The legalization of marijuana for recreational use will be on the ballot on Nov. 8 in California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. Legalization for medical use will also be on the ballot in Florida, Missouri and Arkansas on that same day.
"This is really a watershed year for marijuana legalization, so I'm hoping that we'll see some big changes in November," said F. Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
Smith said he's "especially excited" about California. It's the most populous state in the country and the sixth largest economy in the world, surpassing France.
"California really is the linchpin for hemispheral legalization," said St. Pierre of NORML, hoping that a green light in California could trigger a snowball of legalization throughout the country.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla confirmed on Tuesday that the legalization initiative exceeded the 402,468 signatures required to put the issue on the ballot.
If the initiative is approved by voters, it would impose a 15% sales tax on retail sales of pot with additional taxes on the growers.
The supporters of the initiative, like Dale Gieringer of the California chapter of NORML, say this could raise more than $1 billion in annual tax revenue and estimate that law enforcement costs could be reduced by at least $100 million. This is based on the assumption that retail sales would be at least $7 billion a year.
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Patricia Kime, Military Times 6:20 p.m. EDT June 28, 2016
A provision that would have made it legal for Veterans Affairs doctors to discuss medical marijuana with their patients in some states disappeared mysteriously from the final VA funding bill last week, just before the House approved the legislation by a 239-171 vote.
But the measure is not completely dead, as a failure by the Senate on Tuesday to forward the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill for a vote provides an opportunity for the marijuana provision to be put back in.
The failure in the Senate to pass a procedural vote over a dispute involving funding to fight the Zika virus means the bill can be reconsidered after the Independence Day break.
Supporters of the medical marijuana provision hope they can get the measure, which would have allowed VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal, returned to and passed in the final bill.
Eleven legislators, including 10 Democrats and one Republican, on Tuesday wrote a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to reinstate the provision.
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Leading cannabis activists, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, warned Tuesday that if California voters don’t support legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in November it could set momentum on the issue back at least a decade.
“It’s not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination,” Newsom told a meeting of legalization supporters. “Any of you think this is done in California, you couldn’t be more wrong.”
With the Adult Use of Marijuana Act expected to qualify for the California ballot in the next week or so, and the possibility of cannabis measures going before voters in eight other states this fall, “we’ve never had so much at stake in one election night,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association told those attending the opening of the organization’s convention Tuesday in Oakland.
“If we don’t win California and at least half of the other states in play right now, the public narrative around our industry will dramatically change for the worse and for quite some time, setting us back a decade or more,” Smith said.
Marijuana legalization initiative supporters said Wednesday they collected 600,000 signatures from registered voters far more than enough for the measure to qualify for the November ballot in California This measure would allow possession of one ounce of
Smith and others sought to tamp down any sense that the legalization measures were a shoo-in to pass.
If voters in all nine states support cannabis measures, Smith said, that means that 1 in 4 Americans will live in a state where recreational adult use of marijuana is legal and 3 of 4 will live in a state where medicinal use is legal.
“Congress,” Smith said, “simply cannot ignore numbers at this scale.”
Newsom, introduced as the highest ranking statewide official to address a major cannabis conference, sounded a similar cautionary note during his 30-minute keynote speech to some of the 3,000 people attending the three-day conference.
Newsom said that while polling has been strong in recent weeks, including a Public Policy Institute of California survey last month that found 60 percent support for legalization, there are rumors every day of a deep-pocketed donor popping up for the opposition.
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SANTA ANA – Three Santa Ana police officers charged with petty theft in connection with a pot shop raid that was recorded on video pleaded not guilty Monday.
Brandon Matthew Sontag, Nicole Lynn Quijas and Jorge Arroyo are each charged with one misdemeanor count of petty theft. Sontag is also charged with one misdemeanor count of vandalism under $400, prosecutors said.
The trio on Monday pleaded not guilty and are due back in court July 25 for a pretrial hearing, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
If convicted, Arroyo and Quijas both face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, while Sontag faces one year and six months in jail and a $2,000 fine, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
On May 26, 2015, the three, along with other Santa Ana officers, were serving a search warrant at Sky High Holistic on 17th Street in Santa Ana. Video surveillance caught the officers allegedly stealing protein bars and cookies from the shop’s break room and sharing the goodies with other officers, prosecutors said.
Sontag is accused of disabling surveillance cameras by smashing camera lenses.
“Before leaving the premises at the conclusion of the search warrant, Quijas and Arroyo are accused of taking extra cookies with them,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
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By THE EDITORIAL BOARDJUNE 20, 2016
The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government — or that’s how it works in theory, anyway.
In practice, though, court decisions over several decades have created so many exceptions to this constitutional principle as to render it effectively meaningless in many real-world situations.
On Monday, the Supreme Court further weakened the Fourth Amendment by making it even easier for law enforcement to evade its requirement that stops be based on reasonable suspicion. The justices ruled 5 to 3 that a police officer’s illegal stop of a man on the street did not prevent evidence obtained from a search connected to that stop to be used against him.
The case, Utah v. Strieff, started when the police in Salt Lake City got an anonymous tip of drug activity at a house. An officer monitoring the house became suspicious at the number of people he saw entering and leaving. When one of those people, Edward Strieff, left to walk to a nearby convenience store, the officer stopped him and asked for his identification. A routine check revealed that Mr. Strieff had an outstanding “small traffic warrant.” The officer arrested him based on that earlier warrant, searched him and found drugs in his pockets.
The State of Utah agreed that the initial stop was illegal, because it was not based on reasonable, individual suspicion that Mr. Strieff was doing anything wrong. Instead, the state argued that the discovery of the valid warrant — after the illegal stop — got around the Fourth amendment violation.
The Utah Supreme Court rightly rejected this argument, but that decision was overturned in a majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas. The officer’s lack of any specific suspicion of Mr. Strieff, Justice Thomas wrote, was a result of “good-faith mistakes.” The illegal stop was, at worst, “an isolated instance of negligence.”
In a powerful dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor took apart that specious reasoning. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language,” she wrote. “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong.”
Justice Sotomayor acknowledged the temptation to let the officer get away with his own wrongdoing, since “his instincts, although unconstitutional, were correct.” But that misses a “basic principle” of the Fourth Amendment, she said: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Responding to Justice Thomas’s unsupported claim that the violation of Mr. Strieff’s rights was an isolated case, Justice Sotomayor pointed out that the police in Salt Lake City and nationwide routinely run warrant checks on people they have illegally stopped. Combine that practice with the “staggering” number of outstanding warrants — nearly eight million around the country, almost all for minor offenses — and cops have an even greater incentive to stop anyone for any reason, knowing the odds are good that they will find a warrant and be able to make an arrest and conduct a search.
In a final and more personal statement, Justice Sotomayor drew a link between the court’s extreme deference to law enforcement officials and the racial inequity that pervades America’s criminal justice system. While Mr. Strieff is white, she said, “it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny.” The central, disturbing message of Monday’s ruling, she added, is that whether you are white or black, “your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights,” and in that way, “unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will reclassify marijuana as a "Schedule Two" drug on August 1, 2016, essentially legalizing medicinal cannabis in all 50 states with a doctor's prescription, said a DEA lawyer with knowledge of the matter.
The DEA Lawyer had told the lawyer representing a DEA informant of the DEA's plan to legalize medicinal cannibis nationwide on August 1, 2016. When questioned by our reporter, the DEA lawyer felt compelled to admit the truth to him as well.
"Whatever the law may be in California, Arizona or Utah or any other State, because of Federal preemption this will have the effect of making THC products legal with a prescription, in all 50 states," the DEA attorney told the Observer. Federal Preemption is a legal doctrine that where the US Government regulates a particular field, State and local laws are overridden and of no effect.
He explained that "there are five DEA schedules. Nothing on Schedule One is ever legal, and that is where Cannabis is today. Schedule Two drugs are available with a prescription."
On Schedule Two, marijuana will join drugs like Percocet, Aderall, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and other drugs that are legal, even common, with a prescription. There are also other drugs that are not on any schedules but that are illegal on a federal level, he said. Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are available over-the-counter.
He opined that the 135 medicinal cannabis clinic owners in Los Angeles will no doubt oppose this move by the Federal government, because the rule change will eliminate any reason for people to visit medical marijuana clinics. "In my opinion, CVS pharmacy, Rite-Aid and Walgreens will sell Schedule Two THC products similar to what users call "edibles," but will not sell smokable weed because of the health risk smoking anything entails," said the DEA lawyer.
The Los Angeles based DEA Attorney who spoke to us, asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the press about the matter. He speculated that this action will be taken in the closing days of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, so as to motivate the Democratic base to turn out and vote for Hillary Clinton, and other down ballot candidates. She will certainly not reverse this policy decision taken in the waning days of the Barack Obama administration, he said. But Donald Trump might.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -You may have heard of civil asset forfeiture.
That's where police can seize your property and cash without first proving you committed a crime; without a warrant and without arresting you, as long as they suspect that your property is somehow tied to a crime.
Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.
It's called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.
Here's how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.
"We're gonna look for different factors in the way that you're acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said. “We're gonna look for if there's a difference in your story. If there's someway that we can prove that you're falsifying information to us about your business."
Troopers insist this isn't just about seizing cash.
"I know that a lot of people are just going to focus on the seizing money. That's a very small thing that' s happening now. The largest part that we have found ... the biggest benefit has been the identity theft," Vincent said.
"If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you. And we've done that in the past," Vincent said about any money seized.
State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said that removes due process and the belief that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He said we've already seen cases in Oklahoma where police are abusing the system.
"We've seen single mom's stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken. We've seen innocent people's stuff being taken. We've seen where the money goes and how it's been misspent," Loveless said.
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by George Skelton
1. Bernie Sanders must be smoking something.
Pandering to potheads by endorsing a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot is his right. But, as the saying goes, he doesn’t have a right to his own facts.
“It makes sense to legalize marijuana,” Sanders told a campaign rally last week in East Los Angeles where, wrote Times reporter Kurtis Lee, “a slightly pungent pot aroma wafted through the air.”
“If I were here in your state,” the Vermont senator continued, “I would vote yes on that issue.”
So far OK. But the candidate showed ignorance or intellectual dishonesty in explaining his position to a Santa Monica crowd:
“If you are a 19-year-old kid applying for a job and your employer asks you if you’ve ever been arrested and you say, ‘Well, yeah, I was smoking marijuana,’ you may not get that job.”
Fact: No one in California gets arrested for toking weed. It’s not even a misdemeanor. It’s the same as a traffic ticket. And that isn’t even enforced on anyone using marijuana just to get a buzz.
Smoking a joint as so-called medicine, of course, has been legal for two decades.
Bernie Sanders fires up the crowd at Davis rallyIf you’re trafficking by the bushel load or a big-time grower for social use, you can be arrested. But hardly anyone is ever locked up in California on a marijuana charge. Only three-tenths of 1% of state prison inmates are incarcerated for any pot conviction.
Yes, the federal government still considers marijuana a dangerous drug and deems its use a crime. Only Congress can change that. So get at it, senator.
Incidentally, that 19-year-old kid? He couldn’t legally smoke a joint even under the initiative. He’d have to be 21.
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A member of the famed McFarland High School cross-country team that won the state championship and was later depicted in the Disney film “McFarland, USA,” pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of bribery and drug possession arising from his career as a Bakersfield police detective.
His former police partner also announced Tuesday that he had accepted a plea deal in connection with the alleged crimes.
Damacio Diaz — one of the three Diaz brothers depicted in the 2015 Disney film about the victorious Central Valley team — admitted to lying on his tax returns and accepting bribes from an informant in exchange for information about police during a three-year period starting in 2012, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento.
Diaz also admitted to stealing nine pounds of methamphetamine during a Sept. 20, 2012 traffic stop, prosecutors said.
Diaz and his partner were assigned to oversee the investigation into two men from Yakima, Wash., who had 10 pounds of methamphetamine, but Diaz entered into evidence only one pound of methamphetamine. The two officers sold the rest of the illegal substance and pocketed the money, authorities said.
When it came time to file his tax returns for 2012, Diaz omitted additional income of nearly $98,000, according to his plea agreement.
“The defendant attempted to take advantage of the trust placed in law enforcement officers for his personal gain,” said Phillip A. Talbert, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California. “Law enforcement officers who accept bribes put the public and other law enforcement officers in danger.”
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Anti-pot group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is at it again today. SAM’s political arm SAM Action announced partnerships Wednesday with several state-level anti-pot groups and a war chest of $300,000 to defeat the passage of AUMA and other recreational ballot initiatives.
Children, according to SAM Action members, are getting into their parent’s cannabis.
“The marijuana industry wants to get richer after this November election cycle, so they have written ballot initiatives that allow for thousands of shops selling pot candy, gummy bears and other addictive products in communities around the country,” Kevin Sabet, president of SAM Action, wrote in a statement. “Between now and November, SAM Action and our state partners will ensure that the public is well informed about why a corporate cannabis free-for-all is bad for neighborhoods across the country.”
The announcement comes the same week the FDA just approved amphetamine-laced gum as a treatment for six year-old children who can’t sit still.
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Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.