Eric Holder Urged To Oppose Marijuana Ballots By Ex-DEA Heads

Eric Holder Marijuana

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration urged Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday to take a stand against possible legalization of recreational marijuana in three western states, saying silence would convey acceptance.

The former officials said in a letter sent on Friday that legalization would pose a direct conflict with federal law, indicating there would be a clash between the states and the federal government on the issue.
Voters in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon are due to decide in November whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and to regulate and tax its sale.
"To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives," they said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. A spokeswoman for Holder declined to comment on the letter.

The letter is similar to one they sent Holder in 2010 urging him to oppose a recreational pot legalization ballot measure in California. It was defeated with 53.5 percent of voters rejecting it.
Holder opposed the California measure before the vote, warning that U.S. officials would enforce federal laws against marijuana in California despite any state legalization.
Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser on marijuana issues to President Barack Obama’s administration, said he would not be surprised if Holder took that same position again.
"Essentially, a state vote in favor of legalization is a moot point since federal laws would be, in (Holder’s) own words (from 2010), ‘vigorously enforced,’" Sabet said. "I can’t imagine a scenario where the Feds would sit back and do nothing."

Obama administration officials have until now said little about the upcoming ballot measures, although the federal government has cracked down on medical cannabis dispensaries in several states by raiding them and threatening legal action.

PUBLIC SUPPORT
In recent years polls have shown growing national support for decriminalizing marijuana. In May, an Angus Reid survey showed 52 percent of those polled expressed support for legalizing pot. The poll of 1,017 respondents had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Gallup saw support hit 50 percent last year, the highest number the organization had ever measured on the question.
In the swing state of Colorado, the marijuana measure with its potential to bring out young voters is seen as potentially influencing votes for president. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling said earlier this year that marijuana "could be a difference maker" in the state.

The nine signatories to Friday’s letter included John Bartels, who ran the DEA from 1973 to 1975, and Karen Tandy, who was in charge from 2003 to 2007.
Tom Constantine, who was in charge of the DEA from 1994 to 1999 and also signed the letter, said the former administrators hoped it would send a message to voters and alter the public debate.
He said the letter had been sent so "voters would know in all fairness that no matter what they vote on in Colorado or wherever it is, that federal law still prevails."
In response to a 2011 petition to legalize and regulate marijuana, Obama administration drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said at that time that federal officials were concerned about the drug because it was "associated with addiction, respiratory disease and cognitive impairment."

Legalization advocates say the decades-old drug war in the United States has failed, and they compare laws against marijuana to the prohibition of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. They argue that society would be better served if marijuana could be taxed and regulated.

While no U.S. state allows recreational use of marijuana, 17 states and the District of Columbia permit its use in medicine.

"Anyone who is objective at all knows that current marijuana policy in this country is a complete disaster, with massive arrests, wasted resources, and violence in the U.S. and especially in Mexico," said Jill Harris, managing director of strategic initiatives for Drug Policy Action, which has poured money into legalization campaigns.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and David Brunnstrom)

CONTINUE READING…

RE: Marc Emery

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5n2OY3nqVc?rel=0]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyFo4l06fzM?rel=0]

Uploaded by mrwhateverfor on Dec 20, 2011

On July 29, 2005, Canadian police, acting on a request from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), simultaneously raided the BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Headquarters in Vancouver and arrested Emery for extradition to the United States outside a local storefront in the community of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia where he was attending a HempFest.

American authorities charged Emery and co-defendants Gregory Keith Williams, 50, of Vancouver, BC and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, of Vancouver, BC with “‘Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana”, “Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Seeds” and “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering”. Even though all the alleged offenses occurred in Canada, Canadian police did not lay any charges.

The day of Emery’s arrest, American DEA Administrator Karen Tandy admitted reasons behind the arrest were politically motivated by releasing the following statement, which praised blows dealt to the legalization movement: Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today. Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.

Emery was freed on a $50,000 bail and prepared to fight extradition in the courts.

Emery and his two associates, all charged in the United States with drug and money laundering offences, each faced a minimum 10-year sentence and the possibility of life imprisonment if convicted there.

On January 14, 2008, Emery had agreed to a tentative plea-bargain with U.S. authorities. The terms of the agreement were a 5-year prison term to be served in both Canadian and U.S. prisons. In return, he demanded the charges against his friends Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams be dropped.

(An appeal court judge ruled on March 7, 2008 in a similar case that a one-month jail sentence and probation constituted an adequate sentence for the crime of marijuana seed selling in Canada. This could possibly have been used to Emery’s advantage in his fight against extradition.

On March 27, 2008 the plea-bargain deal collapsed because of the refusal of the Canadian Conservative government to approve its side of the arrangement.

In late 2008, an extradition hearing was scheduled for June, 2009. However, before those hearings Emery agreed to plead guilty to one charge of drug distribution and accept a five-year sentence in the USA.

On September 21, 2009, Emery entered his guilty plea, and on September 28, he was incarcerated in a British Columbia prison awaiting extradition to a US federal prison to serve the five year sentence. There is a 30 day appeal period before extradition.

Emery was granted bail on November 18, after seven weeks in the pre-trial centre, to await the Justice Minister’s decision on the extradition order.

While Emery was imprisoned, his supporters held a permanent vigil outside the prison with tents and banners for 45 days, ending when Emery was released on bail.

On September 10, 2010, Emery was sentenced to 5 years in prison minus time served.

Until April 2011 Emery was held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the D. Ray James Correctional Institution in Folkston, Georgia.

On April 20, 2011, Emery was transferred to Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi.

 

O’Donnell blasts hypocrisy of marijuana prohibition


O’Donnell blasts hypocrisy of marijuana prohibition (via Raw Story )

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell slammed politicians Tuesday night for ignoring reality and continuing to “get high” on alcohol while Americans were being sent to jail for smoking marijuana. Gallup has found that Americans favor marijuana legalization now more than ever. A record-high 50 percent…

Continue reading “O’Donnell blasts hypocrisy of marijuana prohibition”

Q&A: First Health Canada helps prosecute marijuana growers, then asks them for advice

Postmedia News files

Marc-Boris St. Maurice during the 2004 federal election, when he was leader of the Marijuana Party.

Montreal’s Centre de Compassion, a medical marijuana facility, was raided last year and subsequently shut down, its director Marc-Boris St. Maurice charged with trafficking. Yet, much to his surprise, Health Canada asked him for advice on the subject of medical marijuana, along with other black market medical marijuana growers and dispensers and members of Health Canada’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulatory Reform, at a meeting in Ottawa Wednesday. They wanted to know how to grow, distribute and regulate the drug for medical purposes. The National Post’s Kristin Annable spoke to Mr. St. Maurice:

Q: Health Canada had an audience full of people who Ottawa has spent years trying to shut up and shut down. With this opportunity, what sort of questions did they ask?
A: Well I have the sheet right here, some examples are:
In an indoor installation would you use artificial or natural light?
Should you use hydroponic or natural soil?
What are the minimum requirements, in your opinion, for the person in charge of quality?

Q: And how did you answer those questions?
A: In my opinion the most important thing is the proficiency of the person, whether it is hydroponic or natural soil. Obviously, I prefer indoor because you can control the environment better. I think you would need someone with both microbiology experience and someone who has experience cultivating.

Q: Usually facilities like yours are at odds with the government. How does it feel to have Health Canada come to you looking for help?
A: That is the irony of the situation. Health Canada has come to court testifying against myself and other medical marijuana providers many times. Yet, now they are coming to us looking for information because they know it has value. Some people here have cases pending against them; are they going to testify against us after inviting us here?

Q: What were the people like who were there?
A: There were producers from all over the country. I think there was at least three from Toronto, some more from Montreal, Halifax, Guelph. The crowd was quite diverse, people in suits and ties, people in ponytails and leather hats, everyone from lawyers to old hippies.

Q: Over the years you must have developed quite the expertise on the subject.
A: Yes, we have always had to do it illegally. The positive is that they are acknowledging our level of expertise, which is a phenomenon.

Q: So how did they extend the invite to you?
A: Last summer, Health Canada announced that they were overhauling the whole medical marijuana access regulations and getting rid of personal production licenses. We went to a consultation at that time to discuss dispensing marijuana, where they announced that they would be giving out commercial production licenses to “compassion care” facilities to supply and legally produce it.

Q: So they decided that they want it produced commercially for medical use?
A: They said they would have a subsequent meeting to follow-up, which was this meeting. This was the first meeting that they have reached out to and recognized our expertise on the subject of production.

Q: And how did they conduct the meeting?
A: It was in a hotel conference room. We were broken up into three groups to discuss three themes: Quality, record keeping and security.

Q: Do you think the government understands what they are doing when it comes to growing marijuana?
A: No I don’t think they do. After 10 years of this, they are realizing that what we do is complex.

Q: What were the bigger concerns raised at this consultation?
A: Security. One thing they were asking was whether they should do criminal background checks for the producers. I’m of the opinion it would be wrong to exclude people who have a record of marijuana production, because they have the experience. It’d be like having a gay rights club and only letting straight people in.

National Post

Why Do Clinics Deny Painkillers To Medical Marijuana Patients?

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~

pills0409_image.jpeg

Should health care facilities have the power to make lifestyle decisions for you — and punish you when your choices don’t measure up to their ideals? More and more hospitals are making exactly those kinds of decisions when it comes to people who choose to use marijuana — even legal patients in medical marijuana states. Apparently, these places don’t mind looking exactly as if they have more loyalty to their Big Pharma benefactors than they do to their own patients.

A new policy at one Alaska clinic — requiring patients taking painkilling medications to be marijuana free — serves to highlight the hypocrisy and cruelty of such rules, which are used at more and more health care facilities, particularly the big corporate chains (the clinic in question is a member of the Banner Health chain).

Tanana Valley Clinic, in Fairbanks, started handing out prepared statements to all chronic pain patients on Monday, said Corinne Leistikow, assistant medical director for family practice at TVC, reports Dorothy Chomicz at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.


“We will no longer prescribe controlled substances, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, to patients who are using marijuana (THC),” the statement reads in part. “These drugs are psychoactive substances and it is not safe for you to take them together.” (This statement is patently false; marijuana has no known dangerous reactions with any other drugs, and in fact, since marijuana relieves chronic pain, it often makes it possible for pain patients to take smaller, safer doses of opiates and other drugs.)

LIAR, LIAR: Corinne Leistikow, M.D. says “patients who use opiates and marijuana together are at much higher risk of death.” We’d love to see the study you’re talking about, Corinne.

“Your urine will be tested for marijuana,” patients are sternly warned. “If you test positive you will have two months to get it out of your system. You will be retested in two months. If you still have THC in your urine, we will no longer prescribe controlled substances for you.”

TVC patient Scott Ide, who takes methadone to control chronic back pain, also uses medical marijuana to ease the nausea and vomiting caused by gastroparesis. He believes TVC decided to change its policy after an Anchorage-based medical marijuana authorization clinic spend three days in Fairbanks in June, helping patients get the necessary documentation to get a state medical marijuana card.

“I’m a victim of circumstance because of what occurred,” Ide said. “I was already a patient with her — I was already on this regimen. We already knew what we were doing to get me better and work things out for me. I think it’s wrong.”

Ide, a former Alaska State Trooper, said he was addicted to painkillers, but medical marijuana helped him wean himself off all medications except methadone.

Leistikow admitted that the new policy may force some patients to drive all the way to Anchorage, because there are only a few chronic pain specialists in Fairbanks. Still, she claimed the strict new policy was “necessary.”

The assistant medical director is so eager to defend the clinic’s new policy that she took a significant departure from the facts in so doing.

“What we have decided as a clinic — we’re setting policy for which patients we can take care of and which ones we can’t — patients who use opiates and marijuana together are at much higher risk of death, abuse and misuse of medications, of having side effects from their medications, and recommendations are generally that patients on those should be followed by a pain specialist,” Leistikow lied.

Patients who use opiates and marijuana together are NOT in fact at higher risk of death, abuse, misuse and side effects; I invite Ms. Leistikow to produce any studies which indicate they are. As mentioned earlier, pain patients who also use marijuana are usually able to use smaller, safer doses of painkillers than would be the case without cannabis supplementation.

CONTINUE READING HERE…

Absolute Asinine Laws

Life in Prison for Hemp

José Peña brought some roadside weeds home from Kansas. Cops decided it was reefer, and a Texas court sentenced him to life in prison – without the evidence. It took a decade for Peña to get back some of the pieces of his life.

By Jordan Smith, Fri., March 16, 2012

Life in Prison for Hemp

José Peña was tired as he drove south toward Houston on the morning of Sept. 27, 1998. Following a quick trip north to Kansas in a rented van – to pick up the brother of a distant cousin’s son – he was on his way home to Houston, where he lived with his wife and four children. It was the kind of favor Peña often did for friends and family, no matter how distant the relation – and the kind of favor that irritated his wife. “I was tired, and I was trying to get home,” the 50-year-old recently recalled. “My wife was mad at me for doing favors for other people” when he could instead be home.

That morning, just before 8am, Peña was cruising south down I-45, a little more than two hours from home. He was driving in the right-hand lane through Leon County when he passed a state trooper sitting in his car on the grass median. He thought nothing of it – just another Texas trooper on a long and nondescript stretch of highway – until he noticed the trooper pull out onto the road and follow him. The officer, Mike Asby, a veteran member of the Texas Department of Public Safety, drove in the left lane until his car was parallel with Peña’s. Peña looked over at Asby. “He pulled up next to me, and I looked at him because I wasn’t not going to make eye contact” with an officer whom Peña thought was definitely checking him out for whatever reason.

Although Peña steadfastly maintains that he wasn’t doing anything wrong or unusual, Asby would later testify that Peña caught his attention because he was driving more slowly than the rest of traffic in a van caked with mud; when the van “weaved across the center stripe and also across the solid yellow line on the shoulder,” Asby testified in January 2003, he had to take action. “You’re required to stay in a single lane of traffic,” he said. He activated his lights and pulled Peña over.

Within the hour, Peña would be in handcuffs in the back of the trooper’s car, headed to the county jail in Centerville on a charge of marijuana possession. Nearly five years later, Peña would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison for possession of what the state said turned out to be 23.46 pounds of freshly cut marijuana that Peña was transporting in the back of the muddy blue van. Although Asby testified that this was not a normal highway drug bust – “normally,” he testified, marijuana moves north from Houston, already “dried out, cured, and ready to be sold” – he was certain that what he found casually laid out in the back of the van was pot because it smelled like pot – and he knows pot when he smells it. “It’s something that you learned in [28] years of experience being on the road?” prosecutor Whitney Smith (now Leon Coun­ty’s elected D.A.) asked Asby.

“Yes, sir,” Asby replied.

Just Trust Us

There are at least two problems with the official story of Peña’s arrest and prosecution. First, Peña is adamant – and has been since 1998 – that what he was transporting was not marijuana, but actually hemp, pot’s non-narcotic cousin. Peña says he found the plants growing wild in Kansas and cut them down, thinking that he could use the stems and leaves in the various craft projects he made with leather and wood in his garage workshop; there was no doubt in Peña’s mind that what he was transporting was not marijuana. The second, and eventually more decisive problem with the official story of the Peña bust, is that prior to his trial, officials with the Department of Public Safety lab in Waco, where the plants were taken for testing, completely destroyed all of the case evidence – all 23.46 pounds of plant material – and then also lost the case file with all of the original documentation of the lab’s work on the case. By the time Peña was finally tried – more than four years later – there was absolutely no evidence to show the jury; instead, the state relied completely on the “experience” of Asby and of Waco lab supervisor Charles Mott (now retired) to persuade jurors that what they say they saw and tested was actually marijuana.

It worked.

That is, it worked until late last year, when Peña’s conviction was finally overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, and Leon County subsequently dismissed the charges for good. In the intervening decade, however, Peña’s case became a political hot potato, catching the attention of judges and lawyers across the state who watched as the 10th Court of Appeals, based in Waco, played tug-of-war with the Austin-based CCA over the power of the Texas Constitution, and whether it affords citizens greater rights and protection against state power than does the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a conflict that has left the state of Texas divided and may mean – at least for the time being – that persons tried for crimes in one part of the state will be afforded greater protection from prosecutorial errors or malfeasance than are others. Frankly, says Keith Hampton, an Austin defense attorney who represented Peña just before his case was dismissed, you just “don’t see this happen very often.” Ulti­mate­ly, whether the protections gleaned from the Texas Constitution by the 10th Court will remain in force and be applied to all Texans is still to be determined.

Weeds, Not Weed

Peña had a knack for creating handcrafted leather and wood items that sold like hotcakes, he says, at flea markets in and around Houston. He made personalized shellacked plaques and leather key chains with popular first names spelled out in tiny beads, and at a dollar a key chain, they sold well. So when he first saw the hemp plants growing on the roadside near Manhattan, Kan., they gave him an idea. He would take the plants – which, to an untrained eye, look exactly like marijuana plants – press the leaves, and then use them on plaques or affixed to the small leather wallets that he also had become expert at making. He recognized these as “volunteer” hemp plants – they grow wild across the country, reminders of the days when hemp farming was commonplace and even, during World War II, encouraged by the feds as supporting the war effort. By the Kansas roadside, they were scraggly and abundant. When he pulled into the Tuttle Creek State Park outside Manhattan, and saw the plants growing everywhere, he “loaded … up.”

Indeed, Peña thought nothing of the fresh-cut plants that he’d laid out in the back of the blue van he was driving. He knew – partly from experience of having smoked pot when he was younger, and partly because he knew that hemp was once a major agricultural commodity – that the plants were nothing more than weeds that looked like weed.

However, that’s not how Asby saw it. To him, it was clear that one thing, and only one thing, was taking place. Peña was moving a large amount of marijuana to Houston – as unusual as that might be, Asby acknowledged.

Peña repeatedly told Asby that the plants were hemp, and his insistence clearly gave some pause to Asby and the two backup officers who soon joined him. The three men stood next to the van pondering the notion that a plant could look like, but not actually be, marijuana. “I … questioned them, I said, ‘Well, he says it’s not marijuana,'” Asby recalled in court. “I knew that there was a substance called hemp and I was asking them. … And I asked them, ‘You ever heard of something like marijuana, just hemp, that is legal to have?'” he continued. “I don’t know that there is a legal kind. That was the question I was asking the officers: ‘Have you ever heard of this … where marijuana was cut and it turns out to be legal?'”

In the end, Asby was unpersuaded. “I just know marijuana smells like marijuana,” he testified in 2003. “And I have never found anything that I thought was marijuana that wasn’t.” He cuffed Peña and hauled him off to jail.

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