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US WA: Column: Turkeys Of The Year

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 11/25/2024 - 08:00
Seattle Weekly, 25 Nov 2024 - Time to reveal this year's cannabis turkeys-the fattest, most frivolous, flapping, dumb-ass ideas in need of being stuffed, baked, and smoked once and for all. Let's start with a turkey large enough for the whole family, and by that I mean Gov. Chris Christie. He not only had the nerve to call cannabis a gateway drug, but said potheads lack restraint (ahem). "If I'm elected president I will go after marijuana smokers and the states that allow them to smoke," he said. "I'll shut them down big-time. I'm sick of these addicts, sick of these liberals with no self-control." Governor GobbleGobble got in one more zinger on the campaign trail: "If you're getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it," Christie lectured a small crowd last month. "As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws." Don't hold your breath, Guv. Well, unless you inhaled, of course.
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US OR: Column: Green Friday

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 08:00
Portland Mercury, 26 Nov 2016 - I ONCE WROTE a column about how cannabis growers shifted their operations indoors during the eight-year tenure of a senile president who acted in movies with a chimpanzee ["Indica Nation," Cannabuzz, Oct 8, 2014]. Ronald Reagan's fervent, jelly bean-fueled belief that people would stop enjoying cannabis simply because someone said "no" was paired with a full-scale assault on cannabis producers. People who had grown outside for years suddenly found helicopters manned by officers of the peace wielding semi-automatic weapons circling their properties. That served as incentive enough for outdoor growers to trade in their greenhouses for grow lights, HVAC systems, and high power bills. Over the years, people began to talk trash about cannabis produced outdoors (also known as "eco-friendly" and "sun-grown"). People complained that it wasn't strong enough, that it was too leafy or too harsh.
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US OH: OPED: Ohio Tries To Figure Out What To Do About Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
Dayton Daily News, 01 May 2016 - More than a token, but something short of tokin': That's the Ohio General Assembly's task in trying to craft a bill legalizing Ohioans' use of medical marijuana. The science may or may not be there, at least not entirely. But what looks like a public consensus seems to be. And that consensus is that marijuana's chemical components can help Ohioans fighting certain illnesses or enduring, say, chemotherapy.
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US CA: State GOP Says No To Pot

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
Los Angeles Times, 01 May 2016 - A proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California isn't getting much love from state Republicans. An influential California Republican Party committee on Saturday voted to oppose a proposed statewide ballot measure, known as the Adult Use Act, which would allow those 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of pot.
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US FL: Familiar Aroma Pervades Sunfest

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
The Palm Beach Post, 01 May 2016 - Concertgoers Indulge in Marijuana in Violation of City Law. WEST PALM BEACH - After 7:30 p.m. Friday night, you could smell it. There was no escaping the odor, which permeated the night sky like smoke bellowing from a chimney. The stench of marijuana was as prevalent and as synonymous with SunFest as the downtown traffic jams.
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US NJ: Column: Time for the Njweedman to Roll (a Joint) Off

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
The Trentonian, 01 May 2016 - Henry Gunther was an unhappy man, according to stories told years later by the BBC and The Baltimore Sun. He was unhappy for good reason, as well: It was World War I, he was fighting on the Western Front, and he had recently been demoted back to the rank of private. But the worst was yet to come for Gunther.
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US PA: Anticipating A Marijuana Industry

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 01 May 2016 - When the 1849 Gold Rush hit, it wasn't the miners who got rich. The businessmen who sold blue jeans and pickaxes amassed the real fortunes. When Gov. Wolf signed a medical marijuana bill into law on April 17, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis.
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US CT: Examining Opioid Addiction Treatment

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
New Haven Register, 01 May 2016 - Dr. Leana Wen, a practicing emergency care physician and Baltimore's health commissioner, has seen what addiction does to patients. Speaking to reporters this month in Baltimore, Wen recalled a patient, who developed an addiction and would lie about illnesses to ensure she had access to treatment, but then died of a heroin overdose after multiple attempts to get appropriate treatment.
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US HI: Ending The War On Drugs

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 01 May 2016 - With Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Coming Soon, the Debate Shifts to Decriminalizing Some Drugs Thirteen years after Hawaii legalized medical marijuana, the state is finally forging ahead with licensing marijuana dispensaries, issuing licenses to eight applicants on Friday. As it has in other states, that policy shift could usher in a new era of social norms. Back in 1973, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannibas for recreational use. Four decades later, Oregon voters said yes to legalizing marijuana, as Colorado and Washington had already done in 2012. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., have decriminalized marijuana possession.
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UK: Column: Clegg's Drugs Confession

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 07:00
The Mail on Sunday, 01 May 2016 - SOME things are unsayable in British politics. One such is the truth that cannabis has been, for many years, a decriminalised drug. The police, the CPS and the courts have given up any serious effort to arrest and prosecute users, just as evidence starts to pour in that it is extremely dangerous. Instead our elite moan about 'prohibition', which does not exist, and the cruel 'criminalisation' of dope-smokers, which would be their own fault if it happened, but actually doesn't. Arrests for this offence are rarer every week, and some police forces openly say they don't do it any more.
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US CA: Column: California: Is It The Next Stoner State?

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 07:00
Turlock Journal, 30 Apr 2016 - Jerry Brown a few years back was asked to comment on the drive to legalize recreational use of pot in California. The governor responded by indicating a "stoner state" may not be conducive to the California economy.
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US NJ: NJ Weedman Released From Jail After Raid: 'They

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 07:00
The Trentonian, 30 Apr 2016 - TRENTON - Less than 30 hours after his East State Street businesses were raided by police, Ed Forchion was back at the Joint, rolling a joint and vowing to beat county prosecutors in court. "They just gave me another platform to continue my goal," Forchion told The Trentonian at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, about two hours after his release from jail. "This is exactly what happened in Burlington County. I beat those prosecutors, and I'll beat the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office too. They're on the wrong side of history."
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CN NF: Editorial: It's High Time To Legalize Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 07:00
The Western Star, 30 Apr 2016 - The federal government is pushing ahead with plans to legalize marijuana and not before time. Health Minister Jane Philpott certainly didn't play down the controversial announcement. She chose a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York regarding drug use and drug-related crime. The timing was more than coincidental. Minister Philpot chose April 20 to reveal that Ottawa plans to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana in the spring of next year. Her address coincided with 4/20 - - the annual day of celebration for cannabis culture lovers, the so-called National Weed Day.
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CN AB: Editorial: It's High Time To Legalize Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 07:00
Medicine Hat News, 30 Apr 2016 - The federal government is pushing ahead with plans to legalize marijuana and not before time. Health Minister Jane Philpott certainly didn't play down the controversial announcement. She chose a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York regarding drug use and drug-related crime. The timing was more than coincidental. Minister Philpot chose April 20 to reveal that Ottawa plans to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana in the spring of next year. Her address coincided with 4/20 - - the annual day of celebration for cannabis culture lovers, the so-called National Weed Day.
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CN NS: Column: Smoke 'Em - and Tax 'Em - If You've Got 'Em

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00
The News, 29 Apr 2016 - In Newfoundland and Labrador, the latest budget brought huge debt, a two per cent increase in the HST and shutdowns of everything from seniors' dental programs to more than half the province's public libraries. In Prince Edward Island, the HST's up one per cent, while Nova Scotia has gone through public sector wages to eke out the barest slender slip of a balanced budget. New Brunswick? It also raised HST by two points to 15 per cent and is talking about public sector job cuts.
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CN ON: Proper Tools Needed to Nab 'Drug-Impaired Drivers'

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00
The Sault Star, 29 Apr 2016 - With the commitment by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government to legalize marijuana use in Canada comes a host of questions about regulating and restricting the drug, as well as a number of moral concerns. However, local police are not focused on discussions surrounding the legalization of pot in the country, which the Liberals promised to do during the election campaign last fall.
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New Zealand: Column: Unacceptable Drug Might Be

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00
Marlborough Express, 29 Apr 2016 - Try to imagine the future and you'll inevitably find it has bypassed you entirely, bringing a new present instead, part tragedy and part farce. Cannabis is a fine example. I well remember when it came into our lives, bringing new heights of paranoia with it. It was a time of student rebellion.
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US MA: Legalization Battle Bound For State's Highest Court

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00
Boston Herald, 29 Apr 2016 - WASHINGTON - The battle over legalizing recreational marijuana in Massachusetts will land before the state's highest court in June - when opponents will argue that the petition to put it on the ballot was misleading. Challengers to the proposed November state ballot question will ask the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court to throw out the more than 100,000 signatures collected to certify the ballot measure.
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New Zealand: Column: Leaving Politics a Cure for Militancy on

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:00
New Zealand Herald, 29 Apr 2016 - Why do some political leaders change their tune on drugs once they're no longer actively involved in politics? Last week the first United Nations general assembly special session (UNgass) on drugs for 18 years endorsed the prohibitionist approach that has cost so much and achieved so little. It was criticised by perhaps the most high-powered advisory body in international affairs. The Global Commission on Drug Policy's (GCDP) 22 members include eight former presidents or prime ministers and a former US Secretary of State, Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and UN SecretaryGeneral.
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Video Killed the Drug Conviction: Chicago Narcs Busted Lying Through Their Teeth [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 04/28/2016 - 16:22

Part 10 of an occasional series on police and prosecutorial misconduct by Clarence Walker, cwalkerinvestigate@gmail.com.

It was just another marijuana bust by Chicago's crack dope squad and should have resulted in an easy conviction, but thanks to a forgotten camera, things didn't exactly work out the way the cops planned. Now, the pot dealer is free, he has a bunch of cash in pocket, and it's the cops who are facing justice.

[image:1 align:right]It went down on June 6, 2013, when three Chicago Police narcotics officer and a pair of suburban Glenview police officers pulled over Joseph Sperling on the pretext that he had failed to properly use his turn signal, then claimed Sperling told them there were drugs in his vehicle. The cops said they found marijuana in plain view and arrested Sperling on marijuana possession and distribution charges. Business as usual, so far.

But when it came time to go to court the following March, things went south for the cops. Prosecutors had been questioning Chicago PD narcotics officer William Pruente, who said in sworn testimony that when police pulled over Sperling they immediately smelled marijuana and ordered him to exit the vehicle and stand at the rear of the car.

Then, defense attorney Steven Goldman asked the veteran narc if Sperling was handcuffed after he got out of the car.

"No, he was not handcuffed," Pruente replied. "He was not under arrest at that time."

Chicago narcotic officers Sergeant James Padar and Vince Morgan and Glenview Police officers James Horn and Sergeant Theresa Urbanowski backed up Pruente's story.

Then, as Urbanowski was testifying, defense attorney Goldman dropped a bombshell. He interrupted the testimony to inform Judge Catherine Haberkorn that he needed to offer a videotape into evidence.

In a moment of courtroom drama like something out of "Law and Order," Goldman revealed that the video came from Urbanowski's police cruiser and that it flatly contradicted the sworn testimony of the police officers. The police had been lying to the court and to the judge and the video would prove it, Goldman said.

As Goldman patiently took Urbanowski back over the events she'd testified about, he played the recording and asked her to describe the difference between her original testimony and what was happening on the tape.

The footage contradicted the testimony of the police officers. Pruente had testified that Sperling had not been arrested or handcuffed until the cops had found the dope in plain view, but the video showed Pruente walking up to Sperling's car, reaching in the open window, unlocking the door, pulling Sperling out, handcuffing him, and placing him in the back seat of a patrol car. Only then did the officers move to search the car.

The video clearly showed the officers spending minutes thoroughly searching Sperling's car before finding weed and a small amount of psychedelic mushrooms in a black duffel bag.

As defense attorney Goldman noted during questioning, if the drugs had really been in plain view on the front seat of the vehicle, the officers had no need or reason to search it because they already had the drugs.

The brazen distance between the officers' testimony and what the video revealed infuriated Judge Haberkorn, who immediately granted Goldman's motion to suppress the evidence because the video showed police had neither probable cause to arrest Sperling nor a warrant to search his vehicle.

"This is very outrageous conduct," Haberkorn said from the bench. "All the officers lied on the stand today. All their testimony is a lie. There is strong evidence it was a conspiracy to lie in this case, for everyone to come up with the same lie."

Haberkorn then dismissed the criminal charges against Sperling.

"If this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone," said Sperling, then 23, during a press conference with reporters after the release of his videotaped arrest. "I just happen to be one of the lucky few that had a video that proved the officers were wrong."

The Cook County criminal justice system may have been done with Sperling, but he wasn't done with it. Shortly after the charges were dismissed, he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging illegal search and seizure against the Chicago and Glenview police departments. And he won. The two cities involved settled the suit, paying Sperling $195,000 for his troubles.

Others who have been similarly victimized could do the same. Under the US Code Section 1983, citizens are allowed to sue police in federal court as a result of an illegal search and arrest if the officer acted with malice "under color of law."

In Sperling's case, attorney John Loevy argued in the lawsuit that there was insufficient legal justification for officers to stop and arrest Sperling and search his vehicle, which was done without probable cause. Those illegal actions violated Sperling's civil rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth amendments, as prescribed under Section 18 US Code 242. The argument was strong enough to force the cities to settle.

[image:2 align:left caption:true]Former Houston Police homicide and narcotic gang investigator Rick Moreno told Drug War Chronicle the officers lied to protect an informant when they could simply have gone by the book and done their bust right.

"Once those officers had all the information about this guy having dope in his car they needed a warrant," Moreno explained.

But the narcs plotted a scheme disguised as a routine traffic stop to avoid having to obtain one.

"What they've done in this case was a 'wall off' technique." Moreno said, referring to a strategy most narcotic officers use to put a wall between the officer and the information provided by a snitch. And if everything goes as planned, the officer gets the dope without a warrant, they got the dope dealer and the snitch is protected."

"The biggest casualty in the war on drugs is the truth," said Chicago civil attorney Jon Loevy, who represented Sperling in his civil rights lawsuit.

"The ends justify the means," said criminal defense attorney Goldman, explaining the attitudes that drove the cops to lie on the stand. "So because they get the bad guy off the street or the drugs out of their hands, everybody's happy."

Well, not everybody, not when the lies are so blatant they cannot be ignored. The Cook County criminal justice system wasn't done with the cops caught lying on the witness stand. Sgt. Urbanowski's camera had caught them red-handed, and four of them were indicted by a Cook County grand jury on perjury, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct charges in June 2015. They all face up to five years in prison on each count. The three Chicago police officers were immediately suspended, and the Glenview police officer was later fired. Their trials got underway this week.

"The foundation of our criminal justice system rests on the concept of truthful testimony," said Cook County States' Attorney Anita Alvarez in a press statement announcing the indictments. "We expect it from our witnesses and we demand it from our police officers."

The criminal charges filed against the officers made headlines across the state and constituted another black mark against the much criticized Chicago Police Department. But the buzz around the courthouse was not just over the charges, but whether they would lead to the dismissal of other drug cases in which the charged cops were involved.

Calls to the Cook County prosecutor's office regarding whether the four indicted officers would be investigated for perjury or illegal tactics in previous drug cases have not been returned.

While Sperling won $195,000 in damages from his illegal search and seizure lawsuit, legal experts say such victories are rare. Defendants usually don't pursue such suits due to lack of funds, and if a case involving a bad search is dismissed, most defendants are just relieved the case is over and they no longer face charges, said Penn State University law professor David Rudovsky, a leading civil rights and criminal defense attorney and author of The Law of Arrest, Search, and Seizure.

[image:3 align:right caption:true]Rudovsky told Drug War Chronicle there is also another reason such lawsuits are rare.

"Why would a jury award money for damages to a criminal already proven to have committed a crime?" he asked rhetorically.

Police perjury is nothing new -- the practice has even generated its own nickname, "testilying" -- but the Sperling case has renewed debate over why law enforcers resort to breaking the law.

"Police perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace," wrote former San Francisco police commissioner Peter Keane in a much-cited article on the topic.

"I've heard some police officers say in a social setting, 'If [the defendant] is going to lie to beat the case, why can't I lie too?" Cook County Public Defender, and former prosecutor Abishi Cunningham Jr. related.

"When police lie to make a case on someone they are saying the criminal justice system doesn't work... so I'm going to do it my way," Houston civil and criminal attorney Annie Briscoe told the Chronicle.

Briscoe recalled a drug case involving police illegal search where police recovered a sizeable amount of drugs from a client of hers. Houston police claimed he resembled a fugitive they were looking for. With her client facing up to life in prison, Briscoe convinced the trial judge to throw out the charge because of illegal search and seizure through the simple expedient of showing the judge a photo of the fugitive, who looked nothing like her client.

While the judge called Briscoe's client "one lucky guy," Briscoe had a slightly different take.

"The law should be enforceable by way of truth," she said.

Police are also incentivized by the war on drugs to cut corners so they can reap monetary rewards, whether through asset forfeiture or by earning federal anti-drug grants through aggressive enforcement actions. And each bust makes their numbers look better.

As NYPD Officer Adil Polanco once revealed through a surfeit of honesty, "Our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them. You have to write somebody, arrest somebody, even if the crime is not committed, the number is there."

Yes, there are numerous reasons cops lie. But none of them justify the lying, or the corrosive effect such behavior has on public trust and respect for law enforcement. These Chicago police officers are about to find out just how seriously the system takes such dishonesty, especially when it is so blatant the system can't pretend it doesn't see it.

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