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Florida: County Commissioner Proposes Reducing Sheriff's Budget For Each Pot Bust Made


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A county commissioner in northern Florida has been talking with local law enforcement officials about ways to reduce the number of marijuana arrests in the county, and he's come up with a novel approach. As an incentive to get deputies to turn a blind eye to pot, Alachua County Commissioner Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson has proposed reducing the sheriff’s budget by a set amount for each arrest made.

Hutchinson said he believes the focus should be on treatment instead of incarceration. Reducing the budget would steer the Sheriff's Office toward using its resources on more pressing concerns, he said, reports Beatrice Dupuy at

Not surprisingly, Sheriff Sadie Darnell is opposed to that plan to dock her office's funding, and no other commissioners have signed on to it. But the various players, including State Attorney Bill Cervone, Public Defender Stacy Scott and others said they are open to discussions on how to deal with marijuana as long as it remains illegal, reports staff writer Cindy Swirko at

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul Claims Marijuana Use 'Not Healthy', Causes 'Loss of IQ'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Wanna-be libertarian Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is at it again. On Thursday, he repeated his personal opposition to marijuana use, but he went farther than that -- way farther. He also claimed pot use is "not healthy" and causes a "loss of IQ."

"Wait a minute," you may be thinking. "I thought libertarians favored letting people make their own decisions about such things." Well, if that's so, then maybe Sen. Paul isn't a libertarian. Maybe he's just some ignorant, conservative loudmouth who, unfortunately, also managed to get himself elected to the U.S. Senate.

"I personally think that marijuana use is not healthy," Sen. Paul told the Las Vegas Sun in an interview published on Wednesday. "People that use it chronically have a loss of IQ and a loss of ambition, but at the same time states have the right to make these decisions."

Would it be too much to ask to expect Sen. Paul to base his public pronouncements about pot on actual facts rather than 20th Century misinformation? Apparently so.

U.S.: Psychology Professor Calls Trayvon Martin Marijuana-Induced Aggression Claims 'Laughable'


"Mr. Martin could not have been intoxicated with marijuana at the time of the shooting; the amount of THC found in his system was too low for it to have had any meaningful effect on him." ~ Dr. Carl Hart

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Claims that Trayvon Martin was aggressive and paranoid from smoking marijuana, and that that led him to attack George Zimmerman, are "laughable," according to Dr. Carl L. Hart, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University and author of the book High Price, who wrote a New York Times op/ed on the case.

The judge in the racially charged, nationally followed case decided earlier this week that the jury could be shown Martin's toxicology report, which shows that he had traces of marijuana in his system.

"As a neuropsychopharmacologist who has spent 15 years studying the neurophysiological, psychological and behavioral effects of marijuana, I find this line of reasoning laughable," Hart wrote in The New York Times.

The toxicology report, which was conducted the morning after Trayvon was killed, found just 1.5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in his body. "This strongly suggests he had not ingested marijuana for at least 24 hours," Hart wrote.

D.C.: Washington Lawyers' Committee To Release Report On Racial Disparities In Arrests In Nation's Capital


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs on Friday will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to announce the release of a groundbreaking report on racial disparities in arrests in the District of Columbia.

The press conference will be held at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s offices, 11 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036.

The report, Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia, 2009-2011: Implications for Civil Rights and Criminal Justice in the Nation’s Capital, includes a detailed analysis of more than 142,000 arrest records for the period 2009–2011. It proposes a number of key recommendations to address the identified racial disparities.

The Committee’s work on this study was greatly assisted by a Judicial Advisory Panel of Senior and Retired DC and Federal Judges and a team of lawyers at Covington & Burling LLP who served as the report’s principal authors.

The members of the Judicial Advisory Panel are: John M. Ferren, senior judge, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Rufus G. King III, senior judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia; James Robertson, retired judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; Ricardo M. Urbina, retired judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; and Patricia M. Wald, retired chief judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Texas: Army Veteran Loses Gun Rights For 1971 Misdemeanor Marijuana Conviction


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Army veteran who retired in 1993 after 20 years of military service is fighting to restore his Second Amendment rights after learning when trying to buy a gun that he can't own one -- due to a marijuana misdemeanor from 42 years ago.

Ron Kelly was in high school when he got busted for pot in 1971, reports Cheryl K. Chumley at The Washington Times.

Kelly said he'd forgotten all about the pot charge when he tried to buy a .22 rifle at the Wal-Mart in Tomball, Texas. But the clerk told him he didn't pass the computerized background check, reports Dane Schiller at the Houston Chronicle.

Federal law, specifically the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, says that any person convicted of a crime -- even a misdemeanor -- that carries the potential for two years in jail can be denied gun ownership, The Blaze's Jason Howerton reports.

Kelly said he he'd spent the night in jail back in 1971, and served a year of probation. He didn't know he'd lost his gun rights, and meanwhile, he estimated he'd fired more than 100,000 rounds while serving in the Army infantry.

Tennessee: Governor's Task Force Wastes Taxpayer Dollars In Annual Marijuana Boondoggle


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

What has the American mainstream press come to? To get the real story behind a "marijuana eradication" article from Tennessee, readers have to go to the comment section.

In a futile, expensive annual boondoggle, National Guard and Highway Patrol helicopters are circling the skies of Tennessee. Are they looking for prison escapees, or perhaps dangerous terrorists? No; they're searching for flowers.

"THP, Alcoholic Beverage Commission, National Guard counter-drug unit work every year to eradicate marijuana, which is a gateway drug," LaFollette Police Chief Jim Jeffries said, demonstrating his inability to complete even one sentence about cannabis without lying. (The so-called Gateway Theory was scientifically disproven years ago.)

Tennessee, you see, has a Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication comprised of several law enforcement agencies, reports Stephanie Beecken of 6 News. For several months each year, law enforcement officials search the state for marijuana plants; they are currently focused on East Tennessee, where much of the state's cannabis crop is grown

U.S.: Marc Emery's Transfer To Canada Approved


The federal government of the United States has approved a prisoner transfer application for self-styled Prince of Pot Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana seed merchant serving a five-year sentence for mailing seeds to the U.S.

The transfer must also be signed off upon by Canadian authorities before Emery can return to Canada, according to Cannabis Culture.

Emery's lawyer confirmed to his wife Jodie that American authorities have approved his transfer.

Canadian authorities have, so far, not commented.

Ohio: Deputy Sheriff Pleads Not Guilty To Marijuana Charge


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Summit County Deputy Sheriff pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday after police discovered two bags of marijuana on his possession Saturday in Youngstown, Ohio, reports WKBN.

When they stopped Darrell Joy, 41, for failing to display a front license plate, cops said they saw a bag of pot in plain view in Joy's left breast pocket; they also claimed he "smelled strongly" of marijuana, reports

Police said Joy told them he is a law enforcement officer, and that he had taken the weed "off of some kid."

Police said they then found another, larger baq of marijuana in Joy's right front pants pocket. Joy said he found both bags on the ground at a function he attended, and that he took them so that kids wouldn't find them, and that he planned to "destroy them" later. (Likely by burning it a little at the time.)

Joy faces charges of "marijuana abuse" and failing to display a front license plate after being stopped by police at 7:29 p.m. on Saturday night, reports The Columbus Dispatch.

Police seized two small plastic bags of marijuana, a loaded .45-caliber pistol, and Joy's badge and deputy identification.

U.S.: American Drug War II Is IMDB's Highest Rated 2013 Documentary


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

"American Drug War II: Cannabis Destiny" is currently rated highest among all 2013 documentaries on IMDB, the Internet Movie Database, with a score of 9.7 out of 10, according to the film's makers.

The documentary focuses on the failed U.S. Drug War and its effect on a new generation. As IMDB states, "Director Kevin Booth navigates through the cutting edge of cannabis research while becoming a foster parent to a child ordered to take powerful mind altering drugs."

"It has been one of the greatest professional experiences of my life to work with Kevin Booth and his team," said Robert Kane, CFO and senior vice president of business development at X-Change Corp. "It is a privilege to be part of the project from the inception of the business plan, through production and release.

"To have it #1 on this year's IMDB highest rated documentary list is telling of the quality of production and the power of the film's message," Kane said. "This is important because the story speaks to our country's failed drug policy within a context of inhumane effects on children in need of treatment.

"We are thankful that the documentary includes the poignant story of little Cash Hyde," Kane said. "The interest in this film is a game changing moment for both the film and entertainment industry as well as the cannabis industry as the film's success establishes that the market is primed for further investment from media and entertainment giants to support, fund, and invest in related projects."

Oregon: Marijuana Dispensary Bill Headed To Governor's Desk


'These Oregon bills cumulatively amount to the the best legislative session for marijuana law reform in U.S. history' ~ Paul Stanford

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon House on Saturday gave final approval to a bill legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries, handing medicinal cannabis advocates a major victory. HB 3460 now heads to the desk of Governor John Kitzhaber.

The bill creates a registry of dispensaries that sell medical marijuana. Advoates argued that Oregon's rules, which require patients to grow their own cannabis or designate someone else to do it for them, are unrealistic, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian.

Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) and the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), which owns Hemp News, said the bill represents major progress.

"On behalf of Oregon's medical marijuana patients, I thank the Oregon Legislature for passing HB 3460 to establish a legal, regulated, safe, reliable retail system for qualified patients to purchase medical marijuana," Stanford told Hemp News on Saturday. "I urge Governor John Kitzhaber to sign this bill, and thank the Governor for already signing several other good, progressive bills to reform marijuana laws over the last few weeks.

Illinois: Guy Busted For Pot In Drug Rehab


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Gotta give the guy points for panache.

An Illinois man on Wednesday was charged with possession of marijuana after an employee at a drug rehabilitation center smelled pot in the man's room.

Lavelle Peete, 51, of the 900 block of East Lake Street, Aurora, allegedly admitted having the marijuana stashed inside an unused electrical outlet at the rehab facility in the 1600 block of North Farnsworth Avenue, police said, reports The Beacon-News.

Police reportedly took Peete into custody at 4:20 p.m.

U.K.: Up To 1/3 Of Stolen Electricity In Britain Used To Grow Cannabis


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United Kingdom's energy regulator on Wednesday proposed new rules to combat electricity theft, revealing that up to one-third of the power stolen each year goes to grow illegal cannabis.

"Theft of electricity increases the costs paid by customers and can have serious safety consequences," claimed Chiara Redaelli, an economist at Ofgem, which regulates energy in Britain.

"It leads to misallocation of costs among suppliers that can distort competition, and hamper the efficient functioning of the market," Redaelli claimed. "It also has links to organized crime, and in particular cannabis cultivation."

Up to 25,000 cases of electricity theft take place each year in the U.K., according to Ofgem, and this costs the industry at least 200 million pounds ($304 million), about 7 pounds or $10 per customer.

About one-third of the stolen electricity is used to power the lights under which marijuana is grown, according to Ofgem.

The high level of cannabis-related electricity theft is due to the intensive energy requires of marijuana farming, according to Redaelli. She said illegal pot farms each consume around 12,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or electricity per month -- 40 times more than the average domestic consumption of 300 kWh per month.

"This consumption is often not paid for, either because it is unrecorded (because of meter tampering) or because the bill is not paid," Redaelli claimed.

U.S.: Border Patrol Considers Equipping Anti-Drug Smuggling Drones With Weapons


By Steve Elliott

Four years ago when U.S. Customs and Border Protection first announced its use of unmanned drones to patrol for drug smugglers along the border with Mexico, many of us in the cannabis community wondered just how long it would take them to equip those drones with weapons. That time may have come.

Newly revealed documents show the Border Patrol has already considered weaponizing anti-drug drones used along the border, reports Democracy Now.

According to a report submitted to Congress in 2010, the agency not only plans to increase the number of drones -- it has also seriously looked at equipping them with "non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize [targets of interest]."

Customs and Border Protection currently operates six Predator B aircraft from two locations. Four of them are based in Sierra Vista, Arizona, according to the agency, and two in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Each Predator, manufactured by General Atomics, costs you, the happy taxpayer, about $20 million.

Since CBP began using the unmanned drones in 20095, the agency claims it has seized 46,000 pounds of marijuana with the drone program. That may seem like a lot, but it represents only 0.003 percent of all cannabis the agency has confiscated over the past six years, according to Tom Barry, author of the book Border Wars.

California: Martial Arts Referee Gets 37 Months In Federal Prison For Growing Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Veteran martial-arts referee Josh Rosenthal on Tuesday was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, three years' probation and a $100 fine for his role in a large-scale pot-growing operation in Oakland, California.

The sentence matches the prison time recommended for Rosenthal in a January plea deal with federal prosecutors, though it shaves two years off his probation time, reports Steven Marrocco at USA Today.

Before copping a plea, Rosenthal faced from 10 years to life in prison, a $10 million fine and a minimum of five years' probation. Rosenthal had initially pleaded not guilty to drug charges.

Rosenthal was busted in April 2012 after federal agents busted an Oakland warehouse owned by Rosenthal and associate. Inside, agents found 1,356 marijuana plants they claimed were worth $6 million.

A regular at UFC events, Rosenthal oversaw several high-profile bouts. He officiated two MMA events in Utah and California over the past two months, despite his legal troubles. He earlier declined comment on his case.

Malaysia: Notorious For Drug Death Penalties, Pacific Nation Moves Toward Decriminalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Malaysia -- long notorious for its barbaric practice of hanging "drug traffickers" -- is moving towards decriminalization for users, according to Nancy Shukri, a government minister from the prime minister's office. While the new decrim plan would force drug users into treatment, many will no doubt be happy to exchange jail cells (or even hangman's nooses) for rehabilitation treatment beds.

Shukri's remarks came at the end of a high level meeting on drug policy and public health sponsored by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, reports Phillip Smith at Weedist. The meeting was held in connection with the 2013 International AIDS Conference held over the weekend in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) goal of a "drug-free region" by 2015 is "not realistic," according to Shukri, but smarter approaches by government authorities can lead to less dependence on drugs.

"There is no such thing as drug-free but we can control it by changing or shifting our policy," Shukri said. "Instead of looking at drug dependents as criminals, we should actually look at them as patients.

"Instead of bringing them to jail, we bring them to the clinic," Shukri said at a press conference after the AIDS conference ended.

Oregon: Mandatory Minimums Repealed For Drug Offenses; Probation Expanded For Marijuana


Strategy Intended To Avert Prison Growth

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Oregon Legislature has passed a broad criminal justice bill, HB 3194, that is projected to avert all of the state's anticipated prison growth over the next decade. The bill repeals mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, and expands the use of presumptive probation in marijuana offenses.

The Oregon House passed the measure last Wednesday by a vote of 40-18; the Oregon Senate approved it 19-11 on Monday.

Without action by the Legislature, Oregon's prison population was projected to grow by 2,000 inmates in the next 10 years. This growth, fueled mostly by nonviolent drug offenses, would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million.

In order to get Oregon a better return on its public safety dollars, state officials launched a bipartisan working group to analyze sentencing and corrections trends and to generate policy recommendations for the Legislature. The Oregon Commission on Public Safety used state-level data, the growing body of national research about what works in corrections, and meetings with criminal justice experts to develop the policy options that served as a foundation for HB 3194.

"Oregon's public safety package reflects an emerging national consensus on criminal justice policy that locking up more nonviolent offenders for longer prison terms isn't the best way to fight crime and reduce recidivism," said Adam Gelb, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' public safety performance project.

Florida: Scientology Leader's Twin Sister Arrested, Facing Marijuana Charges


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denise Gentile, 53, the twin sister of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was reportedly arrested in Florida in January for marijuana possession. The bust is making news as Gentile's pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 25.

Gentile was busted after police staked out a suspected drug house in Tampa, reports Sami K. Martin at the Christian Post. She was seen leaving the house and was pulled over by police.

When street cop Terrence Nemeth searched her car, he found nine blunts containing marijuana. Gentile told him she didn't know how the cigars had gotten into her car, and reportedly showed physical signs of intoxication.

Gentile blew a .119 and a .124 on two alcohol breathalyzer tests, significantly higher than Florida's .08 legal limit. She was arrested, charged with DUI, misdemeanor marijuana possession, and failure to yield.

Gentile, of Clearwater, is a well-known Scientologist herself, but the fact that her twin brother is leader of the Church of Scientology gives her much more public prominence, and also subjects her to scorn by the church, which strictly prohibits the use of any "drugs."

The church guidebook What Is Scientology? flatly states: "Scientologists are ... drug-free (none at all use illegal street drugs)."

The Church of Scientology says "The Truth About Drugs" materials, translated into 17 languages, are now being distributed in more than 180 countries.

Kentucky: State Police To Start Flyovers Searching For Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Kentucky State Police are resuming helicopter flyovers this summer as part of the agency's quixotic, expensive annual marijuana "eradication" campaign.

The boondoggle, which wastes untold police time and taxpayer money every year in a doomed fight against cannabis cultivation, is hampered this year by rising fuel costs. That, according to James Mayse at the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, means the whirlybirds won't spend as many hours in the air as they did in past years.

Instead of conducting blanket flyovers, the agency said it will target areas where marijuana has been frequently grown in the past, and will use tips from snitches to schedule areas for inspection.

State Police Trooper Stu Recke said a helicopter works out of one post for about a week during the summer doing "marijuana eradication" work.

The State Police agency also works with the Kentucky National Guard to fight marijuana cultivation, but that joint effort usually focuses on the eastern part of the state.

(Photo: Nashville City Paper)

Texas: Dallas Cowboys' Josh Brent Jailed After Postive Marijuana Test


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent has been thrown in Dallas County Jail after testing positive for marijuana, violating the terms of his $100,000 bond.

Brent may have to remain in jail until his September DUI manslaughter trial begins after his bail was declared insufficient on Thursday because of the positive marijuana test, report Selwyn Crawford and Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News.

Brent, 25, is charged in connection with a car crash last December in Irving, California. The crash killed his best friend and teammate, Jerry Brown, Jr. Brent's Mercedes S600 struck a curb, overturned and caught fire, reports Brian McIntyre at Yahoo! Sports.

Brent, who was driving, reportedly had a blood alcohol content level of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

A July 19 hearing had already been scheduled to determine whether Brent's bail should be declared insufficient after a May urine test found marijuana in his system.

That test was given on the same day state District Judge Robert D. Burns III had denied an earlier request by prosecutors to revoke Brent's bail, because, they alleged, he had been drinking alcohol, another violation of his bail terms.

California: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Banned In Bakersfield


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Local medical marijuana patients are looking for safe access after the Bakersfield City Council on Tuesday night voted to ban all medicinal cannabis dispensaries in the city, starting in August.

A small task force will be formed within 30 days to help clear out the pot shops after the ban kicks in, according to the city attorney's office, reports KGET.

"We'll discuss how many medical marijuana dispensaries are here in the city of Bakersfield," Gennaro said. "We'll discuss how many have received complaints, calls for services, etc. Then, really as a group, decide how we move forward, what process we are going to undertake to give us a very good case to proceed with at court." shows more than a dozen dispensaries in Bakersfield, but starting in August, with the new city ordinance, city officials hope to have none. The city already had one resolution banning pot shops, but the new ordinance will provide more legal power to close them down.

"This ordinance gives us some additional teeth should we decide to move forward and actually have to use the court power to close a medical marijuana dispensary," City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said.

But marijuana advocate Nathan Acuna said the decision is disappointing.

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