law enforcement

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California: L.A. Cannabis Task Force Calls For 9 Proposals To Reform Marijuana Industry

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Coalition of Cannabis Operators Dedicated to an Inclusive Cannabis Industry in Line with State Law

The Los Angeles City Council Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations, and Neighborhoods Committee on Friday heard public comments on Motion 14-0366-S5 for a proposed March 2017 ballot initiative to reform Proposition D.

The Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, a coalition of cannabis operators dedicated to the creation of a fair and vibrant cannabis industry that ensures a safe, lawful, and responsible climate for every entrepreneur, patient, and citizen of Los Angeles, issued a letter to Council and attended Friday's meeting to recommend common-sense proposals to create a transparent and responsible local licensing process.

“The City of Los Angeles needs a new medical cannabis policy, but the city’s proposal as drafted fails the public, business owners and patients — and is inconsistent with state laws," said Ariel Clark, a leading cannabis industry attorney at Clark Neubert and chair of the Task Force.

"Today, the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force proposed nine common sense amendments to the city’s proposal," Clark said. "If done right, reforms to LA’s medical cannabis industry can fund important education, healthcare and law enforcement programs; align city and state laws; reduce crime; and keep hardworking Angelenos on the right side of the law.

California: Santa Rosa Medical Marijuana Company Raided By Federal DEA Agents

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Care By Design (CBD Guild) production facilities in Santa Rosa, California and Sonoma County were searched and temporarily closed on Wednesday morning by local law enforcement and the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Law enforcement seized equipment, computers, product, payroll, and financial paperwork.

Care By Design produces an array of medical marijuana products for thousands of patients in California, including patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, PTSD and other intractable medical conditions.

Care By Design products are CBD-centric. CBD is a therapeutically beneficial compound that does not get people high, and can moderate the intoxicating effects of THC. Care By Design products are available in non-smokable formulations such as gel caps and oral sprays, and available in a variety of CBD:THC ratios so that patients can manage the psychoactive effects of medical marijuana.

Oregon: Clackamas County Sheriff Warns About 'Driving On Marijuana'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Clackamas County, Oregon Sheriff's Department on Thursday -- the first day of commercial sales to adults of cannabis concentrates, edibles and topicals under state legalization -- warned drivers not to operate motor vehicles while "impaired on marijuana."

"The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind people to use marijuana in a responsible manner," the department's prepared statement reads. "Additionally, operating a vehicle after consuming marijuana in any fashion is just as dangerous and illegal as driving while drunk.

"Marijuana is a substance that can adversely impair a person’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle and can contribute to crashes, often resulting in serious injuries and even death," the release from Sheriff Craig Roberts' office claims. "Marijuana can impair the user for a period of up to 24 hours — so please plan ahead to have a sober driver or a place to stay the night.

"During this upcoming weekend, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office will be joining other law-enforcement agencies in providing enhanced patrols in order to ensure the continued safety of the citizens we serve," the release reads. "Between June 2 and June 5, deputies assigned to this DUII task force will have an emphasized focus on enforcing traffic safety laws, while also detecting and arresting impaired drivers.

California: One In 10 People Say Police Took Cash, Property Without A Conviction

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Two new surveys find overwhelming public opposition in California to laws allowing law enforcement to seize and keep a person’s cash and property without a conviction

California Legislature considers reform to rein in abuse

In a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a startling 10 percent of adults living in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties said that they had had their property taken by a police officer without being convicted of a crime. Nearly one in five (19 percent) of those living in these three counties also stated that they know someone who had experienced the same.

One of the ways in which law enforcement can legally take property or money from people in the absence of a conviction is through civil asset forfeiture, a highly controversial policy that allows law enforcement officers to seize cash or property that they suspect has been involved in criminal activity, such as drug sales.

While California law offers greater protections, federal forfeiture laws do not require that police arrest or charge a person with a crime, or convict them. If the owner does not file a claim in civil court and prevail in the case, the property is permanently lost, and the majority of the funds go to the same law enforcement agency that seized the cash or property in the first place.

Utah: Poll Shows Strong Support For Asset Forfeiture Reform On Eve Of Primary

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One out of 11 Surveyed Utah Voters Report Having Property Taken by Police without Criminal Charge from Themselves or Someone They Know

Utah Voters Also Signal Support for Presidential Candidates Who Embrace Asset Forfeiture Reform

An overwhelming majority of registered Utah voters support civil asset forfeiture reform, according to a new poll released by Drug Policy Action. The poll was released the day before Utah’s primary election vote.

Eighty-three percent (83%) of Utah registered voters, including 83 percent of all Republicans, think police should not be able to seize and permanently take away property from people who have not been convicted of a crime. Sixty-six percent (66%) of voters polled, including 70 percent of Republicans, would be more likely to support a candidate for president who took the position that the government should not be able to take property from a person who has not been convicted of a crime.

Also, a high number of surveyed Utah voters (1 out of 11) reported that a police officer has taken property from them or someone they know without being charged with a crime. Most of these respondents said that property was taken from them during a traffic stop.

U.S.: Supreme Court Rejects Other States' Lawsuit Over Colorado Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado over its marijuana legalization law. Oklahoma and Nebraska had claimed the Colorado law had created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states.

The suit, filed by Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, claimed that federal marijuana prohibition preempts the law that Colorado voters decisively adopted in 2012. The Federal Government filed a brief urging the high court to reject the case.

"There is no question about it: This is good news for legalization supporters," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "This case, if it went forward and the Court ruled the wrong way, had the potential to roll back many of the gains our movement has achieved to date. And the notion of the Supreme Court standing in the way could have cast a dark shadow on the marijuana ballot measures voters will consider this November.

Florida: House Passes Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Unanimously

AssetForfeiture[FreedomWorks]

Unanimous Vote in House Follows Last Week’s Unanimous Support in the Senate

Coalition of Reform Advocates and Law Enforcement Urge Gov. Scott to Sign Into Law

The Florida House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed SB 1044, reforming Florida’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act,” sending the legislation to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for a signature. Last week the Senate passed the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, in a unanimous 38–0 vote.

The bipartisan unanimity of passage in both chambers was driven by a diverse and disparate coalition of law enforcement and reform advocates, including the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which retained attorney Ron Book to lobby on their behalf for the legislation, the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Florida Association of Police Chiefs, Americans for Forfeiture Reform, the Florida ACLU, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Institute for Justice, the James Madison Institute and the Grover Norquist-led, Americans for Tax Reform.

“This bill sends a powerful message to Floridians: the government cannot seize your property without making an arrest," said Sen. Jeff Brandes, the author and prime Senate sponsor of the legislation. "These sweeping reforms to civil forfeiture institute major consumer protections and prevent abuses against the property rights of Floridians. I hope the Governor will join both houses of the Florida legislature and support these critical reforms by signing this bill into law.”

U.S.: Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Claims Legalization To Blame For Violent Crime Spike

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You might think that the uptick in violent crimes in major cities in the U.S. is related to the "Ferguson Effect," as asserted by FBI Director James Comey. But a former White House national drug policy spokesman is now claiming that the violent crime spike is due to marijuana legalization, of all things.

Robert Weiner, who used to be a national drug policy spokesman for the White House, and senior policy analyst Ben Lasky claim the "Fergson Effect" argument consists of "convenient rationalizations by law enforcement,' in a new op-ed for The Washington Times.

"Violent crime has spiked in many U.S. cities over the last year, including a 54 percent increase in homicides in Washington, D.C., in 2015 -- as well as 63 percent in Baltimore and 13 percent in Chicago," Weiner and Lasky write. "It is no coincidence that this uptick comes at a time when drug laws are being loosened throughout the country. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, either for medical purposes or overall."

Georgia: Medical Marijuana Won't Be Grown Anytime Soon

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana won't be grown in Georgia anytime soon, according to sources close to the situation.

Macon lawmaker Rep. Allen Peake, who has pushed medicinal cannabis legislation, stripped in-state cultivation out of House Bill 722 on Monday, reports Christopher S. Hopper at 11Alive News.

Other lawmakers, law enforcement officials, religious groups, and even Governor Nathan Deal had joined in an increasingly shrill chorus of voices warning against growing medical marijuana in Georgia. These excitable folks apparently believe that -- uniquely among all medical marijuana states, which are now about half the Union -- Georgia would somehow be selected for persecution and prosecution by the federal government if it dares do something really crazy like protecting sick folks.

HB 722 was widely viewed as the next step after House Bill 1 passed last year, allowing patients to lawfully use and possess non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis oil. Patients were counting on HB 722 to make it easier for them to obtain their medicine.

A gutted version of HB 722, with in-state cultivation language stripped away, was written up. The gutted version also takes away original language which would have given a greater number of patients access by expanding the allowed list of illnesses from eight 1o 17. PTSD and intractable pain were both removed from the list.

Alabama: Bill Filed To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill filed by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) in the Alabama House would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Currently, that "offense" would get you a Class A misdemeanor in the Heart of Dixie, punishable by jail time and fines.

HB 257, sponsored by Rep. Todd, would make possession of an ounce or under simply a ticketable offense, reports Adam Powell at Alabama Today. "Possession charges for people clog up a lot of our court services," Todd said. "This would help eliminate some of that bottleneck."

The bill would lower penalties for recreational cannabis consumers, and would, Todd said, create much-needed revenue for the state, since offenders are forced to pay tickets.

"I believe it's safer than alcohol," Rep. Todd said. "If people could take their emotions out of it, I think most people would agree with me."

Todd said she'd spoken with law enforcement officials, and most are supportive, specifically because the measure would remove a lot of work processing and jailing nonviolent marijuana offenders. She does expect opposition, however, from district attorneys, she said.

Georgia: 46 Correctional Officers Charged For Drug Trafficking

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The FBI arrested 46 current and former corrections officers in an early Thursday sting at nine prisons around Georgia as a result of a two-year undercover operation.

The indictments showed "staggering corruption within Georgia Department of Corrections institutions," said John Horn, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, report Pamela Brown and MaryLynn Ryan at CNN.

Among the arrestees were five members of a super-elite squad intended to bust up drug dealing in prison -- who were, you guessed it, dealing drugs in prison -- called the Cobra unit. Two civilians and one inmate were also rounded up in the bust.

Officers were charged with using their badges to facilitate drug deals both inside and outside the prison walls. The trafficking included multiple kilos of cocaine and methamphetamine in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribe money.

Prison guards and staff were smuggling contraband including liquor, tobacco and cell phones into the cell blocks for money. Inmates used the illegal cell phones they acquired to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.

"It makes a huge challenge for law enforcement," said Britt Johnson, special agent in charge of the Atlanta FBI office. "After you chase down, arrest and prosecute criminals and put them away for life, and they continue to direct crime on the streets from their jail cells."

Vermont: Coalition To Regulate Marijuana To Launch TV Ad Campaign

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Campaign Features State’s Former Top Law Enforcement Official

A new television ad featuring Vermont’s former top law enforcement official speaking out in support of regulating marijuana will begin airing statewide on Tuesday, just as lawmakers are taking a close look at the issue.

The ad — viewable online at https://youtu.be/Fk45yWMjtRc — will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.

In the ad, titled “Time to End Prohibition (Again)”, former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney draws a comparison between current marijuana prohibition laws and the failed policy of alcohol prohibition.

“We all know that prohibition was a disaster,” Cheney says as images from the era of alcohol prohibition appear on the screen. “It forced alcohol into the underground market, where it was controlled by criminals, and consumers did not know what they were getting. It made us a nation of hypocrites and lawbreakers.

“Marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems,” according to Cheney. “That’s why most Vermonters agree it’s time for a more sensible approach,” he says, referencing a September Castleton Polling Institute poll that found 56 percent of Vermonters support — and only 34 percent oppose — legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use.

The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and telling them, “It’s time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont.”

U.S.: DOJ Suspends Asset Forfeiture Equitable Sharing; Police Take More Than Thieves

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Federal Sharing Linked to Circumvention of State Reforms

The Department of Justice on Monday released a memorandum addressed to local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies to announce that the equitable sharing program for asset forfeiture funds has been temporarily suspended due to financial considerations.

This means that state and local law enforcement can no longer expect to receive a share of federal funds confiscated through the process of civil asset forfeiture, a method by which law enforcement can seize property and money from individuals without charging them with a crime.

Until now, the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program allowed departments to keep up to 80 percent of assets seized in joint operations, a practice scholars have shown allows local agencies to circumvent reforms in their own states. At least one estimate puts the amount of assets confiscated by law enforcement agencies in 2014 above the total amount of robberies, suggesting, according to Reason Magazine, that “Your local police or sheriff's department is more likely to take your stuff than a robber.”

Texas: Marijuana Possession Could Soon Get Tickets, Not Arrests, In Dallas

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said he has mixed feelings about allowing his officers to write tickets instead of arresting people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana. But he said the approach is "just so damn practical."

Police officers and city council members discussed the move at Tuesday's public safety committee meeting of the Dallas City Council, reports Melissa Repko at The Dallas Morning News. The "cite and release" pilot program would mean citations for marijuana possession, rather than arrests.

The public safety committee voted to refer the idea to the entire City Council without a recommendation.

A Texas state law passed in 2007 allows cops to issue citations instead of making arrests for some minor offenses, including possession of small amounts of cannabis. The approach is intended to save time and money by keeping minor offenders out of jail and allowing cops to remain on the streets; it doesn't change the official penalty for the crime.

Using cite and release is a "no brainer" that would help save time and lower 911 call response times, said council member Philip Kingston. He said it would allow cops to focus on public safety priorities.

Kingston said he'd legalized marijuana if he could, comparing marijuana possession to jay-walking in terms of seriousness.

U.S.: Law Enforcement's Use Of Young Drug Informants Ignites Controversy

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The use of young people by law enforcement as confidential informants in drug cases is more controversial than ever before after the practice was spotlighted Sunday night on TV news show 60 Minutes.

While Drug War prohibitionists often claim we need to "protect young people," the 60 Minutes piece showed one of the ways the War On Drugs endangers young people, reports Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) in The Huffington Post.

The TV news show shows young people who were arrested for small amounts of cannabis or Ecstasy who were then threatened with years in prison unless they "turned" and worked as confidential informants, "CIs." A number of these informants unfortunately end up in life-threatening situations, or are pressured into lying at the expense of innocent people to reduce their own punishments.

Up to 80 percent of all drug cases in the United States may be due to information from informants, according to research, and 60 Minutes estimated that 100,000 people are currently working as confidential informants.

Arizona: ACLU Releases Mobile App To Help Hold Law Enforcement Accountable

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Mobile Justice AZ available free starting today through Apple and Google

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona on Friday launched Mobile Justice AZ, a free smartphone app that allows Arizonans to record video of law enforcement activity and automatically submit those videos to their local ACLU for review if it appears someone’s rights may have been violated.

The same app is also being launched today in nine other jurisdictions: Minnesota, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The Mobile Justice App is already in use in Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina and Oregon.

New York has the ACLU’s original app to record police, known as the Stop and Frisk app. In all, residents of 18 states and D.C. now have access to an ACLU mobile app for recording police interactions with the public.

Mobile Justice AZ is available for use on Android and iOS phones and can be downloaded free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It enables users to record, witness and report interactions with law enforcement and offers educational information on individual rights.

Videos captured on the Mobile Justice AZ app will be transmitted to the ACLU of Arizona and preserved even if the user’s phone is later seized or destroyed.

Texas: Former Corrections Officer To Join Marijuana Policy Reformers For Advocacy Training Event

MichaelGilbertPhD[UTSA]

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform activists, including a former Texas corrections officer, will gather Saturday for an advocacy training event at the Janet F. Harte Library in Corpus Christi.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the third in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for East Texas on December 5 and Houston on December 12. Last month, activists held trainings in Dallas and San Antonio.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be Michael Gilbert, Ph.D., a University of Texas San Antonio criminal justice professor and former Texas corrections officer. He will join representatives of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy for media availability at 12:00 p.m. CT, and members of the media are invited to listen to his presentation at 1:15 p.m. CT.

“During nearly 16 years working as a corrections professional with military and state corrections, it became clear to me that marijuana prohibition is causing more harm than good," Dr. Gilbert said. "These laws have been counterproductive and fail to meet any of their policy objectives.

California: Federal Agents Raid Tribal Marijuana Farm, Seize 12,000 Plants

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dreams of a new era of federal tolerance of cannabis cultivation on Native American tribal lands took a big hit Wednesday as law enforcement officers from at least four agencies raided land occupied by two tribes in California, seizing at least 12,000 plants and more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana.

"Other than contraband marijuana and items of evidentiary value, no tribal property was seized and no federal charges are pending," claimed U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner of the Eastern District of California, which includes Modoc County, where the raids occurred, reports Denny Walsh at The Sacramento Bee.

Warrants signed on Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn K. Delaney gave federal agents the authority to search "two large-scale marijuana cultivation facilities located on federally recognized tribal lands at the Alturas Indian Rancheria and the XL Ranch in Modoc County." The county is in the northeast corner of California, with Oregon directly to the north and Nevada directly to the east.

Washington: One-Year Status Report On Marijuana Legalization

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New Report Finds Major Fiscal Benefits, Decrease in Violent Crime, No Increase in Youth Marijuana Use or Traffic Fatalities – And Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests

Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Remains Strong in Washington; Only Dark Cloud Remains Uncertain Fate of Medical Marijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

As several states consider marijuana legalization initiatives, all eyes are on the initial outcomes of Washington’s marijuana law. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to pass laws taxing and regulating marijuana.

Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of retail marijuana sales in Washington. Adult possession of marijuana became legal on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana store opened its doors, on July 8, 2014.

A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) highlights data on public safety, youth marijuana use, and the economy before and after passage of I-502. Since adult possession of marijuana became legal 18 months ago, the state has benefitted from a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as increased tax revenues.

U.S.: New Report Finds Extensive Forfeiture Abuses By California Law Enforcement

AssetForfeitureCaliforniaCops[USAttorneysOffice]

With Bipartisan Support in U.S. Congress and Buoyed By New Mexico’s First-of-Its-Kind Law That Ends Civil Forfeiture, Momentum Accelerates for Reform

The Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday launched Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.

Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police priorities, such as increasing personnel on the forfeiture unit while reducing the number of officers on patrol and in investigation units.

While civil asset forfeiture was originally conceived as an effective way to target and drain resources away from powerful criminal organizations, Above the Law discloses how these strategies and programs have now become a relied-upon source of funding for law enforcement agencies all across the state.

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