Category Archives: Drug War

‘America Is Full Of Hypocrites’: Marijuana Lifer John Knock Speaks Out


By Tess Allen  |  Feb 20, 2017

'America Is Full Of Hypocrites': Marijuana Lifer John Knock Speaks Out

Days after John Knock learned that his application for clemency had been denied – meaning he would have to continue serving out two life sentences plus 20 years for a non-violent cannabis offense – he found himself transfixed by a story on NPR.

“There was [someone on the radio] talking about how they’re going to handle the marijuana distribution stores in Pennsylvania, and here I am doing a life sentence for marijuana,” Knock told Civilized from the federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania where he currently resides.

“It was just one of those wakeup moments, where you realize that America’s idea of justice is only their idea. It is not true justice.”

Knock, a first-time offender with no history of violence or drug abuse, was indicted in 1994 in the Northern District of Florida on charges of conspiracy to money launder and to import and distribute marijuana.

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John Knock (center) with his wife and son.

Now a senior citizen at 70, Knock had high hopes he would be included in former US president Barack Obama’s final round of commutations for nonviolent drug offenders, a move that brought the total number of clemencies during his presidency to 1,715.

But Knock was denied, along with uncounted other ‘marijuana lifers’, in a decision-making process that activist Cheri Sicard of the Marijuana Lifer Project has deemed completely nonsensical.

Knock has now been incarcerated for more than 20 years, and every day faces the sickly ironic reality that he may die in prison while the cannabis legalization movement makes greater and greater strides outside his permanent four walls.

“We’re sitting in here watching as [state after state] legalizes… and there are people in here doing life for pot, an accepted recreational and medical drug in the majority of the states in America,” said Knock. “When are they going to recognize that?”

Like most others locked up for life for nonviolent cannabis crimes, Knock believes greater public awareness about the issue would go a long way. He’s certain that most people don’t even know ‘marijuana lifers’ exist.

“My sister runs LifeForPot.com, and whenever she talks to people [about my case], they say: ‘He’s got a life sentence for marijuana? There must be something other than that. Somebody must have died.’ And that’s just not the case,” said Knock.

“Society has to be the one to say ‘now wait a minute’… to realize that the War on Drugs is actually a militaristic [effort] against an open society.”

There’s not much that can be done to change things on the part of “somebody locked in a room”, said Knock, which is why cannabis advocates on the outside need to make clemency a part of their activism platforms.                   

“I read an article the other day about a gym opening in San Francisco that’s going to utilize marijuana in their workout [regimes] because it helps people concentrate and eliminate the pain of the workout,” Knock told Civilized.

When asked what this news signified to him, Knock replied: “America is full of hypocrites.”

CONTINUE READING…

NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition


by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 14, 2017

The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

  1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
  2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
  3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
  4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

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For decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

CONTINUE READING…

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus


 

Pot Presser

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., left, and Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., two of the four U.S. congressmen who have launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Photo by Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc

 

With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society. 

The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred. 

In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue. 

So let’s keep building. 

CONTINUE TO NORML

Send a message to your member of Congress now and tell them to join the Cannabis Caucus and support sanity in marijuana policy.

NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1100 H Street NW, Suite 830, Washington DC, 20005
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

 

RELATED:

Pro-Pot Lawmakers Launch a Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Tom Huddleston, Jr.

12:10 AM Central

Four members of the U.S. congress are banding together to protect the growing marijuana industry.

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the new group. They are dedicated to developing policy reforms that can bridge the gap that currently exists between federal laws banning marijuana and the laws in an ever-growing number of states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.

“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”

Various polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and a strong showing in November’s elections pushed the number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 28, while another eight have voted for recreational legalization. (Notably, each of the four congressmen forming the Cannabis Caucus represent districts in states that have legalized both medical and recreational pot.)

In recent years, under President Barack Obama, federal law enforcement mostly left individual states alone to enact and enforce their own marijuana legislation. Three years ago, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to target cannabis operations that comply with local laws.

CONTINUE READING…

How police tracked down a suspected heroin dealer after a rash of overdoses in Nicholasville


By Karla Ward

kward1@herald-leader.com

 

When a narcotics detective with the Nicholasville Police Department heard about a surge in heroin overdoses in Jessamine County this week, he got busy.

The detective, also a task force officer with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, notified Nicholasville Emergency Medical Services Tuesday that if there were more suspected heroin overdoses, he wanted to be notified. Within two hours, he got a call about a crash involving a suspected overdose.

Court records show that the police work that followed resulted in a federal charge Thursday against a suspected drug dealer. Jeffrey James Ruggiero was charged in U.S. District Court in Lexington with possession of heroin with intent to distribute. His first court appearance was scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.

According to an affidavit, the chain of events began when emergency workers arrived on Southbrook Drive in Nicholasville at 7:02 p.m. Tuesday and found a driver, Nathaniel Brezeale, “in obvious distress with agonal breathing and eyes closed.”

Suspecting an overdose, they administered 3 milligrams of Naloxone, and the man revived.

Brezeale’s girlfriend told investigators “that he had a substance abuse problem” and that before the accident, they had been to a double-wide mobile home in Garrard County, where Brezeale went inside alone and stayed for about 10 minutes.

While driving back to Nicholasville, Brezeale began to act strangely, so she asked him to pull over. When he did, the vehicle’s front wheels went over a curb. Passersby called emergency crews.

Two DEA task force officers went to St. Joseph Jessamine and interviewed Brezeale, who told them that he had called Ruggiero that night and asked about buying heroin. He had bought from Ruggiero before, he said.

When Brezeale got to the mobile home, he told investigators, he paid $25 for a tenth of a gram of heroin, which he said Ruggiero took from a larger plastic bag of heroin. Ruggiero placed the heroin onto a piece of paper, and Brezeale snorted it before he left.

A DEA special agent went to Lancaster, found the mobile home and began surveillance about 9:40 p.m., according to the affidavit.

About five minutes later, a Chevrolet Impala left the mobile home heading toward Nicholasville, and the special agent followed. He called Nicholasville police and asked for help. Officers clocked the Impala going 64 mph in a 55 mph zone.

The Impala was stopped, but the driver wouldn’t cooperate. However, “a Nicholasville K-9 was presented to the vehicle and a positive alert was noted. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in a quantity of suspected heroin being seized,” the affidavit states.

After that, a search warrant was obtained for the mobile home on Carlotta Drive.

Just before midnight Tuesday, about five hours after Brezeale’s accident, officers from the DEA in Lexington, the Nicholasville police detective bureau and Kentucky State Police went to the mobile home and detained Ruggiero while they searched the home and outbuildings.

Police seized about 1 gram of suspected heroin, plus prescription medication, several sets of digital scales and packaging material, and Ruggiero admitted that he had sold heroin to Nathaniel Brezeale earlier in the day, according to the affidavit.

Emergency crews responded to nine overdoses in Jessamine County in a 24-hour period Monday and Tuesday.

Karla Ward: 859-231-3314, @HLpublicsafety

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/crime/article126283869.html#emlnl=Morning_Newsletter#storylink=cpy

DEA Hurts Growing Industry and Exceeds its Authority Regarding Scheduling Controlled Substances; Enacts Final Rule Seeking to Make Any Extract of the Cannabis Plant a Schedule 1 Drug


Hoban Law Group

December 14, 2016 19:29 ET

DEA Hurts Growing Industry and Exceeds its Authority Regarding Scheduling Controlled Substances; Enacts Final Rule Seeking to Make Any Extract of the Cannabis Plant a Schedule 1 Drug

DENVER, CO–(Marketwired – December 14, 2016) – On December 13, 2016, the DEA issued its Final Rule, “Establishment of New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract,” which serves to potentially devastate developing businesses and consumer, textile and manufacturing industries related to cannabinoids. Robert Hoban, a cannabis, cannabinoid and hemp lawyer and expert as well as an adjunct professor of law at The University of Denver, states the DOJ and DEA cannot unilaterally make law and schedule controlled substances, thus causing this Final Rule to exceed the DEA’s authority. Instead, such actions require an act of Congress.

As is the case here, the DEA is an agency that has previously sought to exceed its authority contrary to applicable law. It is anticipated that this “final ruling” and determination will be challenged both in court and administratively across the country. With 28 states that already have medical cannabis laws on the books, 8 states passing adult use laws in the November election, and numerous other states enacting industrial hemp legislation, the industry is up for the challenge of litigation against any government agency that operates contrary to prevailing law and enforcement policies.

The DEA’s Final Rule seeks to broadly expand and override existing definitions of controlled substances by newly creating a “Marihuana Extract” classification. The effect of this Final Rule appears to be incorporation of any and all cannabinoids from the Cannabis plant as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, despite the fact that many such cannabinoids are naturally occurring derived from non-“marihuana” portions of the plant or or from entirely different plants altogether. Problematically, the Final Rule fails to acknowledge there exist certain parts of the plant, and certain types of the plant — namely, industrial hemp — which cannot and should not be treated as a “Marihuana Extract.” Notably, the DEA has sought to unilaterally create laws before, and has lost, when challenged.

Hoban surmises, “The feeling is that this is an action beyond the DEA’s authority and we believe this is unlawful and we are taking a course of action for our clients. This Final Rule serves to threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of growing businesses, with massive economic and industry expansion opportunities, all of which conduct lawful business in reliance upon the Federal Government also acting pursuant to law, and as ordered by the Ninth Circuit in 2003 and 2004. We will see the Federal Government in court.”

Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/12/14/11G125277/Images/Hoban_Photo-82fa3561cc6d93ea991b06d3c4c27235.jpg

Contact Information

http://m.marketwired.com/press-release/dea-hurts-growing-industry-exceeds-its-authority-regarding-scheduling-controlled-substances-2183399.htm

 

What is the DEA up to now? What are they doing to our CBD?


When the news hit the fans today concerning the DEA’s “new rule” on the sale of CBD remedies and other products everybody jumped up and said “WHAT?”, or at least I did!

I had been so wrapped up in the Kratom issue lately I hadn’t even been thinking about CBD’s.  Low and behold, I thought, while I was looking over ‘here’, ‘they’ were conjuring up a

new “rule” over ‘there’.  Something else to be able to use to fill up the Courts, Jails, even Prisons with.  It just never ends.  Every time that we as a people come upon anything that may be

legal at the time, that actually may be worth using, and could possibly benefit us in one way or another, ‘They’ come along and snatch it right out from under us.

That is what Agenda 21 (Agenda 2030) is  all about!  Control of the masses through regulation of food and medicines, (among other things).

THIS is unacceptable!  This must stop!  We cannot allow the Government, whether it be State, Federal or U.N., to be able to have this kind of control over our food and other natural plants!

Before the pharmaceutical conglomerates ever existed it was the herb gardens which provided the medicine to the households.  This is referenced throughout history.

After reading updates and trading information with others who are watching these issues closely as well, it seems like the DEA is just trying to stand up and make some noise so as to get everyone a little worried.

I am copy/pasting a letter here that was forwarded to me from a colleague which states that legally they cannot prosecute for CBD oil as long as it is below .3% THC.

This having been said, the DEA memo states the following:

The memo states: it serves to clarify and reinforce the DEA’s position on all cannabis extracts, including CBD oil. That position is: They are all federally illegal Schedule I substances. “Extracts of marihuana will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances,” the notice says. CBD oil derived from hemp is now commonly available nationwide via web sites and mail order services. Those operations survive on the assumption that cannabidiol products below the legal threshold for THC percentage in hemp (0.3 percent or less) are technically legal. Not so, says the DEA.

“For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code” and therefore remain federally illegal. In other words: The DEA is confident that it can find enough traces of other cannabinoids in your CBD oil to arrest and prosecute. And if they can’t, they still have the option of arresting and prosecuting based on the CBD oil itself.

Now the question becomes this, will the DEA use this “rule” to stage raids and arrests for marketing CBD products?  Knowing that according to the information I have here from the Folium Legal Counsel anything under the .3% threshold cannot be prosecuted, they can still use it to fill up the Courts and jails and maybe even some Prisons while collecting Fines and Court Costs as well, because not everyone will be able to afford to go to Court and fight the charges, much like Marijuana is now.

So how do we go forward with this information and what do we do to change it?  Start by calling the White House and complaining!  Obviously the current Government as it stands now has lost all touch with its people.  It is not because they are stupid, ignorant, or ill-informed.  It is because they know exactly what they are doing, and they DO have a plan.

It is time that the people make their own plan.  To take back our Country.

Remember the United States of America, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

I want it back now.

SK

 

 

A MESSAGE FROM FOLIUM LEGAL COUNSEL REGARDING THE DEA’s MEMO:

On December 14, 2016, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration published a final rule regarding the “Establishment of a New Drug Code for Marijuana Extract.” ( https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/14/2016-29941/establishment-of-a-new-drug-code-for-marihuana-extract)
This new rule does not create any new substantive regulation or law regarding the legal status of marijuana or marijuana extract. Instead, it creates a new tracking code number for “Marihuana Extracts” (which include cannabinoids).

Previously, Marijuana Extracts were classified under the code number for “Marihuana. Under the new rule, extracts are now classified separately. The DEA uses these codes to track quantities of controlled substances imported to and exported from the United States. This new rule affects only DEA-registered entities who previously were required to track such materials. As the document states, “[t]he only direct effect to registrants who handle marihuana extracts will be the requirement to add the new drug code to their registrations.” The rule goes into effect on January 13, 2017.

Regarding the legal status of CBD derived from industrial hemp: The 2014 US Farm Bill was an act of congress signed by the president and that is the highest law of the land. The DEA cannot make law and try to redefine a law passed by the US Congress which defined industrial hemp in section 7606 as “Any cannabis sativa L that produces naturally less than .3% THC on a dry weight basis.”
Furthermore, the DEA is not allowed to interfere with a legal state licensed cannabis business – there is very recent case law that set precedent for this in the 9th circuit. See here:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-ruling-marijuana-idUSKCN10R1YN
Lastly, the DEA was purposely de-funded by the US Congress last year (and is poised to do the same for this year:
(http://archives.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2015/12/16/congress-set-to-ban-feds-from-enforcing-cannabis-laws-again) from pursuing any enforcement of their archaic interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in legal states.

We hope this information helps you and your customers filter through the mis-information and fear mongering that usually runs rampant anytime a government memo affecting cannabis is circulated. If you have any further questions feel free to contact us directly, but it’s business as usual over here!

 

 

 

The DEA May Have Just Flipped The Script on the Cannabis Industry And Not In A Good Way

If you are licensed to work with marijuana extracts, you have 30 days from today to update your paperwork. Also, Cannabidiol (CBD) extracts are now Schedule I substances and can’t cross state lines.

Did the DEA Just Outlaw Hemp-Derived CBD?

A new rule published by the DEA today led many in the cannabis industry to assume the worst – that the agency had decided to crack down on hemp-derived CBD. Take a deep breath. This is likely not the case.

New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made CBD oil a little more federally illegal in a little-noticed bureaucratic maneuver this morning.

New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal


Bruce Barcott

December 14, 2016

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this morning made CBD oil a little more federally illegal in a little-noticed bureaucratic maneuver this morning.

Today’s Federal Register (Dec. 14, 2016) contains an item (21 CFR Part 1308) that establishes a new drug code for “marihuana extract.”

“This code,” wrote DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, “will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana.” The move, the Register entry explained, is meant to bring the US into compliance with international drug-control treaties.

There is no major change in law brought about by the Register item. Rather, it serves to clarify and reinforce the DEA’s position on all cannabis extracts, including CBD oil. That position is: They are all federally illegal Schedule I substances.

CBD oil derived from hemp is now commonly available nationwide via web sites and mail order services. Those operations survive on the assumption that cannabidiol products below the legal threshold for THC percentage in hemp (0.3 percent or less) are technically legal.

Not so, says the DEA.

In the DEA comment on the entry, Rosenberg directly addressed the question: What if it’s only cannabidiol (CBD) and no other cannabinoids? The agency’s response: “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code” and therefore remain federally illegal. In other words: The DEA is confident that it can find enough traces of other cannabinoids in your CBD oil to arrest and prosecute. And if they can’t, they still have the option of arresting and prosecuting based on the CBD oil itself.

RELATED STORY

Is CBD from Cannabis the Same as CBD from Cannabis?

Is your CBD derived from hemp? Doesn’t matter to the DEA. The new extracts classification applies to all “extracts that have been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis and which contain cannabinols and cannabidiols.” Hemp is not a separate genus. (Although it may be a separate species; lot of debate on that point.) Legally speaking, hemp is simply cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent THC content.

The new rule seems to clarify the DEA’s position on hemp-derived CBD, which entered a legal gray area following Congress’ passage of the 2014 farm bill. That legislation allowed certain states to grow hemp in pilot projects, and blocked federal law enforcement authorities (ie, the DEA) from interfering with state agencies, hemp growers, and agricultural research.

What DEA Administrator Rosenberg seems to be saying with this clarification is: You may be able to grow hemp. But if you try to extract CBD oil from it, the DEA considers that a federal crime.

The rule did not contain any hint as to when the DEA will step into the 21st century and stop using the archaic version of the word “marihuana.”

Lead Image: Brennan Linsley/AP

CONTINUE READING…

Illinois residents forced to cough up nearly $725mn in civil asset forfeitures


Published time: 18 Nov, 2016

 

A Massachusetts State Police helicopter © Brian Snyder

Over the course of a decade, Illinois and federal law enforcement took in more than $319 million and $404 million, respectively, from state residents who were merely suspected of having committed a crime, a new report has found.

“[E]very year, Illinois law enforcement agencies take tens of millions of dollars in cash, vehicles, land and other assets from state residents – in some cases without bringing criminal charges, let alone obtaining convictions, against property owners,” the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-IL) and the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) jointly wrote in the introduction to a report outlining how much money law enforcement has made off of civil asset forfeitures since 2005.

Funding ‘toys for police’: Best and worst states to have your assets seized

Illinois law enforcement averaged approximately $31 million in confiscation a year on the state level between 2005 and 2014. Some asset seizures were never reported, the report found. The federal government averaged more than $36 million in asset forfeiture.

In 2012 alone, Illinois took in almost $20 million through asset forfeitures, ranking it the third worst state for its residents that year, according to a 2015 Institute for Justice report, a finding the ACLU-IL and IPI reiterated.

“Illinois stands out among other states for its high seizure rates, ranking among the top 11 in takings through equitable sharing with the federal government,” the authors wrote.

Civil asset forfeiture in Illinois is problematic for several reasons, according to the report. First, such litigation is against the property suspected of being involved in an illegal activity, not the person. Second, the law provides little protection for property owners, as they need never be arrested, charged or convicted of a crime to have their assets permanently seized. Third, property owners have no right to appointed legal counsel during a forfeiture proceeding. Fourth, the burden of proof in such cases is on the property owner “to prove that the property should not be permanently forfeited to the government – if he or she can afford to challenge the taking at all.” The prosecutor can admit hearsay into evidence in forfeiture cases, but property owners cannot.

On top of that, law enforcement agencies at all levels have “a strong financial incentive to seize property, because they reap almost all of the proceeds from civil asset forfeiture,” the report said.

The authors ‒ Ben Ruddell, criminal justice policy attorney at the ACLU, and Bryant Jackson-Green, a former criminal justice policy analyst at IPI ‒ outlined an example of civil asset forfeiture in Illinois that they described as “egregious.”

Last August, Judy Wiese, 70, allowed her grandson to borrow her 2009 Jeep Compass to drive to work. Although he had told her that he had fulfilled all of his legal obligations that had resulted from a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, his license was actually still suspended. That night, the grandson was arrested and the vehicle seized as an asset forfeiture.

“For more than five months, Wiese pleaded for the return of her vehicle and tried in vain to complete the legal paperwork required to contest the attempted forfeiture. During this time, without transportation, she was unable to attend therapy appointments for her broken arm, or even to make trips to the grocery store without help from friends,” the authors wrote.

Civil asset forfeiture goes digital: Police tool swipes money from cards before conviction

Once a prosecutor meets the burden of proving that the property was involved in a crime, the owner must “somehow ‘prove a negative’,” and convince the court not only that he or she didn’t commit a crime, but that he or she “did not know and could not have known about the crime.” The owner isn’t off the hook even if he or she does manage to prove the negative, however, as the owner will still be responsible for 10 percent of the bond posted in order to have the case heard in court. Attorney’s fees cannot be recovered, either, for those cases when a property owner can afford to hire a lawyer.

“Illinois laws shouldn’t let the government permanently take property from a person who has never been convicted or even charged with a crime.” Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at IPI, said in a statement. “Innocent people shouldn’t have to live under the fear of this system. It’s not fair.”

Ruddell and Jackson-Green called on Illinois to institute policy reforms in three areas to better protect innocent property owners: Require a criminal conviction before assets can be forfeited, and other “fair legal standards and procedures”; require forfeited assets to be auctioned off with the money going into a general revenue fund overseen by the General Assembly to remove incentives to engage in “policing for profit”; and require law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices to be transparent about how much property is seized, where and when it was seized, the outcome of the cases and how the proceeds from forfeitures are spent.

“Asset forfeiture in Illinois has become policing for profit,” Ruddell said. “Without meaningful reform that insures transparency, this system will continue to take millions of dollars in property from people without true justice.”

“This report should serve as a wake-up call for all legislators who have not been aware that this system is operating in this fashion,” he added.

Any attempt to change Illinois’ asset forfeitures program will be met by steep opposition from law enforcement, however. The forfeited property helps take away the “fuel” driving street gang violence because “many times these people show up for court,” Lockport Police Chief Gary Lemming told WBBM. It also allows his department to buy one or two new squad cars each year.

CONTINUE READING AND VIDEO!

Apparent overdose in Ohio McDonald’s parking lot captured on Facebook live


 

 

 

Alyssa Raymond, WKYC 12:30 PM. CST November 19, 2016

SANDUSKY – A desperate search for help from the man seen in a Facebook Live stream who overdosed in a McDonald’s Parking lot in Sandusky Thursday evening.

The video and the man’s story are a powerful reminder of the heroin and opioid epidemic here in Northeast Ohio. The problem is real and so we want to warn you that we wanted to show you a clear picture, which some of you may find hard to watch. 

But the man on the ground and his family say they are glad this video is out there.

This is real life and people are dying. 

There have been 30 overdoses in 30 days in Sandusky.  Four people died. 

The family of the man you see on the ground wants everyone to share this story and this video.  They want the truth about heroin out there.

In an eleven and a half minute Facebook Live stream, you see a 27-year-old man gasping for air after overdosing on heroin.  That man lying there, seemingly lifeless, is Michael Williams.  Like so many, he watched the video over and over again.

“I was fighting back the tears,” said Michael Williams.  “I got goosebumps and teary eyed.  Like I said, I am a strong individual, and it was hard to watch.”

His older sister, Amber Roesch, found it hard to watch too.

“Watch that video and share it because that is terrifying,” said Roesch.

She hopes users all over the country see what happened to her brother.

“I do not want to have to bury him,” said Roesch.  “He needs help now.”

Amber says a week ago he told her he needed help, and he said it again today.

“I definitely have a problem,” said Williams.  “If I could get the help right now, I would definitely go.  I need it I want it.”

Michael’s family expected the worse when they received that phone call.  But EMS and Narcan saved his life.  Amber says they tried to thank everyone including Eddie Wimbley, the man who recorded it all.

“I hope it is like a wakeup call,” said Wimbley.  “I just do not understand how people can do something knowing that they could possibly die.”

Michael says he started using heroin four months ago.  Before that, he drank a lot and took pain pills.  But when he lost his job, he turned to something cheaper.  Michael will tell you, he never thought it would happen to him, but it did.

You might be wondering why Williams can’t just go out and get the help he needs.  He says he recently lost his job so he does not have insurance and he was told a lot of places would not take Medicaid.  His family told me it costs around $800 a day for him to go to an inpatient facility, which they say that’s what he needs, but cannot afford.

CONTINUE READING AND TO SEE VIDEO!

Petitioning to keep Kratom OUT of the Controlled Substance Act and Schedule I – We only have until December 1st!


kratom-plant

Recently I published an article with information pertaining to the rescheduling of Kratom by the U.S. Government via the DEA into Schedule I Status.

Fortunately the change was at least held off long enough for people to be able to make their comments on the subject.

The link to REGULATIONS.GOV where the DEA/Federal Government is accepting comments is only going to be active until December 1st so don’t forget to make your comment soon!

Additionally there is another petition to keep Kratom off the Controlled Substance list.  The link to that petition is here:

Do not place Kratom on the Controlled Substance List

Please sign this petition as well!

We are anti-prohibitionist’s!

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