DEA

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U.S.: Feds Announce It's OK For Banks To Work With Marijuana Dispensaries

MarijuanaPiggyBank

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Banks and other financial institutions that do business with marijuana dispensaries that are in compliance with state laws are "unlikely" to be prosecuted for money laundering or other federal crimes that could be charged under federal drug laws, a senior Department of Justice official said on Thursday.

The official would not rule out prosecution in any case, but the guidance -- set out during a Thursday briefing on the DoJ's new policy -- is a reversal of administration policy which had warned banks not to work with marijuana businesses, report Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post.

The DoJ official said that the department recognized that forcing dispensaries to operate on a cash basis put them at a greater risk of robbery and violence.

A three-page memo that accompanied Thursday's announcement notes that a well-regulated, legal marijuana industry could come with benefits to public safety and health.

Michigan: DEA Conducts Series of Smash-and-Grab Dispensary Raids

PeoplesChoiceDispensaryAnnArbor

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has conducted a series of "smash-and-grab" marijuana dispensary "searches" over the past three weeks, in cooperation with Michigan state law enforcement authorities, in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas.

Shops raided included The Shop in Ypsilanti.

The raids, including two last week, typically involve groups of federal DEA agents, sometimes assisted by local or state police, descending on medical marijuana dispensaries in unmarked vans and SUVs with no sirens or flashing lights, reports My Firedoglake.

The federal agents flash Michigan state warrants and seize dried cannabis, growing plants, and cash. In a series of raids starting July 30, agents reportedly did not leave copies of the state warrants at the three dispensaries that were raided.

No arrests have been made in the series of "smash-and-grab" raids, and the searches seem to end once the cash is seized and dispensary employees start photographing the agents. The Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a "raid alert" after the Ann Arbor dispensary raid.

California: DEA Agrees To Pay $4.1 Million To Student They Forgot In Cell For 5 Days

DanielChong

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A student at the University of California San Diego, who was forgotten and left handcuffed in a holding cell with no food or water for five days by the Drug Enforcement Administration, has settled a lawsuit for $4.1 million, according to his attorney.

No criminal charges will be brought against the officers involved in the incident, which began with a "4-20" raid at a party Chong was attending, report Dave Summers, R. Stickney and Greg Bledsoe at NBC San Diego.

"They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don't know what happened," Chong said in May. "I'm not sure how they could forget me." Chong filed a $20 million lawsuit against the agency for leaving him with nothing to eat or drink while in handcuffs for five days.

"This was a mistake of unbelievable and unimaginable proportions," attorney Julia Yoo said on Tuesday, reports Stan Wilson at CNN.

Daniel Chong, 25, drank his own urine to survive, even trying to carve a farewell note to his mother into his arm before authorities found him severely dehydrated after locking him up in a 2012 drug raid in San Diego.

Washington: DEA Serves Search Warrants On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

BaysideCollectivePostDEARaid

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal agents on Wednesday raided several medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington, just eight months after voters in the state approved the legalization of cannabis.

The Drug Enforcement Administration's Seattle office confirmed that "several search warrants were executed today involving marijuana storefronts" in the Puget Sound area, reports M. Alex Johnson at NBC News.

The number of raids remained unclear on Thursday afternoon; Seattle marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt said he personally knew of four raids.

"What we heard from a DEA agent that talked to one of my clients that was at the scene was that there were 18 targets or 18 places that they were going to hit," Hiatt said, reports Drew Mikkelsen at KING 5.

Despite that estimate, the names of only four raided collectives -- Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, Key Peninsula Cross, and Bayside Collective -- have been circulated. All four storefronts were among about 20 dispensaries raided by the DEA in November 2011, reports KOMO.

Washington: DEA Raiding Puget Sound Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

BaysideCollective

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, reportedly aided by local police and sheriffs' deputies, on Wednesday raided a number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. Unconfirmed reports indicated up to 19 shops may have been raided.

DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood on Wednesday confirmed the operation was underway, but declined to provide details, reports the Associated Press.

Washington voters legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of cannabis last November, but marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Targeted dispensaries included Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, and Bayside Collective in Olympia, according to Seattle medical marijuana lawyer Douglas Hiatt.

DEA agents seized personal cell phones of dispensary workers, along with dried cannabis, but left computers and about $1,000 in cash at Bayside, according to employee Addy Norton. Agents told her the raid was part of a two-year investigation.

Norton said she was scheduled to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle in September.

"We are still open!" an employee posted on Bayside Gardens' Facebook page. "We may not have meds at the moment but we are still open! They will not keep us down!

Mexico: Marines Capture Head of Zetas Drug Cartel; Will Do Little To Stem Supply

MiguelAngelTrevino

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Mexican Marines announced late on Monday that they have captured Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, 40, also known as "Z-40," the head of the infamous Zetas drug cartel, known as the most violent crime organization in Mexico.

In recent years, the Zetas have been blamed for tens of thousands of gruesome deaths south of the border, and untold atrocities in the United States. The U.S. State Department had offered a $5 million reward for Treviño Morales, reports CBS News.

Officials claimed no shots were fired and three men were arrested, with $2 million in U.S. cash and multiple guns seized. One of the other two men was in charge of finances and the other was a bodyguard, according to Eduardo Sanchez Hernandez, Mexico's assistant secretary of media and security.

Sanchez Hernandez did not answer when asked what role the United States played in the capture, which took place in Anahuac, Mexico. Treviño Morales' truck was halted by a Marine helicopter gunship.

The Zetas cartel is notorious for civilian killings and beheadings. Its leaders ordered the killing of 72 undocumented immigrants in 2010 in what is known as the San Fernando Massacre. In May, the Mexican Army said the Zetas cartel left 49 mutilated bodies in a northern Mexico town square.

Colorado: Marijuana Legalization Debate Monday Between Former DEA Head and DPA's Nadelmann

NadelmannHutchinsonDebate

Marijuana Legalization Continues Rapid Shift From Fringes to Mainstream of U.S. and International Politics

Debate Will Be Live-Streamed on YouTube on July 1

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond are gathering in Aspen, Colorado, to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics.

The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1 (10:20 am-11:20 am Mountain Time / 12:20-1:20 Eastern), Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as this segment on CNN’s Crossfire.

Colorado: It'll Be DPA vs. DEA In High-Profile Debate On Marijuana Legalization

AspenIdeasFestival

2013 Aspen Ideas Festival to Feature Debate Between Former DEA Head Asa Hutchinson and DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann

Debate Will Be Live-Streamed on YouTube on July 1

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond will gather in Aspen, Colorado to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas.

The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics. The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1 (10:20 am-11:20 am Mountain Time / 12:20-1:20 Eastern), Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former Drug Enforcement Administration head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as this segment on CNN’s Crossfire.

Oregon: 15-Year Federal Prison Term For Medical Marijuana Grower

BriansGreenThumbFarmOregon2011

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A medical marijuana patient and grower whose farms were raided back in October 2011 was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison.

Brian Wayne Simmons, 40, of Medford, was sentenced by senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner on charges of conspiracy and "manufacturing/distributing" marijuana, reports the Medford Mail Tribune. Simmons was convicted after a four-day jury trial in December 2012.

He owned and operated Brian's Green Thumb Farm in Central Point, Oregon. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and local police raided the farm in October 2011, confiscating 456 "large" cannabis plants. Agents seized 64 more
plants at a second grow site near Medford.

The plants were described as ranging in height from five to eight feet, according to court records. Agents also confiscated what they claimed was "thousands of pounds of harvested marijuana" being processed at the two sites.

Prosecutors claimed Simmons had registered more than 20 patients as growers on his sites in an attempt to comply with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. At his trial, one of the patients who was registered as a grower at Simmons' farm testified she didn't know the other patients involved or tend the plants herself.

D.C.: Silver Tour Lobby Day Will Be First Ever Senior Marijuana Rally In Nation's Capitol

(Photo: The Wall Street Journal)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Imagine, if you will, a hundred angry senior citizens storming Capitol Hill in partnership with college students, demanding safe access to medical marijuana. With your support, that could happen next month -- at a crucial time.

Plans are being made for the first-ever senior marijuana rally and lobbying event in Washington, D.C., on June 17. The event is sponsored by a partnership of The Silver Tour and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).

The seniors will be in town to lobby the House of Representatives for passage of a budget amendment to prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states with legal cannabis. It is expected to come up for a vote in late June.

"If passed, it opens the door for other states that are holding back on medical or legalization for fear of the feds," said Robert Platshorn, leader of The Silver Tour, who was featured in the hit Showtime movie, Square Grouper. The Silver Tour was recently spotlighted on Jon Stewart's Daily Show, CNN Money and on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

Arizona: Marijuana Research Allowed At Universities... If Feds Approve

(Graphic: All Hat No Cattle)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Without comment, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into law a bill to allow possession of marijuana on college and university campuses for research. The measure, which takes effect later this year, was made necessary by a bill which Brewer signed last year, officially disallowing pot on campuses (yeah, good luck enforcing that one).

The bill Brewer signed on Tuesday, while leaving intact the ban on marijuana on college campuses, creates an exception for research approved by the FDA, the DEA or the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

And there's the bottleneck. Don't hold your breath, because the DEA never approves research requests, and the NIDA will only approve research designed from the outset to prove the bad effects of marijuana; no medical marijuana research is funded through that notoriously anti-pot agency.

Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, claimed the governor never intended to interfere with legitimate research when she signed the earlier bill, reports Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services.

U.S.: Marijuana Eradication By Law Enforcement Down By 60 Percent

(Photo: Randall Benton/The Sacramento Bee)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Law enforcement's eradication of marijuana plants has plunged by more than 60 percent in the last few years, from a record high of more than 20 million plants in 2009 and 2010 to fewer than 4 million plants in 2012, according to newly released federal statistics.

The number of cannabis plants eradicated dropped to 6,735,511 in 2011 and 3,933,950 in 2012, far less than goal of 9 million plants that the Drug Enforcement Administration had hoped to destroy, report Ryan J. Reilly and Matt Sledge at The Huffington Post.

Red-faced DEA officials blamed the steep decline in part on California, claiming in the agency's 2014 budget proposal that the Golden State's financial troubles resulted in "the decreased availability of local law enforcement personnel to assist in eradication efforts."

(Illustration: The Huffington Post)The DEA also claimed that "drug trafficking organizations" are shifting their cultivation efforts from public lands to private grow areas, and that those who do still grow in parks and on other public land tend to locate in "vast mountainous regions, which are more difficult for law enforcement to detect and reach."

U.S.: Obama Continues To Fund Punishment Over Treatment In Drug Budget

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Despite the rhetoric from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) about a "21st Century Drug Policy" and their use of the hashtag #DrugPolicyReform on Twitter, President Barack Obama's budget continues to emphasize punishment and interdiction (supply reduction) programs over treatment and prevention (demand reduction) programs, to the tune of 58 percent to 42 percent.

It's a classic case of throwing good money after bad, of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Forty-two years after President Richard Nixon declared a "War On Drugs," the chief casualties are civil liberties and individual privacy rights, with drugs being more easily available than when the "War" (which is really on people, not on drugs) was declared.

The portion of federal drug control spending going to domestic law enforcement in the fiscal year 2014 budget increases slightly from 2012's 38.5 percent ($9.4 billion) and 2013's 38.1 percent ($9.3 billion) to 2014's 37.7 percent ($9.5 billion), an overall increase of 1.3 percent in two years.

U.S.: As More States Legalize Marijuana, Supporters See Big Future For Hemp

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With a tide of marijuana legalization poised to sweep across the United States, supporters of industrial hemp see a burgeoning market opening up and big profits for American farmers if they are allowed to grow the crop.

Hemp, like marijuana, is a variety of the cannabis plant; even though most industrial hemp contains little or no THC -- the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- federal drug laws don't differentiate between the varieties, reports Angela Kocherga at KING 5.

"Although it comes from the same plant, it's like non-alcoholic beer," explained author Doug Fine, whose book Too High To Fail predicts a new "green economy."

"I can't give a rational explanation as to why something as valuable as hemp -- which other countries are making so much money off and importing to us -- why we're not growing this by the millions of acres," Fine said.

Federal law prohibits American farmers from growing the crop; a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with lots of security, would theoretically be required. But the DEA has never issued a single industrial hemp license, ever.

Congresswoman Co-Sponsors Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

There is a truth that must be heard!Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) Co-sponsors Congressional Bill to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Bill would allow states to set marijuana policies without federal interference

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-District 1) this week joined the effort to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. Rep. Pingree, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, on Monday, joining a bipartisan group of supporters in the House. There are currently 14 co-sponsors of the bill.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on February 5 introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol at the federal level. It would also remove marijuana from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and place it in the jurisdiction of a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.

Michigan: Marijuana Defendant Gets 11 Years For 6 Tons

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

One of nine defendants in a six-ton marijuana bust in Michigan was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 years and three months in federal prison.

Patrick O'Meara was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo, reports John Agar at Mlive.com.

O'Mera had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver marijuana in the 12,000-pound marijuana bust from October 2011.

Earlier, Judge Maloney had sentenced Tony Frank Disla-Santiago to 11 years, three months. Angel Luis De Leon-De Jesus got six years, six months; Flavio Ramos got five years, three months; and Anthony Castro-Gonzales was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration had tracked the shipment, which they claimed had a street value of $12 million.

A DEA special agent in Indianapolis told authorities that a semi loaded with marijuana was headed to a specific location in the city of Wyoming, Michigan. Law enforcement were watching the warehouse as the cannabis was unloaded.

According to the federal indictment, the defendants conspired to possess and distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana from 2009 through October 21, 2011.

U.S.: Congressmen Take Aim At Federal Marijuana Ban

Photo: THC FinderBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 43 years since the Nixon Administration kicked off the modern War On Drugs with the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act -- and a few members of Congress have begun a push to finally overturn the ban on marijuana.

About 10 lawmakers, mostly liberal Democrats, are writing bills they say will serve as legislative guideposts for the future if, as expected, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives ignores their proposals during this Congress, reports Raju Chebium of USA Today.

It's time to end the federal prohibition on cannabis, according to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), because 18 states have legalized medical marijuana and many others are also exploring that option due to growing public support.

"Maybe next year, maybe next Congress, but this is going to change," Blumenauer said. "And the federal government will get out of the way."

"I'm very patient," Blumenauer explained. "I've been working on this one way or another for 40 years, and I think the likelihood of something happening in the next four or five years is greater than ever."

Meanwhile, the old guard of prohibitionists keeps beating the drum for the status quo in the War On Drugs.

U.S.: Former DEA Heads Urge Justice Department To Block Marijuana Legalization

Source: Salem-NewsBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Seeking to thwart the will of the voters of Colorado and Washington state, former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration are pushing for continuation of the disastrous policies of the War On Marijuana. For the second time in six months, the former DEA heads have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to block state-level efforts to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

On Tuesday, the former DEA heads sent a letter to Holder calling on him to block implementation of new laws in Colorado and Washington. Holder will appear on Wednesday before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The ex-DEA directors sent a similar letter to Holder back in September, urging him to speak out against the marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, as he had done in October 2010 before California's Proposition 19 legalization vote.

But the White House and Attorney General this time chose to remain silent, allowing citizens in Washington and Colorado to vote without the threat of federal obstruction. Both initiatives won with about 55 percent of the vote, exceeding President Obama's margin of victory in Colorado as well as the margins of victory by the candidates for governor and attorney general in Washington state.

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