|From: TimF||4/25/2018 10:38:55 PM|
|Trump/Gardner Deal on Marijuana is a Big Win for State Sovereignty|
By Generation Opportunity
April 16, 2018 Government Overreach
Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo giving federal prosecutors greater authority to enforce marijuana laws. The memo was intended to allow federal prosecutors in states where marijuana is legal to determine how aggressively to enforce the current federal law that prohibits it.
Under federal law, marijuana is classified as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, recreational marijuana use has been legalized in six states, as well as the District of Columbia.
Recently, President Donald Trump promised Colorado Senator Corey Gardner (R) that he will support congressional efforts to protect states like Colorado that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. This seemingly puts an end to a standoff between Gardner and the administration over the prospect of a federal crackdown in such states.
To say the least, we’re glad this deal didn’t go up in smoke.
Seriously though, this is great news for citizens who believe states should have the right to challenge federal power, especially in cases where citizens believe that the federal government is acting unconstitutionally.
Not only is this deal a win for fans of the Constitution, but also for taxpayers.
Our prison system is the most highly-populated in the world and billions of taxdollars are being wasted every year fighting a failed War on Drugs. To be blunt (pun 100% intended), non-violent individuals should not have their lives ruined and their families torn apart over an act that has already been legalized in several states across the nation.
Whether it’s marijuana or something else, what states want to do is ultimately up to them, as it should be. If, for example, New Jersey wants to pass bad policy in the form of a state health insurance mandate, that’s their call.
Hopefully, both the president and Sen. Gardner will hold up their ends of the bargain here and this will mark the start of a new era of federalism.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||4/27/2018 10:07:10 AM|
|Legal Marijuana’s Big Moment |
Despite hostility from the Trump administration, signs indicate federal decriminalization is only a flipped House away.
By JAMES HIGDON
April 24, 2018
A couple of weeks ago, John Boehner was dining at one of his favorite Washington haunts, Trattoria Alberto on Barracks Row, when in walked Earl Blumenauer, the Democrat from Oregon known as one of the most fervent advocates for legal marijuana in Congress. In years past, the two men would have had little in common, but earlier that day Boehner announced he was joining the advisory board for Acreage Holdings, one of the largest marijuana corporations in the country. It stunned many in the political world because the former speaker, whose tastes favor merlot and Camel Ultra Lights, had on several occasions spent political capital to defeat legalization measures: In 2014, he supported the congressional blockade of the District of Columbia’s recreational marijuana program and the next year he opposed efforts to legalize marijuana in his home state of Ohio.
Blumenauer was still so stunned by the turnabout, he couldn’t resist hailing his former adversary, who only a few hours earlier had advocated for marijuana’s full federal decriminalization, or its “descheduling,” in the parlance of Capitol Hill.
“John!” Blumenauer said, greeting the former speaker warmly, “What happened?”
“Well,” Boehner replied, “my thinking has evolved.”
He’s not the only one. In Washington, evolution on the marijuana issue is proceeding at warp speed in political terms. Boehner is just the latest in a string of noteworthy newcomers to the legalization movement that has been barreling through state houses for the past decade. Just in the past several weeks, Mitch McConnell fast-tracked a Senate bill to legalize low-THC hemp. Chuck Schumer announced that he would introduce a bill to deschedule marijuana entirely. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner struck a deal with President Donald Trump, who promised to not target Colorado’s legal marijuana industry in exchange for Gardner releasing his hold on Trump’s Department of Justice nominees. The Food and Drug Administration opened a comment period on the scheduling of marijuana ahead of a special session of the World Health Organization convened to re-evaluate marijuana laws, and both chambers of Congress passed “right to try” bills that might have accidentally legalized medical marijuana for terminally ill patients. Taken together they suggest that nearly 50 years of federal marijuana prohibition is about to disappear, and it’s happening in the face of an administration that has expressed its outright hostility to the notion.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a bigger transformation of the politics of marijuana in a single month since November 2012, when Colorado became the first state to legalize,” said Tom Angell, an advocate journalist who runs MarijuanaMoment.net. “It’s now very clear that both parties see this as a winning issue [and] they are worried about the other party taking ownership of it.”
Multiple currents are propelling this wave. In 2017, West Virginia became the 29th medical marijuana state, and earlier this year, Vermont became the ninth state to permit adult use. Tax revenue for fully legal marijuana in Colorado reached $247 million last year. Opinion polls continue to show approval ratings for marijuana higher than any politician’s, including in deep red states like Texas and Utah. The opioid addiction crisis has pushed medical marijuana further into the mainstream; the American Society for Addiction Medicine, which is not an advocate for legalization, acknowledges that opioid overdose death rates are 25 percent lower in states with legal medical marijuana. That list now includes Ohio, Boehner’s home state, where dispensaries will open later this year.
Boehner must have known he would soon face the smug satisfaction of his former colleagues who had goaded him on this issue for years, but the fact that it was Blumenauer he ran into was a kind of poetic political moment. Known for his bow tie and a lapel pin shaped like a bicycle, Blumenauer cuts a very different figure from Boehner, as different as their views on nearly every major political issue. With the exception now of marijuana. By chance, Blumenauer happened to be wearing a pair of marijuana-themed socks, and he offered to accessorize Boehner. According to Blumenauer, Boehner demurred.
When POLITICO Magazine caught up with Blumenauer last week, he bubbled with enthusiasm. The prospects for legalizing marijuana at the federal level, he said, have never been brighter. “It’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?” he told me. “It’s all cresting this year … I think we’re entering into the final stages, if everyone does their jobs right.”
“I think the next Congress will finish the job of reform, and clean it up,” he told me, by which he means if it flips to Democratic control and legislation is permitted to proceed. “We’ve got the votes in the House and the Senate and there will be a huge shake-up in the next Congress.” With Democrats in control, the new chairs of the relevant committees would be pro-marijuana: Jerry Nadler in Judiciary, Frank Pallone in Commerce, and Jim McGovern in Rules. “These are our friends with good records,” he said.
Blumenauer thinks the votes are there now, but bills are bottled up by Republican leadership.
“I think this Congress, if the Republican leadership would not stifle this bipartisan consensus of virtually every Democrat and several dozen Republicans, if they’d just allow the vote, it would pass [a number of measures].” That includes an amendment known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, which protects state legal medical marijuana programs. The House denied a vote on Rohrabacher-Blumenauer in this Congress, but the same protections were added to the 2018 omnibus spending bill by a companion amendment in the Senate sponsored by Pat Leahy of Vermont.
As POLITICO Magazine reported earlier this year, Democrats have been rushing to support this issue in congressional races across the country, and it’s playing a role in governors’ contests in some of the country’s largest media markets, too, such as New York and Illinois. (In New Jersey last year, Governor Phil Murphy ran in favor of full legalization and won by 14 points.) Cynthia Nixon’s surprise entry into the New York race has pushed incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on this issue: “We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” Nixon said in a video posted to Twitter. Representative Jared Polis, a marijuana-rights leader who represents Colorado’s 2nd District, is leaving Congress to run for governor. “Colorado voters want a governor who is going to stand up to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions if they try to interfere with legal cannabis in our state,” Polis told POLITICO Magazine.
In November, marijuana is on the Michigan ballot for adult use and on the Utah ballot for medical use. And in Texas, incumbent Senator Ted Cruz faces an unusually strong general election challenge from Representative Beto O’Rourke, with a recent poll that shows the Democrat within the margin of error. “Texas is as significant as anything we’re looking at,” Blumenauer told me. “Beto has been very outspoken. It’s not the centerpiece of his campaign, but he’s been very outspoken and he’s been friendly with us,” he said, joking that only a few years ago, talking out loud about marijuana was probably a felony under Texas law and now a pro-marijuana Democrat has a real shot at becoming the state’s junior senator.
“The more we discuss it, the more we talk about it, I find it’s not that hard to persuade people that reform is the right policy,” he said.
The nation was not founded with a prejudice against marijuana.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis on their plantations, most probably for fiber and seed. Jefferson’s slaves planted his hemp in March; Washington’s in April. Henry Clay, the speaker of the House from 1811 to 1825, grew hemp on his Kentucky plantation. The first law against weed didn’t come until the early 20th century when the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was passed, effectively outlawing the plant for both its medicinal and industrial applications. The prohibition was lifted briefly during World War II during the “Hemp for Victory” effort to supply the U.S. Navy with rope made from hemp fiber. After the war, hemp reverted to its illegal status, but it kept itself alive as “ditch weed” that grew wild in the fencerows of rural America.
During the Vietnam War, demand for illegal marijuana grew across the nation, becoming indivisibly linked with the protest movement against the war, which the Nixon administration continued to press. Nixon couldn’t repeal the Voting Rights Act that had passed just a few years before, but he could criminalize his opponents’ behavior. In 1970, he signed the Controlled Substances Act, which grouped illegal drugs into “schedules.” Marijuana was placed in “Schedule 1” along with heroin, defined as highly addictive with no medical value. Nixon seemed obsessed with cracking down on marijuana users, even after the passage of the CSA. On May 26, 1971, Nixon told his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, “I want a goddamn strong statement on marijuana … I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.”
A wave of decriminalization followed Nixon’s resignation in the late 70s, but that was ended by Ronald Reagan, who doubled down on Nixon’s anti-marijuana policies. Bill Clinton signed the 1994 Crime Bill, which imposed mandatory life sentences after “three strikes” and mandatory drug testing for those on supervised release, provisions which led to prison overcrowding. The Department of Justice under George W. Bush prosecuted Tommy Chong for selling glass bongs across state lines and sent him to prison for it.
Many expected Barack Obama to legalize marijuana in his second term, but he did not. The best he could do was the Cole Memo, written by the DOJ, which directed federal prosecutors to use their discretion in pursuing marijuana cases in states where marijuana was legal.
The signals from the Trump administration have been mixed at best. On the campaign trail, candidate Trump seemed to embrace marijuana for medical but not recreational use. But his attorney general has made his antagonism toward marijuana clear at every stage. In January, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, causing a wave of anxiety through states whose residents had assumed that marijuana was on a glide path to full national legalization. But Trump appeared willing to compromise with Gardner for the sake of getting his nominees through. “We’re always consulting Congress about issues, including states’ rights, of which the president is a firm believer,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The president’s inconsistency is maybe the only thing that marijuana advocates can agree on says Kevin Sabet, executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group. “With this president, things don’t exactly stay the same from week to week, so we are going to keep putting pressure on him on this issue,” Sabet told POLITICO Magazine. For SAM, that means pumping “a seven-figure amount,” according to Sabet, into anti-marijuana campaigns in states with ballot measures like Michigan, and another million-plus dollars on grass-roots operations and state offices, he said.
Sabet says the recent spate of good news for marijuana has also been good news for his organization’s fundraising efforts. “I’m more optimistic than ever. I’ve raised more money in the last week than we have in the last year. Because people are coming out of the woodwork because they are afraid. We’ve actually been energized by this.”
Despite Sabet’s optimism, members of Congress seem to be looking past his efforts to block marijuana law reform. Jared Polis is co-sponsor of the McClintock-Polis amendment, currently blocked in the Rules Committee, which would protect states that allow full recreational use. “Funding restrictions are nice, but until we actually change the law, there will always be uncertainty for consumers and people in the industry,” Polis told me. “So I’m continuing to work to get my ‘Regulate marijuana like alcohol’ bill passed.”
But because Polis is leaving Congress at the end of the year, it’s unlikely that stand-alone bill will pass while he’s in office because the chairman of House Judiciary, Bob Goodlatte, will not let Polis’ bill out of committee. But the prospects for a stand-alone bill got a boost last week in the Senate. Schumer announced his plan to introduce a bill that would deschedule marijuana outright. He isn’t the first senator to come aboard the marijuana legalization effort; he’s just the most recent. “I applaud Senator Schumer for taking a bold stance for nationwide decriminalization,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) told POLITICO Magazine. “The American public’s views on this issue are shifting rapidly, and Congress needs to keep up.”
While the Polis stand-alone bill is likely dead in this Congress, and the Schumer bill hasn’t been drafted yet, there is still one stand-alone bill to legalize cannabis that has a shot of reaching Trump’s desk for a signature: Mitch McConnell’s hemp bill.
Co-sponsored by an unusual coalition of senators from Kentucky and Oregon, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would deschedule any cannabis plant with a maximum THC level of 0.3 percent. While initially envisioned as a crop for fiber and seed, today’s hemp is largely grown for production of CBD, the nonintoxicating cannabinoid that has shown promise in treating epilepsy and other conditions. But the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers hemp to be a Schedule 1 drug.
“For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp,” Senator McConnell wrote in an op-ed published on Friday, which happened to be 4/20, the unofficial holiday of marijuana enthusiasts.
“Treating hemp and marijuana as the same thing represents the height of foolishness on the part of the federal government,” Senator Ron Wyden told POLITICO Magazine, in rare agreement with McConnell. “I’m working with my colleagues to get the current misguided federal ban on hemp out of the way of farmers in Oregon and across the country.”
The Senate majority leader did not respond for this story, but advocates for marijuana law reform are giving him grudging credit as hemp’s unlikely hero. “Seems pretty good to me,” said Tom Angell, of MarijuanaMoment.net. “There could be bigger implications if we legalize CBD production and legitimize that entire market. It would have broader implication than just making T-shirts and stuff.”
James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.
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|To: TimF who wrote (2120)||4/27/2018 10:30:28 AM|
|Old news now, but I had not seen this update before |
Sharanda Jones is Free After 17 Years in Prison and She’s Telling Her Story
May 4, 2016
Sharanda Jones spent 17 years in prison for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. In December, she was granted clemency by President Obama after over 279,000 people signed her daughter’s petition. Today she is free and about to become a grandmother.
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|From: Glenn Petersen||6/18/2018 10:37:36 PM|
| Texas GOP Endorses Marijuana Decriminalization|
Republicans in one of the most conservative states in the union gave a thumbs up to rolling back marijuana prohibition.
Jun. 18, 2018 2:05 pm
The Republican Party of Texas has officially endorsed decriminalization of marijuana, offering yet more proof of the dizzying speed at which attitudes are changing toward marijuana and marijuana prohibition.
At the state's GOP biennial party convention in San Antonio last week, assembled delegates lent their overwhelming support to adding four cannabis-related planks to the party platform, including the repeal of criminal penalties for marijuana possession, the expansion of the state's incredibly limited medical marijuana law, a call for the rescheduling of marijuana at the federal level, and the legalization of industrial hemp production. All measures passed with 80 percent of the vote or more.
"Texas Republicans are no exception to the majority of Americans that want to see marijuana laws reformed," says Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, one of the advocacy groups pushing for the marijuana planks' inclusion. "Texas is still living under very harsh penalties for even small amounts of marijuana. Delegates took a stand for a more sensible approach to these policies."
The move comes a few short weeks after President Trump gave a hedged endorsement of a marijuana federalism bill that would allow state-legal marijuana markets to continue without federal interference.
Possessing under four ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine. Roughly 12 percent of all marijuana arrests—about 60,000 a year—happen in Texas. Some 98 percent of these arrests are for simple possession.
Penalties extend beyond the immediate criminal sanctions, too.
"Criminal penalties for drug possession, even marijuana, come with a lifetime of collateral consequences. That's hindered access to education, employment, housing, your driver's license is suspended for 6 months," says Fazio. "With those of us in Texas supportive of our Second Amendment protected rights, our license to carry in Texas is suspended for five years."
The Republican Party of Texas' official position now is that these penalties should be abolished and replaced with civil fines of $100 or less.
The change complements efforts being made on the local level in Texas. In December 2017, the city of Dallas dispensed with arresting people on misdemeanor marijuana charges. Kim Ogg, district attorney for Harris County (which includes the city of Houston) has gone even further. As of March 2017, her office is declining to prosecute most marijuana offenses and instead diverting people into "cognitive decision-making classes."
That same year, a bipartisan marijuana decriminalization bill was introduced into the Texas House of Representatives. It managed to pass out of committee but never received a vote by the whole chamber.
The legislature also has made some tepid moves toward liberalizing marijuana for medical use, passing a Compassionate Use Act in 2015. The bill allows doctors to recommend low-THC, CBD-rich strains of marijuana for some epilepsy patients.
The 2016 Texas GOP platform endorsed allowing doctors to decide which patients they could recommend for the program, a plank that was retained in this year's platform.
In what she describes as a "last minute bonus," convention delegates also approved a rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule One drug—the most restrictive classification—to a Schedule Two drug.
Fazio stresses that while she would prefer descheduling of marijuana, the willingness of party delegates to take on federal laws governing marijuana was encouraging, saying it "sent the right message to Congress."
Despite these positive gains, support for loosening marijuana laws is not universal in the Lone Star State.
At least one anti-marijuana group was present at this year's Texas GOP convention, advocating against any inclusion of decriminalization language in the platform. State Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, for instance, has characterized Harris County's approach to marijuana enforcement as creating a sanctuary city for drug offenders.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot has staked out a less-than-courageous wait-and-see approach toward expanding the state's medical marijuana program, while rehashing canned concerns about its effect as a "gateway drug."
Nevertheless, the fact that marijuana decriminalization language made it into the platform of the Republican party in one of the most conservative states in the union—right alongside language about protecting gay conversion therapy and cutting all funding to the U.N.—is a surefire sign that rolling back marijuana prohibition is quickly becoming a bipartisan issue.
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|From: TimF||7/17/2018 9:39:23 AM|
|Field Drug Tests: The $2 Tool That Can Destroy Lives|
from the life-is-cheap dept
It only takes $2 and a few minutes to ruin someone's life. Field tests for drugs are notoriously unreliable and yet they're still considered to be evidence enough to deprive someone of their freedom and start a chain of events that could easily end in joblessness and/or homelessness.
Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders -- writing for the New York Times magazine -- take a detailed look at these field tests, filtered through the experience of Amy Albritton, who spent 21 days in jail thanks to a false positive.
A traffic stop that resulted in a vehicle search turned up an empty syringe and a "suspicious" crumb of something on the floor. The field test said it was crack cocaine. Albritton was taken to a county jail where she spent the next three weeks after pleading guilty to possession, rather than face a trial and a possible sentence of two years.
The crumb of whatever had been sent on to a lab for verification, but with Albritton's guilty plea, there was no hurry to ensure the substance retrieved from Albritton's car was actually illegal. In fact, with the case adjudicated and closed, the evidence could simply have been destroyed. It wasn't. Long after Albritton had been released, the substance was tested.
On Feb. 23, 2011 — five months after Albritton completed her sentence and returned home as a felon — one of Houston’s forensic scientists, Ahtavea Barker, pulled the envelope up to her bench. It contained the crumb, the powder and the still-unexplained syringe. First she weighed everything. The syringe had too little residue on it even to test. It was just a syringe. The remainder of the “white chunk substance” that Officer Helms had tested positive with his field kit as crack cocaine totaled 0.0134 grams, Barker wrote on the examination sheet, about the same as a tiny pinch of salt. Albritton was innocent, but with a guilty plea, she now had a criminal record. And three weeks in jail turned her life upside down.
The powder was a combination of aspirin and caffeine — the ingredients in BC Powder, the over-the-counter painkiller, as Albritton had insisted.
The crumb’s fragmentation pattern did not match that of cocaine, or any other compound in the lab’s extensive database. It was not a drug. It did not contain anything mixed with drugs. It was a crumb — food debris, perhaps. Barker wrote “N.A.M.” on the spectrum printout, “no acceptable match,” and then added another set of letters: “N.C.S.” No controlled substance identified.
Albritton had managed the Frances Place Apartments, a well-maintained brick complex, for two years, and a free apartment was part of her compensation. But as far as the company knew, Albritton had abandoned her job and her home. She was fired, and her furniture and other belongings were put out on the side of the road. “So I lost all that,” she says. As the authors point out, 90% of jurisdictions will allow prosecutors to accept a guilty plea based on nothing more than highly-unreliable field test results. The test used in Albritton's case contains a chemical that turns blue when exposed to cocaine. Unfortunately, it also turns blue when exposed to 80 other legal substances, including acne medicine and household cleaners.
Albritton gave up trying to convince people otherwise. She focused instead on Landon [her son]. Using a wheelchair, he needed regular sessions of physical and occupational therapy, and Albritton’s career managing the rental complex had been an ideal fit, providing a free home that kept her close to her son while she was at work, and allowing her the flexibility to ferry him to his appointments. But now, because of her new felony criminal record, which showed up immediately in background checks, she couldn’t even land an interview at another apartment complex. With a felony conviction, she couldn’t be approved as a renter either.
The tests are about as accurate as you'd expect for a $2 test. Differences in ambient temperature can affect test results, as can the alteration of the order in which the three tubes in each test are used. A positive field test is still a long way from being a credible indication of an illegal substance.
In Las Vegas, authorities re-examined a sampling of cocaine field tests conducted between 2010 and 2013 and found that 33 percent of them were false positives. Data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab system show that 21 percent of evidence that the police listed as methamphetamine after identifying it was not methamphetamine, and half of those false positives were not any kind of illegal drug at all. In one notable Florida episode, Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies produced 15 false positives for methamphetamine in the first seven months of 2014. But they're just good enough to destroy lives.
Fortunately, the article reports a few positive developments. Some people who have pled guilty to possession charges based on field tests have had their convictions overturned when lab tests come back clean. This is after the fact -- sometimes years after the fact -- so it does little to undo the damage already done.
In addition to only allowing someone who's life has been drastically altered to maybe finally make some forward progress, this sort of thing is limited only to those jurisdictions where crime labs are required to test every incoming sample, whether or not a conviction has already been obtained. Very few labs have this requirement. The standard M.O. is to simply destroy "unneeded" evidence if the case has been closed.
The most immediate fix would be to discard the faulty tests and develop something far more precise for field testing. But until that occurs, it seems unlikely law enforcement will abandon a product that allows officers to develop probable cause for drug possession arrests. A more immediate route towards ensuring few wrongful convictions would be to institute a requirement that all field-tested substances be tested by a lab before the prosecution can move forward. Otherwise, the system is basically convicting people on suspicion, rather than actual guilt.
In the county where Albritton was arrested, this change has been made.
Last year, Devon Anderson, the current Harris County district attorney, prohibited plea deals in drug-possession cases before the lab has issued a report. That's still not enough to prevent the accused's world from falling apart while waiting for a lab test.
The labs issue reports in about two weeks, but defendants typically wait three weeks before they can see a judge — enough time to lose a job, lose an apartment, lose everything. But it's still better than the alternative: doing nothing. Since this policy was implemented, dismissals are up 31% in the county, thanks to lab tests showing substances seized were not illegal.
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|From: TimF||9/11/2018 7:39:01 PM|
|Erlanger, Ky. police pull over minivan with obstructed plates, arrest mom for driving on a suspended license, detain rest of the family for an hour while the drug doggie comes. (New entry for the "things that police think are indicative of drug activity" file: having wrenches, screwdrivers, and other work tools in one's minivan.) No drugs found. Sixth Circuit: No qualified immunity for an officer who allegedly, after the drug doggie sniff had been completely, searched 17-year-old daughter's bra before letting her go to the bathroom.|
On May 22, 2014, Harris, along with her mother, father and older sister, went out for dinner at TGI Friday’s. On the way home, their minivan was stopped by City of Erlanger police officers because of an obstructed license plate. The officers then conducted an investigation of Harris’s mother, who was the driver. Her mother was arrested for obstructing a license plate, driving with no registration plates, driving with a suspended license, and possession of a forged instrument.
...1 During the investigation, officers also noticed that
Harris’s father had “equipment for his work” in the vehicle, including “tools, like screwdrivers and wrenches,” some of which were “sitting out” and some of which were “in containers.” Based on the presence of these tools in conjunction with the violations listed above, the officers began to suspect that Harris’s mother was engaged in drug activity. They sent for a drug dog, but it found no drugs.
The wait for the drug dog to arrive took about an hour, and Harris needed to use the restroom. In order to escort Harris to the restroom, the police summoned a female officer, Kimberly Klare. Before Klare escorted Harris to the restroom, the officers ask
ed Harris’s father if Klare had his permission to do so, and he consented. While waiting near the minivan, Harris observed Klare “put her hand on her gun...three, four times.” Harris and Klare did not leave until after Harris’s mother had been arrested and, according to Harris, after the dog’s sniffing — and indication that no drugs were in the minivan —was completed.
2 En route to the restroom, Klare told Harris that she “may have to search” her. Klare then
asked Harris, “would you step over here,” to which Harris answered “yes” and walked to the
requested location. By this time, the snap securing Klare’s gun was unfastened, and she placed
her hand on the gun five times while talking to Harris. The parties agree that at this point, Klare secured Harris’s hands behind her back. What happened next is disputed, but, as noted, for purposes of this summary judgment appeal, we must accept Harris’s version of events. She claims that, as part of a pat down, Klare placed her hands under Harris’s brassiere and pinched the girl’s breasts, causing bruising. According to Harris, Klare told her that she searched her the way she did because a previous suspect at that location had “stuffed needles in her bra” and because “[y]ou have that look,” “[y]ou have the look of a junkie whore.” But Klare found no drugs, drug paraphernalia, weapon, or other contraband on Harris...
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|From: TimF||1/15/2019 3:58:52 PM|
| Why Is N.Y. Mayor De Blasio Yelling at Corporations About Harms Caused by the City's War on Weed?|
The government is the villain of this story, not wealthy industrialists.
Scott Shackford | Dec. 21, 2018
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio formally declared his support for legalizing marijuana Thursday, but he did so in a way that makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't actually support people's free choices.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo beat de Blasio to the punch Monday by reversing his own opposition to marijuana legalization (lagging, like most politicians do, well behind public opinion). De Blasio's own transformation on marijuana comes with so much top-down, progressive, anti-market baggage that you'd be forgiven if you thought this clip of his speech tweeted from his account was actually a rejection of legalization:
Legal marijuana is at a crossroads. We can either let corporate cannabis take control or let the will of the people win the day. pic.twitter.com/UEIu6CYF5V
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 21, 2018 De Blasio wants to legalize marijuana but also control who gets to profit off it, all to fulfill his fantasies of what the industry should look like rather than letting the market sort it out. He doesn't want more freedom for New York City's citizens; he wants control over the marijuana market. Marijuana Moment quotes a letter he wrote explaining his vision of legal marijuana in the Big Apple:
The mayor's letter spells out what he thinks a legal marijuana industry should look like. Yes, we all recall the time that goons from R.J. Reynolds attacked Eric Garner on a street corner and choked him to death. No, wait, those were officers from de Blasio's own police department, and one reason they were hassling Garner was because of his history of hustling untaxed loose cigarettes. New York City has a massive cigarette black market caused not by corporations but by the city's high taxes, price controls, and other controls on the market. Is that what New Yorkers want marijuana legalization to look like too?
"We've seen these kinds of new industries spring up before. Legalization can follow two routes. In one, corporate Cannabis rushes in and seizes a big, new market, driven by a single motive: greed," he wrote. "In another, New Yorkers build their own local cannabis industry, led by small businesses and organized to benefit our whole diverse community."
"Tragically, we know what happens when corporations run the show," de Blasio wrote.
The government of New York City is the villain of this story, not the hero. Government control over who may participate in markets leads to cronyism and corruption. Consider occupational licensing regimes that serve entrenched business interests and protect them from market competition. It's typically the poor who ultimately suffer as their opportunities to participate are reduced.
De Blasio insists he's going to try to force the opposite here, but that's just not how government permitting works in actual practice. Restricting access to this market will hurt those who lack influence, not help them.
De Blasio also calls for expunging the records of those arrested for past marijuana crimes. That part's great, particularly since the New York Police Department kept arresting people even after the state made possession just a citable offense. That doesn't make the City of New York the hero of the story, any more than a bully becomes virtuous because he stops beating up kids in the playground.
If de Blasio is truly committed to making lives better for his poor, underprivileged city dwellers, he should try to keep the government out of the pot industry as much as possible, let the market provide opportunities, and don't put unneeded restrictions on who participates. And don't tax the hell out of it, thereby keeping the demand in place for marijuana black markets.
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|From: TimF||2/13/2019 5:49:05 PM|
|Legal Cannabis Is Here to Stay, and Consumers and Entrepreneurs Deserve Safe Banking Options|
On Wednesday, US Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) will lead a subcommittee hearing on access to banking services for cannabis-related businesses.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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|From: TimF||3/20/2019 3:13:58 PM|
|Florida Man Awarded $37,500 After Cops Mistake Glazed Doughnut Crumbs For Meth|
October 16, 2017
It sounds like a joke, but, well — keep reading.
In December 2015, 64-year-old Daniel Rushing had just dropped off a friend at chemotherapy and was driving home an older woman from his church who worked at the 7-Eleven and would otherwise walk the 2 miles home.
As Rushing drove away from the convenience store, police pulled him over. The officer said he had been driving 42 miles an hour in a 30 zone and had failed to come to a complete stop before entering the roadway. When Rushing handed over his driver's license, Officer Shelby Riggs-Hopkins noticed his concealed-weapons permit. Rushing confirmed he had a pistol, and she asked him to step out of the car for her safety.
The officer then asked if police could search his car, and Rushing said sure — if it meant he wouldn't be ticketed. Rushing watched as the officers, who now numbered four, conducted a very thorough inspection of his car.
Finally, Riggs-Hopkins said to him, "You want to tell me about what we found?"
"There's nothing to find," he said, confused.
But Riggs-Hopkins had noticed some crystals on the floorboard of the car, and when officers used a field testing kit, the white substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
Rushing said that was impossible: "I've never even smoked a cigarette," he protested.
The officer showed him the substance in question, and Rushing was aghast.
"That's glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut!" he explained. "I get one every other Wednesday."
But officers weren't buying it. Rushing was booked on charges of possessing methamphetamine while armed with a weapon.
As he sat in jail, he asked himself, "Lord, what am I doing here?"
"It was funny," Rushing says, "because I called my wife to tell her what happened, and the guy next to me waiting for the phone started to laugh. He said, 'This is crazy. I think you got a real good lawsuit here.' "
He spent more than 10 hours in jail before being released on bail.
Orlando police sent the evidence it had collected from Rushing's car to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for further testing — which determined that just as he'd said, the white crystals were not a controlled substance. (Results did not indicate whether the substance was sweet and delicious.)
All charges against Rushing were dropped.
It would be a funnier story if it hadn't been so closely replicated in Oviedo, a Florida city northeast of Orlando.
Karlos Cashe was pulled over in March for driving without headlights and arrested by Oviedo police when court records showed that he was out past his court-ordered curfew. Those records were later shown to be out of date and inaccurate, ABC affiliate WFTV reported.
Police saw white dust on the floorboards of Cashe's car and tested it with a field kit. The substance showed positive for cocaine.
Cashe went to jail for 90 days – 90 days in which he knew that the white substance in his car was simply drywall dust.
"I know for a fact it's drywall because I'm a handyman," Cashe told WFTV. "I said that continuously during the arrest stop."
Police in Orlando and Oviedo, like many other law enforcement agencies, use inexpensive field kits to test for drugs. Orlando's police use NIK brand narcotic testing kits. A NIK general screening kit, which tests for opiates, meth and other drugs, costs just $18 for a box of 10.
But such roadside test kits are far from foolproof.
A 2016 investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times found that tens of thousands of people are sent to jail each year based on the kits' results, which often generate false positives:
"Some tests ... use a single tube of a chemical called cobalt thiocyanate, which turns blue when it is exposed to cocaine. But cobalt thiocyanate also turns blue when it is exposed to more than 80 other compounds, including methadone, certain acne medications and several common household cleaners. Other tests use three tubes, which the officer can break in a specific order to rule out everything but the drug in question — but if the officer breaks the tubes in the wrong order, that, too, can invalidate the results. The environment can also present problems. Cold weather slows the color development; heat speeds it up, or sometimes prevents a color reaction from taking place at all."
Data from the state law enforcement lab in Florida found that 21 percent of the evidence recorded by police as methamphetamine was not in fact methamphetamine, and of that, half was not illegal drugs at all, according to the ProPublica investigation: "When we examined the department's records, they showed that officers, faced with somewhat ambiguous directions on the pouches, had simply misunderstood which colors indicated a positive result."
Those findings are part of what spurred Rushing to file a lawsuit against the city of Orlando after the charges against him were dropped. Two weeks ago, Rushing says he reached a settlement with the city for $37,500.
"I thought [the lawsuit] was the right thing to do, for what they did to me," he tells NPR.
An Orlando police spokeswoman says that after the Rushing incident, the department conducted an internal investigation and officers received additional training in using the field kits — but it's still using the same NIK narcotic test kits.
The Safariland Group, which makes the NIK tests, told ProPublica that it provides all law enforcement agencies with comprehensive field test training manuals, in addition to its instructions, and says its products are not intended for use other than directed.
"These training materials, which outline protocols for use, clearly state that the tests are presumptive aids that serve only as confirmation of probable cause and are not a substitute for laboratory testing," the company wrote in a statement.
For his part, Rushing bears no ill will toward the city's police department and says that the arresting officer was "very polite and nice." He worked alongside the police as a parks department employee for more than 25 years, and his brother is a former Orlando cop.
He says the issue is that the department keeps using the kits, despite the well-documented problems with using them.
"These kits give a false positive 1 out of every 5 times," he says. "I'm thinking about running for statehouse next year. And if I do, I'd like to get something done about these kits."
With the lawsuit behind him, Rushing's next step is getting his record expunged. He says he would like to find more work in security — but it's been hard to get business with a record showing an arrest for possession of meth while armed.
After the glaze incident, Rushing stopped by his local Krispy Kreme to let the people there know they might be in for a little publicity.
Sometimes they give him a free doughnut.
"But I don't eat them in the car," he says, laughing.
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