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BUSTED: Over 70% of All Major US Drug Seizures Are Marijuana Related

July 13th

A new study has found that over 70% of recent seizures of illicit drugs in the United States are marijuana related, painting a picture of the American drug landscape and a mis-prioritized, failed, war on drugs.

The study, “Busted: Analyzing America’s Most Recent Drug Hauls,” looked at major drug seizures as reported by over 1,500 media outlets in the United States during a 13 month period from March 2012 – April 2013.

The study found that of the 5,000 most recent drug busts reported in the news, 70.5% involved marijuana — 140% more than all cocaine (13%), heroin (10%) and methamphetamine (6%) busts combined.  The study did not look at prescription medication abuse or other designer drugs, only the “big four.”

The study found high concentrations of methamphetamine and meth labs in the Midwest, an abundance of heroin in the Northeast, especially in the tri-state area, and a lot of cannabis in California and North Dakota.  Cocaine busts were virtually non-existent in Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota, and in a reality check for Breaking Bad fans, New Mexico wasn’t anywhere near the top ten in meth busts.

The study’s author, John Millward, admits that the study represents only a fraction of the total number of seizures made by the DEA, FBI, U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Border Patrol on a yearly basis, but because each of the busts were large eno. . . . . READ MORE

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Judge Rules Harborside Can Stay Open While City of Oakland Fights Feds

July 4th

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A medical marijuana dispensary billed as the world’s largest cannabis store may stay open while the city of Oakland fights a U.S. government effort to shut it down or seize the property, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday in an ongoing tug-of-war in Caifornia between federal authorities and the medical marijuana industry.

In February, Magistrate Maria-Elena James, the same judge who issued the ruling on Wednesday, said the city had no right to intervene in a federal prosecutor’s civil-forfeiture action against the Harborside Health Center, which was previously featured on the Discovery Channel reality TV show “Weed Wars.”

The city appealed the ruling, and James’s latest order allows the dispensary to continue to sell medical marijuana to individuals carrying a doctor’s recommendation while the appeal is under review.

James called the question of Oakland’s legal standing in the case “a matter of significant public interest.”

Attorney Cedric Chao, who is representing . . . . . READ MORE

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Florida Bong Ban Takes Effect, But Is It Enforceable?

July 1st

TALLAHASSEE, FL —  As of today, the sale of most pipes, water pipes and bongs will be banned in Florida as a bill passed by lawmakers in April and signed by the Governor earlier this month takes effect.  But are they really banned?

Under the new law, it is now a first-degree misdemeanor for any retailer “to knowingly and willfully sell drug paraphernalia.”  Second and subsequent violations jump to a third-degree felony.

As initially drafted, House Bill 49 was intended to ban the sale of the following smoking devices:  metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic smoking pipes, with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls; water pipes; carburetion tubes and devices; chamber pipes; carburetor pipes; electric pipes; air-driven pipes; chillums; bongs; ice pipes or chillers.

The only pipes that the bill specifies will still be allowed for sale in Florida must be made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob.

The bill establishes five new crimes: use or possession of drug paraphernalia, manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia, delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor, transportation of drug paraphernalia, and advertisement of drug paraphernalia.

“Rather than just regulating them, let’s just ban them,” Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), a recovering crack addict turned lawmaker who authored the bill. “If we can make people drive to Georgia and Alabama and South Ca. . . . . READ MORE

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City of Oakland Back in Court to Fight Closure of Harborside Medical Marijuana Dispensary

June 21st

SAN FRANCISCO — The City of Oakland’s fight against the federal government’s attempt to close the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the United States — and one of Oakland’s top tax paying retailers– was renewed Thursday when attorneys for the city asked a federal judge to postpone court proceedings in the case.

The request for postponement comes after a federal judge ruled in February that the city does not have legal rights in a forfeiture case against the owners of the building that contains Oakland’s Harborside Health Center.

In February, Judge Maria-Elena James wrote in a 10-page ruling that a local U.S. attorney had successfully argued the federal government was immune from Oakland’s lawsuit under the Administrative Procedures Act, which sets out how U.S. agencies develop and issue regulations.

On Thursday, attorneys from the city asked James to postpone all actions in the case until an appeals court can review her ruling, which could take up to a year before the case is heard.

The city of Oakland has been attempting to kill an attempt by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag to close Harborside Health Care, which is one of the largest and most respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the country, and has been called a model business by city officials.

Harborside employs ov. . . . . READ MORE

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Florida to Outlaw Sale of Most Pipes as ‘Bong Bill’ Takes Effect July 1

June 16th

TALLAHASSEE, FL —  In just two weeks, the sale of most pipes, water pipes and bongs will be outlawed in Florida as a bill passed by lawmakers in April and signed by the Governor earlier this month takes effect.

Florida lawmakers took the step in the wrong direction in April, with the Florida Senate passing House Bill 49 by a 31-2 vote just two days after the bill was passed in the House by a vote of 112-3, while continuing to ignore legislation to allow medical marijuana for the state’s sick and elderly.

Under the bill, which takes effect on July 1, 2013, the sale of virtually any type of smoking device will be outlawed, with criminal penalties imposed on offenders.

The only pipes — tobacco or otherwise — that will be allowed for sale in Florida must be made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob. Any type of water-pipe would be prohibited.

Any retailer caught selling pipes made of other materials, including glass, would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.   Second and subsequent violations would jump to a third-degree felony.

The vague law does not specify if the ban applies to internet or mail order sales.

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Report: Obama Justice Department Has Spent Nearly $300 Million on Aggressive Medical Marijuana Enforcement

June 13th

WASHINGTON, DC — Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a report today, detailing the costs associated with the federal government’s years-long enforcement effort in states that have adopted medical marijuana laws.

Notably, the report, which is entitled “What’s the Cost?” states that since 1996 nearly half a billion dollars ($500 million) has been spent by the Justice Department — over three presidential administrations — to investigate, raid, arrest, prosecute, and imprison hundreds of medical marijuana patients and their providers. The report is intended for Congressional legislators in an effort to lobby for federal policy reforms, and is part of the Peace for Patients campaign recently launched by ASA.

The feds have conducted more than 200 SWAT-style raids on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses since 2011. Here, law enforcement commandos descend on a Santa Rosa neighborhood in search of medical marijuana growers in September, 2012.READ MORE

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Medical Marijuana Patients Protest AG Holder’s UC Berkeley Speech

May 12th

U.S. Attorney General and pot-prohibitionist Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

BERKELEY, CA — As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a commencement speech Friday for UC Berkeley law school graduates, a plane flew overhead with a banner that read “Holder: End Rx Cannabis War. #Peace4Patients,” in protest against recent actions by the Justice Department (DOJ) in the Bay Area.

Outside the Hearst Greek Theater, where Holder gave his speech, medical marijuana advocates also handed out fake DOJ recruitment flyers, detailing how the Obama Administration is engaging in harmful tactics that are adversely affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients in California.

“Patients will not stand idly by while Attorney General Holder’s Justice Department continues to attack our community and endanger the lives of Berkeley residents” said Caren Woodson, one of the le. . . . . READ MORE

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Feds Threaten Longtime California Medical Marijuana Dispensary Berkeley Patients Group

May 9th

The original location of Berkeley Patients Group, shuttered in 2012 by feds. The long-time dispensary, in business since 1999, moved to a new location to prevent federal interference. Now, feds are targeting them anyway.

The original location of Berkeley Patients Group, shuttered in May,  2012. The long-time dispensary, in business since 1999, moved to a new location in December  to prevent any further federal interference. Now, feds are targeting them anyway, despite support from local civic and government leaders.

BERKELEY, CA — One of California’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries, Berkeley Patients Group, was served with a lawsuit last week in an attempt to seize the property in which it operates and to ultimately shut the facility down.

In the forfeiture complaint, which is similar to one filed against Oakland’s Harborside Health Center last July, READ MORE

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