President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the 20-year prison sentenced
imposed on Richard Ruiz Montes, convicted in 2008 for his role in the
Modesto's pot-dealing California Healthcare Collective.
In one of his final presidential acts, Obama used his executive authority
to cut Montes' sentence by more than half. Now held at a federal facility
in Atwater, according to the Bureau of Prisons' inmate locator, the
36-year-old Montes will be released May 19.
He is identified as Richard by the White House and Bureau of Prisons, but
has also been known as Ricardo. The White House listed his hometown as
[continues 184 words]
A Pew Research Center survey of nearly 8,000 police officers finds that
more than two-thirds of them say that marijuana use should be legal for
either personal or medical use.
The nationally representative survey of law enforcement, one of the
largest of its kind, found that 32 percent of police officers said
marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 37
percent said it should be legal for medical use only. Another 30 percent
said that marijuana should not be legal at all.
[continues 424 words]
Tillis says he may not return if bills like sentencing changes aren't
WASHINGTON - Sen. Thom Tillis said Wednesday that he may not seek
re-election in 2020 unless a sweeping overhaul of the nation's prison
sentencing system is passed.
Tillis, R-N.C., has sought to make revamping the nation's criminal
justice system one of his signature issues since arriving in
Washington in 2015, leaning on his experience in pushing through North
Carolina's Justice Reinvestment Act when he was state House speaker in
[continues 697 words]
I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of the child killed in
the recent senseless car crash. I can't imagine your grief.
Here's a summary of facts the StarNews reported about the driver
charged in this incident:
2010 Convicted on impaired driving charge
2012 Convicted on Level 2 (severe) DWI charge. Released from prison in
less than 6 months, probation revoked.
Currently faces charges for 10/15/2016 attempted breaking and
entering, for a prior drug possession and for two prior counts of
driving with revoked license.
[continues 102 words]
All the nationwide rhetoric over lamentable black-on-black killings
and lives matter doesn't ever seem to highlight the obvious reality
that most of the shootings are drug-turf related. Every gang protects
its square blocks and guns down intruders, unfortunately putting
innocent people in the crossfire no matter where. If the Russians or
Mexicans carved out turf and gunfire erupted, the conversation would
revolve around white on brown killings, for instance.
Decades ago I read about a supposedly true event in a New York county
where Latinos and whites had installed themselves in a poor town where
virtually all industries had closed. The underfunded city and county
police couldn't cope with them.
[continues 94 words]
Those who argue against the mass legalization of marijuana say it's
dangerous and can lead to more addictive drugs. But that hasn't been
the experience of all who casually smoked pot in their younger years
and then let it go. And, some in the medical field believe marijuana
can relieve side effects of chemotherapy, ease the pressure
associated with glaucoma and help with minor maladies.
Thus, the Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to stay with a
46-year-old law categorizing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a
serious drug with no medical value, seems unreasonable. There is
plenty of anecdotal evidence from people who have used it for medical
reasons, and even as a "recreational" drug, is pot really more
harmful than alcohol? That's a difficult argument to make.
[continues 116 words]
Are you tired of hearing about the "opioid epidemic" ? Me too!
As long as we have a "war on drugs" and draconian drug laws, we will
continue to have drug epidemics. The answer is as simple as it is
shocking to most people...legalize all drugs for all adults.
Anyone who commits any crime while under the influence of any drug
(including alcohol) would get doubled penalties. People might not
realize all drugs were legal in America for 137 years until the
nefarious and evil Harrison Narcotics Act.
[continues 128 words]
As our country mourns the deaths of eight police officers and a
series of African-Americans killed during encounters with police, the
question we all ask is, how can we stem this horror? One way would be
to end the war against nonviolent drug users.
More than 1.2 million Americans are arrested every year for simply
possessing an illicit substance. It is widely recognized that the war
disproportionately punishes African-Americans and is responsible for
millions of confrontational interactions between law enforcement and
blacks. Many of these anger-producing and potentially violent
contacts would not take place without the drug war.
[continues 653 words]
They studied the state's mental illness and drug abuse problems for
10 months and came up with 32 pages of recommendations.
The important part can be summed up in four words: more treatment,
What the 24 members of the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health
and Substance Abuse found is the wisdom they could have gleaned -
and probably did - from any jailer: At least 80 percent of the
people behind bars got there through some combination of substance
abuse and mental illness. Early intervention and treatment could halt
a lot of criminal careers.
[continues 326 words]
Nashville - North Carolina's Nashville, 45 miles east of Raleigh -
has a police chief who is changing the way law enforcement deals with
drug addicts, who might ordinarily be arrested and put away.
Chief Thomas Bashore has seen the consequences of drug abuse, and
he's come to see that conventional law enforcement solutions, meaning
arrest and imprisonment, don't seem to come to a constructive end.
Addicts go in for a while, come out, get reacquainted with drugs, go back in.
[continues 288 words]
It's reported our teachers are underpaid and other state employees
are having issues with pay and health insurance.
Of course, Raleigh is bemoaning a lack of funds.
Let's see... we all want better paying jobs, better health care,
better education - hey, I've got an idea; maybe it's time for N.C. to
end the prohibition on cannabis.
While legalization may produce some challenges in the future, the
problems with keeping pot illegal - the racial disparities in
pot-related arrests and the black market that funds criminal groups
around the world for instance are far, far worse.
[continues 121 words]
Donnie Harrison may figure that, having been sheriff of Wake County
since 2002, the Wake Board of Commissioners ought to respect his
opinion and follow his recommendations without much question. To some
degree, Harrison is right. But it would have been good if the
sheriff, seeking more money to expand his drugs and vice unit, had
offered up a few more specifics on arrests and seizures and had
produced a report on drug busts and Mexican drug cartels he cited in
justifying his request for funding.
[continues 204 words]
Contrast what has happened since 1964 with tobacco, on the one hand,
and marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other banned substances, on the
We can compare the effects of choosing a public-health paradigm or a
criminalization paradigm for dealing with addictive substances
The progress against smoking has been steady and impressive, but
ita??s an altogether different tale with banned substances
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In January 1964,
the Beatles first broke onto the Billboard chart with a??I Wantto
Hold Your Hand.a?? By June, Ringo Starr had collapsed from tonsillitis
and pharyngitis. In January, the surgeon general announced that
scientists had found conclusive evidence linking smoking to cancer and
launched our highly successful 50-year public-health fight against
tobacco. In August, the North Vietnamese fired on a U.S. naval ship in
the Gulf of Tonkin, which led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the
public phase of the Vietnam War. Alongside an accelerating deployment
of conventional troops would come their widespread use of marijuana
and heroin. By 1971, cigarette ads had been banned from radio and
television, the surgeon general had called for regulation of tobacco,
and cigarette smoking had begun its long decline. The impact of drug
use among troops and returning veterans provoked President Richard M.
Nixon to declare a war on drugs.
[continues 757 words]
DURHAM - Officials with a statewide non-profit dedicated to reducing
drug overdose deaths say a law passed by the General Assembly in 2013
has resulted in hundreds of lives saved from drug overdoses.
The N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to reducing
drug overdose deaths, says that since Aug. 1, 2013, naloxone has
saved the lives of more than 1,500 people who were overdosing on
heroin or other opioid drugs. The agency has partnered with about 40
police departments across the state to train officers and provide the
agencies with drug overdose prevention kits.
[continues 598 words]
I agree with Jorge Castaneda's Nov. 12 column "Mexico's marijuana
legalization could ease drug war." It is time to legalize marijuana
and end the war on drugs not only in Mexico but here in the United
States. This terrible war has caused thousands to be killed in
Mexico, and Mexican society has been ripped apart.
I have visited both Mexico and Colombia as a Witness for Peace. The
war on drugs has caused extreme pain and suffering in Colombia as
well as in Mexico. Now over five million Colombians have been
displaced by the U.S. funded "war on drugs."
[continues 91 words]
Legalization Bill Will Become Law Unless Mccrory Vetoes
Spring Hope Has One of the Only Hemp Processing Plants in the Country
Supporters Battle Stigma: 'We're For Rope, Not Dope'
Farmers in North Carolina are likely to wake up Saturday morning with
a new option for growing crops: Industrial hemp production is
expected to become legal at the stroke of midnight.
Lawmakers passed the legalization legislation in September, in the
final days of the session. The proposal hadn't previously been made
public, and some conservative groups worry that questions about the
plant's connections to its cousin, marijuana, didn't get answered.
[continues 1072 words]
It costs approximately $80 a day to house a person in a North
Carolina prison. With over 37,000 people serving time in our state,
officials have understandably prioritized reducing prison populations
with considerable gusto over the past decade. While many of those
efforts have been successful, the effect of one particular change has
yet to be seen - that of the U.S. Sentencing Commission's unanimous
decision to reduce the sentencing guidelines for most federal drug
trafficking charges beginning Sunday.
[continues 307 words]
An Examination of Traffic Stops and Arrests in Greensboro, N.C.,
Uncovered Wide Racial Differences in Measure After Measure of Police Conduct.
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Rufus Scales, 26 and black, was driving his
younger brother Devin to his hair-cutting class in this genteel,
leafy city when they heard the siren's whoop and saw the blue light
in the rearview mirror of their black pickup. Two police officers
pulled them over for minor infractions that included expired plates
and failing to hang a flag from a load of scrap metal in the pickup's
bed. But what happened next was nothing like a routine traffic stop.
[continues 5063 words]
The op/ed on mass incarceration (StarNews, Aug. 8) points out the
fact that the United States jails people at a much higher rate than
even China or Russia. It states that this is due to the war on drugs
and "tough-on-crime" policies, and that black males are imprisoned
at more than six times the rate of white males. All true, but what it
fails to add is that mass incarceration has created a new class of
millions of "untouchables" (prisoners and those who have served
their time), who are denied basic rights and who can be legally
discriminated against. Once you enter the system, you become part of
a permanent underclass -- poor, powerless and mostly black and brown.
[continues 109 words]
UNICORPORATED JACKSON COUNTRY, N.C - The chemist who unwittingly
helped spawn the District's synthetic drug epidemic is a hard man to
find. His phone numbers are listed under his wife's name. Strangers
who call his laboratories at Clemson University are told he doesn't
To find him, you must travel deep into the Smoky Mountains and take a
road that winds into the clouds. There, atop a mountain, you will
discover a stooped, elderly man padding about a house cloaked in mist.
[continues 1902 words]