Tag Archives: drug war

Man Reports Police Visitation After Posting Pictures of Morel Mushrooms on Facebook

Darlington, MD— On May 11, a man named John Garrison posted a public photo on Facebook showing morel mushrooms he had gathered while foraging with his girlfriend Hope Deery, and wrote of his plans to “sautee them with brown sugar and cinnamon and see how that turns out.”

Garrison went on to claim that his original Facebook post about morel mushrooms, which are a legal and sought-after delicacy, led to a visit to his home hours later from law enforcement apparently investigating possible use of psychedelic mushrooms commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.”

Photography is Not a Crime reported that police appeared at his house less than 24 hours later, questioning Garrison and Deery about why they were “eating mushrooms and posting about it online.”

“We had just finished eating the Morels we found today and heard a knock on the door. A police officer and an RA were standing outside. We let them in and as soon as the police officer walked in he asked us why we were eating mushrooms and posting about it online. He thought he was on the biggest bust of his career thinking we were having a magic mushroom party before I explained to him that Morels are a native choice edible mushroom similar to truffles,” Garrison wrote in an additional Facebook post.

The officer allegedly refused to believe that the couple ingested legal mushrooms. Garrison, in an effort to prove that they were simply morel mushrooms, said that he retrieved a piece of the mushroom from the trash— but the officer still refused to believe they hadn’t broken the law until a second officer arrived on the scene and confirmed it was a legal mushroom. Before the officers left, Garrison said his ID was processed.

“He wasn’t convinced. So I rummaged through the trash to find a peice of a Morel so that he would have evidence that we weren’t taking psychedelic mushrooms. I showed him and he still wasn’t convinced that they weren’t magic mushrooms, Which was shocking to me because morels look nothing like a psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms and I figured a police officer would know what illegal drugs looked like. A second police officer showed up and I showed her the Morel and she immediately knew it was a Morel which was a relief. They processed our ID’s and eventually left. What an experience,” Garrison wrote.

Young Mother Claims Jailer Raped Her Following Arrest For Half-Gram of Pot

Katy, Texas – A woman is seeking justice after allegedly being raped by a jailer after being arrested for possession of less than a half a gram of cannabis she claims to use medicinally for her epilepsy.

Emma Lopez said that the ordeal began while driving home on March 1 when she was pulled over for suspected speeding by a Katy ISD police officer a few blocks away from her home.

Police bodycam footage of the stop obtained by ABC 13 Eyewitness News showed Lopez complying with the stop and the officer. Within minutes the officer asked her to step out of her vehicle, and stated, “The minute I stopped you, I could smell marijuana on your car.”

Lopez admitted that she uses marijuana to control her seizures and pointed out the small amount in her vehicle to the officer.

“I have seizures and I don’t even smoke very much,” Lopez said in the footage.

At this point the officer informed her that she was going to be arrested and taken to jail for the miniscule amount of marijuana, despite the fact that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office has ceased prosecuting people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. “Unfortunately, you’re going to jail today,” the officer told Lopez.

Katy ISD police claim that Lopez was initially stopped in a school zone, thus making possession of any amount of marijuana an arrestable offense. However, according to ABC 13, Lopez’s lawyers claim that she should not have been arrested in the first place.

In an exclusive interview with ABC 13, Lopez said that after being taken to the Harris County Jail she was moved into a holding cell by herself. Lopez alleges that only a few hours later a male guard entered the holding cell, handcuffed her, and raped her.

After he asked me to get up and put me up against the wall and handcuffed me, he pulled my pants down and pulled his pants down and I froze,” Lopez said. “I asked him not to do it. He said, ‘If I say anything, he would do it again, and I wouldn’t be able to say anything.’


Lopez says she attempted to alert female guards to the sexual assault that had just taken place, but she was told to sit down and stay quiet while being processed.

After she was finally released from jail the next day, Lopez said she went directly to the hospital where a rape kit was collected. Lopez’s attorney, Michael Edwards, says there is evidence that proves Lopez was sexually assaulted while in the Harris County jail.

“There’s surveillance, there’s jail calls, there’s a number of elements that support Mrs. Lopez in her outcry in what happened to her,” Edwards told ABC 13.

A statement was released by the Harris County Jail confirming that there is an active investigation of the incident underway:

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an allegation that a female jail inmate was sexually assaulted by an employee inside the Harris County Jail in early March. Investigators have interviewed the victim, reviewed video recordings from inside the jail, and are taking all other necessary steps to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted. The investigation is ongoing, and no charges have been filed at this time. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office takes these allegations seriously, and we are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all inmates entrusted in our care.

Lopez, a mother of two, has since filed a lawsuit against the City of Katy and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Sheriff Ed Gonzales, the officer who arrested her, and the unidentified jail guard who allegedly raped her.

Sessions Death Penalty Memo Could Apply to State-Legal Cannabis Growers

Washington, D.C. – When Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to U.S. attorneys regarding seeking the death penalty for some drug traffickers, which was part of President Trump’s plan to combat the opioid epidemic released weeks ago, many pundits failed to miss the potential implications for legal marijuana growers.

The memo utilizes a little-known federal law that already allows for the death penalty to be used for certain criminal offenses, including specific racketeering activities, the use of a gun that resulted in a death during a drug trafficking crime, murder in advancing a criminal enterprise and dealing in “extremely large” quantities of drugs, according to The Hill.

“I strongly encourage federal prosecutors to use these statutes, when appropriate, to aid in our continuing fight against drug trafficking and the destruction it causes in our nation,” Sessions wrote.

Although Sessions’ memo seems focused largely on opioids, the federal law being referenced contains no such drug-specific limitation on prosecutors’ power. The Denver Post reported that upon following the law’s “meandering route through federal statutes,” the following conclusion will be reached: “that anyone convicted of cultivating more than 60,000 marijuana plants or possessing more than 60,000 kilograms of a substance that contains marijuana could face death as a punishment.”

Despite the law being on the books, the death penalty has never been sought before for those dealing large quantities of drugs, according to a Justice Department official cited by The Hill. The Post reported that in June, there were nearly 1 million marijuana plants under cultivation by Colorado’s state-licensed cannabis businesses.

“Under long established United States Supreme Court precedent it’s unconstitutional to use the death penalty for any offense that does not result in death,” said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center, which makes information on death penalty issues available but doesn’t take a position on the death penalty.

Washington Post data reporter Christopher Ingraham noted the potential implications for state-legal marijuana growers in a tweet:

Legal experts noted that while technically possible for the federal government to seek a death penalty against a state-licensed cannabis business, it is unlikely that a legal grower would face a federal death penalty case.

“I think it’s still very theoretical,” said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor who, as harmonic luck would have it, is a specialist in both marijuana law and in the death penalty. “I don’t think anyone thinks the federal government is going to seek the death penalty against a state-licensed business. But what it highlights is this enormous disconnect with federal and state law.”

When asked by the Denver Post about the possibility of executions for marijuana business moguls, Aaron Smith, the executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said, “I really think that’s just bluster.”

And while it may be “bluster,” Kamin cautioned that “what Sessions is reminding us is that losing your life is at least statutorily possible”; AG Sessions is a renowned cannabis prohibitionist.


Treasury Department Considering Removal of Marijuana Banking Protections

Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration is weighing the removal of an Obama-era protocol that permitted banks to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses without being considered in violation of law, according to a recent report by Forbes.

In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to overturn the Cole Memo, which had previously laid a hands-off federal policy towards state marijuana policy under the Obama administration, federal prosecutors will now be allowed to decide how to prioritize enforcing federal cannabis prohibition in relation to possession, cultivation or distribution in states that have legalized the drug.

With Sessions’ revocation of three Obama-era memos last month, which had provided guidance that allowed banks to provide their services to marijuana businesses without the risk of federal prosecution, the Treasury Department is now “reviewing the [banking] guidance in light of the Attorney General’s announcement and are consulting with law enforcement,” Drew Maloney, the U.S. Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to members of Congress.

The letter from the Treasury Department was in response to an inquiry last month from a  bipartisan group of 31 House members, that included a request for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) agency to carry on with the cannabis banking guidance.

“FinCEN’s stated priorities have allowed such businesses to conduct commerce more safely through financial institutions which reduces the use of all cash, improves public safety, and reduces fraud,” the House lawmakers wrote in their letter. “Leaving your guidance unchanged will continue to encourage small companies to make investments by freeing up access to capital. It will also further provide for well regulation and oversight through suspicious activity reports. Rescinding this guidance would inject uncertainty in the financial markets.”

According to the report by Forbes:

“The FinCEN document, issued in 2014, laid out a process for how banks can open accounts for marijuana businesses and avoid triggering federal enforcement actions.

The FinCEN policy, which requires financial institutions to regularly file reports on their cannabis customers, was intended to provide clarity and assurances to banks, but many have remained reluctant to work with marijuana businesses because of overarching federal prohibition laws.

Nonetheless, documents released by FinCEN late last year showed that the number of banks willing to work with the marijuana industry has steadily grown over time, though those figures were collected prior to Sessions’s move to revoke the broader Justice Department guidance.”

While cannabis use has been legalized or decriminalized in a majority of U.S. states, it is still considered a Schedule 1 substance— denoting no accepted medical use— under federal law, which has created a conflict between state and federal law.

[RELATED: Truth in Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent on Cannabis as Medicine]

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal:

A significant chunk of the financial system—including most credit-card companies and all banks that have access to the Fed’s payments highway—is regulated by the U.S. government, which considers distribution and use of marijuana a crime. As a result, marijuana dispensaries have had to rely mainly on cash, raising security and logistical concerns.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued legal guidance indicating that its priorities in combating illegal drug trafficking didn’t include the sale and purchase of state-legalized marijuana. It said it would crack down on the marijuana industry only in cases tied to other criminal activities, such as distribution to minors, firearm violence or trafficking of other drugs.

Last month, in testimony before the U.S. Senate, Sigal Mandelker, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department, said that the FinCEN memo is still in effect while the Trump administration considers its revocation. On Wednesday, Maloney confirmed in his letter that prior guidance “remains in place” for now, and vowed to inform Congress of any policy changes.

San Francisco D.A. to Eliminate Marijuana Convictions en Masse

Under authorities granted by the November 2016 California ballot initiative Proposition 64 that legalized recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older in the state, San Franscisco District Attorney George Gascón has announced in a statement that his office “will be reviewing, recalling and resentencing up to 4,940 felony marijuana convictions and dismissing and sealing 3,038 misdemeanors which were sentenced prior to the initiative’s passage.”

“While drug policy on the federal level is going backwards, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country’s disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular,” announced District Attorney George Gascón. “Long ago we lost our ability to distinguish the dangerous from the nuisance, and it has broken our pocket books, the fabric of our communities, and we are no safer for it. While this relief is already available pursuant to Proposition 64 for anyone with a conviction, it requires that they know it is available and to retain an attorney to file the expungement paperwork. A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, we’re taking action for the community.”

While Proposition 64 does allow those convicted under past marijuana-related statutes to petition for their cases to be dismissed at their own expense, Los Angeles defense attorney Eric Shevin told The Los Angeles Times, “District attorneys certainly have the right to research their own records and dismiss these cases on their own, en masse.”

Convicts who do not pose an “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” are eligible to have their misdemeanor charges wiped out or felony charges reclassified as misdemeanors. Those who have violent or sex crimes on their records or who have sold drugs to children or across state lines will not be among those whose charges will be dropped.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Gascón will begin wiping out the misdemeanor charges right away, but clearing out the felony convictions “will take a little more time… It will be a lot of clerical work, and we will evaluate as we start reviewing felonies.”

District Attorney George Gascón’s biography on the official website of the City and County of San Francisco emphasizes his record on criminal justice reform and reducing over-incarceration through “alternative approaches to traditional prosecution.”

The Drug Policy Alliance told The San Francisco Chronicle that almost 5,000 people have petitioned to have their pot charges expunged since the passage of Proposition 64.

ATF Finds ‘Fast and Furious’ Rifle at El Chapo Hideout

Fox News has reported that federal officials found a .50-caliber rifle linked to the failed gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious at Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s hideout in Mexico.

The drug lord escaped from prison last year before being found on January 8th at a hideout in Los Mochis, Mexico. The ensuing shootout killed five men and wounded one Mexican marine. A number of weapons, including the .50-caliber rifle, were found at the scene.

Fox reports:

“When agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to the ATF program, sources said. 

Federal officials told Fox News they are not sure how many of the weapons seized from Guzman’s house actually originated in the U.S. and where they were purchased, but are investigating.

Out of the roughly 2,000 weapons sold through Fast and Furious, 34 were .50-caliber rifles that can take down a helicopter, according to officials.”

Operation Fast and Furious was a program in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) knowingly sold guns to Mexican drug cartels.

According to a report in the LA Times:

“The term ‘gun walking’ is central to the failure of Fast and Furious. Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them. But they lost track of more than 2,000 weapons, and the Mexican government says some of them have turned up at about 170 crime scenes there.”

The program led to arrests of smaller criminals, but up to this point no cartel leaders have been arrested. Instead, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry lost his life, along with hundreds of Mexican citizens on the border. These deaths can be traced directly to weapons sold under Fast and Furious.

It should also be noted that as recently as January 2014 El Chapo was reported to have some sort of partnership with the U.S. government. Business Insider reported:

“An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.

There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” coordinates with American authorities.”

Despite attempts by the Obama Administration and former Attorney General Eric Holder to silence the truth about Fast and Furious, details have emerged. Before leaving office, Holder was found in contempt by the House of Representatives for his refusal to hand over documents related to the operation. These documents likely indicate that Attorney General Eric Holder knew more than he admitted while under oath.

On June 20, 2012 President Obama used executive privilege to keep the documents from the public. Just last week, a federal judge ruled that Obama cannot use executive privilege to keep those records secret from Congress.

According to heavily redacted emails, Holder was told about Fast and Furious in memos in July, October and November 2010. However, on March 10th, 2011, Holder testified before a Senate subcommittee that he had just learned about the Fast and Furious gun-walking allegations.

According to documents obtained by N4T, the ATF was not accurate in its assessment that the Fast and Furious program was only active in Phoenix, Arizona. N4T reports that weapons from a gunstore used by the ATF have been found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Hermosillo, Mexico.  The weapons were stolen in October 2010, two months before Fast and Furious weapons were found at the death of Brian Terry, from the Lone Wolf Trading Company gun store in Glendale, Arizona.

Wisconsin to Begin Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced that he has signed off on the state’s plan to drug test some welfare recipients, which will be implemented on November 9th.

Walker’s office released a statement on Tuesday which said that the program submitted by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is “another step forward in implementing drug testing of able-bodied adults seeking certain welfare benefits.”

Walker said that the program will apply to “certain able-bodied adults seeking benefits and/or training through Transform Milwaukee, Transitional Jobs, and noncustodial parents in the W-2 program.”

[pull_quote_center]Our 2015-17 State Budget implements common-sense reforms that put in place drug screening, testing, and treatment mechanisms, so we can continue strengthening Wisconsin’s workforce Employers across the state frequently tell me they have good-paying jobs available in high-demand fields, but need their workers to be drug-free. These important entitlement reforms will help more people find family-supporting jobs, moving them from government dependence to true independence.[/pull_quote_center]

Under the new plan, Walker also noted that “individuals who test positive for a controlled substance without a prescription would be eligible for a drug treatment plan.”

While Walker dropped out of the presidential race in September, creating a drug-testing program for welfare recipients was one of the plans he highlighted when he announced his campaign bid in July.

“In Wisconsin, we enacted a program that says that adults who are able to work must be enrolled in one of our job training programs before they can get a welfare check,” Walker said at his campaign launch. “Now, as of the budget I just signed, we are also making sure they can take a drug test.”

[RELATED: Walker Takes Feds To Court To Drug-Test for Food Stamps]

Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against top officials at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July, challenging the federal rules surrounding the U.S. food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Federal rules were unclear regarding whether states could legally drug test welfare recipients.

In February, ThinkProgress reported that after looking at similar programs in Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah, it found that the states are spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users.”

The report noted that according to statistics, while the states collectively have spent nearly $1 million on the drug-testing efforts, welfare applications test positive for drugs at a rate of 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, which is lower than the national drug use rate of 9.4 percent.

Ben Carson Says He Opposes Legal Pot, Would ‘Intensify’ Drug War

2016 GOP presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson told Glenn Beck on Wednesday that he opposes the legalization of marijuana and that he would “intensify” the federal government’s War on Drugs.

During a rapid-fire question-and-answer session on Glenn Beck’s radio program, seen in the above-embedded video at around the 1:30 mark, Beck asked Carson, “Do you continue the War on Drugs?

Absolutely,” replied Carson. “I intensify it.”

Glenn Beck followed up, “Let me ask you a question. How? I mean, it doesn’t seem to be working now.

Carson responded, “Well, go down to the border in Arizona like I was a few weeks ago. I mean, it’s an open highway, and the federal government isn’t doing anything to stop it.

Continuing his rapid-fire questioning, Beck asked, “Legalize marijuana?

I disagree with it,” responded Carson.

[RELATED: Christie Tells Colo. Pot Smokers to “Enjoy It” Now As He Will Bust Them As President]

During the round of questions, Carson also called warrantless NSA spying “terrible,” said that he supports building “the right kind” of border fence, and called for the development of a “double fence” with increased border patrols. He said that he would deport undocumented immigrants “if they qualify as illegals,” but that he would “give people the ability to register in a certain period of time and if they have pristine records and they are willing to work as guest workers under the circumstances that we survive, they could stay.

But they don’t become citizens and they don’t vote,” he added. He also said that he supports fining businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Carson said that he would not have invaded Iraq in 2003 based on what is known now, but he feels that U.S. ground troops are needed there now as a “stabilizing force” against ISIS.

[RELATED: Ben Carson: U.S. Dollar ‘Not Based on Anything. Why Would We Be Continuing to Do That?’]

Carson offered his support for domestic oil drilling and the development of the Keystone Pipeline. He also stated his opposition to national educational standards and expressed that, unless the organization changes, he supports de-funding and withdrawing U.S. participation from the United Nations.

For more election coverage, click here.

Ohio Marijuana Convicts Could Have Their Records Purged

By Guy Bentley – Ohioans with marijuana convictions could have their records purged if the campaign group pushing for marijuana legalization gets its way.

ResponsibleOhio is pushing the move and is also the main campaign group backing a proposed constitutional amendment — Issue 3 — that would legalize both recreational and medical marijuana in the state, reported the Dayton Daily News.

The ballot initiative would permit Ohioans to grow small amounts of marijuana in their homes, while commercial growing would be limited to 10 sites. The vote will be held Nov. 3rd.

ResponsibleOhio claims to have collected 236,759 signatures in support of the Fresh Start Act, which would allow people with convictions made legal by Issue 3 to file a petition to the courts to expunge their criminal records.

The act would give some people “a second chance,” ResponsibleOhio’s executive director, Ian James, told the Dayton Daily News. “This allows people that have been convicted of offenses that are no longer illegal an ability to move forward, an ability to get expungement and sentencing review,” he said.

The Fresh Start Act would go before the Ohio Assembly in January 2016, and lawmakers would have four months to pass the bill. If the proposal is thrown out, however, or the wording is changed, another 92,000 signatures would need to be collected before the reform could be put to the voters.

The Fresh Start Act would not apply to federal marijuana offenses or offenses that would remain illegal under Issue 3. It has received strong support from pastors and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.

“We fully support this, and we fully support giving people further opportunities to rehabilitate themselves and get out from underneath the thumb of oppressive laws and policies that … affect their employment, affect their housing, affect their education,” Gary Daniels, attorney and chief lobbyist for the Ohio ACLU, said in a press conference reported by The Alliance Review.

The United Food and Commercial Workers have also been active in organizing industry workers to support Issue 3. (RELATED: Union Sets Its Sights On Ohio Marijuana Growers)

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Texas House Committee Approves Full Marijuana Legalization Bill

On Wednesday, a bill that would allow possession and delivery of marijuana as early as September 2015, in the state of Texas, was passed by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee 5-2.

House Bill 2165 is sponsored by state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview). He promoted the bill on religious grounds, arguing that marijuana comes from God and should not be banned by the government.

In March, Simpson wrote an op-ed in the Texas Tribune called the “Christian case for drug law reform,” in which he said that he does not believe that God made marijuana as a “mistake that government needs to fix,” and he suggested that marijuana should be “regulated like tomatoes, jalapenos or coffee.”

[pull_quote_center]“You would think our country’s history with alcohol prohibition – an era marked with bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general – would have prevented us from making the same mistake again,” wrote Simpson. “But our current ‘war on drugs’ policies, though well intended, have accomplished the exact opposite, spurring a proliferation of ever-changing exotic designer drugs and a disregard for constitutional protections in the name of eliminated drugs at any cost. Just think of no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, civil asset forfeiture and billionaire drug lords.“[/pull_quote_center]

KSAT, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, noted that although it is unlikely that the bill will reach the House floor before the legislative session ends on June 1, in a state where using marijuana for medicinal purposes is still illegal, advocates called the committee vote “unprecedented progress.

The Texas Tribune reported that three committee Democrats and two Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while two Republicans, state Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) and state Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) voted against it.

Heather Fazio, the Texas Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told KSAT that she believes “Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State.”

Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree,” Fazio said. “State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action.

In Sept. 2014, Ben Swann released an episode of Truth in Media that documented the federal government’s involvement with marijuana. He revealed that although the government claimed cannabis cannot be used as medicine, it holds the patent on cannabis as medicine.

Watch the full video:


Police Target Pot Activist Who Quit TV Job On Air

Remember the Anchorage newscaster who quit her job on the air and planned to devote herself to marijuana activism? Former television reporter Charlo Greene and her organization, Alaska Cannabis Club, were raided by Anchorage police, who carried out search warrants after receiving reports of illegal marijuana sales.

According to the Associated Press,  Greene, whose legal name is Charlene Egbe, said that the club acts as a medical marijuana dispensary.

“We don’t sell any recreational marijuana. We don’t sell any medical marijuana. This is a place for cardholders to come and share their own cannabis,” she said.

Greene said that the police took a couple of marijuana plants, bongs, pipes, phones and computers from the home where multiple medical marijuana cardholders live. They also impounded a Dodge Dakota and a Jeep Liberty during the raid on Friday.

“Any evidence we find here in pursuit to the investigation we would seize that evidence and likely some charges will be filed,” said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro. “It’s a good reminder that you cannot sell marijuana in Alaska or any product in any other form.”

Greene expressed her frustration on the Alaska Cannabis Club Facebook page:

“I don’t know what’s more disappointing: the fact that the only safe access point for our state’s thousands of medical marijuana cardholders was robbed by local police at gunpoint, or the fact that, in spite of voters legalizing medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational marijuana this past November, the raid on my home and private club didn’t surprise me, or anyone, at all.

“As a tax paying Alaskan, should I be incensed at the fact that Anchorage Police decided to waste already-stretched-thin resources executing a search search warrant on me, with around 10 armed officers in full-on swat gear (all threatening to arrest the peaceful 40-60 year old medical marijuana patients that were inside) instead of focusing on the stabbing and shootings that happened a mile away and just a few hours prior to their raid on my home?”

Although Alaskan voters approved recreational marijuana last year in a ballot measure, the substance remains illegal to sell. Guidelines for regulation are still under legislative review.

No charges have been filed yet.

Check out the video (at 3:00) that made her famous.

MO Republican Introduces Bill to Free Nonviolent Grandfather Serving Life for Pot

In September of last year, BenSwann.com reported on the plight of 61-year-old Jeff Mizanskey, a small-time, nonviolent pot dealer who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for three marijuana offenses under Missouri’s since-repealed Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. Though he remains behind bars, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that one freshman Republican state-level lawmaker is taking aggressive steps to free Mizanskey, who has already spent over two decades behind bars. Since Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has yet to take action and grant clemency for the incarcerated grandfather, Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) has introduced HB 978, a bill that “requires the Board of Probation and Parole to authorize the release of any offender who is incarcerated on August 28, 2015 and who is serving a life sentence without parole for marijuana offenses.”

As it happens, only Jeff Mizanskey fits that description, and, considering the fact that the Prior and Persistent Drug Offender law that led to his incarceration officially expires on January 1, 2017, he will likely be the last to suffer such a fate in the state. In a February 18 press release cited by Riverfront Times, Rep. Dogan said, “It is unconscionable to me that this man, who is no danger to society, will spend the rest of his life in prison at taxpayer expense… Many of my legislative colleagues have come together to implore the governor to commute Mr. Mizanskey’s life sentence, but to date the governor has done nothing more than promise to review Jeff’s case before he leaves office.”

The bill, which Rep. Dogan feels is unlikely to pass, has been introduced in an effort to launch hearings that he hopes will put pressure on Governor Nixon to grant clemency for Mizanskey. Though Nixon ignored Mizanskey’s pleas for clemency for quite some time, he has recently changed his tune and said that he is going to closely review the case. Governor Nixon spoke with KMBC-TV earlier this month about the perpetually-imprisoned grandfather and said, “It’s a very serious amount of time… If the laws change after someone is sentenced, then you want to give those things a close look.”

Rep. Dogan described his views on criminal justice in his press release on HB 978, “I fully support long sentences for repeat violent offenders, because I believe the punishment should fit the crime… In Mr. Mizanskey’s case, I am outraged by the fact that someone who violated our marijuana laws is being treated as harshly as a murderer and incarcerated for life.” Missourinet notes that Rep. Dogan said, “I think when the criminals in the prisons realize the injustice of something, something’s wrong… The idea that these people who have committed robberies, who’ve committed rapes, who’ve committed all kinds of violent crimes, and are a threat to our society can get out after five or ten years, and he’s still sitting there after twenty.”

GA Man Suffers Armed Raid After Cops Confuse Okra for Pot

Last Wednesday, Georgia retiree Dwayne Perry woke up to the sound of a low-flying chopper hovering above his home. Then, armed officers appeared at his door with a K-9 in tow. Perry told WSB-TV 2, “I was scared actually, at first, because I didn’t know what was happening.”

Investigators were apparently conducting aerial sweeps of the area to look for cannabis plants and mistook Perry’s okra garden for a marijuana grow operation. Possession of cannabis remains illegal in Georgia. “Here I am, at home and retired and, you know, I do the right thing. Then, they come to my house strapped with weapons for no reason. It ain’t right,” said Perry.

Okra is a plant with edible seed pods that are often an ingredient in many southern staple dishes, including gumbo. It is commonly grown in gardens and on farms throughout the south and across the state of Georgia. When WSB-TV 2 asked Georgia State Patrol Captain Kermit Stokes how the mistake could have been made, he sent a sample photograph of the okra and replied, “We’ve not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant.” Okra plants have five leaves, unlike cannabis plants which have seven.

After officers failed to find marijuana on the property, they apologized to Perry. However, the innocent retiree worries that his reputation in the community might have been affected. Perry, who lives in Cartersville, says he has been receiving constant calls from friends and neighbors asking why such an overwhelming police presence conducted a raid on his home.

In the 1989 case Florida v Riley, the US Supreme Court ruled that police do not need to obtain a warrant or probable cause before conducting random helicopter flyovers above private property to search for marijuana. As police departments across the country begin acquiring unmanned surveillance drones with the capability to capture images in much greater detail than what would be possible with the naked eye, new questions are being raised as to what homeowners should consider a reasonable expectation of privacy. California is currently grappling with this debate, as Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have required officers to obtain a warrant before using a drone to spy on a homeowner’s property.

In related news, Ben Swann recently released a new Truth in Media episode on medical cannabis. Watch it in the player, embedded below.

Breaking: House Votes to Stop Medical Marijuana and Hemp Prosecutions

Washington, DC – On Friday morning, the House voted 219-189 to halt prosecutions of medical marijuana users in states where medical marijuana is legal and they have a doctor’s prescription for the medicine.

An appropriations amendment offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) prohibits the DEA from spending funds to arrest medical marijuana users. The amendment had bipartisan support.

Rohrabacher said the amendment “should be a no-brainer.”

Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said“This historic vote shows just how quickly marijuana reform has become a mainstream issue.” Angell continued, “If any political observers weren’t aware that the end of the war on marijuana is nearing, they just found out.”

Angell issued this statement:

“This historic vote shows just how quickly marijuana reform has become a mainstream issue. The last time a similar amendment came up it didn’t come very close to passing but, since then, more states have passed medical marijuana laws and a couple have even legalized marijuana for all adults. More states are on this way later this year and in 2016, and it’s clear that more politicians are beginning to realize that the American people want the federal government to stop standing in the way. If any political observers weren’t aware that the end of the war on marijuana is nearing, they just found out.”

Just moments later, the House also approved language that would stop the Federal Justice Department from interfering with states that wish to grow industrial hemp.

The Senate will most likely be considering its own DEA appropriations  bill. The House amendment will still need to get through a joint conference before the DEA will be unable to use the funds to arrest medical marijuana users.


Mexican Drug Cartels in America: Plata o Plomo (Silver or Lead) Warning Comes To America

Update: According to court documents, a Las Vegas man admitted painting the ominous messages and to cutting a hole in a fence to access a billboard.

Court documents say, Ryan Edward Jean, 25, voluntarily admitted to cutting a hole in a chain-link fence to unlawfully access property to access the south central billboard and painting the warning.

Surveillance video showed Jean entering the property through the hole in the fence, and climbing up the billboard around 2:15 a.m.

Jean told investigators it was a political statement that people were dying because of the drug war, according to court documents.

Fingerprints gathered at the far east El Paso billboard matched Jean’s and he was subsequently arrested, court documents stated.

Jean was arrested at the El Paso International Airport before boarding a plane. He denied any connection to the cartels during a police interrogation.


El Paso- Ominous messages were painted on billboards last week in the border city of El Paso, Texas, reminiscent of the deadly warnings by drug cartels that are commonplace in neighboring Mexico.

One of the massive signs read “Plato o plomo” (silver or lead), a phrase used by cartels to indicate you either take a bribe or a bullet. In addition, a mannequin dressed in a suit and tie was hung by its neck from the bottom of the billboard.

The hanging mannequin, although startling, was a toned down version of a cartel practice of hanging real dead bodies over highway overpasses, often meant as a warning against working with law enforcement or running afoul of the cartels that provide most of the drugs in America.

A second billboard defaced was a Drug Enforcement Agency billboard offering a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and capture of Rafael Caro Quintero. This one had the words “DYING FOR DRUGS” emblazoned upon it with a mannequin dressed in jeans and a shirt hung from it.

Phil Jordan, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who ran the El Paso Intelligence Center said, “Whoever did this went through a lot of work to get this accomplished,” according to the NY Daily News.

“This is possibly a message to someone who hasn’t cooperated with the cartels. But even if it’s a hoax, something like this is going to make the El Paso population uneasy, given that the city is not far from the killing fields of Mexico.”


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Mexico Unveils New Security Plan to Quell Violence in Tamaulipas

Reynosa, Mexico- After the recent surge in violence, the top Mexican security official, Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osori Chong, said that a new security push in the northern border state of Tamaulipas would be spearheaded by military officials.

Chong gave no specific information in regard to federal police and troop reinforcement numbers in what sounded like a bolstering of the current strategy. He said the Mexican government will continue to vet the local police for corruption, work to dismantle cartels, and block smuggling routes for drugs, weapons and people.

Since the start of April at least 76 people have been killed in drug violence in Tamaulipas due to infighting in the cartels and battles between security forces and gunmen.

The new security push will divide Tamaulipas into four sections with each having an army or navy officer charged with implementation of the federal security plan in hopes of bringing peace to the state, said Chong.

“We are going to re-establish the conditions that will allow Tamaulipas citizens to recover the tranquility they deserve,” Chong said in Reynosa, according to the Associated Press. What he didn’t say is how this push would differ from past failed attempts to turn public safety over to the military.

Chong said that much of the recent rash of violence could be attributed to the success of the government in taking out the leadership of the cartels. The dominant criminal organizations in Tamaulipas are the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. Without specifically naming him, Chong suggested the military killing of Galindo Mellada Cruz, a founding member of Los Zetas, was one of those successes.

He also said that five major high tech checkpoints would be established on highways that connect the states major cities to stem the tide of smuggling. He went on to say that a prosecutor dedicated to leading criminal investigations will be assigned to each of the areas in the plan, and that government forces will be patrolling urban areas 24 hours a day.

Tamaulipas and Texas share a long border that runs from Brownsville to Laredo and cross-border commerce is the main source of economy in the border region.

The strong intervention in Tamaulipas is not unexpected after a similar effort was undertaken last year in Michoacan, although this intervention could be more difficult as there are two heavily armed cartels battling for control in the state.


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First Grade Teacher Charged With Drug Dealing & Manufacture

Houston- A Ridge Creek Elementary first grade teacher in the Humble Independent School District, Monica Quintero, 31, was arrested on Tuesday, May 6, by the Montgomery County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office on multiple first-degree felony drug charges.

According to a press release from the constable’s office, “The complainants were concerned the smell was related to illegal narcotics and reportedly said they noticed a large number of people visiting the apartment at all hours of the day and night for short periods of time.”

The apartment turned out to be an active drug lab. “It’s not one of the apartment complexes in this area where law enforcement would typically find something like a heroin lab or a meth lab, or drug dealing,” said Jamie Nash, spokeswoman for the constable’s office.

According to the authorities, when investigators arrived at the apartment, Quintero allegedly gave permission to search the residence. During the search deputies found over 100 grams of heroin, 15.2 grams of liquid heroin, 53 grams of GHB and pills of Oxycontin, Xanax, Adderall as well as other drugs and a handgun. The search also uncovered over $10,000 in cash.

In addition, they also found scales, syringes, drug paraphernalia and items used for a drug lab that was set up in the kitchen.

“It was disturbing to find a lab set up in a family apartment complex adjacent to a neighborhood and in such close proximity to an elementary school,” Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth Rowdy Hayden said in a statement detailing the arrests.

“What’s more disturbing is learning the female suspect is a first-grade teacher. Apparently, Ms. Quintero was living a double life and now it has caught up with her,” said Hayden, going on to state “We will not tolerate this poison in Precinct 4. It not only increases the crime rate, it destroys lives and families and we’ll do whatever we have to in order to prevent that.”

Also arrested were Quintero’s roommates, Andrew Zick, 31, and James Zipperer, 30, as well as Mackinley Breeden, 34.

All four have been charged with first-degree felony manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance. Zick was also charged with being a felon in possession of a gun.

Humble ISD officials said that Quintero was “immediately” put on leave while her case makes its way through the court system.


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Pennsylvania Supreme Court: No Warrant Needed to Search Citizens’ Vehicles

Philadelphia, May 2, 2014- The Pennsylvania Supreme court, in a 4-2 decision, has issued a ruling that police officers are not required to obtain a search warrant before searching a vehicle. This decision overturns the protections offered by the Pennsylvania state constitution as well as those enumerated in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The court opinion, issued by Justice Seamus McCaffery concluded that, “the prerequisite for a warrantless search of a motor vehicle is probable cause to search.”

The case stemmed from a 2010 traffic stop by the Philadelphia police department, for a vehicle having dark tinted windows. The police subsequently found two pounds of marijuana under the hood of the car.

Prior to this decision police were not allowed to search a vehicle without driver consent, illegal substances in plain view or a search warrant. Drivers had the ability to refuse a search request, which would then require the officer to produce a warrant signed by a judge for the search to take place. Based on this ruling the standard to search has now been lowered to an officers belief of reasonable probable cause.

The police applauded the decision. According to Lancaster Online, New Holland Police Lt. Jonathan Heisse said, “It is a ruling that helps law enforcement as they continue to find people in possession of illegal drugs,” as reported by Brett Hambright.

However not all parties felt this was a wise decision.

In the dissent, Justice Debra McCloskey concluded that the ruling, “heedlessly contravenes over 225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright,” and went on to state that the decision was “diametrically contrary to the deep historical and legal traditions.”

A number of defense attorneys viewed the decision as extreme governmental overreach. Jeffrey Conrad, of Clymer Musser & Conrad, in a statement to Hambright, said, “It’s an expanding encroachment of government power,” and followed up by saying, “It’s a protection we had two days ago, that we don’t have today. It’s disappointing from a citizens’ rights perspective.”

Another attorney, Chris Patterson, went on record with Hambright, stating, “I am concerned that we are on a slippery slope that will eliminate personal privacy and freedom in the name of expediency for law enforcement.”

Defense attorney Christopher Lyden told Hambright that he thinks if an officer wants to search without driver consent, that they should be required to get a warrant, saying, “Judicial oversight of vehicle searches, just like residential searches, helps maintain a free society.”

This decision along with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision we reported on last week, regarding warrantless stops based on anonymous tips, indicates a continual and steady erosion of Fourth Amendment protections nationwide.


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High on Hypocrisy – Governor Maggie Hassan: Drug User, Drug Warrior

New Hampshire, February 13, 2014– This week New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan (D) boasted that she is a former marijuana user. The revelation came on WMUR-TV’s Sunday morning “Close-Up” program, when the governor was asked by host Josh McElveen whether she had ever tried marijuana.

She stated that she had used it “when she was in college” in the 1970s and 80s. Hassan is a graduate of Brown University and later attended Northeastern University School of Law.

So Hassan now joins President Barack Obama, former President Bill “I didn’t inhale” Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Secretary of State John Kerry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. All drug warriors, all drug users, all high on hypocrisy.

Hassan has gone on to double down on her support for Prohibition. She says she will continue to block passage of the current marijuana legalization bill with her veto. She additionally came out for adding more “drug treatment” bureaucracy. Somehow drug user Hassan became governor without any forced “treatment”, and of course without the little difficulties involved in being imprisoned with violent criminals either.

Her claimed concern for “treatment” is ironic, considering that in 2013 she used her veto threat to gut New Hampshire’s medical marijuana law. Cancer and MS patients can technically use marijuana under her version of the law, but there is no legal way for them to actually obtain the drug. Inflicting extra pain on cancer patients is a crime against humanity.

It’s all about the political support of government-employee unions and tax-dependent corporate interests. The police unions, the prison guards, and the prison construction industry all depend on Prohibition. And they all come out to support Democratic governor candidates in New Hampshire. As does America’s even larger “prison industry”, the teacher’s unions. Hassan has been their standard-bearer as well, recently winning a lawsuit that she filed against a state program that provides partial scholarships to help poor children to attend private schools.

This “Boardwalk Empire” formula has been keeping Democrats in power in New Hampshire for ten years. The New Hampshire statehouse has been trying to roll back Prohibition, regardless of which party is in the majority. Five times in the last six years, they have voted to decriminalize and/or legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In 2012 (in a Republican statehouse), a “decrim” bill passed with a 2-1 margin.

New Hampshire is tired of paying for Prohibition, tired of its drain on law enforcement resources that should be fighting real crime, and tired of the loss of civil liberties. This is the “Live Free or Die” state, and yet we are the only state in New England that has not yet started to roll back Richard Nixon’s “War on (some) Drugs”.

In 2013’s session, Representative Steve Vaillancourt (R) introduced HB 492 (sponsored by three Republicans and two Democrats), which would legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and place a 15 percent sales tax on it. The bill passed the House, and while in the Ways and Means committee the state’s DRA has determined that it would bring in $26 million to $39 million per year from NH residents. Sponsor Vallaincourt estimates that figure could easily pass $50 million when sales to tourists are included.

But Hassan’s veto makes it unlikely that Prohibition will end in New Hampshire as long as she is governor. So we will continue to tax the MacDonald’s meal of a working mother, and the house of a retired veteran, rather than tax a recreational drug. The only hope for change is Republican governor candidate Andrew Hemingway, who has said that if elected he will work with the statehouse to find a path to legalization.

Prohibition Never Works

Although marijuana is a far less harmful drug than alcohol, a look back at alcohol Prohibition is useful. When alcohol was made illegal (by a Constitutional Amendment, not by arbitrary Federal power grab), it caused the same problems that we have now with illegal drugs. People didn’t stop drinking, but the illegal alcohol cost them more. Tax revenue was lost. People died from adulterated alcohol. Profits from the illegal trade created an ecological niche for organized crime. Murder, assault, and corruption of law enforcement all skyrocketed.

When FDR took office, he quickly signed legislation repealing the Prohibition amendment. State governments started receiving tax revenues from legal alcohol again. The human costs of deaths and blindness from adulterated alcohol ended. Murder and assault rates fell immediately. Today, no one is killed in drive-by shootings over beer or bourbon. And according to New Futures (New Hampshire’s largest anti-substance-abuse group), the state collected around $150 million dollars in alcohol taxes in 2012.

Legalizing marijuana would have several benefits. First of all, as has been seen in other states with decriminalization laws, non drug users aren’t going to run out and start using marijuana. What will happen is “drug switching:” people who now may be binge drinkers or even OxyContin users will switch to the safer marijuana. No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, and it doesn’t have the severe physical effects of many other drugs of abuse. While HB 492 will keep it illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, THC in the blood doesn’t affect traffic safety as severely as alcohol does.

The NH affiliate of ACLU has released a report showing that direct costs to the state of prosecuting marijuana crimes were $6,526,364 in 2010. But the real cost to society must be far higher. Current law provides for a jail sentence of up to one year for possession of even the smallest amount of marijuana. A young person convicted for a youthful indiscretion can have his/her entire life derailed, education disrupted, career aborted, relationships cut off. When in prison with violent criminals, peaceful offenders may even be permanently injured or drawn into a life of crime.

If New Hampshire wants to live up to its “Live Free or Die” motto, it’s going to have to stop voting for Prohibitionists like Hassan. Republican candidate Hemingway has a tough race ahead; Hassan has the financial support of the health-insurance monopoly created by the preceding governor’s regulations. She also has money from casino-monopoly interests, public-school monopoly interests, and a campaign army of government-employee unions. All Andrew Hemingway has is his support for our traditional freedoms.

Bill Walker is a member of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance and the Sullivan County Republican committee.