The mind-altering-substance market got a little more crowded in
Washington this past week when the District joined three states in
allowing residents to possess and consume marijuana for recreational purposes.
And despite the objections of some congressional Republicans,
initially led by Rep. Andy Harris (Md.), who's quite keen to tell
D.C. voters that he knows better than they do, the District is
actually the best place in America for marijuana aficionados - in
part because of Harris's efforts to block the will of the voters.
[continues 344 words]
Governor Creates Panels to Focus More on Prevention and Treatment of Addiction
"We're not just reacting to the sudden surge of overdoses and
overdoses deaths. We're taking a holistic approach."
With the creation of two panels devoted to combating heroin use, Gov.
Larry Hogan has waded into a worsening crisis - one that has defied
solutions for decades.
It once looked as if Maryland had brought some measure of control to
its long-standing battle against the drug, driving down fatal
overdose rates for years. In Baltimore, for example, overdose deaths
plunged from more than 300 in 1999 to around 100 in 2010.
[continues 1246 words]
Gov. Larry Hogan's focus on addressing the heroin epidemic ("Hogan
creates two panels for fight against heroin," Feb. 25) is a testimony
that the scourge of heroin and other substance addictions has
garnered bipartisan concern. The next public policy strategy should
translate this realization in to greater access to treatment, more
targeted public awareness campaigns and increased cooperation between
law enforcement, health care and mental health care providers and
The efforts by Governor Hogan and others need to focus on teens and
young adults. The Maryland Addiction Recovery Center's December, 2014
analysis shows that heroin is now one of the top five drugs abused by teens.
[continues 108 words]
I find it amusing that the Hogan administration is proposing a
"study" to combat heroin addiction in Maryland ("The new face of
Md.'s fight against heroin," Feb. 26).
Presumably it will complement the other "study" recently completed by
the O'Malley administration. I'm sure the two of them will make
lovely bookends in an office somewhere, where they will sit, gather
dust and be ignored just like every other "study" the government has
commissioned in its futile "war on drugs."
[continues 179 words]
In Baltimore City, approximately 20,000 people were arrested for
drug-related offenses annually in 2012 and 2013; nearly three
quarters for simple possession. And while there has been a great deal
of discussion over the last few years regarding the incarceration of
individuals for drug crimes, particularly in minority communities,
the fact is that most drug cases in Baltimore do not result in
confinement, except for those unfortunate enough not to have the
funds to post bail while awaiting trial.
[continues 773 words]
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Even in this city full of absent-minded drivers,
it's a wonder Irvin Rosenfeld doesn't stand out as a menace.
The interior of his Toyota 4-Runner reeks of marijuana. A canister
stuffed with hundreds of joints lies in the trunk, and a bag full of
them is in the door pocket. On a recent weekday, the 62year-old
stopped at a red light and took a drag so deep his exhale filled the
cabin with smoke. It was his fourth joint that day. It wasn't yet lunchtime.
[continues 596 words]
TALLAHASSEE - The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy
win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time marijuana
dealer of $130 worth of pot using a BB gun. Under Florida law, that
was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four
years in prison.
But before trial, his defense team found investigators had used a
secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy
concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police
to show the device - a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a
StingRay - to McKenzie's attorneys.
[continues 339 words]
Representatives Attend Forum on Regulatory, Social Issues
TULALIP, Wash. (AP) - The Justice Department's announcement in
December that it would allow the nation's Indian tribes to legalize
and regulate marijuana on their reservations brought notes of caution
if not silence or opposition from many tribes.
They were reluctant given the substance-abuse problems that already
plague many reservations.
But the attendance at a conference on the topic Friday gave an early
indication of just how many might be weighing it, even if a thicket
of potential legal issues remain.
[continues 619 words]
It officially became legal to consume and grow marijuana in Alaska on Tuesday.
That means the state is the third to legalize the drug in as many
years, but it is hardly the last. Voters in Oregon and Washington,
D.C., have also approved legalization, and advocates plan to take
advantage of shifting public opinion to target other states this year and next.
Here's a look at how the patchwork of existing laws compare,
according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which played pivotal roles
in passing some of the legalization laws.
[continues 432 words]
A so-called "freeman" who claimed justice officials had no right to
prosecute him for running a marijuana grow operation in his basement
has been sentenced to 13 months house arrest.
Scott David Peters, 45, argued he is not bound by Canadian law, but
by a natural law "to do no harm."
"There is a big difference between a person thinking that a
particular law is wrong and a person who actually disregards that
law," Justice Robert Dewar told Peters.
"This sentence is intended to reinforce the notion that a person is
not entitled to pick and choose which laws to obey - they must all be
obeyed," Dewar said. "Consider this sentence an encouragement to
start acting like a responsible citizen and govern yourself accordingly."
[continues 259 words]
"State Republican advocates for Oakland pot dispenser" (Insight, Feb.
22) and "GOP's crusader for legal pot calls it conservative cause"
(Feb. 22) have both put a spotlight on the efforts of Orange County
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to get the Justice Department to refrain from
trying to shut down dispensaries in states where voters have approved
the use of medical marijuana. They have also noted Rohrabacher's
advocacy for the legalization of recreational marijuana use is part
of his strong "civil libertarian streak."
[continues 120 words]
Some in the Pot Industry Dream of Vineyard-Like Tours, but Some See
Limits to That Comparison.
Jill Lane, master grower at Sky High Gardens on Seattle's Harbor
Island, uncaps jar after jar of golf-ball-size marijuana buds and
allows her guests sniffs of Bubblicious, Super Silver Goo and Green Crack.
"What kind of high is that?" asks Louise Avery, gesturing to one of the jars.
"This is for daytime: taking a hike. Beach volleyball," explains Lane
to the group of visitors with Kush Tourism, a Seattle-based cannabis
company. Lane continues describing strains as if the visitors
surrounding the table were middle-age women in a Yankee Candle store.
[continues 1408 words]
Labs Can Tell You What's In Your Pot, From THC to Contaminants
Cannabis used to be what moonshine is to alcohol, its content as
murky as a cloud of smoke lingering over a Phish concert.
Now a cadre of Bay Area laboratories can tell you exactly what you're
getting for your money - creating reliability, safety and
standardization in a business that long relied on the casual
assurances of a skanky friend from Stonerville.
Gone are the days of being ripped off with a nickel bag of dusty
oregano. Or eating a cookie that delivers manic euphoria, when all
you wanted was to ease a little nausea.
[continues 1244 words]
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's (R) emotional disclosure that his cousin
died of a heroin overdose shows that the tragedy of addiction is not
restricted to any income class, ethnic group or geographic area ["For
Hogan, the heroin crisis hit in the heart," Metro, Feb. 25].
Addiction afflicts individuals and families from all walks of life,
in Maryland and across the United States.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's 2013 Maryland
Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 4.9 percent of the state's
high school students have tried heroin at least once, 5 percent have
tried methamphetamines and 3.9 percent have used a needle to inject
these and other drugs.
[continues 61 words]
Today, a rare consensus has emerged in favor of reforming our federal
drug sentencing laws. This presents a historic opportunity to improve
the fairness of our criminal justice system. But unless we act
quickly, we risk letting the moment pass.
The Justice Department has sought to be an early innovator on this
front. A year and a half ago, I launched the Smart on Crime
initiative- a comprehensive effort to reorient the federal
government's approach to criminal justice. It focused on reducing the
use of draconian mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug
offenses and deepening our investment in rehabilitation and reentry
programs that can reduce the likelihood of recidivism.
[continues 638 words]
In a chandeliered banquet hall not far from the U.S. Capitol on
Saturday, a man with a Duke MBA and a Wall Street background offered
the same sort of tips often given to aspiring entrepreneurs in places
like this one: Develop a clear business plan; raise enough capital to
weather setbacks; find a niche and own it.
Listening were 150 or so people packed into rows of cushioned
red-and-gold chairs at the District's first "Cannabis Academy," an
event perfectly timed to capitalize on the rush from the city's newly
legalized marijuana-growing marketplace. Butthe stereotypical images
of stoner culture-leaf-adorned-Bob Marley flags and smoky photos of
piled-high pot-were, by design, nowhere in sight at the Holiday Inn.
The crowd, more grayhaired than long-haired, sipped coffee and
thumbed through 100-plus page workbooks with categories such as
"Legal" and "Accounting & Merchant Services."
[continues 1233 words]
TULALIP, Wash. - The Justice Department's December announcement that
it would allow the nation's Indian tribes to legalize and regulate
marijuana on their reservations brought notes of caution - if not
silence or opposition - from many tribes.
They were reluctant to consider it given the substance abuse problems
that already plague many reservations.
But the attendance at a conference on the topic Friday gave an early
indication of just how many might be weighing it.
Representatives of about 75 tribes from around the country converged
on the Tulalip Indian Tribe's resort and casino for a $605-a-head
seminar on the regulatory, legal and social issues related to pot legalization.
That's a small fraction of the nation's 566 recognized tribes, and
many of the attendees were from smaller tribes looking for a
potential economic edge.
Sometimes it's hard to choose your poison, especially when all the
options are horrible. That's what it's like when the District decides
to take on Congress over an issue of self-government.
The District's chances of winning such contests are small because of
that pesky Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which gives
Congress the power to "exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases
whatsoever, over . . . the Seat of the Government of the United
States." The "Seat" is us. Still, there are times when the District
simply has to mix it up with Congress. The principle of
self-government - the right of citizens to determine their own
destiny - is too precious to forfeit out of fear that our overseers
might take umbrage.
[continues 708 words]
It took a couple days post-legalization, but Interior municipal
governments appear to be on the same page with local marijuana rules.
That's no small feat. With little time to collaborate on rules in
Fairbanks, North Pole and the borough at large, the potential existed
for serious conflicts between how marijuana could be possessed and
used in each of our local communities. Such an outcome would have
been a headache for legal professionals to sort out and would have
had impacts on local residents confused about the overlaps and
discrepancies in municipal rules.
[continues 478 words]
15 Tons on Big Rig Port's Largest Cache, Second in the Nation
Record Otay Pot Bust: 15 Tons, $19m Value; Second Largest Ever at a
U.S. Border Crossing
In what was described as a "very risky" drug-smuggling attempt, more
than 15 tons of marijuana stacked in bundles was seized from a
tractor-trailer at the Otay Mesa border crossing. Federal officials
said Friday it was the largest seizure ever at the port and the
second-largest at any crossing in the country.
[continues 590 words]