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Law Enforcement Condemns Marijuana Measure (South Dakota)

Sioux Falls, SD
United States
KELO TV Sioux Falls

Medical Marijuana Policy Signed by CHP, Attorney General, Governor; ASA Lawsuit Settlement Yields Binding "Consent Decree" and $75,000 in

For Immediate Release-October 19, 2006 Contact: William Dolphin 510-919-1498 Medical Marijuana Policy Signed by CHP, Attorney General, Governor ASA Lawsuit Settlement Yields Binding "Consent Decree" and $75,000 in Legal Fees California's medical marijuana patients are now protected from arrest and seizure of their marijuana, thanks to a binding agreement between an advocacy group and state officials. The signed agreement settles a lawsuit filed last February against the California Highway Patrol by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on behalf of qualified medical cannabis patients who had lost their medicine in CHP traffic stops. CHP had a policy of seizing any cannabis found, regardless of whether the officer was shown patient documentation or not. On August 22, 2005, as a result of the lawsuit, CHP adopted a new policy that respects the rights of qualified patients to possess and transport medical cannabis. The new settlement agreement - signed by CHP officials and counsel for Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Governor Schwarzenegger - makes binding the policy adopted last year. Qualified patients, whether they have a state ID card or not, are allowed to have either the quantities specified by SB420 or the local county guideline amounts, whichever is greater. "We're urging local officials around the state to adopt similar law enforcement policies," said Kris Hermes, ASA legal campaign director. "Medical cannabis patients have rights under the law that must be respected, and this consent decree acknowledges that." As part of the settlement, ASA received reimbursement of $75,000 in legal fees for prosecuting the case. ASA received the money yesterday. "California's private attorney general statute encourages concerned citizens to fix flawed policy through litigation and allows for the award of attorney fees where appropriate," said Joe Elford, ASA Chief Counsel. "This case corrects an egregious policy that completely ignored the right of sick and dying Californians to possess marijuana for medical use." The new consent decree is at A photo of ASA staff members with an enlargement of the $75,000 check can be seen at Settlement.jpg. The CHP policy that went in to effect in August 2005 is at # # # With more than 30,000 members, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research. _______________________ _______________________ Caren Woodson Americans for Safe Access
United States

Sheriff Deputy Probed

United States
Stillwater News Press

Veteran Payne County Oklahoma Deputy Sheriff Brooke Buchanan Suspended Amid (Meth Lab?) Investigation By State

Stillwater, OK
United States
More Bad Cop News

Editorial: Drug Busts as Taxpayer-Funded Media Lobbying/Electioneering Campaigns

David Borden, Executive Director, 10/20/06
David Borden
One of the news items today was a report from Colorado of a major marijuana bust. The Denver DEA office and District Attorney announced they had roped in 38 dealers, and held a press conference to brag about it.

The timing was questioned by the group Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the sponsors of a marijuana legalization initiative on next month's statewide ballot. SAFER's press release called the press conference "an orchestrated political event," implying that the local drug warriors by staging this bust at this time and publicizing it were really trying to influence an election starting 19 days later with early voting starting only four days later. (SAFER also pointed out that there are listings in Denver for at least 347 dealers of alcohol -- a more dangerous drug than marijuana according to SAFER and according to any reasonable reading of the science on the issue.)

In my opinion the timing does indeed cast suspicion on the enforcers' motivation. Did Colorado narcs use the pretext of a drug bust to in reality conduct a media/lobbying/electioneering campaign at the expense of the taxpayer (as well as the expense of the people busted)?

If so, it wouldn't be the first time such a thing happened. In 1991, I'm told, the federal courthouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, was in danger of being shut down for budgetary reasons, its operations to be merged into other nearby facilities. Enter "Operation Equinox," which saw 12 fraternity brothers taken down on drug charges. The court got publicity and an apparent reason for being, and is alive and thriving today.

In California this summer they actually came right out and said what they were doing. A July press release from Attorney General Lockyer's office about how “44 task forces led by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement... arrested at least 115 individuals and seized at least $11.9 million worth of drugs as part of a one-day nationwide crime sweep," stated that the operation “promoted the continued funding of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program that supports local and statewide drug enforcement. The federally funded program has suffered deep cuts over the last few years.”

In the advocacy business, when we stage media-worthy events that we hope will affect the legislative process, it's considered lobbying. Were these 38 Coloradans, 115 Californians, the 12 UVA frat boys and others on numerous other occasions really pawns in the political games played by people who hold the power to incarcerate? That can be hard to prove, but it's pretty clear that that dynamic exists, and sometimes it isn't that hard to prove. Indeed, the prosecutor who seeks high-profile prosecutions and large numbers of convictions to bolster his or her political career is a well known creature, and one of the most powerful in government.

Let's hope this odious tactic backfires on Colorado's narcs -- on November 7!

Paraphernalia: Florida County Approves Tough New Ordinance

Head shop and paraphernalia store owners in Pinellas County, Florida, are in for a rough ride after the county commission Wednesday gave final approval to a new drug paraphernalia ordinance that will make it easier to win convictions than current Florida law. Under state law, people can only be found guilty of paraphernalia sales if it can be proven they knew the product they sold would be used to ingest drugs. The new county ordinance lowers the bar, requiring only that the seller should reasonably have known such use would occur.

Those convicted under the new county ordinance face up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500. Repeat offenders could see their business licenses jerked.
The new law is the result of a county Drug Paraphernalia Abatement Task Force organized by County Commission Chairman Ken Welch last year. The ordinance follows almost letter by letter the recommendations of the task force's report issued in June, which claimed that drug paraphernalia "enabled" drug use.

Opponents of the ordinance showed up at the commission's Wednesday meeting to no avail. According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, among those protesting the ordinance was Kurt Donely, executive director of the Florida NORML chapter. He said the proposed 60-day penalty was too extreme. "I would lose my house, my car," Donely said. "Something would happen to my pets."

Another opponent was Tamara Pare, 23, an employee of Purple Haze Tobacco & Accessories in St. Petersburg. She arrived dressed as a hooker, wearing red heels, a short skirt, and a halter top. Her attire, she said, was "a visual metaphor" that underscored the silliness of the "reasonably should know" standard. "Many reasonable people today might see me dressed like this and think I'm a prostitute," Pare told the board.

Her boss, Leo Calzadilla, spoke via videotape from his store, with shelves of water pipes on display behind him. The ordinance would be aimed at specialty shops like his when items that could be used as drug paraphernalia can be found almost anywhere he said. "This ordinance is going to do nothing but tie up our local courts system," Calzadilla warned.

But commission head Welch was unswayed, although he acknowledged the ordinance would not stop drug use. "It's not going to solve the entire problem," he said. "It's a step in the right direction."

Perhaps Welch and the county commission should be stepping over toward the county attorney's office because it appears it will be busy fending off challenges. "I'm still confused," Alan Berger, 51, co-owner of Balls of Steel in Gulfport, said after the vote. "Should I pull everything off the shelves? I guarantee you, we will fight."

Methamphetamine: Georgia Governor Makes It Campaign Issue, Seeks to Double State Task Force

Locked in a close reelection race, in recent weeks, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) has unveiled high-profile proposals to go after two of America's favorite bogeymen -- online sex predators targeting youth and illegal immigrants seeking drivers' licenses -- and this week, he added methamphetamine to his witch's brew of hot-button issues. At a Tuesday news conference surrounded by members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Perdue announced he would ask legislators for funds to double the number of agents on the GBI's Meth Force.
Mr. Photo-Op in Action: Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue
Launched earlier this year in response to reports of increasing methamphetamine use in the state, the GBI Meth Force is currently staffed with 30 agents. According to state statistics, meth cases submitted to the GBI have more than quadrupled from 1,200 in 2000 to 5,200 in 2005.

"Georgia is waging an effective battle against the scourge of methamphetamine with a strong local, state and federal coalition," Perdue said Tuesday during the news conference at the GBI Regional Drug Enforcement Office in Canton in remarks reported by the Gwinnett Daily Post. "An additional 15 agents... will double the state's efforts to combat meth and related crimes like burglaries, assaults and even homicides."

In a talking points memo produced to tout the proposal, the GBI explained that "the agents will be assigned to respond to meth labs, to investigations targeting meth drug trafficking organizations, as undercover agents conducting investigations of meth dealers, and to investigations of meth-related crimes or crimes committed in support of meth financing and operations." This is necessary because "local law enforcement is overrun with street level meth dealers and must devote more resources toward enforcement," the not disinterested GBI argued.

Perdue has developed a record of going after methamphetamine. In 2004, he requested and the legislature passed a provision increasing the penalties for cooking meth around a child. In 2005, he signed legislation that restricted the sale of medications containing pseudoephedrine, which is often used in home meth labs, and this year he budgeted $1 million to jumpstart the GBI Meth Force and another $1 million for treatment for about 200 meth users. The doubling of the force would take another $1 million.

But Perdue's Democratic opponent in next month's election, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, accused the governor of playing politics. "For the last month, Sonny Perdue has staged issue announcements to set up the next broadcast of a new political ad, and here he goes again," Taylor spokesman Rick Dent wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Post. "This is not governing, it's staging. It's all hat and no cattle. Voters deserve better."

Hemp: California Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) last Friday vetoed a bill that would have allowed California farmers to grow industrial hemp. Sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Assembly Bill 1147 would have defined industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, limited its THC content to less than 0.3%, and mandated annual testing of fields to ensure content limits are met.
(courtesy Independent Media Center)
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said the measure conflicted with federal law and would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor illicit marijuana crops. While he acknowledged recent successful court battles waged by the hemp industry, Schwarzenegger said "no court has specifically ruled that a live cannabis plant is a non-controlled substance or that farming these plants is not a regulated activity. As a result, it would be improper to approve a measure that directly conflicts with current federal statutes and court decisions. This only serves to cause confusion and reduce public confidence in our government system."

Schwarzenegger fell for the standard US police excuse that allowing hemp production would make it more difficult to stop outdoor marijuana grows: "Finally," he said, "California law enforcement has expressed concerns that implementation of this measure could place a drain on their resources and cause significant problems with drug enforcement activities. This is troubling given the needs in this state for the eradication and prevention of drug production."

Oddly enough, police in countries where hemp farming is a legal and productive part of the economy don't seem to have any problem distinguishing between industrial hemp and marijuana.

The hemp industry was not pleased. "Gov. Schwarzenegger's veto is a letdown for thousands of farmers, business people, and consumers that want to bring back industrial hemp to California to create jobs, new tax income and to benefit the environment," said Eric Steenstra, founder and President of Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp farming advocacy group, in a Monday press release denouncing the veto. "The veto was not based on facts but instead an irrational fear he would look soft on drugs in an election year. His veto message shows he knew industrial hemp is an economic development and agriculture issue, but he instead allowed himself to be cowed by confused drug war lobbyists. AB 1147 would have reigned in the overreach by federal authorities that has prevented non-drug industrial hemp varieties of cannabis from be being grown on US soil for fiber and seed. It is disingenuous to cite federal restrictions when drug war lobbyists refuse to sit down with the large coalition of farmers, business people and environmentalists who crafted the industrial hemp legislation. Industrial hemp will continue to be the only crop that is legal to import, sell and consume, but illegal to grow, in California."

"It's unfortunate that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 1147. We had looked forward to the hemp oil and seed in our products being grown and produced right here in California," said David Bronner, chair of the Hemp Industries Association Food and Oil Committee and president of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "Farmers in California, like farmers all across the United States, are always looking for profitable crops like hemp to add to their rotation. This veto clearly points out why HR 3037, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005, needs to be passed on the federal level."

Seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have now changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes. But the bill Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed differs from those laws. In those seven states, the laws require a DEA license to grow the crop, one the agency is historically reluctant to provide. The California bill would have explicitly provided that the federal government has no basis or right to interfere with industrial hemp in California.

Plants Found in Assistant Prosecutor's Home

St. Louis, MO
United States
St. Louis Post Dispatch

Riverside County Bans Medical Marijuana Centers

United States
San Jose Mercury News

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