#1

MJ News for 02/04/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:46 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points

url: hMPp://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-cop-turned-pot-advocate-20140203,0,4104596.story




Former cop is 'linchpin' of campaign to legalize marijuana



Not long after Neill Franklin stepped behind a lectern in Annapolis to argue for making marijuana legal, the retired law enforcement officer was fighting tears again.

It happens all the time — whenever he pauses to think of the futility of the war on drugs and the lives he says have been wasted. "We've been at this forever," he said. "It never worked."

As a broadening coalition pushes to legalize marijuana in Maryland this year, advocates have turned to Franklin to help sell the idea. A top official of the state's American Civil Liberties Union calls him "the linchpin" of the advocacy campaign.

"When he talks about the drug war, he knows what he's talking about," said Sara Love, public policy director with the ACLU of Maryland. "He's been out on the street, he's arrested people — and realized at the end that those arrests haven't helped anybody."

Fit and trim at 55, Franklin wanders the halls of the State House, looking for lawmakers to catch in casual conversation. He drives more than 90 minutes from his home near the Pennsylvania border, just on the off chance he might connect with someone who could vote to make marijuana
available at retail stores.

If asked, Franklin acknowledges his endgame is to legalize all manner of drugs. In Annapolis, he keeps his pitch to why the state should legalize marijuana: The substance is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, he argues, but its underground marketplace drives violence and finances drug cartels. And the unfair enforcement — the same enforcement he once pursued — sends twice as many blacks as whites to jail for marijuana possession.

Del. Heather Mizeur, the Democrat who has made legal marijuana a platform issue in her campaign for governor, says Franklin "commands a certain amount of attention."

"When law enforcement stands up and says, 'This isn't working, and it needs to be reformed,' people start to rethink their position," Mizeur said.

Public polls show growing support in Maryland and across the country for legalizing marijuana, though in Maryland the proposal lacks support from key power brokers, including Gov. Martin O'Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

Franklin recalls when he was on the other side.

He joined the Maryland State Police in 1976, just months after he graduated from Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore and five years after President
Richard M. Nixon declared a "war on drugs." Franklin rose through the ranks, working undercover in drug busts in the 1980s as part of a regional task force and seizing property suspected in drug trafficking.

In the 1990s, he met former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke — an early and outspoken advocate of legalizing drugs — when Franklin was assigned to the board overseeing's Schmoke's pioneering needle-exchange program for addicts.

"It was the first time I ever started thinking about what he was saying and about our drug policies," Franklin said. But it wasn't long before Franklin was promoted and put in charge of nine drug task forces on the Eastern Shore. He was "back into this command to go and pound these drug dealers."

In October 2000, shortly after he retired, as a major, from the state police and took a job overseeing training for the Baltimore Police Department, a drug dealer killed one of Franklin's friends. Cpl. Edward M. Toatley, an undercover trooper and father of three, had been working with an FBI drug task force when he was shot point-blank in the face during a drug deal in Washington.

Toatley's killer later told a judge he shot him "without a second thought" to keep both the crack cocaine and the $3,500 cash in the deal.

"When I think of Ed Toatley, I don't just think of Ed Toatley," Franklin said. "I think of the people who are currently being murdered, and the families that are being left behind — whether it's the family of a law enforcement officer or the family of a drug dealer. … Life is valuable, and we have policies in place that are counterproductive to life."

Not long afterward, Franklin began volunteering to give speeches in his spare time about legalizing the drug trade. Four years ago, he took a $40,000 pay cut, he says, to become executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international organization of former police officers, judges, prosecutors and corrections officers who now advocate legalizing drugs.

Until this year, most of Franklin's work has been out of state or on Capitol Hill. He's known among advocates of legal marijuana across the country as a moving speaker whose police experience brings instant credibility.

"There's no PR spin with him," said Erik Altieri, communications director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "He means it."

While a growing number of retired law enforcement officials have stepped forward in favor of legalizing drugs, many do not agree.

Wicomico County Sheriff Michael Lewis, a former state trooper who worked with Franklin, said although Franklin is widely respected and ran drug task forces, he was primarily in management and hasn't had the frontline experience to declare the war on drugs a failure.

"It's a slap in the face to the men and women in law enforcement who have been killed on the streets waging this war on drugs," said Lewis, who plans
to testify in Annapolis against the marijuana proposals. He said marijuana detection helps police find caches of narcotics, and legalizing it would undercut efforts to stem the flow of other illegal drugs.

"Debates are really healthy, but when it comes to this, legalizing marijuana is not the answer," Lewis said.

Leigh Maddox, a former trooper who has known Franklin for 20 years, said that even though his career wasn't exactly in the trenches making drug busts every day, "He grew up here in Baltimore City, in an urban environment, and came up witnessing that life."

Last week, in the living room of the Reservoir Hill rowhouse where he grew up, Franklin was again moved to tears.

Anywhere you look, he said, you can see the fingerprints of Baltimore's drug trade. The family three doors down was firebombed in a drug-related retaliation. A park bench up the street was the scene of drug-related killing. He smoked his first joint as a teenager at a friend's house around the corner. He counts his blessings that he wasn't caught, locked up by an officers just like the one he would later become, and set on a trajectory that he says has destroyed the lives of thousands of young people.

"Not all drug use is drug abuse," Franklin said. "People need to understand that. How many people drink alcohol but aren't alcoholics?"


BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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#2

RE: MJ News for 02/04/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:56 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points

URL: hMPp://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/special_reports&id=9418414




Local debate over legalizing medical marijuana (in Philadelphia)



PHILADELPHIA - February 3, 2014 (WPVI) -- Marijuana has never been more talked about, discussed, and debated as it is right now.

2014 could turn into a landmark year for medical marijuana legalization and that includes Pennsylvania.

Advocates for medical marijuana are excited about recent happenings in Harrisburg and even in Philadelphia. But for those who depend on it for relief of their symptoms, the action isn't happening fast enough.

37-year-old Mike Whiter, co-chair of Philly NORML, served 10 months in Iraq at Abu Grab prison.
"There are explosions, there are friends getting hit; there are friends getting hurt, friends dying. This is really hard to talk about for me," Whiter said.

Despite being illegal, the South Philadelphia veteran uses marijuana to treat symptoms of post traumatic-stress disorder.

"I would walk around a corner and see a trash bag and think it was a bomb that was going to blow me up," Whiter said.

Before trying marijuana, he went to the VA Medical Center for help and was prescribed medications, dozens of them.

"They made me worse. They made me more depressed; they turned me into a zombie," Whiter said.

Whiter says he tried to commit suicide three times before turning to medical marijuana to treat his anxiety and paranoia.

"It saved my life," Whiter said.

Now legal for medical use in New Jersey, officials from Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township say they already need to expand after only being open for four months.

"We have about 75 new lights coming in on Wednesday which will ramp up our production so we'll be producing maybe three times more than we are now," CEO Bill Thomas said.

The Compassionate Care Foundation is a fully self-contained operation.

They grow the plants, harvest them, package, and sell to patients under strict guidelines by the state.

Currently, there is legislation pending to make recreational marijuana legal in New Jersey, as well.

Pennsylvania, meantime, recently held hearings to discuss the possible legalization of medical marijuana and Delaware's governor is considering opening a medical marijuana facility.

From a medical standpoint, Dr. Amy Ondeyka of Cooper University Hospital says marijuana can help patients suffering from a variety of ailments that include chronic pain, seizures, inflammation, and muscle spasms.

She says the appeal is that it comes with very few side effects, is gentler on the body, and is much less addictive than some legal prescription medications.

"Just in 2010, deaths from overdose or abuse of oxycodone and Vicodin, there were over 16,000 deaths," Ondeyka said.

However, she does caution that there is a lot we don't know about long term marijuana use and the risks associated with it.

Among those who are not proponents of legalizing marijuana is Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

But he does say a proposal to eliminate the arrest requirement in the city for small marijuana possession is something he would consider.

"If there is a way in which minor offenses we can keep officers on the street and make it a little easier in terms of processing, then that is something that I would certainly review very carefully," Ramsey said.

There appears to be a lot of public support in favor of legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

However, efforts to legalize would likely be hotly debated.

We want to know what you think.


BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up

#3

RE: MJ News for 02/04/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:59 am
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points

URL: hMPp://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2014/02/03/bankers-wary-of-marijuana-money-say-a-new-doj-memo-wont-be-enough-to-make-them-comfortable/




Bankers Wary Of Marijuana Money Say A New DOJ Memo Won't Be Enough To Make Them Comfortable



A couple of weeks ago, when Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department and the Treasury Department will be issuing guidance “very soon” to banks wary of dealing with state-licensed marijuana producers and distributors, I wondered whether it would be enough to make cautious financial institutions comfortable with taking deposits from businesses that federal law still treats as criminal enterprises. A recent Politico article suggests not:

"Financial firms must comply with a slew of anti-money-laundering rules enforced by bank regulators, and the risk of violations could be big for banks that choose to do business with companies that are breaking federal laws.

Also, the DOJ directive wouldn’t be binding, and there have been past examples of prosecutors who disagree with similar guidance ignoring the directive. The next administration could also wipe it off the books. All it takes is one U.S. attorney to file criminal charges, and a bank could lose its charter and be forced to shut down.

With this in mind, for many banks—even with assurances from Justice as well as Treasury’s anti-money-laundering division—the risks still outweigh the rewards.

“From my conversations with bankers, I don’t see that there’s anything they can do that’s going to give a bank the comfort they need until Congress changes the law,” said Rob Rowe, senior counsel at the American Bankers Association….

Don Childears, the president of the Colorado Bankers Association, which has pushed hard for changes to the rules, said he is not convinced that an opinion from the executive branch is enough.

“It’s a murky area,” Childears said. “It literally will take an act of Congress.”

One Colorado bank, Pueblo Bank & Trust, does not even allow its ATMs to be placed in or near marijuana businesses, presumably because it does not want customers to use cash from the machines to buy cannabis. “Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law,” PB&T President Mike Seppala told The Pueblo Chieftain last week, “and that’s the bank’s policy.”

Because growing and selling marijuana remain federal felonies, providing financial services to businesses engaged in those activities can be viewed as money laundering or aiding and abetting drug trafficking. Holder can announce that such prosecutions should not be a high priority for U.S. attorneys, but they won’t necessarily listen, and the policy can be changed at any moment, by this administration or the next. Without new federal legislation, banks accepting marijuana money will always be taking a legal risk.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, introduced last spring by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), would address the problem by declaring that the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act dealing with cannabis “shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws.” The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, introduced last summer by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Denny Heck (D-Wash.), takes a narrower approach, protecting banks that deal with state-legal marijuana businesses from criminal investigation or prosecution and from regulatory repercussions, including loss of federal deposit insurance.


BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up

#4

RE: MJ News for 02/04/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:11 pm
by umbra | 780 Posts | 4085 Points

unfortunately NJ's mmj is the worst set up ever and PA is using NJ as a model. Better off staying underground and being illegal than to have anything to do with NJ's mmj. Christie sucks plain and simple.

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#5

RE: MJ News for 02/04/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:11 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points

url: hMPp://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/education/2014/02/04/cannabis-college-open-tampa/5199029/




Cannabis College set to open in Florida



Tampa, Florida -- You can call it Cannabis U, and it's ready to launch inside the former Garcia Y Vega cigar factory in west Tampa.

The 131-year-old building is the very first facility in the state dedicated to medical marijuana education, and Jeremy Bufford is the brain child.

"This is a month-long course that will deep dive into cannabis from a historical, legal, botanical, and a pharmacological perspective," said Bufford.

Bufford is ready to hit the ground running if the amendment is approved by Florida voters. In addition to education, Bufford will hire researchers, botanists, cultivators, lab techs, security officers, and more.

Rachelle Roach will be in the first class. She already holds a master's degree in nutrition, and said the empirical data on pot is staggering.

"This is a plant that has a lot of healing properties and nutrients," said Roach.

"We know that the opportunities for the medical marijuana industry in 2015 and beyond are life changing. Not just for the patients we're going to be assisting, but also the economic impact it will bring to the area," said Bufford.

The vote on the medical marijuana amendment is still more than 10 months away, but the momentum toward making cannabis available via prescription is already white hot.

If all goes as planned, organizers say medical marijuana will be dispensed as early as the summer of 2015.

"We believe this industry will be mainstream in the next 5 to 10 years," said Roach.


BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up

#6

RE: MJ News for 02/04/2014

in Marijuana in the News Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:27 pm
by 7greeneyes | 469 Posts | 1830 Points

URL: hmpp://world.time.com/2014/01/14/dea-boosted-mexican-drug-cartel/




U.S. Government Helped Rise of Mexican Drug Cartel: Report



The U.S. government allowed the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel to carry out its business unimpeded between 2000 and 2012 in exchange for information on rival cartels, an investigation by El Universal claims.

Citing court documents, the Mexican newspaper reports that DEA officers met with top Sinaloa officials over fifty times and offered to have charges against cartel members dropped in the U.S., among other pledges.

Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, a senior research scholar in law and economics at Columbia University, says that the tactic has been previously used in Colombia, Cambodia, Thailand and Afghanistan.

“Of course, this modus operandi involves a violation of public international law, besides adding more fuel to the violence, violations of due process and of human rights,” he told El Universal.

Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, said while that the problem of drug trafficking in Colombia persists, the tactic of secret agreements had managed to reduce it.

The period when the relationship between the DEA and Sinaloa was supposed to have been the closest, between 2006 and 2012, saw a major surge of violence in Mexico, and was the time when the Sinaloa cartel rose significantly in prominence.


BHC# 711

"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
Thomas Jefferson

“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
Scroll up



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