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Posted on May 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm
Susan Soares

A new advocacy group called SAM (Smarter Approach to Marijuana), co-founded by Patrick J. Kennedy, a former congressman and self-admitted alcohol and oxycodone addict, proposes treating marijuana use in the following manner: “Possession or use of a small amount of marijuana should be a civil offense subject to a mandatory health screening and marijuana-education program. Referrals to treatment and/or social-support services should be made if needed. The individual could even be monitored for 6-12 months in a probation program designed to prevent further drug use.” But is this forced treatment for marijuana warranted?

In Psychology Today’s “Is Marijuana Addictive?,” the authors compared marijuana to other substances and found that it does not pose the same risks of dependence. It is estimated that 32% of tobacco users will become addicted, 23% of heroin users, 17% of cocaine users, and 15% of alcohol users. Yet only 9-10% of regular marijuana users will ever fit the definition of dependent . Moreover, the other substances are objectively more harmful than marijuana. So what is the incentive for this push for treatment centers for marijuana use when Mr. Kennedy knows from available evidence and personal experience that alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs are far more harmful? Based on my own personal experience, I think I have at least part of the answer.

About a year ago, I was put through some marijuana re-education of my own when I had to attend court-ordered Deferred Entry of Judgment classes. Every Wednesday night for 18 weeks, I met with a health department leader and other unfortunate drug war casualties. The class would start off with roll call and paying a weekly fee. We would watch a video on addiction or the teacher would read some course work to us. Then he would give us some questions that we were required to answer. Most of them were things like, “How does your addiction affect your daily life”?

At first I quietly just didn’t answer most of the questions or I just wrote in, “I’m not addicted. I use cannabis as a medicine. It helps me control my migraines.” The teacher started singling me out by reading my answers, thinking that I would buckle from public shame.

It’s important to realize that the attendees in the Deferred Entry of Judgment classes were given a free pass from the court and they are scared of going to jail. Defendants who are offered a DEJ have no prior record or they have stayed out of trouble for over 5 years and have no violent crime history. A DEJ means that after you complete the program, you can say that you were never arrested. It’s a way to run a LOT of drug related cases quickly through the judicial system using fear. If you don’t make it through the program the court will order you to jail for what ever the sentence was without any hearing because you have already plead guilty. Typically the DA overcharges a defendant in order to entice a plea deal so that is a scary prospect.

But I didn’t buckle when I was presented with quiz after quiz that asked me to admit to addiction. I stood up for myself. Without cannabis, my life would again center around debilitating migraines, which honestly were driving me toward suicide.

After I started speaking up, I was approached by almost everyone in the class. They all had heartbreaking stories and also felt like they were being herded through a BS program, but you do what you have to do and so they answered the questions as if they believed they were addicted.

In the end, the instructor graduated me early to get rid of me and didn’t even pee test me because he knew it would come up positive for THC.  He was aware of my court documents stating that I could not only smoke cannabis but grow it.

Under the guise of “treatment,” what they were doing was working on creating statistics that would support a HUGE money grab for more services and create a story of crisis that doesn’t really exist!

Published in CNN Money’s Private equity’s rehab roll-up In February 2006, Bain Capital (yes, the company that clean-livingMitt Romney used to run) purchased an outfit called CRC Health Group for $723 million and proceeded to go on a shopping spree, snapping up nearly 20 new treatment facilities over the next two years. The company took a breather during the financial crisis, but in 2011 resumed its buying binge with the purchase of some smaller treatment centers.

Rehab, it turns out, is a pretty good business. Is rehab roll-up-able? In the most basic sense, the answer is yes. But are these treatment centers working to end addiction or is it all about the profit margin?

All treatment programs are not created the same. “CRC uses a cookie-cutter approach,” says Dr. Howard C. Samuels, an addiction specialist and licensed practitioner based in Hollywood. “It’s the assembly line of recovery.” Samuels, who runs his own 14-bed facility, the Hills Treatment Center, says that he used to refer patients to CRC, but ceased doing so when he felt that bureaucracy and the bottom line had overwhelmed concern for individual treatment.

One word I hear over and over again when cannabis activists get together is “WHY?” As in, “Why on earth do we continue to punish adults who simply choose to relax with marijuana instead of the more harmful substance, alcohol?” I think the answer is clear. Follow the money!!!!

by  Susan Soares ~ Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform Fundraising Chair





 
 
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —A new bill is aimed at cracking down on people driving under the influence of drugs.

Under SB 289, introduced by state Sen. Lou Correa, it is illegal for a person to have in his or her blood any detectable amount of drugs while driving, unless it was taken in accordance with a valid prescription from a doctor.

The drugs are from those classified in Schedules I, II, III, or IV of the California Uniform Controlled Substance Act.

Former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness, who represents the California Peace Officers Association, supports the bill.

“You’re talking about something that’s per se unlawful, prohibited -- so therefore, its mere presence, coupled with the operation of the motor vehicle, is a threat to the safety of the public,” McGinness told KCRA 3, adding that he is waiting for details on how the bill would be enforced.

The most current draft of SB 289 does not make an exception for marijuana, for which patients receive a doctor’s recommendation, rather than a prescription.

“It would impact thousands and thousands of patients across the state who are not impaired,” said Lanette Davies, a spokesperson for Crusaders for Patients Rights. “There’s nothing in their system that’s impairing them, but they would be driving illegally if this bill is passed.”

Davies said a better way to ensure safe driving would focus on the nature of impairment, rather than the medication in the driver’s system.

However, supporters believe SB 289 is a good start in getting drugged drivers off the roads.

“The goal is to minimize the likelihood of anybody operating a motor vehicle on the highways in California when there’s evidence to show they have some level of impairment that will compromise your safety and mine,” McGinness said.

According to a recent study released by the Office of Traffic Safety, more California drivers tested positive for drugs that may impair driving at 14 percent, than they did for alcohol at 7.3 percent.  

Read more: http://www.kcra.com/news/politics/New-bill-aims-to-crack-down-on-drivers-impaired-by-drugs/-/11797268/18979288/-/7eiiaiz/-/index.html#ixzz2LMQevgyl
 
 
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By David Sneed and Julia Hickey — dsneed@thetribunenews.com, jhickey@thetribunenews.com

A detective with the San Luis Obispo Police Department was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents after being charged in a bribery scheme in which he allegedly took cash and drugs from two people.

Cory Pierce, 39, of Arroyo Grande allegedly provided two “cooperating witnesses” with narcotics for their own use, as well as placebo or fake drugs to sell to drug dealers, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Pierce is a six-year veteran of the San Luis Obispo Police Department who was assigned to a narcotics task force with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. He was taken into custody without incident at the FBI’s Santa Maria office and charged with one count of bribery in a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The criminal complaint describes how Pierce cultivated two sources, who have since cooperated with the FBI’s investigation by recording conversations with Pierce that led to his arrest. Pierce’s illegal activities were ongoing for as long as two years, and the investigation has yielded no information that other officers were involved in the scheme, said San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell at a news conference Tuesday.

Pierce was to have an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. If convicted of the bribery charge alleged in the criminal complaint, Pierce would face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

The ongoing investigation was conducted by the FBI with the assistance of the San Luis Obispo Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Ian Parkinson said his office became aware of the illegal activity about two weeks ago and asked the FBI to handle the case.

“I am angry and deeply disturbed that this has happened,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson told the staff of his narcotics task force about the arrest. Those officers agreed to take drug tests, which were administered Tuesday. Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the San Luis Obispo police have a policy of regularly testing its officers for drugs.

The alleged illegal activity began when one of the FBI’s cooperating witnesses was arrested for heroin possession in 2011. The witness and his girlfriend agreed to work with police, specifically Pierce.

But soon after, Pierce made unusual requests for the informants to bring him narcotics, according to the FBI complaint. As the requests continued, Pierce allegedly provided placebo pain pills and real narcotics to the two witnesses.

Pierce exchanged pills and drugs for cash and various narcotics brought to him by the witnesses, including oxycodone, heroin and drugs that treat opiate addiction, according to the complaint. It goes on to state that Pierce on several occasions provided the witness with methamphetamine that was still in police evidence bags.

The complaint alleges that the female witness obtained prescriptions for pain pills from her doctor and from emergency rooms to give to Pierce, and that Pierce would provide her with money to purchase the prescriptions.

The complaint alleges that Pierce used his position as a police officer to influence one of the witness’s probation officers to perform little or no supervision of him and informed him that he could “work off” his heroin possession charge by cooperating with Pierce. The complaint goes on to allege that Pierce informed the cooperating witnesses about ongoing police investigations, including where best to purchase narcotics and which drug houses to stay away from, so that they would not be caught in the act of buying.

Pierce allegedly had the witnesses set up a meeting with a drug dealer. Following the meeting, he pulled over the dealer’s vehicle at gunpoint, seized morphine pills and let the dealer go without making an arrest.

When the witnesses advised Pierce that the drug dealers to whom they had sold the placebo pills realized they had received a deceptive product and wanted revenge, Pierce asked for their identities and indicated he would “take care of it.”

Last month, one of the witnesses began cooperating with a federal investigation and recorded multiple conversations with Pierce. During those recorded conversations, Pierce allegedly instructed the witness to sell placebo pills to a drug dealer for $11,000, money that was to be split between Pierce and the witness.

On multiple occasions, Pierce asked the witness for Suboxone, which is used to treat opiate addictions, indicating that he was personally using the drug, according to the complaint affidavit.

The complaint also details Pierce being caught on a surveillance camera inside the sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force office.

“The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force office recently installed a camera in its office space to capture the area surrounding its evidence storage location,” the complaint says. On Jan. 31, 2013, the video showed the last employee leaving the office at 5:20 p.m. “Soon after that employee left, the video showed Pierce opening the office door and entering the space. The video showed that Pierce went directly to the sergeant’s desk and removed the evidence key from the top of his desk. According to the video, Pierce then opened the evidence storage area with the key and removed a sack from the storage location.

“The detective reviewing the video recognized the sack as one that contained the placebo pills resembling oxycodone. The video then showed Pierce grabbing two bottles from the sack, returning the evidence key to the sergeant’s desk, removing plastic wrap surrounding the bottles, and then exiting the office.”

The detective said Pierce was only inside the office for two minutes, the complaint alleges.


Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/02/05/2382785/cory-pierce-slo-police-arrested.html#storylink=cpy



 
 
The Drug War is a Gateway to Police Perjury

http://www.drugwarrant.com/2013/02/the-drug-war-is-a-gateway-to-police-perjury/

Michelle Alexander in the New York Times: Why Police Officers Lie Under Oath

Mr. Keane, in his Chronicle article, offered two major reasons the police lie so much. First, because they can. Police officers “know that in a swearing match between a drug defendant and a police officer, the judge always rules in favor of the officer.” At worst, the case will be dismissed, but the officer is free to continue business as usual. Second, criminal defendants are typically poor and uneducated, often belong to a racial minority, and often have a criminal record. “Police know that no one cares about these people,” Mr. Keane explained.

All true, but there is more to the story than that.

Police departments have been rewarded in recent years for the sheer numbers of stops, searches and arrests. In the war on drugs, federal grant programs like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program have encouraged state and local law enforcement agencies to boost drug arrests in order to compete for millions of dollars in funding. Agencies receive cash rewards for arresting high numbers of people for drug offenses, no matter how minor the offenses or how weak the evidence. Law enforcement has increasingly become a numbers game. And as it has, police officers’ tendency to regard procedural rules as optional and to lie and distort the facts has grown as well.

We give law enforcement an extraordinary amount of power over citizens. Because of that, it is even more essential that their integrity be beyond reproach.

If there was no other reason to end the drug war, this would be sufficient — to reduce the culture and incentives that lead to law enforcement corruption and that break down the sense of trust between police and community.

 
 
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OPINION
Why Police Lie Under Oath
By MICHELLE ALEXANDER
Published: February 2, 2013

THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”

But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.

That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly.  Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

The New York City Police Department is not exempt from this critique. In 2011, hundreds of drug cases were dismissed after several police officers were accused of mishandling evidence. That year, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn condemned a widespread culture of lying and corruption in the department’s drug enforcement units. “I thought I was not naïve,” he said when announcing a guilty verdict involving a police detective who had planted crack cocaine on a pair of suspects. “But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”

Remarkably, New York City officers have been found to engage in patterns of deceit in cases involving charges as minor as trespass. In September it was reported that the Bronx district attorney’s office was so alarmed by police lying that it decided to stop prosecuting people who were stopped and arrested for trespassing at public housing projects, unless prosecutors first interviewed the arresting officer to ensure the arrest was actually warranted. Jeannette Rucker, the chief of arraignments for the Bronx district attorney, explained in a letter that it had become apparent that the police were arresting people even when there was convincing evidence that they were innocent. To justify the arrests, Ms. Rucker claimed, police officers provided false written statements, and in depositions, the arresting officers gave false testimony.

Mr. Keane, in his Chronicle article, offered two major reasons the police lie so much. First, because they can. Police officers “know that in a swearing match between a drug defendant and a police officer, the judge always rules in favor of the officer.” At worst, the case will be dismissed, but the officer is free to continue business as usual. Second, criminal defendants are typically poor and uneducated, often belong to a racial minority, and often have a criminal record.  “Police know that no one cares about these people,” Mr. Keane explained.

All true, but there is more to the story than that.



 
 
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By Robert Bonner
February 1, 2013, 8:23 a.m.



Reacting to a federal appellate court decision upholding the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's denial of reclassification of marijuana, The Times states in its Jan. 25 editorial that whether marijuana should be reclassified under federal law to permit its prescription as a medicine should be based on science and an evaluation of the facts, rather than on myths. I fully agree. 

And yet the editorial is based on the myth that the DEA has made it "nearly impossible" for researchers to obtain marijuana for such scientific studies. To the contrary, not a single scientifically valid study by a qualified researcher has ever been denied by the DEA or, for that matter, by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. And there is ample government-grown marijuana, specifically for research, available at the marijuana farm run by the University of Mississippi. More surprising, as your editorial points out, is that there is still no scientifically valid study that proves that marijuana is effective, much less safe, as a medicine. 

As the DEA administrator 20 years ago, I denied the reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule I controlled drug because there were no valid scientific studies showing that smoking marijuana was an effective medicine. In my decision, published in the Federal Register, I interpreted federal law and set forth a five-part test that included whether there were valid scientific studies demonstrating that marijuana was safe and effective for treating any medical condition. I noted that at that time there were none of the kind of controlled, double-blind studies that the Food and Drug Administration would require before approving a new drug application, and I clearly spelled out that this would be necessary before marijuana would be reclassified to a lower schedule that would permit its use as a physician-prescribed medicine

Essentially, I invited those who advocate marijuana use as a medicine to conduct research and then present it to the DEA. I laid out a road map for what they needed to do. If scientifically valid studies demonstrated that marijuana was “effective” and “safe,” as the FDA defines those terms, the agency would reclassify marijuana into one of the other schedules. It is amazing that 20 years later there is still no such scientific study establishing that marijuana is effective as a medicine. And yet in the interim, the well-funded marijuana lobby, including the National Assn. for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and others, have spent tens of millions of dollars on convincing voters to pass medical marijuanainitiatives based on anecdotes but not science. 

The reason the FDA and the DEA have scientific standards is because snake-oil salesmen are able to sell just about anything to sick people without any scientific proof that it has a truly helpful therapeutic effect. If proponents of medical marijuana had invested even a small fragment of their money in scientifically valid studies, we would know one way or the other whether it works. 

One can only conclude the marijuana proponents did not go this route because doing so would have shown that cannabis is not an effective and safe medicine. Alternatively, we are left to conclude that their agenda was not about marijuana to help sick people, but rather was getting voters to pass medical marijuana initiatives as a wedge to legalize the drug for "recreational" use. 

Here is  a response from a long time activist Rick Doblin:

Dear Mr. Robert Bonner,

Hello from Rick Doblin, Ph.D.,(Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, with my dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana).  I'm currently Executive Director of the non-profit research and educational organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS, www.maps.org), which I founded in 1986.  You may be surprised to learn that for the last 20+ years, I have been inspired by, and frequently  quote, your 1992 statement that you mention in your article above  in which you encouraged advocates of medical marijuana to conduct more research.  

In 1992, you wrote, <Those who insist that marijuana has medical uses would serve society better by promoting or sponsoring more legitimate scientific research, rather than throwing their time, money and rhetoric into lobbying public relations campaigns and perennial litigation."

I have put my full energies for the last 20+ years into trying to conduct FDA-approved medical marijuana drug development research. Unfortunately, my experience, to which I hope you will give some credence, is exactly opposite of the open door to research that you claim exists.  MAPS has obtained FDA and IRB approval for three different  protocols to which NIDA refused to sell any marijuana, preventing the studies from taking place. In addition, NIDA refused for 7 years to sell MAPS 10 grams (!!) of marijuana for laboratory research investigating the vapors that come out of the Volcano vaporizer, compared to smoke from combusted marijuana.  

Furthermore, MAPS has been involved for the last decade in litigation against DEA for refusing to license Prof. Craker, UMass Amherst, to grow marijuana exclusively for use in federally regulated research. In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge Bittner recommended, after extensive hearings with witness testimony, that it would be in the public interest for DEA to license Prof. Craker to grow marijuana under contract to MAPS, ending the NIDA monopoly on the supply of marijuana legal for use in FDA-regulated studies.  DEA waited for almost two years and  then rejected the ALJ recommendation just six days before the inauguration of Pres. Obama.  On May 11, 2012,  oral arguments took place before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit by Prof. Craker challenging DEA's rationale for rejecting the DEA ALJ recommendation. A ruling is currently pending from the 1st Circuit.  From  my perspective, DEA's rationale for rejecting the DEA ALJ recommendation is arbitrary and capricious, but of course what matters is  what the 1st Circuit will eventually decide.

In your article above, you claimed,  <To the contrary, not a single scientifically valid study by a qualified researcher has ever been denied by the DEA or, for that matter, by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.>   The wiggle room in your statement above is the definition of "scientifically valid study".  One would think that for a privately funded study being conducted without a penny of government money, with the aim of developing marijuana into an FDA-approved prescription medicine, that the FDA would be the regulatory agency to determine whether the study was "scientifically valid" and that Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval would be sufficient to protect the safety of the human volunteers to the study. However, in 1999, HHS created a policy (which could be reversed by Pres. Obama at any time without Congressional action) stating that PHS/NIDA reviewers would have to conduct an additional review of protocols  from privately-funded sponsors seeking to purchase!

 marijuana from NIDA.  This additional PHS/NIDA protocol review process exists only for marijuana, not for research with any other controlled substance. MAPS has been able to make substantial progress with our research exploring the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD, including a current study in 24 US veterans, firefighters and perhaps even police officers with work-related PTSD.

It is these PHS/NIDA reviewers who have rejected all three of MAPS' FDA and IRB approved medical marijuana drug development protocols, preventing them from taking place.  You can claim that the rejection of the these protocols was because they were not "scientifically valid".   However, to make that claim, you would be saying that FDA and IRBs have approved studies that are not "scientifically valid",  an accusation against the FDA that  I doubt you really want  to make.

MAPS currently has obtained FDA and IRB approval for a study of marijuana in 50 US veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. Dr. Sue Sisley of UArizona is the PI and approval has been obtained from the UArizona IRB as well as the FDA. Research into a potentially beneficial       treatment for US veterans is being blocked by PHS/NIDA reviewers who rejected this protocol.  These PHS/NIDA reviewers approached the protocol review as if we were asking for a government grant for a basic science study. Instead, we were seeking to purchase marijuana from NIDA for a privately-funded drug development study. The PHS/NIDA reviewers made numerous incorrect and uninformed comments and clearly didn't understand drug development research. One reviewer objected to our outcome measures when we are using the FDA-required measure of PTSD symptoms, the CAPS. If you or any readers want to review our protocol along with the PHS/NIDA reviewers' comments and my annotated response, the documents are posted at:  http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/marijuana_for_ptsd_study/

The compete record of Prof. Craker's DEA lawsuit is posted at: http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/dea_timeline/

MAPS will soon be resubmitting our marijuana/PTSD protocol for another round of PHS/NIDA review, even though we think this review should be eliminated from the process. All FDA/IRB and DEA approved protocols should automatically be allowed to purchase marijuana from NIDA.

To summarize, you have been an inspiration to me and have motivated me to devote several decades of my life to seek approval for medical marijuana drug development research. My failure to make progress in overcoming the obstruction of medical marijuana research by DEA/NIDA/PHS  provides one of the clearest reasons for state level medical marijuana policy reform. 

My conclusion is opposite of yours, when you said, "One can only conclude the marijuana proponents did not go this route because doing so would have shown that cannabis is not an effective and safe medicine."

Rather, one can only conclude that privately-funded medical marijuana drug development research is being aggressively and actively obstructed by DEA/NIDA/PHS because they know it can be scientifically proven that marijuana, smoked or vaporized, is both safe and effective.

The heros in all of this in my eyes are the FDA.  It's not because FDA is pro-medical marijuana, or pro-psychedelic psychotherapy. Rather, FDA is pro science over politics. In other words, FDA are heroes simply for doing their jobs. If only DEA/NIDA/PHS considered the public interest over       their increasingly out of touch passion for blocking FDA-regulated medical marijuana drug development research. 

I urge you to reread your 1992 statement and join MAPS in asking for the end of the PHS protocol review process and for a new policy in which all FDA/IRB/DEA approved protocols automatically obtain approval to purchase NIDA marijuana. In addition, I sincerely hope you will also support DEA licensing of Prof. Craker.  It's time to  "serve society better by promoting or sponsoring more legitimate scientific research."

Sincerely,

Rick Doblin, Ph.D.

rick@maps.org




 
 
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Please forward this to everyone you know and send a letter to the judge:
Honorable Judge McGlynn
Tehama Superior Court
Juvenile Justice Division
Dependency Court
445 Pine Street
Red Bluff, CA 96080

To the Honorable Judge McGlynn January 29, 2013 Tehama County, CA

RE: Daisy Bram

As a mother of a young child, I appreciate and share the concern the court would have for a child in a bad environment, unable to care for themselves. I would hope the court can also recognize when the only evidence of abuse appears now by the Butte County deputy district attorney Jeff Greeson, by tormenting this family repeatedly. Keeping a family with young children together must have more weight than the personal vendetta of a person of authority, who disagrees with personal choices that are allowed by law.

In the case of Drake M. (case # B236769), Division Three of the Second Appellate District, California Court of Appeal ruled on December 5, 2012 that while parents who abuse drugs can lose custody of their children, a parent who uses marijuana for medical reasons, with a doctor's approval, isn't necessarily a drug abuser. This ruling illustrates a growing recognition of the legitimate use of medical marijuana in this state and other states. The kids must be safe; however parents should be able to use legally prescribed medications when children appear not to be at demonstrated risk of harm.

DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young, after reviewing all the available evidence on marijuana, declared, “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” When compared to the dangers of children consuming prescription drugs and alcohol, or the ramifications of a drunk or drugged parent, any home is actually safer if responsible parents utilize marijuana as a harm reduction technique from these other drugs.

The appellate court found that the record did not support the finding that the children would be at substantial risk of detriment if returned to that mother based on her use of marijuana. (Jennifer A. v. Superior Court, supra, 117 Cal.App.4th at p. 1346.) Medical marijuana use alone is not sufficient to take a child away. I truly hope that this ‘de facto’ policy of DCFS is changed, and that no more parents and children have to suffer needlessly. Please limit how authority figures can manipulate laws to separate children from their parents that use marijuana for medical reasons with your ruling.

As a nursing mom, I would also like to remind the court that for little humans, and the mothers who breastfeed their young, have a sacred right to be together, and these young families are now dependent on the court to keep mothers and her young together for nourishment, physical and emotional protection. Can you imagine how you might feel with the center of your universe disappeared for weeks without explanation, without connection, without trust that is so vital to the young years? Babies need constant attention from trusted caregivers to thrive. This situation would be enormously taxing for any adult, perfectly capable of expressing themselves, but a baby who is otherwise being cared for? The stress and emotional toll this has on a mother and child is damaging to say the least, and worst case scenario would produce life-long developmental problems.

I pray this letter will prevent some of the harm I have seen to these children in foster care, when they should have been with their loving parents. Daisy Bram is a loving and caring mother. Please return her children as soon as humanly possible.

Yours Truly,

Dale Sky Jones Executive Chancellor Oaksterdam University Oakland, CA 94612

 



 
 
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CONOR FRIEDERSDORF - Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

JAN 14 2013, 7:00 AM ET

A single prosecution can easily run more than $1 million -- all to send an empty message about federal drug laws and hand the market share over to a less savory purveyor.

When Matthew R. Davies was growing and selling medical marijuana in California, the 34-year-old father of two "hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits," the New York Times reports. Unfortunately for him, federal agents raided his business, and "the United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner, a 2009 Obama appointee, wants Mr. Davies to agree to a plea that includes a mandatory minimum of five years in prison." Let's set the legal questions aside and think through the costs of this course:
  • The opportunity cost of focusing on other crimes
  • $235,000 in incarceration costs
  • Two young girls with an absent father
  • Substantial lost tax revenue from his operation
  • Other marijuana sellers going underground
  • Less savory drug dealers, including violent cartels, getting more business
  • More of a hassle for sick medical marijuana patients to get their prescription filled
Doesn't that seem awfully "expensive" when the only real benefit is sending the message that you can't get away with openly flouting federal drug laws? If that's the biggest benefit you can plausibly claim, isn't that a sign that the law should change? After all, it isn't as if anyone believes that sending Davies to jail is going to make victory in the drug war any more plausible. Or appreciably decrease the number of people smoking marijuana. Or even significantly diminish the supply, since there's always another person growing on the black market.

All casualties are purposeless when you're fighting an unwinnable war. 

Later in the article, we learn that "two of Mr. Davies's co-defendants are pleading guilty, agreeing to five-year minimum terms, to avoid stiffer sentences." Wow. So the federal government thinks it's worth investing more than a million dollars to shut down this particular operation. Maybe you're sympathetic to marijuana legalization, or maybe you're against it. Regardless, could you spend that $1 million-plus better? Could you spend it in a way that saved more lives or created more happiness or resulted in more justice meted out than jailing these three?

I could. 

One of Davies's employees, who met him after seeking marijuana to help her through ovarian and cervical cancer, gave this quote to the reporter: "I totally trusted them. We're not criminals. I've never been arrested my whole life. I need that medication, and so do a whole lot of people."

How many people, on hearing a story like hers, are going to react in a way that weakens rather than strengthens regard for the rule of law? The Times also quotes a former federal drug prosecutor who says, "It's mind-boggling that there were hundreds of attorneys advising their clients that it was O.K. to do this, only to be bushwhacked by a federal system that most people in California are not even paying attention to." But ignorance of the law or getting bad attorney's advice only keeps you out of jail in America if you're apolice officer or elected official.



 
 
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I saw this idea of anti marijuana addiction re education at work about a year ago when I was attending court ordered Deferred Entry of Judgement classes in Redondo Beach. Every Wednesday night for 18 weeks I met with a health department leader and other unfortunate drug war casualties. I could see that they were setting up a whole new industry, probably backed by big insurance companies. The class would start off with roll call and paying your weekly fee. Then we would watch a video or the teacher would read some course work to us. Then he would give us some questions that we were required to answer. Most of them were things like "how does your addiction affect your daily life".... At first I quietly just didn't answer most of them or I just wrote in, "I'm not addicted. I use cannabis as a medicine. It helps me control my migraines." Then the teacher started calling me out thinking that I would buckle from public shame. You have to realize that the folks there were given a free pass from the court and they are afraid to blow it. A DEJ means that after you complete the program, you can say that you were never arrested. It's a way to run a LOT of drug related cases quickly through the judicial system. But I didn't buckle. I stood up for myself. And soon I had a lot of people in the class talk to me after and admit that it was a BS program but you do what you have to do. In the end, the instructor graduated me early to get rid of me and didn't even pee test me because he knew it would come up dirty and I had court documents stating that I could not only smoke cannabis but grow it. What they were doing was working on creating statistics that would support a HUGE money grab and create a story of crisis that doesn't really exist!~ss
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Meet SAM, the New Group Hell-Bent on Halting Marijuana Legalization


(SAM) has among its "leadership team" admitted addict Patrick Kennedy and conservative commentator David Frum.
January 10, 2013  |  
 
The passage of marijuana legalization measures by voters in Colorado and Washington in November has sparked interest in marijuana policy like never before, and now it has sparked the formation of a new group dedicated to fighting a rearguard action to stop legalization from spreading further.

The group,  Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM or Project SAM) has among its " leadership team" liberal former Rhode Island Democratic congressman and self-admitted oxycodone and alcohol addict Patrick Kennedy and conservative commentator David Frum. It also includes professional neo-prohibitionist Dr. Kevin Sabet and a handful of medical researchers. It describes itself as a project of the Policy Solutions Lab, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, a drug policy consulting firm headed by Sabet.

SAM emphasizes a public health approach to marijuana, but when it comes to marijuana and the law, its prescriptions are a mix of the near-reasonable and the around-the-bend. Rational marijuana policy, SAM says, precludes relying "only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana" and the group calls for small-time possession to be decriminalized, but "subject to a mandatory health screening an marijuana-education program." The SAM version of decrim also includes referrals to treatment "if needed" and probation for up to a year "to prevent further drug use."

But it also calls for an end to NYPD-style "stop and frisk" busts and the expungement of arrest records for marijuana possession. SAM calls for an end to mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana cultivation or distribution, but wants those offenses to remain "misdemeanors or felonies based on the amount possessed."

For now, SAM advocates a zero-tolerance approach to marijuana and driving, saying "driving with any amount of marijuana in one's system should be at least a misdemeanor" and should result in a "mandatory health assessment, marijuana education program, and referral to treatment or social services." If a scientifically-based impairment level is established, SAM calls for driving at or above that level to be at least a misdemeanor.

Less controversially, SAM advocates for increased emphasis on education and prevention. It also calls for early screening for marijuana use and limited intervention "for those who not progressed to full marijuana addiction." ~Where is the proof that marijuana is addicting?? What about alcohol addiction or oxycodone addiction? ss

For a taste of SAM's kinder, gentler, neo-prohibitionist rhetoric, David Frum's Monday CNN column is instructive. "We don't want to lock people up for casual marijuana use -- or even stigmatize them with an arrest record," he writes. "But what we do want to do is send a clear message: Marijuana use is a bad choice."

Marijuana use may be okay for some "less vulnerable" people, Frum writes, but we're not all as good at handling modern life as he is.

"But we need to recognize that modern life is becoming steadily more dangerous for people prone to make bad choices," he argues. "At a time when they need more help than ever to climb the ladder, marijuana legalization kicks them back down the ladder. The goal of public policy should not be to punish vulnerable kids for making life-wrecking mistakes. The goal of public policy should be to protect (to the extent we can) the vulnerable from making life-wrecking mistakes in the first place."

Marijuana legalization advocates are having none of it. And they level the charge of hypocrisy in particular at Kennedy, whose family made its fortune selling alcohol. The  Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has called on Kennedy to explain why he wants to keep "an objectively less harmful alternative to alcohol illegal" and has created an  online petition calling on him to offer an explanation or resign as chairman of SAM.

"Former Congressman Kennedy's proposal is the definition of hypocrisy," said MPP communications director Mason Tvert. "He is living in part off of the fortune his family made by selling alcohol while leading a campaign that makes it seem like marijuana -- an objectively less harmful product -- is the greatest threat to public health. He personally should know better."

Nor did Tvert think much of SAM's insistence that marijuana users need treatment.

"The proposal is on par with forcing every alcohol user into treatment at their own cost or at a cost to the state. In fact, it would be less logical because the science is clear that marijuana is far less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to be associated with acts of violence," Tvert said.

"If this group truly cares about public health, it should be providing the public with facts regarding the relative harms of marijuana and discouraging the use of the more harmful product," Tvert said. "Why on earth would they want keep a less harmful alternative to alcohol illegal? Former Congressman Kennedy and his organization should answer this question before calling on our government to start forcing people into treatment programs and throwing them into marijuana re-education camps."



 
 
In my personal experience, suing any government agency is an act of futility. Who is doing the oversight? What official is going to sanction one of their own? It's not going to happen. That being said, I'm getting ready to file my own lawsuit against 2 police officers and a city. Someone has to get through............right? ~Susan Soares



Marijuana dispensaries seek injunction against Long Beach for raids
By Tracy Manzer, Staff Writer Press Telegram Long Beach

Posted:   01/04/2013 09:36:12 PM PST
Updated:   01/05/2013 12:03:13 AM PST

LONG BEACH - A group of local marijuana dispensaries is suing the city of Long Beach, alleging it and its police force are using illegal methods to run them them out of business, according to court papers filed Friday.

According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in downtown Los Angeles, lead plaintiff Green Earth Center claims police are using "warrantless" raids and other federally prohibited tactics to run the collectives out of town. The complaint, which seeks an injunction and damages for alleged civil rights violations, also names five Long Beach police officers in connection with alleged illegal raids in which marijuana, cash, cars and other property were seized.

Long Beach City Attorney Robert Shannon said the city has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit so he could not comment on the matter specifically. Shannon, however, noted that it is not the first time the city has been sued over the issue of medical marijuana. "We've been sued numerous times, over 10 times, and we haven't lost a case yet," Shannon said late Friday. "It's a matter that will have to be decided by the federal courts."

A number of collectives were forcibly shuttered last November after a citywide ban took effect.
More than half a dozen locations were the subject of raids carried out the Long Beach Police Department, the California Franchise Tax Board and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, and Police Department officials have warned collectives that more raids are likely unless the remaining dispensaries in the city shut down on their own.The citywide ban followed a "gentle ban," enacted in 2010, which followed months of public discussion and saw the City Council set up a lottery system for collectives to win the right to legally operate while they were vetted for a formal permit. More than $700,000 in fees were gathered and 22 collectives were selected.

Then, in October last year - and before the permits were issued - the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled the city's regulations violated federal law prohibiting the sale and distribution of marijuana. An at-times rowdy public debate ensued, with the council eventually voting for the wholesale ban, which included a six-month exemption for the lottery winners deemed in good standing with the city.

"The council felt that we don't have the ability to regulate, and you can't really have a situation where an industry is completely unregulated," Assistant City Attorney Michael Mais told the Press-Telegram last year.

tracy.manzer@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2150, twitter.com/tmanzer