Rehab, drug court gives NN teen new life
NEWPORT NEWS -- Spice took over his life in middle school. Nothing
else mattered. Being high became the norm.
At 12, he picked up his first cigarette. Soon the Newport News teen,
now 18, was smoking marijuana, too. "Cigarettes and weed," he said in
a single breath, making no distinction. "Weed was just part of life. I
smoked weed all the time -- after school, every weekend."
Halfway through eighth grade, he moved on to spice, which had the
advantage of being cheaper and, at the time, both legally obtainable
and undetectable in drug screens.
[continues 955 words]
Police Mum on Potential Investigations
NEWPORT NEWS -- If you listen to the U.S. Navy, Newport News and
Hampton are problem cities for the retail sale of spice.
But unlike nearby counties the two cities haven't raided stores that
sell spice, which a local prosecutor and a defense attorney both say
has everything to do with a state statute that makes convictions tricky.
There's one standard for sailors and another one -- a higher one --
for a prosecutor seeking a conviction, said Anton Bell, Hampton's
[continues 614 words]
NEWPORT NEWS -- When Quwanisha Hines was arrested numerous times as a
juvenile for crimes related to abusing alcohol and drugs, she could
see her life going down the wrong path.
One day, she said, she started imagining her future, and it wasn't
In addition to smoking marijuana, she was drinking a six-pack of beer
every day, or two large malt liquors --and more on the weekends.
Normally a "B" student, her grades slipped to "Ds" and "Fs."
"I saw my life flash before my eyes," said Hines, now
[continues 372 words]
Televangelist Pat Robertson has never been my go-to guy for proof that
there is a God, but last week he made me believe in miracles.
The Virginia Beach-based Southern Baptist and public scold announced
we should stop criminalizing marijuana and treat it like beverage
alcohol because our endless war on drugs is bankrupting us,
spiritually and financially.
"We here in America make up 5 percent of the world's population, but
we make up 25 percent of jailed prisoners," Robertson said on a recent
broadcast of The 700 Club.
[continues 664 words]
A Weekly Roundup of Short Opinions Offered by the Daily Press Editorial Board
Stop and smell the Mozart
What do a professional third baseman and an orchestral percussionist
have in common?
To some legislators, it's not just that they're both five-tool players.
Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond argues symphony musicians should
be treated like sports team members when it comes to unemployment
claims. He's sponsoring a bill that would deny symphony members
benefits during the months they aren't under contract.
[continues 462 words]
Gov. Also Looks to Expand Drug Courts As Part of Public Safety Agenda
RICHMOND -- Gov. Bob McDonnell announced his public safety agenda for
the General Assembly session Thursday which includes increased
sentences for repeat drug dealers, expansion of local drug courts and
an alternative program for non-violent offenders who violate probation.
"Public safety really is the first and foremost duty of government at
every level," McDonnell said. "People must feel safe in their homes,
their neighborhoods, their church, their synagogue if they are going
to really get access to the American dream."
[continues 621 words]
Local Del. Glenn Oder (R - Newport News) has sponsored one of 17
bi-partisan bills to outlaw the sale and use of "synthetic marijuana"
in the 2011 Virginia General Assembly session. In a year when the
entire General Assembly is up for re-election, banning synthetic
marijuana is one thing risk-averse legislators can agree on.
Synthetic marijuana is made from chemicals related to mothballs. The
effects may be similar, but the chemicals are nothing like marijuana.
The synthetics contain carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
in amounts large enough to make tobacco look like health food in
comparison. The comparative safety of organic marijuana is well established.
[continues 534 words]
Virginia is one of 18 states where the government operates a monopoly
on the distribution and sale of hard liquor. Virginia's Alcohol
Beverage Control stores are a holdover from alcohol prohibition.
Lasting from 1920 to 1933, alcohol prohibition was repealed when it
became clear that prohibition was financing organized crime while
failing miserably at preventing alcohol use.
Making the case for ABC privatization, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has
argued that selling alcohol is not a core government responsibility.
Neither is criminalizing people who use marijuana.
[continues 615 words]
Del. Harvey Morgan isn't done yet.
The Gloucester Republican says his mission to reform Virginia's
marijuana laws didn't end when his two bills to decriminalize its
possession and expand its medical use were snuffed out in committee
earlier this year.
He says he'll keep introducing bills till they pass.
Snickering colleagues aside.
"I'm gonna try anyway," Morgan affirmed in a recent news report.
Good for you, Harvey.
The delegate and I may not agree on much politically, but on this
issue, conservatives and liberals can find a lush green acre of common ground.
[continues 600 words]
Marijuana advocates in The Old Dominion have found an unlikely ally
in Del. Harvey B. Morgan, a bespectacled 79-year-old Republican.
This year the Gloucester County lawmaker introduced a bill that would
decriminalize marijuana possession and a bill that would allow
doctors to prescribe marijuana.
While both measures died in the House Courts of Justice Committee,
they served as another reminder of the increasing pressure to move
away from the prohibition mindset that has dominated U.S. drug policy
since the 1980s.
[continues 793 words]
RICHMOND -- When House of Delegates Republicans showed up for their
daily caucus huddle and strategy session in the Capitol late last
week, there was a plate of fresh brownies and a forged note waiting
"Friends, Please enjoy these homemade brownies! -- Harvey Morgan"
Conservative lawmakers pulled the munchies prank to tease Del. Harvey
Morgan, a Gloucester pharmacist and Republican whose push to
decriminalize pot possession and expand the state's medical marijuana
statute caught many political observers off guard. In his third decade
in the General Assembly, Morgan comes from the classic mold of the
[continues 764 words]
Republican legislators in Richmond say there's a better chance of getting
gay marriage in Virginia than decriminalizing pot.
Actually, that's not quite how they put it. It was more like what Del.
Dave Albo, a Republican from Fairfax County, said last week about a bill
presented to the General Assembly by Chesapeake Republican Del. Harvey
"(It's) going to be dead about as soon as he finishes his explanation."
And this is what qualifies as open, intelligent debate in Richmond -- the
place where you don't need a tendon hammer to make knees jerk on cue.
[continues 696 words]
It's not just "left coast" states like California and Washington that
are considering marijuana law reforms to help balance state budgets.
For the first time in years, the Virginia General Assembly will
consider common-sense marijuana law reform. House Bill 1134 would
replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a
civil penalty of $500.
The bill's sponsor is no dope-smoking hippy; in fact, he is uniquely
qualified to push the envelope. Del. Harvey Morgan is a Republican
member of the Virginia General Assembly and an assistant clinical
professor of pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University's medical
school. His bill is grounded in legitimate clinical expertise and
much-needed fiscal conservatism.
[continues 487 words]
RICHMOND - Radical legislation doesn't usually come out of
Gloucester, but Del. Harvey Morgan is pushing to reform Virginia's
marijuana laws so that possessing small amounts of pot is no longer
an automatic felony.
Morgan, a long-serving Republican pharmacist from Gloucester, is
sponsoring a pair of bills to overhaul how Virginia treats marijuana.
One bill would decriminalize marijuana possession -- turning an
automatic felony and 30-day jail sentence into a $500 fine. The other
bill would allow broader use of medical marijuana.
[continues 462 words]
NEWPORT NEWS -- Numb from the drugs that ran through her petite body,
Vanessa Rickerson returned to the streets after a stranger raped her.
She didn't know his name -- he was anonymous just like all the other
men Rickerson met as a prostitute.
"You still go back and do it because you want that drug," recalls
39-year-old Rickerson, who needed the money to feed a heroin habit
that wouldn't loosen its grip on her.
Then another man raped her. This one hit her to get what he wanted.
She struggled to break the cycle of prostitution and drug addiction.
It was a lifestyle that ended with Rickerson being convicted twice for
prostitution. Talking from a tiny jail interview room, Rickerson
recounted how she fell into this lifestyle.
[continues 529 words]
ISLE OF WIGHT -- Heroin -- a narcotic more commonly found in urban
areas -- is making inroads into rural Isle of Wight and Surry counties.
Authorities are still searching for [name redacted], 47, of Dendron,
one of 22 people indicted Thursday on federal heroin drug trafficking
The indictments allege that [name redacted] is a drug courier and a
mid-level dealer for the drug ring, which stretched from New Jersey to
Hampton Roads, according to federal officials.
[name redacted] is charged with one count of conspiring to distribute
100 grams or more of heroin. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up
to 40 years in prison.
[continues 281 words]
Local prosecutors are worried that a ruling from the U.S. Supreme
Court in late June could hamstring the criminal justice system — and
cause some defendants to escape prosecution.
In a 5-4 ruling in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, the high court
determined that prosecutors are responsible for having crime lab
experts on hand for trials so that the defense can challenge their
findings. That clashes with Virginia's court practices, which placed
the responsibility on the defense attorney to request the analysts'
[continues 811 words]
Hampton police are standing by their estimate that $1.2 million
worth of drugs were seized at three Phish concerts this past weekend
- -- adding that "one very large bust" of marijuana accounted for a
large part of the drugs seized.
The $1.2 million estimate is indeed a huge amount of drugs. It
equates to an average seizure of $6,185 for each of the 194 people
arrested on various felony and misdemeanor charges -- and some of
them weren't charged with drug offenses.
[continues 395 words]
Re: The editorial "So many criminals? It's time for a frank, calm
discussion about decriminalizing marijuana." Marijuana
decriminalization is merely a step in the right direction. There is a
big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children
from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of
marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering
criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age
Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard
drugs like cocaine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a
fundamentally flawed policy.
[continues 245 words]
It's Time For A Frank, Calm Discussion About Decriminalizing Marijuana
January 11, 2009
On Election Day, voters in Massachusetts took what they think will be
a step forward for their state: They decriminalized possession of
small amounts of marijuana.
Before you brush that off with, "Well, that's Massachusetts for you,"
consider that this is a state with not only a liberal bent but a
strong Puritan streak. This is a place where you can't buy wine in a
grocery store or pick up beer in a 7-Eleven.
[continues 867 words]