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Posts Tagged ‘MARIJUANA’

YOUR CORONAVIRUS CZAR

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 16, 2020 at 12:09 am

On February 26, President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead a task force to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. 

In doing so, he rejected calls to appoint an outside medical expert.

This put the Federal medical establishment under a trusted sycophant—and gave Trump a convenient scapegoat if something went wrong.

So here’s what America is getting as its medical savior.

Michael Richard “Mike” Pence served as a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. He also served as Chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2012.  His record included:

  • Voted, in 2007, to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions.
  • Opposed, in 2009, giving American citizenship to children born to illegal aliens living within the United States.
  • Compared the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • Voted to eliminate funding for climate education programs and to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2012, he ran for Governor of Indiana, won the election, and assumed this office in 2013.

As Governor, Pence: 

  • Signed legislation in 2015 that repealed an 80-year-old Indiana law requiring construction companies working on publicly funded projects to pay a prevailing wage.
  • Successfully lobbied in 2013 to limit reductions in sentences for marijuana offenses.

On July 15, 2016, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had selected Pence as his Vice Presidential running mate in the 2016 Presidential election.

But for all of Pence’s actions as Congressman and Governor, the one which may prove the most far-reaching may be this: His signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

As Governor of Indiana, he did this on March 26, 2015. The law allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Related image

Mike Pence

Officially, its intent is to prevent the government from forcing business owners to act in ways contrary to strongly held religious beliefs. Unofficially, its purpose is to appease the hatred of gays and lesbians by the religious Right, a key constituency of the Republican party.

Thus, a bakery can legally refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding or a restaurant can refuse to serve lesbian patrons.

And a hospital can refuse to provide care to a gay or lesbian patient. 

The bill was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature.  

“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Pence said in a statement on the day he signed the bill.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

Yet for all his praise for the bill, Pence signed it in a ceremony closed to the public and the press. The media were asked to leave even the waiting area of the governor’s office.

At least one unintended consequence of that legislation has already surfaced: The First Church of Cannabis.

The day after Pence signed the Act, church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that he had filed paperwork with the office of the Indiana Secretary of State.

Its registration had been approved—and Levin was ecstatic: “Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.

“Donate $100 or more and become a GREEN ANGEL. Donate $500 or more and become a GOLD ANGEL. Donate $1000 or more and become a CHURCH POOHBA.”

This legislation has not only brought legal marijuana to Indiana. It may bring Sharia law as well.

Since 9/11, Right-wingers such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have warned that Muslims are trying to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on America. And now Indiana’s legislators, in elevating religion above the law, may have laid the legal foundations for making that possible.

Related image

Muslims demanding the imposition of Sharia law–on themselves and non-Muslims

What will happen when: 

  • Muslims in Indiana claim their right—guaranteed in Islamic religious law—to have as many as four wives?  
  • Muslims demand a taxpayer-funded “halal” non-pork food shelf at free food pantries for the poor? (Exactly this happened among Somali refugees in Minnesota in 2015.) 
  • Muslims demand that police departments cancel counter-terrorism courses by claiming that their materials are anti-Muslim? (Exactly this happened to several police departments in Illinois.)

And when they claim that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects those rights? 

Now that Pence is Coronizavirus Czar, it’s essential to remember:

  • In 2001, when he ran for Congress, he posted on his campaign website: “Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
  • As a Congressman, Pence voted against legislation allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the tobacco industry.
  • During a CNN panel in 2002 about abstinence education, Pence said: “Frankly, condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”
  • In 2015, Indiana had an unprecedented HIV outbreak. Although the Centers for Disease Control recommended clean needle exchanges, Pence, as governor, opposed this.

As the Coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the United States as it has Italy, the appointment of Mike Pence as America’s Dr. Marcus Welby is not an event to celebrate.

MIKE PENCE’S LEGACY: BRINGING SHARIA LAW TO AMERICA

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Michael Richard “Mike” Pence served as a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. He also served as Chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2012.  

In 2012, he ran for Governor of Indiana, won the election, and assumed this office in 2013.

On July 15, 2016, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had selected Pence as his Vice Presidential running mate in the 2016 Presidential election.

As a member of Congress, Pence: 

  • Voted, in 2007, to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions.
  • Opposed, in 2009, giving American citizenship to children born to illegal aliens living within the United States.
  • Compared the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • Voted to eliminate funding for climate education programs and to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

As Governor, Pence: 

  • Unsuccessfully pushed for a 10% income-tax rate cut.
  • Signed legislation in 2015 that repealed an 80-year-old Indiana law requiring construction companies working on publicly funded projects to pay a prevailing wage.
  • Successfully lobbied in 2013 to limit reductions in sentences for marijuana offenses.
  • Agreed, in 2015, to expand Medicaid in Indiana, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

But for all of Pence’s actions as Congressman and Governor, the one which may prove the most far-reaching may be this: His signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

As Governor of Indiana, he did this on March 26, 2015. The law allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Related image

Mike Pence

Officially, its intent is to prevent the government from forcing business owners to act in ways contrary to strongly held religious beliefs. Unofficially, its purpose is to appease the hatred of gays and lesbians by the religious Right, a key constituency of the Republican party.

In short, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake to be used at a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons will have the legal right to refuse to do so.

The same applies for a hospital that doesn’t want to provide care to a gay or lesbian patient. 

The bill was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature.  

“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Pence said in a statement on the day he signed the bill.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

Bill-signing ceremonies are usually highly public events. Governors–and presidents–normally want their constituents to see them creating new legislation.

Yet for all his praise for the bill, Pence signed it in a ceremony closed to the public and the press. The media were asked to leave even the waiting area of the governor’s office.

It’s almost as if Pence sensed that he was about to push open a door into a danger-filled room. And this may well be the case.

Through that door may soon march the First Church of Cannabis. The day after Pence signed the Act, church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that he had filed paperwork with the office of the Indiana Secretary of State.

Its registration had been approved–and Levin was ecstatic: “Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.

“Donate $100 or more and become a GREEN ANGEL. Donate $500 or more and become a GOLD ANGEL. Donate $1000 or more and become a CHURCH POOHBA.”

No doubt many Indiana legislators are furious that their effort to attack gays may have brought legal marijuana to their highly conservative state. But worse may be to come.

Since 9/11, Right-wingers such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have warned that Muslims are trying to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on America. And now Indiana’s legislators, in elevating religion above the law, may have laid the legal foundations for making that possible.

Related image

Muslims demanding the imposition of Sharia law–on themselves and non-Muslims

Ironically, this may not be so far removed from the goals of the Republican party as many think. Both the party and adherents of Sharia agree:

  • Women should have fewer rights than men.
  • Abortion should be illegal.
  • There should be no separation between church and state.
  • Religion should be taught in school.
  • Religious doctrine trumps science.
  • Government should be based on religious doctrine.
  • Homosexuality should be outlawed.

What will happen when: 

  • Muslims in Indiana claim their right–guaranteed in Islamic religious law–to have as many as four wives?  
  • Muslims demand a taxpayer-funded “halal” non-pork food shelf at free food pantries for the poor? (Exactly this happened among Somali refugees in Minnesota in 2015.) 
  • Muslims demand that police departments cancel counter-terrorism courses by claiming that their materials are anti-Muslim? (Exactly this happened to several police departments in Illinois.)

And when they claim that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects those rights?  

Hang onto your hijabs–it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

RELIGION VS. SECULAR

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 15, 2016 at 12:55 am

In 1964, Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, once again struggled against King Henry II for power over English citizens.

This time, the conflict was fought across thousands of movie screens, with Richard Burton as Becket and Peter O’Toole as Henry, as portrayed in Jean Anouilh’s 1959 play.  

A quick summary:

Becket, a brilliant Saxon noble, is the favorite friend of Henry. They hunt, fight and bed women together. Henry even appoints him as Chancellor, the highest law enforcement officer in the country. 

But there is a storm on the horizon: The power of the Catholic Church is steadily rising, and Henry needs a highly-placed ally against its power. When the Archbishop of Canterbury dies, Henry appoints Becket in his place.  

But suddenly the entirely secular Becket undergoes a religious conversion–and an unexpected change in allegiance. He insists that priests accused of criminal offenses be tried only in the church’s own courts–thus making them immune from Henry’s secular ones.  

As a moviegoer, it’s easy to root for conscience-stricken Becket, as played by the charming Burton. Henry, as played by O’Toole, is a brutish adolescent, alternately fearful and enraged at his own incompetence.

But in rooting for Becket/Burton, the audience can overlook the significance of allowing religious doctrine to trump secular law.  

The consequences of this are now becoming clear in Indiana.

On March 26, 2015, its governor, Mike Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This will allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Related image

Mike Pence

Officially, its intent is to prevent the government from forcing business owners to act in ways contrary to strongly held religious beliefs. Unofficially, its intent is to appease the hatred of gays and lesbians by the religious Right, a key constituency of the Republican party.

In short, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake to be used at a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons will have the legal right to refuse to do so.  

The same applies for a hospital that doesn’t want to provide care to a gay or lesbian patient. 

The bill was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature. And signed into law by a Republican governor. 

“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Mike Pence said in a statement on the day he signed the bill.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

Bill-signing ceremonies are usually highly public events. Governors–and presidents–normally want their constituents to see them creating new legislation.

Yet for all his praise for the bill, Pence signed it in a ceremony closed to the public and the press. The media were asked to leave even the waiting area of the governor’s office.

It’s almost as if Pence sensed that he was about to push open a door into a danger-filled room.  And this may well be the case.

Through that door may soon march the First Church of Cannabis. The day after Pence signed the Act, church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that he had filed paperwork with the office of the Indiana Secretary of State.

Its registration had been approved–and Levin was ecstatic: “Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.

“Donate $100 or more and become a GREEN ANGEL. Donate $500 or more and become a GOLD ANGEL. Donate $1000 or more and become a CHURCH POOHBA.”

And Levin had a personal comment for the governor who had made it all possible:

“Dear Mikey Pence…

“DUDE!.. keep crapping all over the state.. and I will plant a seed of LOVE, UNDERSTANDING and COMPASSION in each pile you leave.. and it will grow into a big skunky cannabis tree. Crap away Mikey.. Crap Away…”

No doubt many Indiana legislators are furious that their effort to attack gays may have brought legal marijuana to their highly conservative state. But worse may be to come.

Since 9/11, Right-wingers such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have warned that Muslims are trying to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on America. And now Indiana’s legislators, in elevating religion above the law, may have laid the legal foundations for making that possible.

Ironically, this may not be so far removed from the goals of the Republican party as many think. Both the party and adherents of Sharia agree:

  • Women should have fewer rights than men.
  • Abortion should be illegal.
  • There should be no separation between church and state.
  • Religion should be taught in school.
  • Religious doctrine trumps science.
  • Government should be based on religious doctrine.
  • Homosexuality should be outlawed.

What will happen when some Muslims in Indiana claim their right–guaranteed in Islamic religious law–to have as many as four wives?

And when they claim that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects that right?

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy nightmare.

FBI DOESN’T SPELL P-O-T: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on May 23, 2014 at 12:11 am

On November 6, 2012, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

And on the same date, Americans in Colorado and Washington state overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

Both measures called for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores.

But at the Federal level, marijuana remains a prohibited, Schedule 1 drug.

And in a marijuana-related decision–King v. Kentucky–the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that police can force their way into a home without a warrant.

By an 8-1 vote, the Court upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

Police drug raid

Prior to the November 6 marijuana-legalization votes, the Obama Justice Department had issued a policy for handling states that had legalized “medical marijuana.”

This said that Federal officials should generally not use their limited resources to go after small-time users, but should investigate and prosecute large-scale trafficking organizations.

The result was increased Federal raids on marijuana dispensaries–much to the outrage of potheads and liberals.

Since the legalization of “recreational marijuana” in Colorado and Washington state, senior White House and Justice Department officials have considered taking legal action against those states to undermine their voter-approved initiatives.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in particular sees the legalization of marijuana as a direct challenge to its authority to enforce Federal anti-drug laws.

US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-Seal.svg

The agency’s official position in marijuana is as follows:

Marijuana is properly categorized under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. S 801, et seq. 

The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports this classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision.

The campaign to legitimize what is called “medical” marijuana is based on two propositions: first, that science views marijuana as medicine; and, second, that the DEA targets sick and dying people using the drug.  Neither proposition is true. 

Specifically, smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science–it is not medicine, and it is not safe.  Moreover, the DEA targets criminals engaged in the cultivation and traficking of marijuana, not the sick and the dying.  This is true even in the 15 states that have approved the use of “medical” marijuana.

Click here: http://www.justice.gov/dea/docs/marijuana_position_2011.pdf

Among the DEA’s weapons: Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

To increase the penalties for violating such laws, Congress amended the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984.

Section 881(a)(7) authorizes the forfeiture of real property “which is used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission” of a felony violation of the Federal Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

Congress intended that section to attack the economic power underwriting illegal drug operations.  As a result, the Justice Department can seize houses and/or land from a landowner owing to a tenant’s illegal drug activity.

This holds true even if the landlord didn’t participate in or claimed to be unaware of the drug-law violations.

Before civil forfeiture can proceed, two requirements must be met:

  • An exchange of a controlled substance; and
  • A substantial connection between the property and the illegal activity.

Once the government has proved the property was used to “facilitate” the violation of Federal anti-drug laws, seizure of the property can occur.

This usually means invoking the “innocent owner” defense: “I didn’t know or consent to what was going on.”

It’s up to the landowner to prove his innocence.  And proving a lack of knowledge and/or consent is extremely hard.

If an “affirmative” defense can’t be proved, forfeiture of the property is virtually inevitable.

The U.S. Attorney General then has the legal right to sell the forfeited property.  The profits from this sale can then be forwarded to various agencies of the United States Government.

Prosecutors and case agents think of this as a tax on criminality.

There is an additional incentive for local and State law enforcement agencies to seize properties involved in drug-law violations: They are allowed to keep some of the proceeds once the property has been sold.

Thus, financially-strapped police departments have found pursuing drug-law crimes a lucrative way to fill their own coffers.

Still, the Federal Government finds itself not only at war with marijuana-legalizing states but with itself.

President Barack Obama has claimed that the affects of marijuana are no different than those of alcohol.  But Michele Leonhart, director of the DEA, opposes legalizing marijuana as “reckless and irresponsible.”

This has reportedly led her boss–Attorney General Eric Holder–to order Leonhart to “get in line” with the administration’s efforts to legalize marijuana and lessen the penalties for people who commit federal drug crimes.

Until there is a concensus by lawmakers and citizens on what America’s policy on marijuana should be, the results will be continued tension and confusion.

FBI DOESN’T SPELL P-O-T: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on May 22, 2014 at 12:50 am

The FBI has a problem.

The Bureau needs more specialists to combat cybercrime–especially now that the Obama Justice Department has indicted five Chinese military officials for hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.

On the other hand: Many of the tech-savvy experts the FBI wants to hire are as much into marijuana as they are into computers.

On May 19, FBI Director James Comey tried to inject a note of humor into this situation when addressing a New York conference.

FBI Director James Comey

Comey said the FBI was grappling with balancing its desire to recruit a strong workforce against changing attitudes on marijuana use by states and young adults.

“Some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview,” said Comey.

The comment landed Comey in hot water at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committe on May 21.

“Do you understand that that could be interpreted as one more example of leadership in America dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use and that could undermine our ability to convince young people not to go down a dangerous path?” asked Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).

“Very much, Senator,” Comey replied. “I am determined not to lose my sense of humor, but, unfortunately, there I was trying to be both serious and funny.

“I am absolutely dead-set against using marijuana. I don’t want young people to use marijuana. It’s against the law.  We have a three-year ban on marijuana.   I did not say that I am going to change that ban.”

By this, Comey meant that the FBI will not hire anyone who has used marijuana during the previous three years.

Comey was referring to marijuana’s still being illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.  Despite this,  many states now allow its use for “medical” purposes.

In Colorado and Washington state, it can be legally used for any purpose.

Which, in turn, brings up a salient point:

The dangers of secondhand smoke are now almost universally accepted, even by smokers.  But from a strictly health-related viewpoint, there is as much reason to restrict exposure to marijuana smoke.

Consider the following from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment OEHHA) of the State’s Environmental Protection Agency:

“MARIJUANA SMOKE LISTED EFFECTIVE JUNE 19, 2009 AS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER [06/19/09]

“The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of the California Environmental Protection Agency is adding marijuana smoke to the Proposition 65 list, effective June 19, 2009.

“Marijuana smoke was considered by the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) of the OEHHA Science Advisory Board at a public meeting held on May 29, 2009.

The CIC determined that marijuana smoke was clearly shown, through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles, to cause cancer.

“In summary, marijuana smoke is being listed under Proposition 65 as known to the State to cause cancer:”

Yet marijuana smoke is treated as something harmless, even as a subject for humor.

On “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno often joked about the growing number of “patients” who need “medical marijuana” as a remedy for glaucoma.

In San Francisco–long known as a bastion of tolerance for drug-abuse offenses of all types–police are cutting back on the enforcement of drug crimes.

Marijuana

This is especially true in the case of marijuana.

The SFPD claims this reflects a shift to focusing on violent crime,

The decline is also partly due to a 10% staff cut during the past two years, as well as a $600,000 reduction in state and federal grants for drug enforcement.

The president of a property management agency recently told me that if a tenant complains of marijuana smoke pollution from another unit, the police will not enter the unit from which the stench is coming.

Yet marijuana remains illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

A Schedule 1 substance is defined as having the following characteristics:

  • It has a high potential for abuse.
  • It has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision.

And despite the unwillingness of the SFPD to enforce anti-drug laws, a 2011 Supreme Court decision allows police to force their way into a home without a warrant.

By an 8-1 vote, the Court upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

In addition, Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

On November 6, 2012, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

And on the same date, Americans in Colorado and Washington state overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

Both measures called for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores.

On December 6, 2012, hundreds of potheads gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year’s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure took effect.

When the clock struck, they cheered and lit up in unison–as though inhaling cancerous fumes and a skunk-like stench was something to celebrate.

 

POT-HEAD HYPOCRISY – PART THREE (END)

In Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on January 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

On November 6, 2012, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

And on the same date, Americans in Colorado and Washington state overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

But at the Federal level, marijuana remains a prohibited, Schedule 1 drug.

And the Justice Department–seeing these initiatives as a direct challenge to its authority–are considering taking legal action against those states.

Among their weapons: Federal asset forfeiture laws which allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

Prosecutors and case-agents view the seizing of drug-related properties as crucial to eliminating the financial clout of drug-dealing operations.

There is an additional incentive for local and State law enforcement agencies to seize properties involved in drug-law violations: They are allowed to keep some of the proceeds once the property has been sold.

Thus, financially-strapped police agencies have found pursuing drug-law crimes a great way to fill their coffers.

Nonsmoking tenants in apartment buildings who do not wish to inhale the cancerous fumes of marijuana smokers will likely find their options limited.

In San Francisco, landlords can ban smoking from common areas of their apartment buildings–such as the lobby and hallways. But if a tenant wants to toak up in his unit and that stench enters another apartment, city laws do not provide for a remedy.

In most cities and states, apartment residents will face a bitter truth: The legal system has not yet caught up with the scientific realities of the carcinogenic properties of tobacco–or marijuana–smoke.

This is comparable to the situation existing 25 years ago, when people could openly smoke in Federal buildings across the nation.  And when restaurants offered “non-smoking” sections–which were often polluted with the smoke of cigarettes, pipes and even cigars.

Over time, the law finally caught up with the lethal realities of secondhand tobacco smoke.  Unfortunately, it has not yet caught up with the equally lethal realities of secondhand marijuana smoke.

But a two-step remedy does lie at hand–for both nonsmoking tenants and cash-strapped Federal agencies:

First: If the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration finds widespread drug-abuse occurring within an apartment complex, it should arrest the tenants involved.

Second, more importantly, the Justice Department should levy a punitively large fine against the landlord on whose property these violations occurred.

The results of such a policy would be as follows:

  1. The violators of Federal anti-narcotics laws will be immediately put out of business.
  2. The revenues from the fine(s) can be divided between (1) financing future law enforcement efforts; and (2) financing the workings of Federal agencies generally.
  3. Thus, the Government can generate untold and desperately-needed revenues—without making itself politically vulnerable to the charge of raising taxes. Only law-ignoring landlords and their drug-dealing tenants will protest the enforcement of such fines.
  4. In San Francisco alone, more than two-thirds of its residents are renters.  Multiply the number of apartment complexes that exist just in this small city by the number that exist in larger ones—such as Los Angeles and New York—and you can easily imagine the revenues to be generated.
  5. Landlords who are assessed such fines will be served unmistakable notice that passively tolerating violations of Federal narcotics laws is no longer in their best interests.
  6. They, in turn, will take a far more pro-active approach to combing known drug-dealers and –abusers from their rolls of tenants.
  7. This, in turn, will make their complexes far safer for their law-abiding tenants.
  8. The Federal Government need not burden itself with assuming custody of such properties. Since landlords live essentially for their wallets, the levying of massive fines against them will send a message they cannot/will not dare ignore in the future.
  9. If the Federal Government chooses to seize apartment complexes found in violation of Federal anti-drug laws, it can strip the current owners of those properties and re-sell the complexes—as it now sells other properties bought with drug-tainted monies.
  10. Presumably the new owners of those properties will take warning from the successful prosecution of the previous owners.

Conventional remedies are useless against unconventional law-breakers.

By simply putting the onus on landlords to police their own buildings, the Justice Department can, in one stroke, accomplish a series of worthwhile goals on behalf of:

  • law-abiding tenants;
  • itself;
  • the Federal Government generally; and
  • those Americans served by its agencies.

POT-HEAD HYPOCRISY – PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 16, 2013 at 12:16 am

On November 6, 2012, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected Barack Obama as President of the United States.

And on the same date, Americans in Colorado and Washington state overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

Both measures called for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores.

On December 6, hundreds of potheads gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year’s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure took effect.

When the clock struck, they cheered and lit up in unison–as though inhaling cancerous fumes and a skunk-like stench was something to celebrate.

But at the Federal level, marijuana remains a prohibited, Schedule 1 drug.

And in a marijuana-related decision–King v. Kentucky–the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that police can force their way into a home without a warrant.

By an 8-1 vote, the Court upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

Prior to the November 6 marijuana-legalization votes, the Obama Justice Department had issued a policy for handling states that had legalized “medical marijuana.”

This said that Federal officials should generally not use their limited resources to go after small-time users, but should investigate and prosecute large-scale trafficking organizations.

The result was increased Federal raids on marijuana dispensaries–much to the outrage of potheads and liberals.

Marijuana leaf

Since the legalization of “recreational marijuana” in Colorado and Washington state, senior White House and Justice Department officials have considered taking legal action against those states to undermine their voter-approved initiatives.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in particular sees the legalization of marijuana as a direct challenge to its authority to enforce Federal anti-drug laws.

The agency’s official position in marijuana is as follows:

Marijuana is properly categorized under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. S 801, et seq. 

The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports this classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision.

The campaign to legitimize what is called “medical” marijuana is based on two propositions: first, that science views marijuana as medicine; and, second, that the DEA targets sick and dying people using the drug.  Neither proposition is true. 

Specifically, smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science–it is not medicine, and it is not safe.  Moreover, the DEA targets criminals engaged in the cultivation and traficking of marijuana, not the sick and the dying.  This is true even in the 15 states that have approved the use of “medical” marijuana.

Click here: http://www.justice.gov/dea/docs/marijuana_position_2011.pdf

Among the DEA’s weapons: Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

To increase the penalties for violating such laws, Congress amended the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984.

Section 881(a)(7) authorizes the forfeiture of real property “which is used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission” of a felony violation of the Federal Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

Congress intended that section to attack the economic power underwriting illegal drug operations.  As a result, the Justice Department can seize houses and/or land from a landowner owing to a tenant’s illegal drug activity.

This holds true even if the landlord didn’t participate in or claimed to be unaware of the drug-law violations.

Before civil forfeiture can proceed, two requirements must be met:

  • An exchange of a controlled substance; and
  • A substantial connection between the property and the illegal activity.

Once the government has proved the property was used to “facilitate” the violation of Federal anti-drug laws, seizure of the property can occur.

This usually means invoking the “innocent owner” defense: “I didn’t know or consent to what was going on.”

It’s up to the landowner to prove his innocence.  And proving a lack of knowledge and/or consent is extremely hard.

If an “affirmative” defense can’t be proved, forfeiture of the property is virtually inevitable.

The U.S. Attorney General then has the legal right to sell the forfeited property.  The profits from this sale can then be forwarded to various agencies of the United States Government.

Prosecutors and case agents think of this as a tax on criminality.

POT-HEAD HYPOCRISY – PART ONE (OF THREE)

In History, Law, Law Enforcement on January 15, 2013 at 12:03 am

The American Lung Association has brilliantly put the dangers of tobacco smoking into vivid perspective:

“Three decades ago, public outrage killed an automobile model (Ford’s Pinto) whose design defects allegedly caused 59 deaths.

“Yet every year tobacco kills more Americans than did World War II — more than AIDS, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, vehicular accidents, homicide and suicide combined.

“Approximately 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 24,518 people died of alochol, 17,774 died of AIDS, 34,485 died of car accidents, 39,147 died of drug use — legal and illegal — 16,799 died of murder and 36,909 died of suicide in 2009.

“That brings us to a total of 169,632 deaths, far less than the 430,000 that die from smoking annually.

“As for the part about World War II, approximately  292,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were killed in battle during World War II, according to a U.S. Census Bureau April 29, 2004, report in commemoration of the new World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

“An additional 114,000 members of U.S. forces died of other causes during the war, bringing the total to 406,000 people.”

Click here: Tobacco – American Lung Association

Laws restricting where people may smoke have–in most parts of the country–caught up with the deadly realities of this habit.

No longer can smokers light up in restaurants, supermarkets, local, State and Federal buildings–and even hospitals.

The dangers of secondhand smoke are now almost universally accepted, even by smokers.  As a result, most smoking parents try to do it well out of range of their children.

The vast majority of employers ban smoking in the workplace–and, increasingly, are offering smoking-cessation programs as part of their medical insurance plans.

A growing number of apartment complexes now ban smoking by their residents–partly for the safety of tenants, and partly as a precaution against accidental fires.

So it comes as a shock to see how totally different are public attitudes toward the smoking of marijuana.

Marijuana plant

From a strictly health-related viewpoint, there is as much reason to restrict exposure to marijuana smoke as that from tobacco.

Consider the following from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment OEHHA) of the State’s Environmental Protection Agency:

“MARIJUANA SMOKE LISTED EFFECTIVE JUNE 19, 2009 AS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER [06/19/09]

“The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of the California Environmental Protection Agency is adding marijuana smoke to the Proposition 65 list1, effective June 19, 2009.

“Marijuana smoke was considered by the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) of the OEHHA Science “Advisory Board at a public meeting held on May 29, 2009.  The CIC determined that marijuana smoke was clearly shown, through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles, to cause cancer.

“Consequently, marijuana smoke is being added to the Proposition 65 list, pursuant to Title 27, California Code of Regulations, section 25305(a)(1) (formerly Title 22, California Code of Regulations, section 12305(a)(1)).

“In summary, marijuana smoke is being listed under Proposition 65 as known to the State to cause cancer:”

Chemical

CAS No.

Toxicological Endpoint

Listing Mechanism

Marijuana smoke

Cancer

State’s Qualified Experts

Yet marijuana smoke is treated as something harmless, even as a subject for humor.

On “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno often jokes about the growing number of “patients” who need “medical marijuana” as a remedy for glaucoma.

In San Francisco–long known as a bastion of tolerance for drug-abuse offenses of all types–police are cutting back on the enforcement of drug crimes.

This is especially true in the case of marijuana.

The SFPD claims this reflects a shift to focusing on violent crime,

The decline is also partly due to a 10% staff cut during the past two years, as well as a $600,000 reduction in state and federal grants for drug enforcement.

The president of a property management agency recently told me that if a tenant complains of marijuana smoke pollution from another unit, the police will not enter the unit from which the stench is coming.

Yet marijuana remains illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

A Schedule 1 substance is defined as having the following characteristics:

  • It has a high potential for abuse.
  • It has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision.

And despite the unwillingness of the SFPD to enforce anti-drug laws, a 2011 Supreme Court decision allows police to force their way into a home without a warrant.

By an 8-1 vote, the Court upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

In addition, Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to facilitate violations of Federal anti-drug laws.

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