From March to August Under de Blasio/Bratton, NYPD Made More Marijuana Possession Arrests than Bloomberg/Kelly in Same Period of Previous Year
Extreme Racial Disparities Persist as Blacks and Latinos Make up 86% of Marijuana Possession Arrests, Despite Young Whites Using at Higher Rates
A new report released on Monday by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance shows that, despite campaign promises, marijuana possession arrests under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are on track to equal – or even surpass – the number of arrests under Mayor Bloomberg. As under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations, these arrests are marked by shockingly high racial disparities.
The report, "Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s Two New Yorks: the NYPD’s Marijuana Arrest Crusade Continues in 2014" draws on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and shows that despite a change in mayoral administrations and police commissioners, the NYPD continues its practice of making wasteful, racially biased, and costly marijuana arrests.
By Steve Elliott
Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, fiancee of Governor John Kitzhaber, has confessed to planning an illegal marijuana grow operation with her then-boyfriend back in 1997. The revelation comes less than a week after Hayes admitted she illegally married an Ethiopian immigrant that same year.
Hayes said she was living on the property with her then-boyfriend in Okanogan, Washington, near the border of Canada, for the purpose of growing and selling marijuana, reports Sara Roth at KGW.
"Last Thursday, I admitted that 17 years ago I was in the middle of a very difficult and unstable period of my life," Hayes said. "I said then, and I'll say again ... I was associating with the wrong kind of people and making mistakes."
"I am not proud of that brief period of time," Hayes said. "I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man. We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized."
The man who sold the property, then repossessed it, indicated that a marijuana grow was already in progress. "There was a full-sized pool table upstairs in the house and that was the first clue," broker Patrick Siemion told KGW's Mike Benner. "There were marijuana trimmings on the table.
With the rapid growth of the medical marijuana industry in several states, as well as the recreational cannabis industry in Washington and Colorado, a vast number of businesses have sprouted to support, assist, and consult the companies that are actually involved with growing, processing, and selling the plant itself. Viridian Staffing, a recruiting agency based out of Seattle, is one such company.
Ganjapreneur, a cannabis industry business media outlet which launched over the summer, recently conversed with David Murét, co-founder of Viridian, to ask him some questions about the company and how it has helped connect marijuana businesses with job-seekers.
When asked what his favorite aspect of working in the cannabis industry was, Murét replied, "We would have to say the people. The industry has been such a magnet for dynamic free-thinking innovators who aren’t nearly as stiff and creatively stifled as you find in so many other, more established industries."
"We also love working in an industry which, on the whole, places such a high value on triple bottom line business practices, which are both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable, particularly here in the Pacific Northwest," Murét said.
Citizens for a Safer Maine on Friday announced it will not appeal a judge’s decision to allow the York Board of Selectmen to prevent a vote on a ballot measure that would make marijuana legal for adults.
“We’re confident an appeal would be successful, but at this point we cannot afford to continue playing this game with the selectmen,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which supported the measure. “We know there is support for ending marijuana prohibition in York, and we’re going to focus our resources on giving them a chance to vote on it in 2016 with a statewide ballot initiative.
“It’s unfortunate that three out of the five selectmen have needlessly and very likely illegally prevented their constituents from voting on this measure,” Boyer said. “It’s a disservice to the voters who elected them, and they’ll have to live with that.”
Citizens for a Safer Maine initially submitted more than 200 signatures of registered York voters to place a measure in front of the York Board of Selectmen in July. The board voted 3-2 against putting the measure on the ballot and, based on local initiative rules, provided the group with 30 days to collect an additional 641 signatures.
Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted nearly 1,000 signatures in August 27, but the Board of Selectmen again voted 3-2 against placing the measure on the ballot. In September, Superior Court Judge Paul Fritzche did not grant an injunction requested by the group to place the initiative on the November ballot.
By Steve Elliott
Federal marijuana prisoner Randy Lanier, 60, a former race car driver, will be released from prison after serving 26 years of a life sentence at the high-security Federal Correction Complex of Coleman in Florida for a 1988 conviction on leading a marijuana drug ring.
U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert has granted a motion by the federal government to reduce Lanier's life sentence and has approved his pending release, reports Jon Saraceno at Autoweek.com. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. endorsed a proposal to reduce sentencing for convicted drug dealers, while seeking to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
"He has served his time with dignity and respect," said Stephen Ross Johnson, lead attorney for Lanier since 2002. "He has helped mentor young people in the prison system."
The brief order issued by Judge Gilbert gives no reason for the sentence reduction. In addition to his life sentence, Lanier was given an additional maximum of 40 years on a distribution charge and another five years on an IRS fraud charge.
Lanier's release comes with heavy restrictions, including drug-and-alcohol tests, no consumption of alcohol or patronizing of establishments that sell it, no firearms, and no lines of credit without approval from his probation officer.
By Steve Elliott
What have those Georgia cops been smoking? They don't know the difference between okra and cannabis.
A Georgia man woke up to find a police helicopter hovering over his home, and sheriff's deputies pounding at the door to search his property for drugs. "They were strapped to the gills," Dwayne Perry said. But all he was growing was okra.
Drug agents from the Governor's Task Force had spotted what they thought was marijuana growing in Perry's yard in Cartersville, reports WSB-TV. "I was scared actually, at first, because I didn't know what was happening," Perry said.
Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep expecting to make a marijuana bust. "Instead, it's okra and maybe a bush on the end of the house," Perry said.
When Channel 2's reporter called the Georgia State Patrol, which is in charge of the drug task force, for an explanation, all he got was weak excuses. The officers sent an evidence photo of the okra.
"We've not been able to identify it as of yet," said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes, who evidently is mystified by the sight of okra. "But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant." Incredibly, this moron still has a job in law enforcement.
"Here I am, at home and retired and you know I do the right thing," Perry said. "Then they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain't right."
By Steve Elliott
David Ung of Albuquerque remembered his luggage when he returned a rental car on Tuesday. He didn't forget his cell phone or plane ticket for the Albuquerque Sunport. But he did forget 139 pounds of "high grade" marijuana in several black trash bags in the trunk of the vehicle he returned to Hertz Rent a Car near the airport.
Aviation police officers told the Albuquerque Police Department that Ung, 40, dropped off the car, but returned, saying he'd left a bag inside the vehicle, reports Nicole Perez at the Albuquerque Journal.
But when employees started cleaning the car, they found several large bags filled with marijuana. Homeland Security and the Sunport Police were called to investigate.
By the time Ung got back, officers had already found several black trash bags full of cannabis, packaged in 124 heat-sealed clear bags, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court on Wednesday.
"I can't believe that would happen here at the airport where there's a lot of security," said Tanya Hernandez, reports KTRK. "It's just ironic that people could do that."
Ung was detained at the scene, and refused to talk to police with an attorney present. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and booked into the county jail on $10,000 bail.
San Jose's Joseph McNamara Leaves Behind a Remarkable Legacy of Public Service and Activism
Retired police chief Joseph McNamara, who fought to end the War On Drugs, died on Friday, September 19 at the age of 79. His 35-year law enforcement career began in 1956 as a beat cop for the New York City Police Department.
He would later become a criminal justice fellow at Harvard, where he focused on criminal justice research and methodology. During this time McNamara took leave from police work to obtain a doctorate in Public Administration, and was appointed deputy inspector of crime analysis in New York City upon his return.
McNamara spoke out publicly against the Drug War long before the issue had come to the political forefront. He was a speaker and advisory board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the War On Drugs.
“When you’re telling cops that they’re soldiers in a Drug War, you’re destroying the whole concept of the citizen peace officer, a peace officer whose fundamental duty is to protect life and be a community servant,” McNamara said at a presentation for the International Conference on Drug Policy Reform in 1995.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated, and the tax revenues should fund treatment programs for harder drugs, the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin, said on Wednesday.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval endorsed marijuana legalization during an interview with the State Journal about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana at about 12 times the rate for whites in the city.
Efforts to enforce the marijuana laws are an "abject failure," Chief Koval said, adding the same is true of the broader War On Drugs. "We've done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it's time to reorder and triage the necessities of what's more important now," he said.
Koval said it's time for Wisconsin to consider doing as Colorado and Washington did in legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis.
The police chief said he would like to see Wisconsin "acknowledge the failure" of marijuana prohibition and focus instead on the "infinite amount of challenges" posed by harder drugs such as heroin. Taxes from marijuana sales, Koval said, would create revenue for the state which could be used to fund drug treatment programs and expand the capacity of drug courts which divert users from the criminal justice system.
By Steve Elliott
Local residents in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia were outraged on Thursday at a town-wide marijuana raid in which drug-detecting dogs searched people for marijuana.
A forensics van was reportedly on hand to perform on-the-spot drug testing, and a number of local businesses were raided, reports Taylor Auerbach at the Daily Telegraph.
Nimbin, a counterculture hippie haven, is still reeling from a devastating fire last month that destroyed four of the town's most historic buildings; locals were very upset with the huge police presence.
"Some people are absolutely disgusted, some people think it's a joke, some people think it's an intrusion," said Mac McMahon of the Nimbin Hemp Embassy. "They're an unwelcome presence in the small community. It's over the top."
"They seem to be carting off tourists and locals who buy a little bit of marijuana off the street," one local resident said.
The raids were part of "Operation Oleary," which police claimed they established "following concerns from the local community." More than 70 police were involved in the raids, with at least eight people being arrested.
Cops confiscated two kilograms of cannabis following raids at a cafe and a bookstore. One police spokesman denied they were performing on-the-spot drug tests.
Groups Come Together to End Marijuana Prohibition, Increase Cannabis Research and Promote a Compassionate Health Care Response to Drug Use and Addiction
Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs Present a Panel Discussion at the Marijuana for Medical Professionals Conference in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 11
Moms United to End the War on Drugs is bringing together a coalition of family members, health care professionals and criminal justice professionals to end cannabis prohibition that has been so destructive to our families and communities.
Moms, Cops, Nurses & Docs will be holding a panel discussion at the Sherman Street Event Center in Denver, Colorado (1770 Sherman Street) on Thursday, September 11, at the Exhibit Hall Stage at 12:30 pm. Speakers include Mary Lynn Mathre from American Cannabis Nurses Association; Dr. Jeff Hergenrather from the Society of Cannabis Clinicians; Theresa Daniello from Moms United to End the War on Drugs; and Leonard Frieling from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
In 1937, laws were put into place prohibiting the use of cannabis in the United States. In the past decade, more than six million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. For several decades, people who use drugs and people with addictive illness have been banished to the criminal justice system.
Nearly half of all prisoners in state prisons are locked up for a non-violent offense. Every year 750,000 people are arrested for marijuana, wasting law enforcement resources and throwing non-violent offenders into the criminal justice system.
In the wake of tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, that focused the public’s attention on the increasing militarization of police, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday held a hearing on police militarization. Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who oversaw and now regrets his role in the militaristic response to the Seattle WTO protests in 1999, has been in consultation with the Committee and has submitted written testimony which appears in its entirety below.
Meanwhile, in New York City, a group of dignitaries including former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the former presidents or prime ministers of Brazil, Switzerland, Colombia, Chile, Portugal, Poland, Greece and Mexico, and a long list of other top leaders are meeting this morning to release a new report calling for putting public health and safety first through the decriminalization of drug use and possession and the institution of legalized regulation of drug markets.
“The drug war is inextricably linked to most major issues of our time, from immigration to police militarization,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officers opposed to the War On Drugs. "It’s the cause of much of the violence on our streets and in communities worldwide.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy on Tuesday released a new, groundbreaking report at a press conference in New York City. The event was live-streamed and speakers included Richard Branson, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Colombian President César Gaviria, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss and others.
The report reflects a new evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches – and now also call for permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes.
“When the Commission released its initial report just three years ago, few expected its recommendations to be embraced anytime soon by current presidents," said Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann. "But that’s exactly what happened, with Colombian President Santos and Guatemala President Perez-Molina speaking out boldly, former Mexican President Calderon calling on the United Nations to reassess the prohibitionist approach to drugs, and Uruguayan President Mujica approving the first national law to legally regulate cannabis.
"Meanwhile, one Commission member, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has opened up the drug policy debate in West Africa, recruiting some of the region’s most distinguished figures," Nadelmann said.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy on Tuesday will release Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work, a new, groundbreaking report at a press conference in New York City.
The event will be live-streamed and speakers include former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Colombian President César Gaviria, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, Richard Branson and others.
The Commissioners will then meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson in the afternoon following the press conference.
The report reflects the evolution in the thinking of the Commissioners, who reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches and now also call for permitting the legal regulation of psychoactive substances. The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such far-reaching changes.
In 2011, the Commission’s initial report broke new ground in both advancing and globalizing the debate over drug prohibition and its alternatives. Saying the time had come to “break the taboo,” it condemned the Drug War as a failure and recommended major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime.
By Steve Elliott
Timothy Sturgis just wanted to be left alone to grow his marijuana. When the time came, Sturgis, 42, on Tuesday night shot himself after a two-hour standoff with law enforcement.
Sturgis kept a loaded gun in every room of his home in Ashille, reports Holly Zachariah at The Columbus Dispatch
A German shepherd guarded the 21 acres surrounding a well-hidden farmhouse, and a Doberman pinscher kept wath inside. An alarm at the end of the long driveway was triggered whenever anyone approached.
Sturgis shot himself after a standoff in the woods and thick, 14-foot-high weeds and brush behind his home at 15240 Lockbourne Eastern Road in Ashville. He was pronounced dead at 8:56 p.m. on Tuesday night.
"Just talked to him Sunday, always a friendly guy asking how things were going," commented "ThisNameWasntTaken" on Topix.com. "Total shock."