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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Former Attorney General: Marijuana Should Be Rescheduled

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 3:23 PM

13849910105_7fcaaa22b9_o.jpg

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has the unfortunate distinction of overseeing America's last great push to halt cannabis legalization. True, federal agents on his watch did not break down doors and arrest people for growing six plants — that'd be your eagle soaring, John Ashcroft — but Holder played a strong hand in messing with California's cannabis economy.

In 2010, with marijuanna legalization initiative Prop. 19 very much hanging in the balance, Holder's Justice Department unleashed an October surprise, informing the public that the DEA would "vigorously enforce" the federal Controlled Substances Act if a state legalized weed, and threatening California city officials with prison time if they regulated the plant (which Oakland was already doing). The following year, with seizures of cannabis plants and processed pot at record highs in California, Holder's four U.S. Attorneys in California began a crackdown on the state's cannabis dispensaries. Hundreds closed. 

The very next year, of course, it was all over. Colorado and Washington legalized, and the feds did next to nothing. Holder, who left office and returned to private practice, now sees the error of his ways. In an interview with PBS's Frontline, Holder said that marijuana should be removed from the federal government's list of the most evil substances. Eric Holder wants to reschedule cannabis, y'all.


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Monday, February 22, 2016

Report: Black Tenderloin Drug Dealers Definitely Arrested More Often Than Whites, Latinos

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 7:00 AM


By now, you may have heard of "Operation Safe Schools," a joint San Francisco Police Department/Drug Enforcement Administration sweep of the Tenderloin meant to crack down on drug dealing near schools.

About three dozen people have been arrested since 2013. They have been charged in federal court, which means tougher mandatory minimums than state court. And every single person arrested is African-American

The defendants are fighting their cases, alleging racially-biased selective prosecution. SFPD and the United States Attorney have defended the arrests, and swear that race had nothing to do with the busts. That's a thin defense, and appears even thinner based on the findings of a study of Tenderloin drug dealers.

According to Tenderloin drug users — who ought to know — black people are only about 50 percent of the drug dealers in the Tenderloin. Yet black people are about two-thirds of the people arrested for drug dealing and charged in state court — and 100 percent of the people arrested and charged in federal court under Operation Safe Schools.


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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sean Parker Doubles Down On Marijuana Legalization; Still Won't Say Why

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 7:00 AM

FLICKR/OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS
  • Flickr/OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS

Sean Parker has doubled his investment in marijuana legalization. Following an initial $500,000 investment earlier in the year, the former Facebook president — who, in his mid-30s, is settling into a new lifestyle as a billionaire philanthropist and angel investor for political causes — donated another $500,000 towards the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, according to campaign finance records. 

Parker has now donated $1 million towards the AUMA, which, if approved by voters, would legalize small amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up in California. The ballot measure is attempting to collect sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot — and it looks like it has the money to do that. 

AUMA now has $2.25 million in its campaign war chest, according to records — with additional donations coming from WeedMaps, the "Google Maps of pot," ($500,000 total), the Drug Policy Alliance ($500,000), and a political action committee funded by the heirs of late Progressive Auto Insurance chairman Peter Lewis ($250,000). 

But Parker is by far the biggest donor to the effort, so much so that the AUMA is also known as the "Parker Initiative." Which is odd, considering Parker has thus far said very little about why he's involved — and, according to one of the organizers behind Oregon's Measure 91, which legalized adult use cannabis in that state in 2014, he ought to, soon.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Doug Benson Wants No Part of a Super High Me Sequel (But Check Out the Trailer)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 11:07 AM

click image FLICKR/CAMKAGE
  • Flickr/Camkage
If you have not seen Super High Me, chances are you've at least heard of the 2008 documentary in which 420-friendly comedian Doug Benson — even then a "Stoner of the Year," according to High Times — was stoned for 30 days straight, a la Morgan Spurlock.  

Spoiler alert: Benson did not die, go crazy, or lose his job and home. In fact, nothing much of anything happened, which may go a ways toward explaining the film's tepid reviews.

Things may have been different had the film adhered to its original concept — a reality TV series to be sold to Netflix, the project's initial big backer and distributor. (Hard to imagine now that the entertainment powerhouse behind House of Cards had a stoner's whimsy as one of its first projects.) Things might also have been different had Benson pulled out of the project, as apparently he threatened to do, according to a theatrical trailer for a possible sequel.

Speaking of that sequel, Benson also wants nothing to do with that — to the extent that he's filed suit in federal court to bar the release of a Super High Me Redux, or the public viewing of any additional footage shot during the original 2007 filming.

Now is not the time to pre-order a Super High Me special edition DVD. But by all means, view the trailer for yourself, after the jump. 


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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sean Parker Marijuana Legalization Initiative Begins Campaign; Could Mean $1 Billion for California

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 3:04 PM

Sean Parker. He's in the (weed) money. - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • Sean Parker. He's in the (weed) money.
Tech billionaire Sean Parker's effort to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in California is real. Whether it's spectacular or not is a matter of opinion, but as its organizers announced yesterday, it's funded. That means real campaign workers are collecting signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. And if this works and voters approve the measure, it could mean big, big money for the state. 

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six mature marijuana plants. (Medical cannabis patients would still be allowed much more, depending on their county of residence.) Retail sales would be regulated and taxed at 15 percent. Commercial activity would be allowed, but localities would be allowed to opt out (as they often do).

All of that is old news. What's new is that the money is finally here — and all of it is big money, with no small donors. There's $1.25 million in the AUMA's campaign kitty — and, if legal weed is a real thing in the state, up to $1 billion in annual sales taxes, according to a state analysis (which suggests legal marijuana sales of over $7 billion).

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Report: FDA Advises DEA on Reclassifying Marijuana — But to What?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 11:58 AM

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The United States government still considers cannabis to be one of the deadliest substances known to man. Repeated efforts by drug reform advocates to remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of "Schedule I" controlled substances have thus far been repeatedly stymied.

Change may come from within. According to a letter from the Justice Department to Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, obtained by Marijuana.com's Tom Angell, the Food and Drug Administration — which would regulate weed if and when the magic plant ever becomes legal at the federal level — has given the DEA guidance on whether cannabis should be "reclassified under federal law."

That's exciting news. Because although it's unclear where the FDA thinks cannabis should be classified, the drug is in a good position in Schedule I: there's nowhere to go but down.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Congress Set To Ban Feds From Enforcing Cannabis Laws — Again

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Go away for at least another year.
  • Go away for at least another year.
The federal government currently has no business in state-legal medical cannabis. For that, we have to thank Congress, which last year cut funding from the Justice Department.

For the purposes of enforcing federal drug laws in states where cannabis use is legal, federal drug warriors currently have no budget, and no budget equals — well, nothing. (This is no empty gesture and does have teeth, as a federal judge in San Francisco ruled earlier this year.)

That funding cut is set to expire at the end of the fiscal year, but Congress is moving to continue the funding cut for the coming year. And it looks likely to be approved, according to Tom Angell, chairman of legalization-friendly group Marijuana Majority. 

That's good news for most cannabis users — but there's less good news for business people seeking to use banks, and for veterans wanting to use cannabis under the eye of their federally-funded doctors.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

SF Cop Used Racist Language, Sexually Harassed Suspects, According to Court Filings

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 12:34 PM

Bad year for these guys. - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Bad year for these guys.
Defendants snared in a federal drug sting are accusing San Francisco police, including one veteran sergeant, of using racist language, committing sexual harassment, and violating city police rules by performing cavity searches on female suspects.

SFPD Sgt. Shaughn Ryan, currently assigned to Tenderloin station, was one of the city police officers who worked on drug busts associated with "Operation Safe Schools," a series of undercover drug stings run by the SFPD and the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to court filings. 

The stings, meant to crack down on drug dealing near schools in the Tenderloin, netted 37 arrests over a two year period. All of the suspects arrested and charged in federal court are African American. All were arrested with small amounts of crack cocaine, heroin, and other prescription drugs — but federal charges mean a mandatory yearlong prison term, rather than shorter terms or alternatives to incarceration available in local court. 

The defendants' attorneys from the federal Public Defenders' office are seeking to have the charges tossed on grounds of selective prosecution based on the defendants' race.

SFPD Sgt. Shaugh Ryan. - LINKEDIN
  • LinkedIn
  • SFPD Sgt. Shaugh Ryan.
In filings made last week, fourteen of the defendants gave sworn statements claiming racist and sexist treatment from Ryan, a department veteran with almost 20 years' experience, and other police officers,  who "routinely give more attention to African Americans than individuals of other races."

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Advocates Jump Ship, Back "Sean Parker" Measure

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 1:23 PM

Looking better and better. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Looking better and better.
Despite a lack of Sean Parker — and a most certain lack of his money — the "Adult Use of Marijuana Act," a marijuana legalization initiative proposed for the Nov. 2016 California ballot, has become known as the "Parker initiative." (Parker, long rumored to be interested in bankrolling a ballot measure to legalize cannabis, because apparently that's what billionaires do, has voiced support for the measure, but has not formally lent his name to anything.) 

And the "Parker Initiative" has also become known as the frontrunner among the ten or so proposed legalization initiatives with the best chance to qualify for the ballot and actually be before voters next year, in large part because of that imprimatur, however informal (and tenuous).

That frontrunner status appears to have been further cemented after six board members from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, which had submitted its own legalization measure, announced Monday that they have jumped ship and are backing Parker (or his people, anyway, who have also submitted some changes to their proposal).

This means that the oft-fractious marijuana movement-cum-industry is showing signs of coalescing. Always bet on the billionaire, folks.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee Joins Chorus to Fire DEA Chief

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 12:25 PM

DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, left, isn't on the good side of U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, right.
  • DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, left, isn't on the good side of U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, right.

The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, has been on the job just six months, but he's already stepped in it.

The head of the nation's federal drug police recently gave credence to the theory of a "Ferguson effect," in which crime waves are tied to people filming police, who are subsequently too scared to do their jobs (or something). And earlier this month, he also publicly denounced medical marijuana as "a joke."

Rosenberg, remember, can't use his DEA to bust state-legal medical marijuana operations thanks to a move earlier this year by members of Congress. Those same members of Congress, including Oakland's U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, have now joined a chorus calling Rosenberg's words "a throwback idelogy rooted in the failed War on Drugs," and is pressing President Obama for his immediate removal. That' s also the goal of a Change.org petition, which has of Monday garnered over 105,000 signatures.

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