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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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CA Medical Marijuana Dispensary Numbers Shrink in Two-Pronged Attack

June 30th

LOS ANGELES, CA — California medical marijuana dispensaries — and their patients — are under a sustained, two-pronged attack, and that is having a dramatic impact on patient access across the state. Under pressure from the federal government on one hand and newly-emboldened local officials on the other, dispensary numbers are shrinking and ever larger swathes of the state that legalized medical marijuana nearly 17 years ago are without anywhere to get medical marijuana.

Anyone who is following the situation in the Golden State at all closely has seen a numbing litany of reports of dispensaries forced out of business, including from some of the most venerable, respected, and law-abiding operations in the state.

What had been the occasional raid or prosecution by the DEA or federal prosecutors during the early years of the Obama administration has turned into a heightened onslaught since the issuance of the notorious Cole memo, written by Assistant Attorney General James Cole, two years ago next week and the announcement by California’s four US Attorneys that fall that they were declaring open season on dispensaries.

And while recalcitrant city and county law enforcement and elected officials had managed to make access to medical marijuana a pat. . . . . READ MORE

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CO Festival to Host Marijuana Legalization Debate Between Ex-DEA Chief & DPA’s Nadelmann

June 26th

ASPEN, CO – The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2, 2013. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond will gather in Aspen, CO to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas.

The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics. The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1st, Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former DEA head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as on CNN’s Crossfire.

Last November, Colorado and Washington became the first states in the country – and the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world – to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adult use.

Two months ago, a Pew poll found for the first time in four decades of p. . . . . READ MORE

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U.S. Conference of Mayors Tells Feds to Respect Local Marijuana Laws

June 24th

LAS VEGAS, NV — The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution on Monday criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and urging the federal government to respect the ability of states and cities to implement policies like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana without interference.

“In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana,” said Mayor Steve Hogan of Aurora, Colorado. “The bipartisan resolution we passed today simply asks the federal government to give us time to implement these new policies properly and without interference. Cities and states across the country are enacting forward-thinking reforms to failed marijuana prohibition policies, and for the federal government to stand in the way is wasteful and contrary to the wishes of the American people.”

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.

The feds have . . . . . READ MORE

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U.S. Mayors Demand Change to Federal Policy, End to Crackdown on Medical Marijuana in Their Cities

June 21st

LAS VEGAS, NV — As mayors from across the country gather today in Las Vegas for the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, the federal government’s crackdown on medical marijuana is expected to be discussed and debated over the weekend.

resolution ”in support of states setting their own marijuana policies without federal interference” was introduced in advance of the conference by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and co-sponsored by eight other mayors from across the country. Deliberation on the resolution comes days after medical marijuana advocates issued an alarming report detailing how the Obama Justice Department has spent nearly $300 million to undermine medical marijuana laws in the U.S.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

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Good, Bad Drug Measures Die Along with Farm Bill

June 20th

WASHINGTON, DC — The Farm Bill (House Bill 1947) died in the House Thursday morning as Democrats rebelled against deep cuts to food stamps. The vote to kill it came after the House had approved separate amendments that would have allowed for limited hemp production, but also would have allowed states to require drug tests for food stamp applicants.

But before the overall bill died, hemp advocates were able to pass an amendment offered by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) that would allow hemp to be grown for research purposes. The amendment passed 225-200, despite a last-minute lobbying blitz against it from the DEA, complete with a DEA talking points memo obtained by the Huffington Post.

Still, despite the DEA’s concerns that allowing limited hemp production for research would make law enforcement’s job more difficult, a majority of lawmakers weren’t buying, and amendment sponsors and hemp advocates pronounced themselves well-pleased.

“Industrial hemp is an important agricultural commodity, not a drug,” said Rep. Polis. “My bipartisan, common-sense amendment would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes . . . . . READ MORE

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US Court Records Show Nearly 500 Years in Prison Time for Medical Marijuana Offenses

June 15th

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In spite of growing public support for medical marijuana, concern about overreach by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies, and cutbacks in federal spending, the U.S. government’s war on medical marijuana is raging unabated according to a survey of court records by Cal NORML.

On Tuesday, Michigan medical marijuana grower Jerry Duval, a kidney and pancreas transplant patient with severe medical problems, began serving a ten-year sentence in the same prison as the Boston bomber. Duval joins a growing list of defendants in states that allow medical marijuana who have been charged by the Department of Justice for violating federal laws prohibiting medical marijuana.

According to a survey of US court records, news stories, and case reports compiled by Cal NORML (with help from Americans for Safe Access):

Poll: Americans Want Feds to Keep Out of State Marijuana Laws

June 14th

WASHINGTON, DC — Just a day after a report found that over $300 million has been spent by the federal government on aggressive marijuana enforcement in states where medical marijuana is legal, a new poll has found that 57% of Americans want to see the crackdown come to an end.

According to the HuffPost/YouGov poll released Friday, 60% of Americans are in favor of allowing a doctor to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, and 57% want state compliant medical marijuana patients and dispensaries to be exempt from federal anti-marijuana laws.

The poll also found that 55% of Americans believe the federal government should not interfere with states who legalize the adult use of marijuana.

Colorado and Washington both legalized marijuana for adults 21 or older in the November elections, and lawmakers in both states are working towards implementing a legal, regulated, adult marijuana retail market.

Medical marijuana has been authorized in 21 jurisdictions in the United States, and legislation remains pending in several more.

Since 2011, the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder has launched a READ MORE

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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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