State & Local Government

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LTE: Marijuana raid on home was not just

Location: 
ME
United States
Publication/Source: 
Morning Sentinel (ME)
URL: 
http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/view/letters/3864363.html

Wahkiakum drug-testing policy goes to state's high court

Location: 
Olympia, WA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Daily News (WA)
URL: 
http://www.tdn.com/articles/2007/05/09/top_story/news01.txt

Hip Hop Star Releases Anti-Rockefeller Drug Law Video for Forthcoming Documentary

Gabriel Sayegh blogs about it for the Huffington Post...
Location: 
NY
United States

Maryland Action Alert -- Drug Sentencing Reform Bill Unexpectedly in Danger of Veto

(This action alert is going out to our Maryland subscribers in the AM. As a Marylander -- I live in Takoma Park now -- I'm officially upset at the governor. I knew he'd show himself to be a "fake" liberal when push came to shove on this issue. - Dave)

Last month a modest but important sentencing reform bill -- HB 992, which restores parole eligibility for second-time drug offenders -- was passed by the Maryland General Assembly. At the time Gov. O'Malley had indicated that he supported the bill. But now he has flip-flopped and is saying he may veto it.

Please call O'Malley's office and demand he stop playing politics with people's lives and sign HB 992. Mandatory minimums are a terrible injustice and are costly and ineffective public policy -- HB 922 is simply a no-brainer. CALL (800) 811-8336, OR FAX O'MALLEY A LETTER AT (410) 974-3275. (The address to use on your letter if writing is: The Honorable Martin O'Malley, State House, Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925 -- be sure to use fax, though, there isn't enough time to rely on the US mail.) PLEASE FORWARD THIS ALERT TO YOUR FRIENDS IN MARYLAND TOO!!!

The organization Stop the Drug War (DRCNet) has a form set up online to make it easy to e-mail the governor -- I hope you will use this method too. Phone calls and individual faxed letters are the best, though, so if you can do one of those I hope you will. Please send me an e-mail, and send one to borden@drcnet.org to let me and DRCNet know you've taken action. Following is some background on HB 992, from the Justice Policy Institute:

When enacted, HB 992 would operate as follows:

  • HB 992 does not apply to violent offenders. HB 992 does not apply to third or fourth time offenders. HB 992 does not apply to volume dealers or drug kingpins.
  • A defendant is convicted of possession of intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance. The defendant is a second-time offender and is subject to a 10-year mandatory sentence.
  • At sentencing, the judge will have available a presentence investigation report (PSI), prepared by Parole and Probation, that details the defendant's complete criminal history (arrests, convictions, warrants, etc.), family history, drug addiction and treatment (or lack thereof) history, and a recommended sentence range based on the defendant's offender score and offense. The judge will hear from defense counsel and the state's attorney concerning a sentence.
  • The defendant will be sentenced to 10 years of incarceration. If the defendant is not also guilty of a violent offense, the judge, after a full appraisal of the defendant and listening to argument and recommendations of the state's attorney and defense counsel, MAY sentence to 10 years with the POSSIBILITY of parole.
  • The defendant is confined within the Department of Corrections and waits a minimum of two and a half years for a parole hearing.
  • The parole commission then determines, based on the defendant's updated presentence investigation report (PSI), offense, offender score, impact statements, a letter from the state's attorney that originally prosecuted the case, and the defendant's "base file" -- i.e., complete institutional record prepared by a case manager detailing tickets, classes, work history, etc., and whether the inmate has an exit plan -- i.e. a job and place to live -- whether to parole the inmate.
  • If the inmate is paroled (which is unlikely on the first attempt) and complies with the conditions of his or her parole, the state saves approximately $100,000 and public safety is not impacted.
  • If the inmate is paroled (again, unlikely on the first attempt), the inmate is subject to supervised probation and, if the inmate fails to comply with his or her parole conditions, faces serving the entire balance of the 10-year sentence.

While HB 992 by no means does all we would want, it is a beginning. I hope you will take action -- thanks for helping us help Maryland's nonviolent drug offenders this year.

Location: 
Annapolis, MD
United States

Editorial: OUR VIEW: It’s time to pass medical marijuana

Location: 
MN
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Winona Daily News (MN)
URL: 
http://www.winonadailynews.com/articles/2007/05/08/opinion/ourviews/ourview0508.txt

SD: Supreme Court says marijuana cannot be used as evidence

Location: 
Pierre, SD
United States
Publication/Source: 
Sioux City Journal (IA)
URL: 
http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2007/05/04/news/south_dakota/67123a26c690c28a862572d1000542db.txt

Coordinated Drug War Raids as Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

Peter Guither at the Drug WarRant blog has pointed out what he calls a "blatant and pathetic effort" by the State of Kentucky to secure drug war funding from Congress:
State police, local law enforcement, sheriff's offices, HIDTA and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces throughout the nation collectively conducted undercover investigations, search warrants, consent searches, marijuana eradication efforts, drug interdiction and arrest warrants for a period of one week. This collective effort, Operation Byrne Drugs II, was conducted from April 23-29 to highlight the need and effectiveness of the Byrne grant funding and the impact cuts to this funding could have on local and statewide drug enforcement.
Actually it is the media efforts that seem to be coordinated, in addition to the drug enforcement. I noticed a suspiciously similar press release distributed by the California Dept. of Justice last July about a suspiciously similar incident:
BNE task forces, comprised of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, throughout the state served 16 search warrants, seized three firearms, confiscated 53 pounds of methamphetamine, 91 pounds of marijuana, and 37,747 marijuana plants. State drug enforcement agencies across the U.S. on July 27, 2006 participated in a "national day of drug enforcement." Organized by the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, "Operation Byrne Drugs" promoted the continued funding of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program that supports local and statewide drug enforcement. The federally funded program has suffered deep cuts over the last few years, directly affecting BNE. In fiscal year 2001-02, BNE received more than $11.5 million for personnel and operating costs. In fiscal year 2006-07, BNE received less than $6 million, nearly a 50% decline over five years.
your tax dollars at work to get more of your tax dollars Now I run an advocacy group, and I can tell you with confidence that this is exactly what groups who want to achieve a legislative objective will do -- organize media-worthy events in order to get the attention of the policymakers you need to influence, in this case Congress. The main differences between what we do and what the narcs are doing are that: 1) They are using taxpayer funds to carry out their media/lobbying campaign to secure taxpayer funds; and 2) They are using the authority the government has given them to wield state power including guns in order to arrest and incarcerate people, as a component of their media-lobbying campaign. We will generally just hold a press conference or a rally, or issue a report. I suspect that in strict legal terms they have not violated the law. But make no mistake -- this is lobbying of Congress by state agencies to get our money, and they are destroying numerous lives in order to do it. I don't agree with drug enforcement at all (as readers know), but even for those who do, clearly enforcement decisions about when and whom to raid should be based on law enforcement/public safety needs, NOT politics. Unfortunately, it is not only drug money that corrupts our law enforcement; it is drug war money too.
Location: 
KY
United States

Ukiah may ban medical marijuana dispensaries

Location: 
Ukiah, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
URL: 
http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_5819639

Judge questions police methods, effectiveness of drug war

Location: 
FL
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Palm Beach Post (FL)
URL: 
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2007/05/04/m1a_DRUG_WAR_0504.html?imw=Y

Medical Marijuana: By a Veto-Proof Margin, Rhode Island Legislature Passes Bill to Keep It

The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to make the state's marijuana law permanent, and the state Senate followed right behind Thursday. The vote was 50-12 in the House and 28-5 in the Senate.

The votes set the scene for an expected veto by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R), who has indicated he will do just that. But the margin of victory in both chambers appears sufficient to easily overcome any veto. That would ensure that the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, which was passed last year with a one-year sunset provision, becomes a permanent part of Rhode Island law.

"The medical marijuana law has made life better and safer for me and over 250 other patients," said Rhonda O'Donnell, a registered nurse from Rockville, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. "Patients deserve permanent protection, and I still hope the governor will change his mind and sign it. A veto would be nothing less than an attack on the sick and suffering," she added in a Marijuana Policy Project press release.

"The science supporting medical marijuana is now beyond doubt, and Rhode Island's experience with this law has been completely positive," said Ray Warren, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The only controversy seems to be in the governor's mind, but strong support from the public and the medical community overcame his veto once, and if necessary, will do so again."

Gov. Carcieri vetoed the 2006 bill, but was overridden by the legislature. Look for history to repeat itself soon and for Rhode Island to become a permanent medical marijuana state, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

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