U.S. Supreme Court Denies Appeals

May 19th, 2009 by Rick

The United States Supreme Court

A case that has gone all the the way to the U.S. Supreme Court has been rejected today, striking another blow for state medical marijuana laws.

Three years ago, some lawyers for San Diego and San Bernardino counties in California tried to claim that the state violated federal drug law when they legalized medical marijuana. These counties refused to issue medical marijuana cards in accordance with the medical marijuana law and dared to take the case all the way to the top. In a serious negative track record, the counties lost in:

  1. the initial state trial.
  2. the appellate courts.
  3. the state Supreme Court.
  4. the U.S. Supreme Court.

They were even threatened with a lawsuit from San Diego NORML, back in 2005 for not complying to the state law when they held back from issuing medical marijuana cards. The Justices today, flat out denied a hearing to the counties.

So now, out of all other legal options, the counties have to finally abide by state law and issue medical marijuana cards to patients and stop arresting medical marijuana patients.

Thomas Bunton, a lawyer in the San Diego County counsel’s office said:

The cards are objectionable because the state law authorizes individuals to engage in conduct that the federal law prohibits. [...] We are disappointed that the court did not take the case to resolve what we believe was a conflict between federal and state law.

As far as this case went, it was the sole one that threatened the state medical marijuana law. Joe Elford, lawyer for Americans for Safe Access said:

No longer will local officials be able to hide behind federal law and resist upholding California’s medical marijuana law.

Elford said that this case will provide ammunition for other cases pending — where other counties are still holding out from issuing medical marijuana cards.

Either nobody wants to deal with the hot potato that marijuana becomes in the news or the Supreme Court doesn’t want to rock the boat, lest it too gets swallowed by the sea of green. At any rate, the fact that it is once again left up to state law is a good sign of things to come.

David Simon in Real Time on Real Time

May 19th, 2009 by Russ

Last week, Bill Mahr’s HBO series, Real Time, featured drug policy guru and tv production savant, David Simon. Having created The Wire, one of the most nuanced and insightful television series ever, Simon has ascended to the rank of soothsayer amongst progressive political talking heads.

Too weighty to be a simple panelist, Simon was invited onto the show in a specially dedicated interview segment to discuss his take on Obama’s drug policies, amongst other things. One striking point made by Simon, was his avocation for jury nullification. Jury nullification is a mostly archaic court occurrence whereby the jury decides to acquit a defendant regardless of the evidence held against him. Simon argued that all juries should use this practice to protest the overzealous prosecution of non-violent drug crimes.

Just another instance of Simon’s forward thinking in the land of no creativity. If the legislators, magistrates, and attorneys won’t act, the people certainly should.

Attorney Needs Weed to Tolerate Court

May 19th, 2009 by Russ

Don't bring weed to court.

According to a San Antonio news service, a Bexar County attorney was arrested for trying to bring two ounces of weed and a chrome pipe into the county courthouse. The attorney, Regina Criswell, said that the weed was for a client of hers.

While attorneys should generally be used to the plodding nature of court trials, one can see how some well-timed ganja could really perk up an otherwise dreary day in court. Few things are more likely to ensure that jurors pay attention to a diatribe on DNA evidence than a nice attention-intensive high.

Local Deputy and cartoon villain Ino Badillo added:

It doesn’t matter who you are. You can’t be in possession of narcotics. Period.

Well, unless you’re a prescription-toting MD, Washington DC mayor, or fun-loving DEA agent, that is.

Connecticut Decriminalization Bill Hijacked

May 19th, 2009 by Rick

A bill sponsored by Democrat Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney that would have decriminalized possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana was defeated last Tuesday in the Connecticut senate by Republican Sen. Antonietta Boucher, when she filibustered the issue until the deadline arrived, thus essentially killing the bill.

After the financial committee adjourned, the committee leaders revealed that they allowed the bill to die because of an e-mail threat that Sen. Boucher had received last week from 28-year old vice chairman of the Connecticut chapter of NORML, Dominic Vita, saying that he would “go postal” on Boucher. Because of this threat, policeman in civilian attire were among the attendees at the committee meeting. Vita was charged May 13th with disorderly conduct, stemming from the incident, and after accepting community service, he was ordered to stay clear the Capitol for the next few weeks. Vita’s next court date is set for July.

Democrat Sen. Eileen M. Daily said:

I think the threat to Sen. Boucher and the committee overrode any other concern. [...] And out of respect to Sen. Boucher and the committee, we welcomed the debate on the bill as well as the filibustering all day. [...] Sen. Boucher was very shaken by that threat and very concerned and she has been very outspoken on her opposition to marijuana and she took the threat very seriously and wanted time to explain her position.

Before the e-mail threat, an amendment could have brought life back to the bill before the legislature closes on June 3rd but a number of republicans have “reconsidered their position on the bill,” backing the chief opponent to the legislature, Sen. Boucher.

In an interview, Democrat Sen. Andrew J. McDonald said:

There are a number of Republican legislators who appear to have reconsidered their position on the bill as the result of the abusive e-mail received by Sen. Boucher. [...] It’s never appropriate to threaten a legislator as was done in the e-mail sent to Sen. Boucher. There’s no doubt that the e-mail clouded the merits of the issue and mortally wounded its chances.

Now what’s sad is that the entire reason for a Financial Committee to receive this bill from the Senate was to discuss the fact that legislative research indicated that it could save millions of dollars in judicial costs and generate an annual revenue of $325,000 from fines.

Personal feelings got in the way and instead of a logical discussion and debate, what the Connecticut people received was essentially a long rant about the same antiquated rhetoric that marijuana was a gateway drug that led to more serious drugs and decriminalizing it would being higher costs to the police.

The mere point that certain legislators said they based their vote (or lack thereof) off the fact that Sen. Boucher was threatened, should anger the Connecticut citizens. The Senate passed that bill down to the financial committee for a reason and nothing financial was discussed.

A Night at the Museum on Weed

May 18th, 2009 by Russ

To get a sense of what the tFS enhanced version of this otherwise craptastic Ben Stiller movie might sound like, look no further than this history lecture by former University of Florida Professor, John Hall. Unfortunately, he’s a former professor now because the University got wind of this command performance and immediately dismissed him from the faculty.

That doesn’t seem particularly fair. Apparently the University of Florida operates on the ’stoning for being a stoner’ philosophy. Code of Hammurabi? Duuuuuude…

Michigan City Ponders Medical Marijuana Business

May 18th, 2009 by Rick

Michigan <3 Marijuana

Yet another loophole within the current medical marijuana laws has been addressed, this time in Royal Oaks, Michigan. Mayor Jim Ellison says information is being gathered to draft an ordinance that will allow caregivers to grow medical marijuana for up to five patients.

Apparently zoning has become an issue, none of the dispensaries would be allowed in the central business district, the downtown heart of Royal Oaks, but the caregivers would be permitted to set up their business within the general district business area.

A meeting was held last Tuesday, where various viewpoints were shared. Christe Langdeau, one of the attendees that spoke in favor of the ordinance said:

I’ve had the misfortune to see friends die without medicine, and the only thing that can help them is medical marijuana. [...] Many patients are not able to get out of bed. How can they grow their own?

Only one of the speakers, Richard Kozlowski, was against the ideas of having caregivers be able to run a medical marijuana business:

If the city is going to allow caregivers to grow medical marijuana in the general business district, it should also allow it in the central business district.

Kozlowski was concerned with the fact that the dispensaries would be allowed to be set up near private homes and would become as popular as a drug store and gas station, one on every corner.

Obviously certain aspects of the medical marijuana laws need tweaking but it’s good to see someone taking control. Since it is a state law, the state should have thought about taking care of that when they created the bill that became a law. It’s just another prime example of federal, state and local government always passing the buck.

THC Levels Continue to Increase

May 18th, 2009 by Erin

THC levels in marijuana have been measured and recorded since the 1980s, back when it was ~4%. In contrast, the marijuana we smoke today contains somewhere ~10% THC and is expected to reach ~16% within 5-10 years with advances in genetic manipulation. Some samples that have been checked have even been reported at around 30%; this isn’t just limited to domestic sources like indoor cultivation, but the increasing potency seen even in traditionally low-potency weed sources, like Mexican stress.

The areas of your brain that are affected by THC are the cannabinoid receptors, located in different parts of the brain, responsible for memory, decision-making and cognition. They also release dopamine, the euphoria-inducing hormone that makes us high. When the receptors are flooded, you get the munchies.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta asserts that regular cannabis users consume less marijuana since the THC level is so much stronger.

Depleted Border Patrol Looks to Children

May 18th, 2009 by Russ

It might be the angle, but it looks like he's pointing the rifle at the back of his team member -- friendly fire much?

Like a hungry stoner scavenging through the kitchen cupboards for a stray graham cracker, the US Border Patrol has found its resources sadly lacking recently. Amidst administration demands for more recruitment and hiring, the Border Patrol has turned to a tried and true tactic of depleted armies throughout history — conscripting children.

The Explorers Program, a Boy Scouts of America affiliate, trains the pubescent in the art of raiding dens of iniquity, seizing illegally imported goods, and patrolling barren wastelands.

In the words of a California sheriff’s deputy involved with the program:

This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl.

While it’s unclear what his hermaphroditic reference is all about, it does seem like a wonderful opportunity for these kids to participate in the formative experience that is pepper-spraying a starving immigrant right in the eye socket. That kind of invaluable interaction will really put some hair on the chests of our next crop of soldier-kids.

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