Should juries vote "not guilty" on low-level marijuana charges to
send a message about our country's insane marijuana arrest policy?
Jury nullification is a constitutional doctrine that allows juries to
acquit defendants who are technically guilty but who don't deserve
punishment. As Paul Butler wrote recently in The New York Times,
juries have the right and power to use jury nullification to protest
Mr. Butler points out that nullification was credited with ending our
country's disastrous alcohol Prohibition as more and more jurors
refused to send their neighbors to jail for a law they didn't believe
in. He says we need to do the same with today's marijuana arrests.
[continues 611 words]
Marijuana With Higher THC More Frequently Found On
SALISBURY -- High-grade marijuana use on the Eastern Shore is one the
rise, according to local authorities.
While marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the country,
marijuana with higher concentrations of THC, the psychoactive chemical
in the drug, started cropping up on the Shore between 2004 and 2005.
"The big one we started to see is B.C. (British Columbia) bud," said
Sgt. Jason King of the Salisbury Police Department.
[continues 666 words]
SALISBURY -- After debate during this year's General Assembly session
failed to garner enough votes to pass medical marijuana legislation,
it is unclear where the issue will fall during the upcoming 2012 session.
While debate was passionate this year, actions during the past eight
months including a federal crackdown on dispensaries, inconsistencies
in federal versus state's rights and Gov. Martin O'Malley's decision
to focus on accumulating enough votes for legislation he considers key
could impact the upcoming medical marijuana debates.
[continues 596 words]
Advocates Hope U. Senate Will Extend Good Samaritan Policy To Include
For many student activists, winning the four-year fight to implement
a Good Samaritan policy in March was only the first half of the
battle -- they have officially begun the second round to extend the
policy to include drug use.
Undergraduate senators officially submitted a policy to the
University Senate Nov. 18 to extend the Good Samaritan policy --
which protects dangerously drunk students from university sanctions
if they call 911 for themselves or a friend -- so students are also
protected if they overdose on drugs. Although students pushed for an
all-inclusive policy when they first began lobbying for Good
Samaritan legislation four years ago, they ultimately focused on only
getting an alcohol-related policy passed first. With a formal
extension proposal now in hand, they are setting their sights again
on establishing the policy they had once envisioned.
[continues 509 words]
In response to Kevin A. Sabet's recent opinion piece ("Drug
legalization: Wrong lesson of Prohibition," Oct. 9), I don't know
which is more abhorrent - that a Baltimore newspaper would run an op-
ed championing Prohibition as "not as bad as you remember" or that the
piece was penned by a former senior adviser in the White House Office
of National Drug Control Policy.
A city that gave birth to the fictional place known as Hampsterdam,
and all the benefits it provided, ought to know better. Mr. Sabet's
argument (if we are to call it this) is built on such delicate and
flimsy points ("nuanced" in his parlance) that one might conclude that
he's trying to damn the position with faint praise. He states that
under Prohibition, less people drank alcohol, less people were
arrested for public intoxication and cirrhosis of the liver fell.
Well, if the country were to outlaw driving, we'd see a drastic drop
in traffic fatalities. There'd be less speeding tickets. And there
would be less people who suffer from fingers being slammed in car
doors. All would be benefits to society, freeing up a tremendous
amount of resources and drastically easing the burden on our health
care system. So why not make driving illegal?
[continues 295 words]
But a closer look at what resulted from alcohol prohibition and its
relevance to today's anti-drug effort reveals a far more nuanced
picture than the legalization lobby might like to admit.
As argued by Harvard's Mark Moore and other astute policy observers,
alcohol prohibition had beneficial effects along with the negative
ones. Alcohol use plummeted among the general population. Cirrhosis of
the liver fell by 66 percent among men. Arrests for public drunkenness
declined by half.
Yes, organized crime was emboldened, but the mob was already powerful
before Prohibition, and it continued to be long after.
[continues 762 words]
Group Hopes Policy Will Extend Coverage to Drugs
Members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy are gearing up for a
familiar fight this semester -- pushing for a Good Samaritan policy
that applies to those under the influence of drugs.
After a three-year push from members of the university community --
including many in SSDP -- the University Senate approved an official
Good Samaritan policy in March, which protects dangerously
intoxicated students from university sanction if they call for help
for themselves or a friend. While this is the first full semester it
will be enforced, members of SSDP said they are already mobilizing
different on-campus groups to extend the policy to students on drugs.
[continues 450 words]
A team of lawmakers, doctors, law enforcement officials and patient
advocates will spend the next few months creating a plan and drafting
state legislation for medical marijuana to be legalized for use by
seriously ill patients.
The work group, which began meeting Wednesday and is chaired by Dr.
Joshua Sharfstein, state secretary of health and mental hygiene, was
created by legislation passed during the 2011 General Assembly session
to develop a model program for medical marijuana use in the state.
Under legislation proposed earlier this year to legalize medicinal use
of the drug, physicians could prescribe marijuana to long-term
patients -- such as those suffering from cancer -- for whom
conventional treatments haven't worked, and the state health
department would have regulated and licensed producers and
dispensaries. Sharfstein opposed those provisions in favor of further
study, arguing in March that more specific rules were needed on which
doctors could prescribe the drug and under what conditions.
[continues 225 words]
Speaking as a retired police detective and member of LEAP (Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition), I heartily concur with the NAACP
that it is past time to terminate our failed war on drugs also known
as the war on people -- mostly of color ("The NAACP is calling for an
end to the drug war; what about you?" July 31). My profession, which
is shrinking all over America, must return to its true mission of
If you have a drug problem, see an addiction clinic.
The Nation's Oldest - and Most Institutionally Conservative - Civil
Rights Organization Recognizes the Failure of Treating Addiction As a
Law Enforcement Issue
There was a quake last week, but you likely didn't feel it.
See, this particular quake was not of the Earth, involved no shifting
of the planetary crust. No, what shifted was a paradigm, and the
implications are hopeful and profound.
On Tuesday, you see, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for an end
to the war on drugs.
[continues 509 words]
Center Plans to Give Addicts a Dose Within 15 Minutes
Tired of the heroin and crime surrounding his Northeast Baltimore
church and treatment center, the Rev. Milton Williams said Thursday
that he plans to open the city's first "open access" clinic, which
will hand out methadone within 15 minutes to any addict who walks
through the door.
Williams said defiantly that he will open the doors of his Turning
Point clinic on North Avenue on July 5 to possibly 100-150 addicts a
night -- though he still lacks approval from state and federal regulators.
[continues 1290 words]
The state has flaked once again in creating a robust system that
would allow medical marijuana users to legally seek relief from
sometimes devastating symptoms.
Instead, lawmakers changed the law only incrementally so legitimate
users can avoid prosecution with a doctor's note. And instead of
comprehensive reform, the bill will create a study committee.
It's a shame. The legalization of medical marijuana had enormous
support this year, and should have passed. Whether lawmakers will
muster the same ardor over the next three years to really address
this issue remains to be seen.
[continues 280 words]
ANNAPOLIS -- Frederick County Sen. David Brinkley may succeed this
year in his nine-year quest to reduce criminal penalties for medical
Brinkley, a Republican, is one of the lead sponsors of a bill that
would allow medical marijuana users to be found not guilty on
criminal possession charges and would establish a study at a research
university regarding the use of medical marijuana in general.
The House of Delegates gave the bill a preliminary OK on Saturday. If
the House acts -- as scheduled -- to pass it on Monday, then Brinkley
said he thought the bill would become law.
[continues 595 words]
So the new legislation "that would allow those caught with small
amounts of marijuana to avoid punishment altogether if they can
convince a judge that they used the drug out of medical necessity" is
supposed to be a "middle ground on marijuana?" Get real. This is yet
another excuse to put off what should have been done long ago:
legalization, not just for medicinal use, but for all citizens.
The fact of the matter is that marijuana is safer than alcohol or
tobacco, yet its use can cause one to lose their job, be expelled from
schools and universities, and even land in jail. We spend an enormous
amount of money to enforce marijuana laws, as evidenced by the 759,593
arrests for possession alone in 2009. That translates to huge sums of
money spent on unnecessary law enforcement and a prison population
filled with people who are hardly criminals (and are forced to survive
in a system that only creates more criminals). Regulation would also
bring in a new source of tax revenue, as well as taking a huge cash
crop away from drug cartels that terrorize Mexico and other parts of
[continues 61 words]
ANNAPOLIS -- The Maryland Senate is making major changes to a medical
marijuana bill proposed by Frederick County Sen. David Brinkley.
The Senate is expected to take up final approval of the measure this
week, after giving a preliminary OK on Tuesday to the bill and
amendments proposed by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
The bill will now allow people charged with use or possession of
marijuana to argue before a judge that they did so out of medical
necessity. If a judge agrees, the person would be found not guilty of
[continues 408 words]
As a retired detective, I heartily agree with the Neill Franklin that
the "war on drugs" has been a dysfunctional, disastrous policy without
benefit ("Save a cop: End the drug war," March 7).
Worse, because my colleagues spend so much time chasing drug
offenders, we are missing the animals who hurt women and children.
Detectives flying around in helicopters are not arresting the
pedophiles in Internet chat rooms. Officers searching a car for pot
miss the deadly drunk drivers who sail past those stops.
If you have a drug problem, from alcohol to cocaine, see a doctor.
Will we ever be as wise as our grandparents and repeal this modern
How Can You Ask an Officer to Be the Last Officer to Die for a
Several thousand miles, and a comparable cultural divide, separate
Elkins, W.Va., from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. But recently, they became
sister cities of a grim sort when law enforcement professionals lost
their lives fighting America's longest, most costly and least winnable
war: the so-called "war on drugs."
On Highway 57, halfway between Monterrey and Mexico City, U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata died
when cartel gunmen ambushed the car carrying him and a colleague, who
[continues 702 words]
A Maryland lawmaker is attempting to salvage a bill that would
legalize medical marijuana after the state's top health official
testified that provisions regulating the drug's use and distribution
Delegate Dan K. Morhaim, Baltimore County Democrat and the bill's
co-sponsor, said he is working to address concerns raised Monday by
Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of Maryland's Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
Dr. Sharfstein testified at a House Judiciary Committee hearing that
although he thinks the state eventually could make marijuana available
to residents with many severe illnesses, it first needs to determine
how to fund and supervise such a program.
[continues 370 words]
Naval Academy Continues Investigation into 'Spice,' Which Is Banned by the Navy
An eighth midshipman was expelled from the Naval Academy last week as
a result of an investigation into the use of the banned substance
known as spice, the superintendent's office announced Monday.
Also on Monday, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration filed a
final notice that will outlaw the sale of the five chemicals used in
herbal blends to make synthetic marijuana, including spice. The
chemicals will be banned for sale for at least a year.
[continues 246 words]
Now that the smoke has cleared, the state of Montana voted Thursday
to repeal the state's six year old medical marijuana law. According
to Montana's House Speaker Mike Milburn, "we were duped" and "the law
has been a pretext for encouraging recreational use and creating a
path to full legalization of marijuana."
In addition, two new reports out this week clearly show that
marijuana is not the safe and harmless drug that most people believe
it to be. A new study published in the Achieves of General Psychiatry
shows that using marijuana may cause psychosis to develop sooner in
patients already predisposed to developing it, and in other patients
the drug may even cause psychosis. Not one medical marijuana program
in the country does a mental health evaluation before giving a
prescription for medical marijuana. How will we ever know the mental
status of those attempting to get medical marijuana?
[continues 109 words]