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1 US: OPED: Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your IreFri, 26 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:MacDonald, Heather Area:United States Lines:110 Added:05/26/2017

Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your Ire Jeff Sessions's policy won't lock up harmless stoners, but it will help dismantle drug-trafficking networks.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being tarred as a racist-again-for bringing the law fully to bear on illegal drug traffickers. Mr. Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to disclose in court the actual amount of drugs that trafficking defendants possessed at the time of arrest. That disclosure will trigger the mandatory penalties set by Congress for large-scale dealers.

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2 US: Editorial: Lurching Backward On Justice ReformMon, 22 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY)          Area:United States Lines:67 Added:05/22/2017

When it comes to criminal justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a man out of time - stuck defiantly in the 1980s, when crime in America was high and politicians scrambled to out-tough one another by passing breathtakingly severe sentencing laws. This mind-set was bad enough when Mr. Sessions was a senator from Alabama working to thwart sentencing reforms in Congress. Now that he is the nation's top law enforcement officer, he's trying to drag the country backward with him, even as most states are moving toward more enlightened policies.

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3 US: Mixed Grades For A Scrapped Drug PolicyMon, 15 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Reinhard, Beth Area:United States Lines:117 Added:05/20/2017

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week jettisoned an Obama administration policy that had been aimed at sparing less-serious drug offenders from harsh sentences, he called his new, more aggressive approach "moral and just."

But the verdict among law-enforcement and legal professionals is more mixed. Government data, along with interviews with former U.S. attorneys who advised the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, suggest the previous policy achieved several, though not all, of its goals.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced the policy that was to be embodied in what became known as the "Holder memo" in a 2013 speech to the American Bar Association. Mr. Holder pledged that federal prosecutors would focus on more dangerous drug traffickers and avoid charging less-serious offenders with crimes that required long, mandatory-minimum sentences. Mandatory-minimum sentences, he said, had led to bloated, costly prisons and disproportionately ravaged minority communities.

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4 US: Sessions Toughens Policy For Drug CasesSat, 13 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Reinhard, Beth Area:United States Lines:122 Added:05/13/2017

In a move expected to swell federal prisons, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scuttling an Obama administration policy to avoid charging nonviolent, less-serious drug offenders with long, mandatory-minimum sentences.

Mr. Sessions's new guidelines revive a policy created under President George W. Bush that tasked federal prosecutors with charging "the most serious readily provable offense."

It is the latest and most significant step by the new administration toward dismantling President Barack Obama's criminal justice legacy. And it defies a trend in state capitals-including several led by conservative Republicans-toward recalibrating or abandoning the mandatory-minimum sentences popularized during the "war on drugs" of the 1980s and 1990s.

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5 US CA: Trump Attorney General Pick May Spur Legal Battles Over PotFri, 30 Dec 2016
Source:Napa Valley Register (CA) Author:Elias, Thomas Area:California Lines:93 Added:12/31/2016

Thomas Elias writes the syndicated California Focus column, appearing twice weekly in 93 newspapers around California, with circulation of over 2.2 million.

As a United States attorney in Alabama serving under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, the 39-year-old Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was charged with enforcing civil rights laws. But he said then that he didn't have much of a problem with what the Ku Klux Klan stood for, musing that he thought the KKK was "OK until I found out they smoked pot."

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6 US: Editorial: Jeff Sessions And Civil ForfeitureTue, 27 Dec 2016
Source:Wall Street Journal (US)          Area:United States Lines:65 Added:12/27/2016

The AG nominee should be asked about an abusive practice.

Democrats are wrong in most of their criticism of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General. But if they or fellow Republicans are looking for a legitimate area to probe, they should explore his views on governmenta€™s use of civil forfeiture.

The all-too-common practice allows law enforcement to take private property without due process and has become a cash cow for state and local police and prosecutors. Under a federal program called a€śequitable sharing,a€ť local law enforcement can team up with federal authorities to seize property in exchange for 80% of the proceeds.

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7 US IL: OPED: Is Our Constitution Going To Pot?Mon, 12 Dec 2016
Source:Chicago Tribune (IL) Author:Choslovsky, William Area:Illinois Lines:134 Added:12/12/2016

Imagine this: Upon taking his oath of office, President Donald Trump instructs his new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to ignore civil rights laws. How would that go over? Before you yell, "But we are a nation of laws!" you can thank President Barack Obama and his prior Attorney General Eric Holder for magnifying this issue.

Basically, the Obama administration made it standard operating procedure to ignore laws they thought unfashionable or unworthy.

The best example of this is marijuana.

To be clear at the outset, I am neither pro-pot nor anti-pot. And, in fact, marijuana is not even the issue - rather, the Constitution is. Marijuana is just the symptom that exposes the problem.

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8 US: New Attorney General Could Mean No More Smoke SessionsThu, 24 Nov 2016
Source:Tucson Weekly (AZ) Author:Meyers, Nick Area:United States Lines:94 Added:11/28/2016

Roll Out

New attorney general could mean "no more smoke" Sessions

While many are still reeling from election night's results, some of that dizzying effect may owe itself to new marijuana laws in eight states. Only one state didn't pass its marijuana ballot measure, and we all already know who it is.

Prop 205 failed by a relatively narrow margin-2.65 percent or 67,021 votes-compared to Clinton's 3.57 percent gap in Arizona. More than 125,000 voters cast their ballot for the presidency, but not for Prop 205.

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9 US NY: Editorial: Mercy Is Too Slow At Justice DepartmentSun, 07 Aug 2016
Source:New York Times (NY)          Area:New York Lines:66 Added:08/07/2016

President Obama last week commuted the prison terms of 214 federal inmates who were sent to prison under draconian, '80s-era laws that have since been revised. Among them were 67 people serving life sentences, nearly all of them for nonviolent drug offenses.

Mercy was granted in these cases. But the federal clemency system - which moves far too slowly and is too often blocked by politics in both the Justice Department and the White House - was never intended to manage miscarriages of justice that happen on a vast scale, as was the case when so many Americans were sent to prison under the "tough on crime" policies of the 1980s.

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10US: DEA Fails To Reschedule MarijuanaTue, 12 Jul 2016
Source:Denver Post (CO) Author:Ingold, John Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:07/12/2016

No Decision Made As Administration Passes Its Self-Imposed Deadline

The Drug Enforcement Administration flaked on its self-imposed deadline to announce whether to reschedule marijuana, and now it's not clear when a decision might come.

In April, the DEA told lawmakers in a letter that it was reviewing information on rescheduling and "hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016." That hope ended when June did, and a DEA spokesman in Washington, D.C., told The Denver Post late last week that there is no update on the administration's contemplations of rescheduling.

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11US CA: OPED: A Second Chance To End Policing For ProfitSun, 12 Jun 2016
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA) Author:Sibilla, Nick Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:06/14/2016

Circumventing state laws designed to protect Californians from abusive police seizures, law enforcement agencies have routinely seized property from people never even charged with a crime. But later this month, lawmakers are expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of "civil forfeiture."

Numerous scandals have plagued civil forfeiture in California. One of the most infamous was the botched drug raid that killed reclusive millionaire Donald Scott. Searching for a suspected marijuana grow operation, 30 law enforcement officers from seven agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, the DEA, the LAPD and the National Guard, raided Scott's 200-acre ranch in 1992. Rendering the scene downright surreal, personnel from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory were also on site. No drugs were found.

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12 US CA: PUB LTE: Crying Over Lost Pot TourismThu, 21 Apr 2016
Source:Sacramento Bee (CA) Author:Knutson, Don Area:California Lines:29 Added:04/21/2016

Re "Pot trail tours offer a whiff" (Travel, April 17): As I read the article written by The New York Times reporter who experienced the pot tours offered in Colorado, I couldn't help but think that the "Denver" I read could have been "Sacramento" or "San Francisco," if Californians had passed the 2010 ballot measure normalizing marijuana. But I recall a couple of weeks before that vote, President Barack Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder said that an affirmative vote would be "unhelpful" and the polls turned south and the measure was defeated.

Those Californians who voted "no" in 2010 should now bow their heads and weep quietly for the lost billions of dollars of commerce and the thousands of good-paying jobs you denied your state and vow to never do so again.

Don Knutson, Sacramento

[end]

13 US: Legalize It AllFri, 01 Apr 2016
Source:Harper's Magazine (US) Author:Baum, Dan Area:United States Lines:832 Added:04/01/2016

How to Win the War on Drugs

In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results?

Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco's anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman's boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first "war on drugs" and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues.

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14US: Feds Ease Pursuit Of Minor Drug CasesTue, 22 Mar 2016
Source:San Diego Union Tribune (CA)          Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:03/22/2016

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors are pursuing fewer drug cases and filing charges that trigger mandatory minimum sentences less frequently - two indications, Justice Department officials say, that former Attorney General Eric Holder's initiative to reduce the prison population and enforce drug laws more judiciously has been a success.

Federal prosecutors brought 6 percent fewer drug cases in fiscal year 2015 than they did in 2014, continuing a steady decline since Holder announced his "Smart on Crime" initiative three years ago, according to Justice Department data released Monday.

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15US CA: Momentum Building To Legalize Pot This YearWed, 09 Mar 2016
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA) Author:Staggs, Brooke Edwards Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:03/09/2016

There are increasing signs that 2016 might just be the year the largest state in the nation legalizes recreational marijuana.

Polls have shown from 56 percent to 60 percent of California's likely voters in the November presidential contest support legal pot. And due in part to hefty financial backing from a Silicon Valley billionaire, the leading pro-marijuana measure - the Adult Use of Marijuana Act - has gotten off to one of the strongest starts among dozens of proposed initiatives on different topics being pitched for the Nov. 8 ballot.

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16US: Court Ruling Highlights Federal, State Discord OverThu, 29 Oct 2015
Source:Sacramento Bee (CA) Author:Hecht, Peter Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:10/30/2015

Judge Recently Ruled That Congress Has Banned Federal Actions Against State-Permitted Marijuana Businesses

Ruling Cited Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, Which Was Shuttered in a 2011 Federal Crackdown

Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana Operator Lynnette Shaw Plans to Reopen the Business

In 1991, amid the AIDS crisis in San Francisco, a former jazz and blues singer named Lynnette Shaw was hired as the intake officer at the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, California's first medical marijuana dispensary.

The modest Cannabis Buyers Club would eventually transform into a flamboyant weed emporium on Market Street that founder Dennis Peron dubbed "the five-story felony." Shaw, who would partner with Peron in backing California's Proposition 215 medical marijuana law, went another direction months before the initiative passed in 1996. She ventured across San Francisco Bay to establish California's first locally permitted and regulated medical marijuana provider.

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17US: 6,000 Will Be Freed EarlyWed, 07 Oct 2015
Source:Denver Post (CO) Author:Horwitz, Sari Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:10/07/2015

The Inmate Release Is Part of a Big Change in Federal Drug Policy.

washington) The Justice Department is set to release about 6,000 inmates early from prison - the largest ever release of federal prisoners-to reduce crowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences in the past three decades.

The inmates from federal prisons nationwide will be set free by the department's Bureau of Prisons between Oct. 30 andNov. 2. Most of them will go to halfway houses and home confinement before being put on supervised release.

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18 US: U.S. U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates Under New SentencingWed, 07 Oct 2015
Source:Seattle Times (WA)          Area:United States Lines:109 Added:10/07/2015

Nonviolent Drug Crimes

Mass Release May Be One of Largest in U.S. History

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and 1990s, according to federal law-enforcement officials.

The release, scheduled to occur from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, will be one of the largest one-time discharges of inmates from federal prisons in American history, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing matters that had not been publicly announced by the Justice Department.

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19US: Thousands of Federal Drug Inmates Set for Early Release inWed, 07 Oct 2015
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA)          Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:10/07/2015

(AP) - Thousands of federal inmates serving sentences for drug crimes are set for early release next month under a cost-cutting measure intended to reduce the nation's prison population.

The more than 5,500 inmates set to go free in November are among the first of what could eventually be tens of thousands eligible for release. The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted last year to retroactively apply substantially lower recommended sentences for those convicted of drug-related felonies.

The commission, an independent panel that sets federal sentencing policy, estimated the prison terms would be cut by an average of 25 months.

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20US: Crooked Agents Kept Jobs At DEAMon, 28 Sep 2015
Source:USA Today (US) Author:Heath, Brad Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:09/29/2015

Misconduct Involved Drugs, Prostitute Parties

When internal affairs investigators do find wrongdoing, the most common outcome is either a letter of caution or a brief unpaid suspension.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed its employees to stay on the job despite internal investigations that found they had distributed drugs, lied to the authorities or committed other serious misconduct, newly disclosed records show.

Lawmakers expressed dismay this year that the drug agency had not fired agents who investigators found attended "sex parties" with prostitutes paid with drug cartel money while they were on assignment in Colombia. The Justice Department opened an inquiry into whether the DEA is able to adequately detect and punish wrongdoing by its agents.

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21 US: US Policy Keeps Medical Marijuana Research Funding LowSat, 25 Jul 2015
Source:Post-Star, The ( NY) Author:Bradley, Donald Area:United States Lines:169 Added:07/26/2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Certain chemicals in marijuana may kill cancer cells, shrink tumors and prevent the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.

That's the National Cancer Institute reporting findings from preclinical trials - the kind of research that typically leads to more in-depth testing.

But nearly a half-century ago the folks who write the checks for the cancer institute - the U.S. government - proclaimed marijuana a stoner-only drug and stamped it Schedule I, lumping it with heroin and LSD. That early war-on-drugs salvo cut the world's biggest funder out of medical marijuana research.

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22 New Zealand: Column: Where Now With Drug LawsWed, 22 Jul 2015
Source:Taranaki Daily News (New Zealand) Author:Matthews, Philip Area:New Zealand Lines:288 Added:07/22/2015

Drug Laws Have Been Liberalised From Portland to Portugal. Why Is New Zealand Missing the (Magic) Bus? Philip Matthews Talks With Decriminalisation Advocate Ross Bell.

Drug law reform. Is there any better example of a heart versus head issue? Logic and rationality tells you that the system does not work, that drugs are a medical issue not a criminal one.

But your gut says lock all the junkies and potheads up.

It is Ross Bell's job to wrestle with these dilemmas. For 11 years he has been chief executive of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a charitable trust charged with preventing and reducing harms caused by drug use.

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23US CA: Lipstick And HeroinSat, 18 Jul 2015
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA) Author:Chandler, Jenna Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:07/18/2015

Seeking a cheaper, better high than they'd get from prescription pills, more women are using heroin in Orange County, mirroring a national trend recently reported by federal health officials.

Though women accounted for fewer than half of the 466 heroin poisonings last year in Orange County, they are beginning to catch up to men.

The number of women hospitalized with heroin poisoning from 2010 to 2014 increased 2.5 times, to 119 from 48, while it doubled for men in that same period, according to county data provided by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

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24 US: Caught With Cocaine. Her First Offence. Life in Jail...Fri, 17 Jul 2015
Source:Independent (UK) Author:Horwitz, Sari Area:United States Lines:175 Added:07/17/2015

Fort Worth, Texas - The Case of Sharanda Jones Is Not Unusual in a Country Where You Can't Be Too Tough on Drug Crime. Barack Obama Has Other Ideas, Though.

Prisoner 33177-077 struggles to describe the moment in 1999 when a federal judge sentenced her to life in prison after her conviction on a single cocaine offence. She was a first-time, non-violent offender. "I was numb," says Sharanda Jones at the Carswell women's prison in Fort Worth, Texas. "I was thinking about my baby. I thought it can't be real life in prison."

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25 US CA: Bill Targets Police Asset SeizureTue, 14 Jul 2015
Source:Los Angeles Times (CA) Author:Mason, Melanie Area:California Lines:124 Added:07/14/2015

Lawmakers Say Agencies Are Using 1980s Anti- Drug Laws to Compensate for Budget Cuts.

SACRAMENTO - State lawmakers are considering a proposal to rein in California law enforcement agencies' ability to keep money, cars and homes seized from suspects who have not been charged with a crime.

The measure is the latest effort to roll back anti-crime policies passed during the height of the 1980s drug wars.

Advocates of stricter confiscation rules say that the controversial federal seizure program is now being used by local agencies - which may keep most of the property they confiscate regardless of whether a suspect is convicted - to increase revenue and plug budget holes.

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26 US: Health Costs Soar Behind Prison WallsFri, 15 May 2015
Source:Chicago Tribune (IL) Author:Horwitz, Sari Area:United States Lines:139 Added:05/15/2015

Aging Population of Inmates Serving Long Sentences Takes a Toll on Budgets

COLEMAN PRISON, Fla. - Twenty-one years into his nearly 50-year sentence, the graying man steps inside his stark cell in the largest federal prison complex in America. He wears special medical boots because of a foot condition that makes walking feel as if he's "stepping on a needle." He has undergone tests for a suspected heart condition and sometimes experiences vertigo.

"I get dizzy sometimes when I'm walking," says the 63-year-old inmate, Bruce Harrison. "One time, I just couldn't get up."

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27 US: Health Costs Soar Behind Prison WallsFri, 15 May 2015
Source:Baltimore Sun (MD) Author:Horwitz, Sari Area:United States Lines:139 Added:05/15/2015

Aging Population of Inmates Serving Long Sentences Takes a Toll on Budgets

COLEMAN PRISON, Fla. - Twenty-one years into his nearly 50-year sentence, the graying man steps inside his stark cell in the largest federal prison complex in America. He wears special medical boots because of a foot condition that makes walking feel as if he's "stepping on a needle." He has undergone tests for a suspected heart condition and sometimes experiences vertigo.

"I get dizzy sometimes when I'm walking," says the 63-year-old inmate, Bruce Harrison. "One time, I just couldn't get up."

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28US CA: Column: Rohrabacher Wants Feds to Stop Medical PotSun, 26 Apr 2015
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA) Author:Seiler, John Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:04/27/2015

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is trying to get President Barack Obama to keep his 2008 campaign promise to ease medical-marijuana laws. Ironically, the Orange County Republican, one of the most conservative members of Congress, is advancing an issue usually championed by liberal Democrats, such as the president. Both men acknowledge burning a few joints in their youth and not for medicinal purposes.

On the stump in 2008, Obama pledged of state medical-marijuana laws, "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." Once Obama was in office, his attorney general, Eric Holder, affirmed that stance in 2009: "It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana."

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29 US: DEA Chief Michele Leonhart To Step DownWed, 22 Apr 2015
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Barrett, Devlin Area:United States Lines:83 Added:04/24/2015

Resignation comes amid disagreements with Obama administration on drug and criminal-justice policy

The head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has decided to resign amid mounting disagreements with the Obama administration on drug and criminal-justice policy, and intense criticism of her handling of a sex-party scandal involving DEA agents.

Michele Leonhart, who has led the agency since 2007, has been under growing pressure to depart. Her hold on the job has been precarious for more than a year following her apparent discomfort with the Obama administration's acceptance of laws in some states decriminalizing marijuana.

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30 US OK: Legal Marijuana Could Be Coming To Oklahoma A On Tribal-OwnedSun, 19 Apr 2015
Source:Oklahoman, The (OK) Author:Jackson, Gerald Area:Oklahoma Lines:86 Added:04/20/2015

While the picture is still blurry, legal marijuana could be coming to Indian country in Oklahoma. Such a possibility may seem far-fetched, but recent policy pronouncements by the U.S. Department of Justice are making the once unthinkable a real possibility.

While marijuana is still illegal in all of its forms in Oklahoma, more than 20 states have legalized it for either medical or recreational use. Nonetheless, it is still illegal in all states under federal law to manufacture, distribute or dispense marijuana.

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31US CA: Rohrabacher to Holder: Stop Medical MarijuanaFri, 10 Apr 2015
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA) Author:Wisckol, Martin Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:04/11/2015

An Orange County Republican congressman has written Attorney General Eric Holder insisting he back off prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries and respect a congressional budget amendment designed to protect dispensaries operating within the bounds of state law.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, signed the letter to Holder. It was prompted by a Justice Department quote in the Los Angeles Times justifying the continued prosecution of dispensaries.

Rohrabacher and Farr were co-sponsors of a landmark budget amendment last year that said funding to the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency could not be used to enforce federal marijuana laws when they're at odds with state medical pot provisions. Twenty-three states have legalized use of medical marijuana.

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32 US MD: OPED: End Unfair Civil Forfeiture PracticeMon, 23 Mar 2015
Source:Baltimore Sun (MD) Author:Sullivan, Cara Area:Maryland Lines:103 Added:03/23/2015

In August 2012, law enforcement stopped Mandrel Stuart, the owner of a small barbecue restaurant in Virginia, for a minor traffic violation. During the routine traffic stop, $17,550 that Stuart had earned from his restaurant and intended to use for supplies and equipment was seized.

Stuart was never charged with a crime and there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. He eventually got his money back, but since he lacked the cash to pay for overhead, he lost his business.

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33US CO: Editorial: Tighten State's Forfeiture LawSun, 22 Feb 2015
Source:Denver Post (CO)          Area:Colorado Lines:Excerpt Added:02/23/2015

Back in 2002, a large majority of Colorado lawmakers concluded that police should seize the assets of people only after criminal conviction, with few exceptions- and wrote those requirements into law.

But asset forfeiture without a conviction still occurs, as a case highlighted in a recent Denver Post story by Noelle Phillips made clear. As related by Phillips, a South Dakota couple in December watched Parker police and a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent take $25,000 from their vehicle after a stop triggered by a temporary tag. And yet the couple were never charged with a crime, let alone convicted.

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34US CO: Polis Introduces Bills to Legalize, Tax Pot on FederalSat, 21 Feb 2015
Source:Denver Post (CO) Author:Steffen, Jordan Area:Colorado Lines:Excerpt Added:02/21/2015

For the second time in two years, Colorado's U. S. Rep. Jared Polis has introduced legislation that effectively would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.

Along with a fellow Democrat, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Polis on Friday introduced two bills, the first of which would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and shift regulation from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF then would regulate marijuana like alcohol.

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35US CO: S.D. S.D. Couple Fighting for Cash Seized WhileSun, 15 Feb 2015
Source:Denver Post (CO) Author:Phillips, Noelle Area:Colorado Lines:Excerpt Added:02/15/2015

On Dec. 2, two South Dakota residents cruised through Parker after making a wrong turn during a Colorado vacation.

A Parker police officer pulled over 33-year-old Margaret McKinney because the temporary tag on her car was in the wrong place. The officer smelled marijuana and asked to search the car, McKinney said.

"I thought, 'For what?' " McKinney said. "I had no reason for not allowing the search. I wasn't doing anything wrong."

By the time the traffic stop ended, McKinney and her boyfriend, Dion "Tony" Anderson, 46, were out more than $25,000 after spending two hours being detained on the roadside by Parker police and a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

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36 US VI: OPED: Policing For ProfitSat, 07 Feb 2015
Source:Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)                 Lines:86 Added:02/08/2015

They say crime doesn't pay - unless, that is, you are a law enforcement agency that profits from seizing the property of suspected criminals.

Civil asset forfeiture laws allow the government to take cash, cars, boats, homes and other property suspected of being involved in criminal activity. The emphasis is on "suspected," because unlike criminal forfeiture, civil forfeiture does not require that the property owner even be charged with a crime to permanently lose his property.

Law enforcement agencies auction off the seized property and keep most or all of the proceeds for their own use, such as for purchasing equipment. This creates a perverse incentive for law enforcement to aggressively pursue civil forfeiture - what critics have dubbed "policing for profit" - which can lead to abuses of individuals' property and due process rights.

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37 US HI: Column: AG Nominee Seems Clueless About Unjust AssetSat, 07 Feb 2015
Source:Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI) Author:Sullum, Jacob Area:Hawaii Lines:94 Added:02/07/2015

During her confirmation hearings last week, Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's choice to succeed Eric Holder as attorney general, called civil forfeiture, a form of legalized theft in which the government takes people's property without accusing them of a crime, "a wonderful tool."

Lynch, currently the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, suggested that innocent owners need not worry about getting hammered by this tool, because forfeiture "is done pursuant to supervision by a court," and "the protections are there."

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38 US CA: Little Impact Expected in Sonoma, Mendocino CountiesThu, 05 Feb 2015
Source:Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA) Author:Payne, Paul Area:California Lines:119 Added:02/05/2015

Attorney General Eric Holder's plan to end part of a controversial asset forfeiture program that critics say allows law enforcement to seize personal assets without proof that a crime has been committed will have little effect on the North Coast, where police agencies operate largely without federal government participation.

Holder announced last month he would no longer adopt cases from local police under the so-called "Equitable Sharing" program, which provides for the return of up to 80 percent of the proceeds of any criminal enterprise to initiating agencies.

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39 US CA: Column: Federal Judges Ask Harborside Prosecutor: WhyWed, 04 Feb 2015
Source:East Bay Express (CA) Author:Downs, David Area:California Lines:60 Added:02/05/2015

The federal government is showing signs of exhaustion in its fight against medical cannabis. A member of a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday boldly asked federal prosecutors, "Why have you picked this fight [with the Oakland-licensed dispensary Harborside Health Center]?"

"What's the end game here?" judge Stephen Murphy III asked the prosecution, according to reports from the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle and other sources.

"In light of the (recent policy changes) it's a little curious we're here in this case," Judge Johnnie Rawlinson added.

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40US CA: U.S. Effort To Shutter Pot Center QuestionedWed, 04 Feb 2015
Source:San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Author:Egelko, Bob Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:02/04/2015

A federal appeals court questioned the government's move to seize and shut down the huge Harborside medical marijuana dispensary, but showed no support Tuesday for Oakland's attempt to preserve the pot supplier and its bounty of tax revenue.

Despite the Obama administration's repeated assertions that it would not target medical marijuana operations that comply with state laws, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed suit in July 2012 to close down the city-licensed Harborside Health Center, which supplies marijuana to 108,000 patients along the Oakland Estuary at 1840 Embarcadero. City officials sued to block the forfeiture, but a federal magistrate ruled in 2013 that Oakland had no rights of its own at stake in the case.

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41 US TN: Editorial: Time to Curb Out-Of-Control Asset SeizuresMon, 02 Feb 2015
Source:Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)          Area:Tennessee Lines:69 Added:02/03/2015

A series of articles in The Washington Post exposed the problem last fall, and U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder announced recently that federal agencies, with few exceptions, will no longer take possession of assets seized by local law enforcement agencies when no crime has been proved.

Tennessee officials say the decision will have little impact on the activities of local law enforcement agencies, but the attorney general's decision to step down from the widespread use of civil asset forfeiture should prompt close scrutiny of the practice throughout the state and beyond.

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42US CA: Pot Club Appeal Tops DocketSun, 01 Feb 2015
Source:San Jose Mercury News (CA) Author:Mintz, Howard Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:02/02/2015

Dispensary in Uphill Fight to Stay Open, but Legal Terrain Is Shifting

Even with dozens of states such as California now allowing the sale of medical marijuana and a handful of others legalizing weed altogether, Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the nation's largest medicinal cannabis dispensary, is still locked in a legal fight for survival with the federal government.

On Tuesday, Harborside's two-year standoff with the U.S. Justice Department reaches a federal appeals court, which is set to consider Oakland's novel legal move to block the government's seizure of the dispensary through forfeiture laws.

[continues 604 words]

43 US: Federal Agency Weighed Spying On Cars At Gun ShowsWed, 28 Jan 2015
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Barrett, Devlin Area:United States Lines:101 Added:01/30/2015

Proposal Within DEA in 2009 Was Never Carried Out, Justice Department Officials Say

WASHINGTON - A federal agent proposed using license-plate readers to scan vehicles around gun shows in order to aid gun-trafficking investigations, according to an internal Justice Department email.

Justice Department officials said Tuesday that the 2009 proposal was rejected by superiors and never implemented. The email was part of a series of Drug Enforcement Administration documents describing how the agency is building a national database tracking the movements of vehicles in the U.S. The documents were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

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44US CA: Column: Federal Rule Won't Keep State's Cops FromThu, 29 Jan 2015
Source:San Diego Union Tribune (CA) Author:Greenhut, Steven Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:01/29/2015

Sacramento - In 2008, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms received bad publicity after it handed out to employees pocketknives engraved with "ATF" spelled out: Always Think Forfeiture. The agency was, in essence, caught encouraging its employees to seize as much property as possible under controversial civil asset-forfeiture programs.

ATF stopped giving out the pocketknives, but federal, state and local agencies have come to depend increasingly on seized assets to bolster their budgets. Many new "toys" departments buy - fancy new vehicles, military-style equipment, weaponry and gadgets - are funded this way.

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45 US PA: Column: Something Obscene About Civil Asset ForfeituresSat, 24 Jan 2015
Source:Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA) Author:Pitts, Leonard Area:Pennsylvania Lines:84 Added:01/24/2015

Imagine this: You get pulled over by police. Maybe they claim you were seven miles over the speed limit, maybe they say you made an improper lane change. Doesn't matter, because the traffic stop is only a pretext.

Using that pretext, they ask permission to search your car for drugs. You give permission and they search. Or you decline permission, but that doesn't matter, either. They make you wait until a drug-sniffing canine can be brought to the scene, then tell you the dog has indicated the presence of drugs - and search anyway.

[continues 577 words]

46 US NY: Column: Civil Forfeitures ObsceneSat, 24 Jan 2015
Source:Buffalo News (NY) Author:Pitts, Leonard Area:New York Lines:75 Added:01/24/2015

Imagine this: You get pulled over by police. Maybe they claim you were seven miles over the speed limit, maybe they say you made an improper lane change. Doesn't matter, because the traffic stop is only a pretext.

Using that pretext, they ask permission to search your car for drugs. You give permission and they search. Or you decline permission, but that doesn't matter, either. They make you wait until a drug-sniffing canine can be brought to the scene, then tell you the dog has indicated the presence of drugs and search anyway.

[continues 474 words]

47 US CA: Column: All Pot Is PoliticalWed, 21 Jan 2015
Source:SF Weekly (CA) Author:Roberts, Chris Area:California Lines:113 Added:01/24/2015

The world is changing around Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is proving as immovable as a glacier. On Jan. 6, California's senior U.S. senator sent official letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State John Kerry issuing a warning and demanding answers. America's standing in the world is being eroded, she wrote, and the culprit is marijuana legalization.

A no-show in the international consensus on climate change, the U.S. is a proud leader on the global War on Drugs. And every time a U.S. state legalizes recreational cannabis, Feinstein wrote, America is in further violation of United Nations drug control treaties. Since the Justice Department is choosing not to interfere with the states and the State Department is suggesting that the U.N. anti-drug treaties are subject to "flexible interpretation," Holder and Kerry are leading the Obama administration in making the mockery worse, the letters say.

[continues 765 words]

48 US HI: Column: New Asset Seizure Policy Won't Make MuchSat, 24 Jan 2015
Source:Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI) Author:Sullum, Jacob Area:Hawaii Lines:101 Added:01/24/2015

Money-hungry cops are angry about the forfeiture reform that Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Jan. 6, which suggests it's a move in the right direction.

But contrary to initial press reports, the new policy represents a modest change to the rules governing civil forfeiture, which allows the government to take people's assets without accusing them of a crime.

"Civil forfeiture is fundamentally at odds with our judicial system and notions of fairness," two former directors of the Justice Department's Asset Forfeiture Office observed in a Washington Post op-ed piece last fall. "Civil forfeiture laws presume someone's personal property to be tainted, placing the burden of proving it 'innocent' on the owner."

[continues 563 words]

49US CA: Column: Something Obscene About Civil Asset ForfeituresWed, 21 Jan 2015
Source:Sacramento Bee (CA) Author:Pitts, Leonard Jr. Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:01/22/2015

Imagine this: You get pulled over by police. Maybe they claim you were seven miles over the speed limit, maybe they say you made an improper lane change. Doesn't matter, because the traffic stop is only a pretext.

Using that pretext, they ask permission to search your car for drugs. You give permission and they search. Or you decline permission, but that doesn't matter, either. They make you wait until a drug-sniffing canine can be brought to the scene, then tell you the dog has indicated the presence of drugs - and search anyway.

[continues 581 words]

50 US: New Revelations U.S. Tracked Americans' Calls For Over A DecadeSat, 17 Jan 2015
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Barrett, Devlin Area:United States Lines:105 Added:01/21/2015

Justice Department Arm Collected Metadata on U.S. Calls to Foreign Countries

The Justice Department secretly kept a database of Americans' calls to foreign countries for more than a decade, according to a new court filing and officials familiar with the program.

The revelation of another secret government database storing records of Americans' calls came in a filing Thursday in the case of a man accused of conspiring to unlawfully export electronic goods to Iran.

A Drug Enforcement Administration official said in the filing that the agency, which is an arm of the Justice Department, has long used administrative subpoenas - not federal court orders - to collect the metadata of U.S. calls to foreign countries "that were determined to have a demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities."

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