Month: October 2014
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141 House Members Flunk Drug Policy Report Card But conservative Republicans are among the 49 who earned an A+.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., left, earned an A+ in a report on House drug policy votes. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., earned an F. The report looked at House votes on hemp, medical marijuana, DEA funding and banking rules.
By Steven Nelson Oct. 29, 2014 | 2:37 p.m. EDT
Each seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for grabs when Americans go to the polls Tuesday, and the Drug Policy Alliance wants voters who care about drug policy to check out a new report card for incumbent members.
The pro-reform organization’s advocacy arm, Drug Policy Action, issued the report card Wednesday, and scores don’t neatly match partisan affiliations.
Hard-line conservatives such as Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, are among the 49 House members who earned an A+, while Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is among the 141 members who earned an F.
The grades are based on an analysis of seven House votes – one in 2013, six in 2014 – including three votes on hemp, two on banking rights for marijuana businesses, one that would have cut Drug Enforcement Administration funding and another to protect medical marijuana in states that allow it.
Members who voted consistently for more liberal policies received an A+. The 116 representatives who voted in favor of reform in six votes earned an A. Those who voted for reforms in either one or none of the votes earned an F.
In a press release, the Drug Policy Action noted 56 percent of House members – 179 Democrats and 64 Republicans – earned a C or better, meaning they voted for reform in at least three of the votes.
“Unprecedented support now exists on both sides of the aisle in Congress for ending the federal war on drugs and letting states set their own drug policies,” Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for Drug Policy Action, said in a statement. “Drug policy reform is a winning issue for elected officials.”
The highest-profile vote tabulated in the report was on an amendment offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., that would have blocked the Department of Justice – including federal prosecutors and DEA agents – from spending funds to go after medical marijuana in states where it’s permitted.
Editorial Cartoons on Pot Legalization
The Rohrabacher amendment sailed through the House in a 219-189 vote in May that blurred party lines, but the Senate didn’t consider a companion amendment from Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., and it wasn’t enacted into law.
The drug policy organization didn’t grade senators, citing a paucity of drug policy votes in the chamber.
Read the full report card:
This is part one of a two-part series. Read part two here.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was established under the Justice Department in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. Its mission was to keep the nation off and away from drugs, which, at least according to the White House, were a moral evil and catalyst of criminal behavior. The agency was formed just two years after Nixon launched what became known as the “war on drugs.” Congress and the rest of the nation remained convinced that the scourge of narcotics and drug abusers — and perhaps particularly those who were young, poor or black — was pounding at the gates. Over the next four decades, with most drug policy now firmly in the grips of law enforcement officials, the DEA’s annual budget saw a fortyfold increase, going from a paltry $75 million to nearly $3 billion in 2014.
With more than 11,000 employees and a host of responsibilities, the agency’s activity has expanded worldwide, all the while attracting scrutiny from critics of the drug war who contend that the DEA is an ineffective agency that uses controversial tools to enforce often misguided or unjust federal drug laws.
The catalog of controversies below helps explain why the public has often questioned the DEA’s priorities, as well as the methods it employs to advance them. While the DEA does its best to keep many of its dealings out of the public eye — it regularly claims secrecy is imperative to the success of its anti-drug operations — here are some of the most sketchy, messed up things that we know it has done:
The DEA claimed Prohibition was a success.
Most historians believe the “noble experiment” of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s backfired, creating a myriad of negative unintended consequences and serving as a lesson about the hazards of governing public morals. The DEA, however, tells a different story. In 2010, the DEA and the International Association of Chiefs of Police released a report providing key arguments against drug legalization. In one passage, first highlighted by the Republic Report, the report set out to combat what it called the “myth” that “prohibition didn’t work in the 20’s and it doesn’t work now.” Its main argument was that the 18th Amendment didn’t go far enough to restrict the manufacturing and consumption of alcohol at the onset of Prohibition.
Citing figures that suggest there was a decline in alcohol use during that 13-year period — statistics that are regularly contested and impossible to verify — the document argues that Prohibition was a successful policy. The report also downplayed the secondary effects of banning alcohol, such as the precipitous rise of organized crime, at one point suggesting that those effects were increasing before the enactment of Prohibition.
A sample of the DEA’s report.
Unsurprisingly, the report made no mention of the clear negative parallels between early-20th century Prohibition laws and today’s laws that target drugs. In both cases, strict prohibition has taken away resources from treatment for addiction and abuse, overburdened court systems and jails, fostered corruption in law enforcement, propped up organized crime and even, some argue, created a damaging disrespect for the rule of law. In return, these incredibly costly enforcement experiments have largely failed to actually limit people’s consumptive habits.
The DEA imprisoned an innocent suspect in a holding cell for five days without food or water.
In 2012, 24-year-old Daniel Chong was detained by DEA agents in San Diego after his friend’s house was targeted by a drug raid. Chong was told there were no plans to charge him and that he’d be released the same day. But he wasn’t released, and agents who heard or saw him over the next five days did nothing, each believing he was somebody else’s responsibility. Chong was trapped in a windowless 5-by-10 enclosure without food or water, all for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he was finally discovered, he was incoherent and required medical attention. He said he’d drank his own urine to survive, and at one point attempted suicide. At some point, Chong began to carve “sorry mom” into his arm with broken glass from his eyeglasses, which he ate before being released.
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Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons.
A 2,400-year-old “Siberian Ice Maiden” apparently knew something that not all US lawmakers do: Cannabis is a perfect palliative for cancer.
Discovered in 1993 by archaeologist Natalia Polosmak, the mummified remains of this woman, also known as the “Princess of Ukok,” were recently examined by a team of Russian scientists. They found that the woman, who was heavily tattooed and died when she was between 20 and 30 years old, suffered from and ultimately succumbed to breast cancer.
“‘I am quite sure of the diagnosis — she had cancer,” one of the scientists told the Siberian Times. “She was extremely emaciated. Given her rather high rank in society and the information scientists obtained studying mummies of elite Pazyryks, I do not have any other explanation of her state. Only cancer could have such an impact.”
The researchers also believe that the woman used cannabis to treat herself. A container of the herb was found in her burial chamber, along with a “cosmetics bag.”
“Probably for this sick woman, sniffing cannabis was a forced necessity,” another scientist said, noting that wine, hashish, opium, henbane, mandrake, aconite, and Indian hemp were all used at the time as painkillers. “And she was often in altered state of mind. We can suggest that through her could speak the ancestral spirits and gods. Her ecstatic visions in all likelihood allowed her to be considered as some chosen being, necessary and crucial for the benefit of society. She can be seen as the darling of spirits and cherished until her last breath.”
Hey, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. (Siberian Times)
The U.S. government claims marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug with no medical benefits. But that claim will be up for debate Monday in California when a federal judge is scheduled to hear testimony from doctors that conclude the opposite.
Doctors Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington will testify Monday that marijuana — real name, “cannabis” — is not the demon drug the federal government makes it out to be. Accepted science does not justify the listing of cannabis as a dangerous “Schedule I” substance, many say.
“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence,” Dr. Hart declared. “After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”
This is an unprecedented hearing, writes cannabis law reform advocate Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.
“This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute which classifies cannabis to be one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation.”
Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke write that “In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves … [that] marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance.”
Testimony for the evidentiary hearing of United States v. Pickard, et. al., should last three days.
Government witness Bertha Madras, former White House Drug Czar deputy director under George W. Bush will defend the Schedule 1 designation. Madras states cannabis has no accepted medical use and is unsafe.
Madras states she supports the pharmaceuticalization of THC and CBD, while criminalizing the use of the plant they come from.
“Although more than 30% of current therapeutic drugs are plant-derived, no one currently eats or smokes foxglove plants to treat a heart condition, chews cinchona bark to alleviate malaria symptoms, or eats opium poppies to relieve post-surgical pain,” Madras writes.
In places where medical marijuana is legal, folks have moved on from smoking it to vaporization, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. About one in 20 California adults are estimated to have used medical marijuana for a serious illness, according to the most recent survey data. Ninety-two percent of them are estimated to believe cannabis was helpful for their condition.
Critics of Madras note the government has actually patented cannabis for use in stroke therapy.
President Richard Nixon placed cannabis in Schedule 1 in 1970, overruling the recommendations of his own National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, which found “little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of the natural preparations of cannabis.”
Disclosure: The author is long BNRDF. (More…)
- It has been suggested that American investors could be in violation of the Controlled Substance Act. This is debatable since Canadian MMPR medical marijuana is federally legal in Canada.
- Some major U.S. companies violate U.S. federal laws while in different countries (WMT, F, and GM).
- Two international companies, GWPH and BAYRY, currently manufacture and distribute a cannabis medication that would violate the Controlled Substance Act if dispensed within the U.S.
- There are five public MMPR licensed companies – with OGRMF as the first licensed producer – officially listed on an American exchange (OTC markets).
- While American investors might not be at risk of violating U.S. federal law (the Controlled Substance Act), there still exists both considerable potential and risk.
A recent article stated, “according to some U.S. experts … American investors in Canadian medical marijuana can be seen as violating the Controlled Substances Act.” This is a significant issue as it could deeply affect Canadian MMPR stocks and investor relations with the United States. Can investing in completely legal Canadian medical marijuana stocks be illegal for an American investor?
In the last few years the corporate agenda has led the legalization movement of cannabis right thru the processes of capitalism, all nice, and tied up with a pretty bow on the “bag”.
There is a serious problem with this.
First of all I am not anti-capitalist. In fact it would be my pleasure to be able to walk in my local town drug store and purchase an ounce of Herb and pay the taxes on that purchase as well.
I would probably be the first person in line in Cave City when the store opened if that were possible. I would also love to see a Cannabis Café on the corner of Broadway and First Street.
That being said I can compare the legalization of corporate cannabis with the “Wet” vote that just passed in my town.
Before the town went “wet” there were a couple/few people around the area that served the locals occasionally. Yes, it is illegal, but in my opinion it shouldn’t be because taxes have already
been paid on that product by the “bootlegger” when he bought it from the store. At any rate, the people who “served” us were good people and were hurting no one. They were just trying to
get by day by day like most of the rest of us and provide a service. Point is, now that the town is “wet” there will be no more business for the “bootlegger” who is just a small town
person trying to make a dollar…not a million dollars. Although this is not a totally accurate comparison because alcohol is already taxed and regulated it is still illegal for someone to buy and
resell or even serve someone alcohol in this county with the exception of a couple of wet restaurants we had previously.
I find it ironic that a city could legalize alcohol consumption in a couple of restaurants, with the purchase of an alcohol license of course, even though that the county itself remains dry.
Corporate cannabis will not give us the right to grow for personal use,or to be able to sell at the vegetable market like fresh oregano, catnip, white sage, etc.,
If we continue to “legalize” in the current fashion only corporate driven companies will be allowed access to the growth, processing and marketing of cannabis much the same as alcohol is now.
The “legalize, tax and regulate” push was very convenient for corporate America.
That is why that either repeal or re-legalization must be the avenue we take to ensure that we have our own personal rights to this plant restored. If “legalize, tax and regulate” wins we will loose
our rights to this plant forever. Laches will rule.
Another thing to consider is the fact that just because something is produced in a corporate environment does not necessarily mean that it is a good product.
Look at all the recalls that have been issued on the cars we drive everyday which were issues that have proven to be fatal in a lot of instances.
With a new market emerging such as the one we have with cannabis is it imperative that we retain our own personal rights to the plant AND that any corporate products which are
produced and sold from cannabis are ensured to be safe whether it be for medical or recreational purposes. And just like the farmer’s market on Saturdays it will be “buyer beware”
when purchasing home grown or made items.
Be smart. Do not give up your personal rights in order to let the government regulate everything and then assume because it is government regulated that it is safe.
Just read the side effects on prescriptions. That right there will explain to you how interested the government is in your safety. Regulation although needed in some
form or fashion cannot be relied upon to ensure your safety when purchasing or using any type of food or prescription medicine or herbal remedies. So don’t let them take away
your personal rights under the guise of health and safety regulations. That is just a farce.
Cannabis/Hemp is a wonderful plant that can be used for so many things. It is a treasure that God gave us to use. We need to make sure the government does not take yet another
human right away from us. If the laws governing cannabis/hemp are completely repealed then it will be free for everyone. I can put my “flower” in the kitchen window and
Pharma’s can produce their own version of cannabis medicines, as well the recreational use will support many café’s, etc.,
Freedom for everyone to use and enjoy… and be thankful for.
Fight for freedom from the prohibition of your freedoms!
The Bureau of Labor Statistics headline this morning reads: “Payroll employment increases by 248,000 in September; unemployment rate declines to 5.9%.”
How can this be? US corporations are investing in buying back their own stocks, not in new business ventures that produce new jobs.
According to the Census Bureau’s Poverty Report, US real median family income has declined to the level of twenty years ago. Consumer credit and real retail sales are not growing. Construction is limited to rental units. Construction shows 16,000 new jobs, half of which are “specialty trade contractors” or home remodelers.
The payroll jobs report lists 35,300 new jobs in retail trade. How is this possible when J.C. Penny’s, Macy’s, Sears, and the dollar store chains are in trouble and closing stores, and shopping centers are renting space by the day or hour?
At a time when there is a surfeit of office buildings and only 500 new jobs in “heavy and civil engineering construction,” the jobs report says 6,000 new jobs have been created in “architectural and engineering services.” What work are these architects and engineers doing?
The 4,900 computer systems jobs, if they exist, are likely short-term contracts from 6 to 18 months. Those who have the jobs are not employees but “independent contractors.”
The payroll jobs report gives an unusually high number–81,000–of “professional and business services” jobs of which 60,000 are “administrative and waste services,” primarily “temporary help services.”
“Health care and social assistance” accounts for 22,700 of the new jobs, of which 63 percent consist of “ambulatory health care services.”
“Performing arts and spectator sports” gave the economy 7,200 jobs, and 20,400 Americans found employment as waitresses and bartenders.
State governments hired 22,000 people.
Let’s overlook the contribution of the discredited “birth-death model” which overstates on average the monthly payroll jobs by at least 50,000, and let’s ignore the manipulation of seasonal adjustments. Instead, let’s assume the numbers are real. What kind of economy are we looking at?
We are looking at the workforce of a third world country with the vast bulk of the jobs in low-pay domestic service jobs. People working these part-time and independent contractor jobs cannot form a household or obtain a mortgage.
As John Titus, Dave Kranzler and I have shown, these jobs are filled by those aged 55 and over who take the low paying jobs in order to supplement meager retirement incomes. The baby boomers are the only part of the US labor force whose participation rate is rising. Of the claimed new jobs in September, 230,000 or 93 percent were jobs filled by those 55 and older. Employment of Americans of prime working age (25-54) declined by10,000 jobs in September from the August level.
As John Titus, Dave Kranzler and I have shown, these jobs are filled by those aged 55 and over who take the low paying jobs in order to supplement meager retirement incomes. The baby boomers are the only part of the US labor force whose participation rate is rising. Of the claimed new jobs in September, 230,000 or 93 percent were jobs filled by those 55 and older. Employment of Americans of prime working age (25-54) declined by 10,000 jobs in September from the August level.
- More bad news from the US jobs front
- Millions jobless, GOP heads for recess
- 18 signs economic crisis accelerating
- Unwarranted gift to US corporations
- Nearly 102mn Americans are jobless
- The real unemployment numbers in US
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This image obtained by The Associated Press shows a Facebook page for “Sondra Prince.” The Justice Department said Tuesday it is reviewing a woman’s complaint that a Drug Enforcement Administration agent set up a fake Facebook account using her identity. AP
WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration set up a fake Facebook account using photographs and other personal information it took from the cellphone of a New York woman arrested in a cocaine case, to trick her friends and associates into revealing incriminating drug secrets.
The Justice Department initially defended the practice in court filings but now says it is reviewing whether the Facebook guise went too far.
Sondra Arquiett’s Facebook account looked as real as any other. It included photos of her posing on the hood of a sleek BMW and a close-up with her young son and niece. She even appeared to write that she missed her boyfriend, who was identified by his nickname.
But it wasn’t her. The account was the work of DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen, Arquiett said in a federal lawsuit. The case is scheduled for trial next week in Albany, New York.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement Tuesday that officials are reviewing both the incident and the practice, although in court papers filed earlier in the case, the federal government defended it. Fallon declined to comment further because the case is pending.
Details of the case were first reported by the online news site Buzzfeed.
Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. She was accused of being part of a drug distribution ring run by her boyfriend, who had been previously indicted.
In a court filing in August, the Justice Department contended that while Arquiett didn’t directly authorize Sinnigen to create the fake account, she “implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations.”
The government also contended that the Facebook account was not public. A reporter was able to access it early Tuesday, though it was later disabled.
A spokesman for Facebook declined Tuesday to comment on the legal dispute. Facebook’s own policies appear to prohibit the practice, telling users that “You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.”
Lawyers for Arquiett did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages from The Associated Press. Arquiett did not immediately respond to an email asking to discuss the case.
Arquiett said in her filing that she suffered “fear and great emotional distress” and was endangered because the fake page gave the impression that she was cooperating with Sinnigen’s investigation as he interacted online with “dangerous individuals he was investigating.”
The fate of Arquiett’s fight against the government’s use of her identity online is unclear.
A staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation – a civil liberties organization – Nate Cardozo, said the government’s rationale was “laughable.”
“If I’m cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, ‘Can I search your phone?’ and I hand it over to them, my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime – not that they will take things that are not evidence off my phone and use it in another context,” Cardozo said,
Lawrence Friedman, a privacy and constitutional law professor at New England Law-Boston, a law school, said the Arquiett’s “privacy claim rises and falls on the extent to which she consented to what it is the government says she consented to.”
If Arquiett agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and allow her phone to be used as part of that probe – as the government alleged in its court filing – then it would be harder for her to prove that her privacy rights were violated, Friedman said. If her phone were seized without consent, then she would have an easier claim.
“Basically, when you strike that kind of deal, you kind of have to play by the government’s rules,” Friedman said. “This is not the ordinary situation in which the person walking down the street can have their identity stolen by the government,” he said. “She was involved in a criminal investigation.”