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Canada: Toronto Mayor Admits Smoking 'A Lot' of Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Wednesday admitted that he's smoked "a lot" of marijuana.

After a campaign address, Mayor Ford took questions from reporters, and was asked if he had ever smoked pot, reports The Guardian.

"Oh yeah," the mayor said, chuckling. "I won't deny that. I smoked a lot of it."

Ford would not answer when asked how recently he had smoked weed.

The mayor made world headlines earlier this year when allegations surfaced that he was caught on video smoking crack cocaine. The video has not been publicly released, and Ford has refused to step down.

"I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I am addict of crack cocaine," he said.

Ford admitted three years ago that he was charged with driving under the influence and marijuana possession in Florida in the 1990s.

He pleaded "no contest" to the impaired driving charge, and the drug charge was dropped.

Ford was asked about his cannabis consumption after Liberals leader Justin Trudeau admitted that he smoked a joint three years ago, while a member of Parliament. Trudeau said that marijuana should be legalized and regulated.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne joined the chorus on Wednesday, admitting she smoked "a little pot" about 35 years ago.

Washington: Man Tries To Shoot Marijuana Into Jail Using Arrow


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Washington state man is accused of trying to get marijuana into a county jail by attaching it to an arrow he shot onto the roof of the facility.

An employee of the Whatcom County Sheriff's Department saw the man get out of his pickup truck Tuesday morning and use a bow to launch the arrow toward the second-floor recreation area atop the jail, but he missed his target, reports Barry Leibowitz at CBS News.

The marijuana was reportedly wrapped in a plastic bag taped to the center of the arrow.

The man, identified as David Wayne Jordan, 36, was arrested for investigation of introducing contraband into the jail, resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement, said Sheriff Bill Elfo.

Jordan reportedly served 20 days in the jail earlier this month for assault and resisting arrest, according to the Bellingham Herald.

The sheriff said Jordan told deputies he'd been aiming the arrow at a squirrel, but had no explanation why he attached cannabis to the arrow to go squirrel hunting.

(Photo: CBS Seattle)

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says Obama Administration Wrong Not To Challenge Legal Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's no wonder that New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has been foot-dragging for years when it comes to implementation of his state's medical marijuana law, signed by his Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine on Corzine's last day in office: He really hates cannabis.

While speaking to a crowd in Point Pleasant, N.J., on Thursday, Gov. Christie said the Obama Administration's decision to not legally challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington was "a mistake" that essentially legalizes cannabis, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger. Christie vowed that "will never happen" in New Jersey while he is governor. But something tells me Christie doesn't have to worry about a second term.

Christie was responding to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that the Obama Administration would not challenge the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to legalize marijuana possession.

"Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department is deferring its right to challenge the legalization laws at this time," the memo read. "Marijuana is and remains illegal under federal law."

Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, claimed Holder overstepped his authority.

New Hampshire: Man Gets Year In Jail After Being Spotted In 'How To Grow Marijuana' Videos


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Hampshire man was busted after accidentally appearing in "How to Grow Marijuana" videos he uploaded to YouTube.

Kyle Berry, 40, didn't want to appear in the 35 anonymous clips he posted, not realizing that his face was reflecting off a shiny surface in his grow room, and that his name was on a package from a marijuana seed company, reports Lee Moran of the New York Daily News.

Berry said that was was growing the cannabis for his own use after undergoing 17 surgeries, reports Ray Brewer at WMUR-TV. But on Tuesday he pleaded guilty to "manufacturing a controlled substance" and was sentenced to a year in jail, with four months suspended, and fined $500.

"Showing how to grow it, how to set it up, what chemicals he uses, where he gets his seeds," said Assistant Rockingham County Attorney Jerome Blanchard. "He's very detailed about how he is doing it."

After being tipped off to the video's, authorities started watching them for clues; that's when they saw Berry's face and also noticed that he showed his name on a package addressed to him.

"In a video dated Oct. 17, 2012, the defendant showed a package received from the United Kingdom containing marijuana seeds that shows the postage from the Royal Mail," Blanchard said. "The package had the defendant's name on it."

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


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.

Argentina: Dealers Arrested For Using Carrier Pigeons To Distribute Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three men in Argentina have been arrested after using carrier pigeons to distribute marijuana.

The men, in the Lomas de Zamora district of Buenos Aires, allegedly tied up to 13 grams of cananbis around the birds' necks, making around 20 delivers a day, reports Lee Moran at the New York Daily News.

Law enforcement got wind of the feathery felons after discovering a pigeon carrying a small package packed with pot.

"It was released and we were able to follow it," a police spokesman told Manuel Rueda of ABC News. "Then it was a question of waiting and following again."

The three men, who had allegedly trained the birds to fly the marijuana from their farm to a distribution point, were arrested.

Cops said it wasn't very far between the two locations, so the pigeons could transport "substantial amounts" every day.

"We talked to pigeon trainers and they told us that these pigeons were capable of making up to 20 trips per day," Police Chief Nesto Larrauri said. "With pigeons they could ship their drugs without taking any risks."

Police said the birds were housed in the building where their owners sold cannabis. They would be driven to the house where the marijuana was produced, and once they were loaded up with ganja, they would faithfully fly back home.

U.S.: Senator Leahy Schedules Federal Marijuana Hearing, Calls For Respect For State Laws


Attorney General Holder Invited to Hearing Scheduled for September 10

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senator Patrick Leahy (D–VT) on Monday invited Attorney General Eric Holder to a September 10 hearing to clarify the federal response to states that have passed marijuana laws in conflict with federal policy.

"It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal," Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Monday, reports US News.

"I believe that these state laws should be respected," Leahy said. "At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government."

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and Colorado and Washington last year became the first places in the world to legalize and regulate marijuana for personal use.

Holder has been saying that an announcement clarifying the federal response to these new state laws would be coming “soon” since last year. In the meantime, the federal government has continued to crack down on medical marijuana providers, leaving states and local communities unsure how best to proceed.

New Zealand: Sentence Halved for Medical Marijuana Activist


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A medical marijuana activist in New Zealand has had his home detention sentence cut in half after a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

Activist William McKee, 58, was originally sentenced to 12 months' home detention, reports the Aeotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (ALCP). He promoted the medical use of marijuana through a website called GreenCross, which seeks a change in the law to make cannabis available for medicinal purposes.

A police investigation was reportedly prompted by activity on the site about selling and distributing cannabis.

An undercover police officer made several cannabis purchases, totaling $305, over four months after initially contacting McKee in February 2010.

McKee has known the value of medical marijuana for 37 years now, since the amputation of one leg after he was injured in a hit-and-run accident just after his 21st birthday. Before and after the amputation, he found that self-medicating with cannabis brought him the most effective relief.

According to McKee, the undercover officer had talked him into selling the cannabis by claiming severe headaches. McKee had unsuccessful tried to get the officer to become a GreenCross cardholder, which would have given the policeman a medical exemption.

McKee told the court the small sales he made, after much "wheedling" from the undercover officer, should have been regarded as entrapment.

New Zealand: Cannabis Advocate Runs For Mayor


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Zealand cannabis legalization advocate Dakta Green, who's been jailed two times for possession of marijuana, has entered the race for mayor of the Ruapehu District.

Green, 63, is back in his home town of Taumarunui after a 40-year absence and said he wants to make a mark, reports Merania Karauria at The New Zealand Herald. The activist has bought the former freezing works administration centre, and wants to turn it into a museum.

The mayoral candidate is also the founder of New Zealand's most visible cannabis club, The Daktory. His motto is "Live like it's legal."

"Alcohol and tobacco are dangerous drugs but are legally available," Green said in 2010. "Cannabis causes less harm to our community."

"The cannabis laws are wrong," Green said. "They are fueled by a pernicious prejudice and perpetuate harmful stereotypes that adversely affect users and their families."

According to Green, cannabis is more natural, healthier option than other drugs, and does not fuel crime. "You smoke a joint right now, you're not going to all of a sudden going to be overcome with the urge to go out and rob a bank or belt somebody over the head," he said. "There's nothing within cannabis that turns you into a criminal."

U.S.: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Slams Federal Marijuana Policy - 'This Is Hypocrisy'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta slammed federal marijuana policy in a Tuesday interview with Anderson Cooper, following up on his August 7 apology for having opposed medicinal cannabis before reversing his position.

"The U.S. holds a patent [on marijuana] on one hand, and on the other hand, same government says it has no medical applications," Gupta told Cooper, reports Arturo Garcia at The Raw Story. "Journalists are trained to hate hypocrisy. This is hypocrisy. I've never seen it quite like this."

Sanjay explained that the Department of Health and Human Services holds a patent on medical marijuana as "a protectant for the brain," even while classifying cannabis as a Schedule I drug with "no accepted medical uses."

The patent states that "cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia."

Texas: Cops Mistake Tomato Plants For Marijuana; Raid Hippie Commune


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police in Arlington, Texas could really use some brushing up on their "drug recognition" techniques after conducting an August 2 raid on the Garden of Eden, a hippie commune/organic farm, handcuffing the residents at gunpoint and damaging both the property and the crops.

"They can't even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel," Garden of Eden resident Quinn Eaker told Ben Russell of NBC 5. "That's just really bad intel."

Several residents at the 3.5-acre sustainability garden were handcuffed at gunpoint by police officers during the raid -- which also involved a paramilitary SWAT team -- after an undercover officer and "helicopter surveillance" (yes, these morons were wasting taxpayer dollars spying on a hippie commune from a helicopter) supposedly gave law enforcement "probable cause" to believe pot was being grown on the premises.

"They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation," owner Shellie Smith told WFAA. "They destroyed everything."

Smith said officers took away their food, and everything they need for a sustainable lifestyle.

Washington: Marijuana DUI Patrols Planned for Seattle Hempfest


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With up to 200,000 expected in Seattle this weekend for Hempfest, cops looking to make "marijuana DUI" arrests -- whether those charged are actually impaired or not -- are going to have a target-rich environment.

The world's largest pot rally, hits the Seattle waterfront this weekend -- and it's probably not a coincidence that Washington state's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign starts at the same time, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The Drive Sober campaign runs from August 16 through September 2, reports Ben Livingston at SF Gate, and it will especially focus on catching drivers who have been smoking marijuana.

"Officers can tell when a driver is experiencing other effects of marijuana influence such as relaxed inhibitions, altered perception of time and distance, disorientation, incomplete thought processes and increased pulse," a clueless press release from law enforcement, customized county by county for the state, tells us.

New York City Comptroller Releases Report Detailing Costs of Marijuana Prohibition


Report Calls for the Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana for Adults

Advocates Demand a Comprehensive Overhaul of New York’s Racially Biased and Broken Marijuana Policies

New York City Comptroller John Liu on Tuesday announced the release of a report calling for a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adult recreational use. The report, to be released Wednesday (August 14), comes two days after Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin condemned the city’s police department’s use of stop and frisk – which has resulted in 600,000 unlawful arrests for marijuana possession since 1997 – as racially-biased.

That same day, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for Americans to rethink the “unintended consequences” of the War On Drugs. Comptroller Liu’s report details the problems associated with marijuana arrests in New York City -- including racial disparities and the impact of saddling young people with a permanent criminal arrest record -- and the overall financial costs of marijuana prohibition.

The report comes at a time when the federal government and states around the country are engaged in a significant review of drug policies generally and marijuana policies in particular. On Monday, Attorney General Holder noted that the war on drugs has resulted in “the decimation of certain communities, in particular of communities of color” and directed federal prosecutors to develop guidelines for some drug sentencing issues to be handled on the state or local level.

California: Marijuana First Banned In State 100 Years Ago


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 100 years since California became the first states in the U.S. to ban marijuana. Weed historian and cannabis legalization advocate Dale Gieringer says the key date is August 10, 1913, when the state Board of Pharmacy was authorized to add "loco-weed" to the state's Poison Act.

"They began launching raids," said Gieringer, state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Christina Villacorte at the Los Angeles Daily News. "Law enforcement would pose as addicts who needed a fix but didn't have a doctor's note, then arrest the druggist."

"The 1913 law received no public notice in the press, but was passed as an obscure technical amendment by the State Board of Pharmacy, which was then leading one of the nation's earliest and most aggressive anti-narcotics campaigns," Gieringer reports on CA NORML's website. "Inspired by anti-Chinese sentiment, California was a nationally recognized pioneer in the war on drugs."

The bill passed with no public debate, according to Gieringer. It was opposed by the state's druggists, but the Legislature passed it unanimously, and it went into effect on August 10, 1913.

Survey: Americans Skeptical of Value of Enforcing Marijuana Laws


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's proposal to dial back mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders will likely find a receptive audience among Americans, whose attitudes towards marijuana use are the most relaxed they've ever been. Americans, research shows, are highly skeptical of the value of enforcing marijuana laws.

A March survey from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans believe enforcing the marijuana laws costs more than they are worth, reports Andrea Caumont at Pew. Sixty percent said the federal government should not enforce federal laws against cannabis in states where it is legal.

There is broad agreement across partisan and demographic groups that enforcing the marijuana laws is not worth the cost. While some partisan differences exist, 78 percent of independents, 71 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans said marijuana enforcement costs more than it is worth.

Older Americans are less likely to say enforcing the marijuana laws is too costly: 63 percent of those older than 65 say this, compared with 72 percent of those aged 50-64, 73 percent of those aged 30-49 and 76 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds.

New York: Federal Judge Rules Stop-and-Frisk Policy Unconstitutional


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The controversial "stop-and-frisk" tactics of the New York Police Department violate constitutional rights and must be changed, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

The ruling, from Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, results from a class-action lawsuit alleging that NYPD officers routinely stop minority men, particularly blacks and Latinos, without legally defensible reasons, reports CNN.

An outside monitor will be appointed to oversee changes to the NYPD policy, Judge Scheindlin said.

The police had claimed the controversial policy -- in which police stop, question and search people they consider "suspicious" -- helps to deter crime, but the practice is widely criticized, especially because of its use primarily against minorities.

The lead plaintiff in the case is medical student David Floyd, who was stopped twice, once in the middle of the afternoon in front of his Bronx home, according to the 2008 lawsuit.

The trial, featuring nine weeks of testimony, ended in May. It featured testimony both from police officers who say quotas "forced" them to make unnecessary stops, and from men who say police stopped them for no reason.

While attorneys for New York City claimed that one man was stopped because he "appeared to be smoking marijuana," the plaintiffs' attorneys argued that he was simply talking on a cell phone.

U.S.: Eric Holder Calls For Major Drug Sentencing Reforms


Bipartisan Support Grows In Congress for Overhauling U.S. Drug Laws

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a Monday speech to the American Bar Association, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce major federal sentencing changes, including dropping the use of mandatory minimum sentencing in certain drug cases, expediting the release of certain nonviolent elderly prisoners, leaving more offenses to state courts to deal with, and working with Congress to pass bipartisan sentencing reform.

In the future, many low-level charges against dealers not judged to be part of a large gang or cartel will no longer detail how much they were caught with, side-stepping the federal minimum sentencing laws, reports Dan Roberts at The Guardian. A memo outlining the new policy will be sent out to U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department, reports CBS This Morning

California: Tailgating of Deputy Leads To Bust of Marijuana Grow


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Never ride the cops' bumper, man. A man getting stopped for allegedly tailgating a Humboldt County sheriff's deputy led to the discovery of an illegal marijuana grow site allegedly run by the driver.

The deputy was driving a marked patrol truck southbound on U.S. Highway 101 near Eureka when a pickup truck came up behind him in the fast lane, reports the Eureka Times-Standard. The truck remained behind him, and the deputy felt he was being followed a little too closely.

The deputy pulled into the slow lane, and the truck passed him at an estimated 80 miles per hour in a 65-mph zone. The deputy caught back up with the truck and pulled it over.

The driver, Kevin Bourque, 34, of Eureka, was asked to step out of the truck, along with his two passengers. A search of the vehicle turned up a bag containing about a pound of cannabis, paperwork indicating marijuana sales, and about $14,500 in cash, according to the deputy.

A search warrant was obtained for a Eureka address found on papers in the car. At that residence, deputies found and confiscated 497 growing marijuana plants ranging from three inches to four feet in height, along with about 29 pounds of dried marijuana flowers.

Bourque was busted for transportation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and violation of probation. Additional charges for conspiracy to commit a felony and cultivation of marijuana are being sought.

Texas: 2-Year-Old Dies After Being Taken From Pot-Smoking Parents, Placed In Abusive Foster Home


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The war on marijuana has claimed another victim. A two-year-old little girl who was taken away from her parents because they smoked pot in their Round Rock, Texas home died Monday night, seven months after being placed in abusive foster homes.

Alexandria Hill was taken away from Joshua Hill and his wife for "neglectful supervision" simply because they admitted using marijuana while the child slept, reports Michael Allen at Opposing Views. She was placed in an abusive foster home contracted by Child Protective Services.

"She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag," Hill told KVUE-TV. "It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to to have me arrested because I wouldn't let her go back."

Alexandria was placed in a second foster home, with Sherill Small in Rockdale, Texas, seven months ago. The toddler was rushed to a hospital Monday night with severe head injuries. On Wednesday night, she was taken off life support and died.

"They wouldn't tell me what condition she was in or what was wrong or what had happened," Hill said. "The only thing they would tell me is I needed to be there. When I got there, I found out that Alex was in a coma."

U.S.: DEA Using NSA and CIA Intelligence to Spy on and Arrest U.S. Citizens for Drugs


Agency Manufacturing Cover Investigations to Mislead Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys

Latest of Many Recent DEA Scandals

Drug Policy Alliance: Congress Should Hold Hearings Reviewing DEA and U.S. Drug Policy from Top-to-Bottom

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In what many have called a blatant abuse of power that strips Americans of their fundamental constitutional rights, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other agencies to spy on American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs.

Moreover, according to an exclusive Reuters investigation, DEA agents are actively creating fake investigative trails to disguise where the information originated, a scheme that prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and others are arguing has robbed defendants of their right to a fair trial. Hundreds or thousands of cases could be affected.

“The DEA increasingly qualifies as a rogue agency – one that Congress needs to immediately investigate,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “This latest scandal may well be just the tip of the iceberg.”

The scandal, which comes in the wake of revelations that the federal government’s is collecting sensitive information on hundreds of millions of innocent Americans, is just one crisis of credibility the DEA faces. Other DEA scandals include:

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