that is less harmful than alcohol," he said today.Tvert, who also sits on the Marijuana Policy Review Panel, said he would deliver the recommendation to Mayor John Hickenlooper, Police Chief Gerald Whitman and Denver City Council president Jeanne Robb. [Denver Post]Of course, this conversation wouldn't even be happening if Denver police just listened to the people they serve. The citizens of Denver voted against petty marijuana enforcement not once, but twice, first legalizing possession of up to an ounce, and then calling on police to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority. Is there anything confusing or ambiguous about that?If the community makes a statement about what type of policing they want, it is law-enforcement's job to make it work. Anything less renders the police department a rogue agency, abusing the very population whose tax dollars pay police salaries.

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California Legislature Passes Employment Rights Bill for Medical Marijuana Patients

This is big news:Sacramento, CA -- A medical marijuana employment rights bill, which would protect hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in California from employment discrimination, passed the State Senate today. AB2279 had already passed the State Assembly in May, which means the bill now heads to the Governor's desk. Advocates expect the bill to reach Schwarzenegger's desk in the next few weeks.AB2279, introduced in February by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and co-authored by Assemblymembers Patty Berg (D-Eureka), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego), reverses a January California Supreme Court decision in the case Ross v. RagingWire. Support for the bill has been widespread, coming from labor, business, and health groups at the local and national level. [Americans for Safe Access]Ten years after the passage of Proposition 215, medical marijuana hasn’t lost any support in California. Even the state legislature is standing up for patients' rights, as well it should. How embarrassing this must be for those who claimed that medical marijuana was a threat to public safety. Californians are pleased with their medical marijuana law, despite unwelcome inference by the federal government. It is just beyond dispute at this point that allowing patients with a doctor's recommendation to obtain medical marijuana doesn't cause any significant social problems. We can see with our own eyes that the sky has not fallen.Now it is up to Governor Schwarzenegger to do the right thing and sign this commonsense bill into law. He's already bowed disgracefully to federal pressure by vetoing a sensible and completely harmless bill to legalize hemp cultivation, so there's good reason to question his judgment. On the other hand, this bill is about the basic employment rights of people treating medical conditions according to the advice of their doctors. A veto would not be well-received by the people of California. Let's hope the Governator knows what's good for himself and his constituents. This is an easy one. Don't let anyone try to make it complicated.

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Excellent Video: The Human Cost of Marijuana Prohibition

The Marijuana Policy Project has put together an absolute must-see video telling the stories of real people who were unfairly targeted by the war on drugs.Part 1:Part 2: There is simply no counterpoint to this. No one will come forward to defend these atrocities. They cannot. Instead, the drug czar and his soldiers will continue to celebrate their war, while pretending these people don't exist. The duty falls on us, therefore, to give a voice to the drug war's countless victims. These stories puncture the false narrative that the war on drugs protects life and liberty. These are the inevitable, intolerable consequences of the terrible war we've declared on our own neighbors and friends, on the sick and dying, on children and grandparents. To know these stories is to know the truth: the drug war has brought us the opposite of every good outcome we were told to expect. So today I call upon the silent drug warriors lurking around the site (I know you're out there) to come forward and tell us why the nice people in these videos were worth sacrificing. Speak now, lest we assume you have no answer for this.

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College Presidents Call for Debate on Lowering the Drinking Age

It's encouraging to see prominent educators take a stand for more sensible drug policies:As college students gear up for annual back-to-school parties, a group of university and college presidents in California and across the country this week pushed for a national debate over whether the drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18.The current limit ignores the reality of drinking during college years and drives it underground, making binge drinking more dangerous and students less likely to seek help in an emergency, according to a petition signed by more than 100 campus presidents. Though they don't call for an outright age rollback, the campus chiefs said they support "an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21-year-old drinking age." [LA Times]The drug czar's office went code red, of course, and was probably more than a little displeased at having to respond to a bunch of respected college presidents who couldn't be ignored or accused of being pro-drug. With the help of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, they've compiled a list of emphatic counterpoints most of which, if true, would compel us to ban alcohol entirely for everyone. My favorite is that, "all underage drinking is unsafe drinking." And isn't that just precisely the point here? Kids are getting bombed surreptitiously in dormrooms across America. They're being ushered into the drinking culture by the drunkest people on earth. And they're afraid to ask for help in an emergency because well-meaning morons have criminalized their behavior instead of supervising it.Of course, beyond the practical problems with the 21 drinking age, I'm still a big fan of the old cliché that if you're old enough to fight and die for your country, you're old enough to drink a beer. That argument should've worked a long time ago, but I guess I've been fighting for drug policy reform long enough to know that being right doesn't mean politicians will do what you propose.So instead, every American between the ages of 18 and 20 should refuse to serve in the armed forces until this is addressed, lest they should find themselves fighting in defense of a freedom they may not live long enough to taste.

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Pet Mountain Lion Gets Man Arrested for Marijuana

Ok, if you're growing marijuana, don't harbor an illegal pet mountain lion: mountain lion Russell Rexrode, a 41 year old Ft. Bragg resident, has been sentenced to 180 days in jail following his conviction by a jury of felony cultivation of marijuana. Sheriff's deputy Dustin Lorenzo testified during the trial that he weighed 119 pounds of processed marijuana and 142 pounds-worth of unprocessed marijuana plants found at Rexrode's residence. Sheriff's Lieutenant Rusty Noe testified that the wholesale value of the pot was $2,400 per pound.Fish and Game Department Lieutenant Lynette Shimek testified that she led the search of Mr. Rexrode's property on Oct. 17, 2005, on the basis of evidence relating to "unlawful mountain lion possession." Superior Court judge Ron Brown presided over the case, and in addition to giving Rexrode the jail sentence, he ordered the defendant to pay $1,500 for the misdemeanor offense of having the mountain lion. [Ukiah Daily Journal]Now, I understand why someone would grow marijuana. It's medicine. It makes people happy and creative. And I understand why someone would want a mountain lion. They are majestic. But this guy pushed his luck too far. As much as many of us may wish to live in a world where you can grow weed and raise mountain lions, we just don't. And if there's one thing that's going to generate more buzz around the neighborhood than a homegrown marijuana garden, it's a lion. But here's what I want to know: how come the guy got 180 days in jail for growing pot, but only paid a $1,500 fine for the mountain lion?! It should go without saying that mountain lions are vastly more dangerous than marijuana.

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