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State Courts Slap Down Cops on Outrageous Over-the-Top Pot Raids

Alternet - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:39
Click here for reuse options! There's this thing called the Fourth Amendment...

With the federal judiciary increasingly the domain of conservative jurists, state courts may not be the first but the last resort for people seeking redress of grievances against the state. And they are stepping up: In two recent rulings, state courts in Florida and Michigan have thrown out marijuana cases because of dangerous, overly aggressive SWAT-style raids.

In the Florida case, a heavily armed SWAT team of Collier County Sheriff's deputies hoping to seize two dozen pot plants growing in the back yard of Juan Falcon's home arrived at his front door at 7am, yelled that they were police, and broke down his door with a battering ram, throwing two flashbang grenades into the home for good measure.

As the state's Second District Court of Appeal noted in its ruling that the search was illegal, police knew they were hitting a family residence with two children in the home, that Falcon had no criminal record, and that he posed no threat of violence.

Florida law allows "knock and announce" searches, where police can forcibly enter a residence when homeowners fail to respond in a timely fashion to their demands to open up. But in a unanimous decision authored by Judge Susan Rothstein-Youakim, the appeals court held that police in this case went too far:

At just past 6:45 a.m. on April 9, 2014, a SWAT unit of at least six heavily armed deputies appeared on the front doorstep of Falcon’s residence to execute a search warrant. Less than an hour earlier, the deputies had all been briefed on the fact that Falcon lived in the residence with his family, which included an adolescent son and a teenage daughter. Notwithstanding the nature of the suspected offense, the deputies had no reason to believe that there were any weapons in the residence or that Falcon was armed and dangerous; his criminal history consisted of one arrest for driving under the influence. The deputies also had no reason to believe that Falcon knew that they were coming, that anyone inside the residence was at risk of harm, or that Falcon or his family might try to escape or destroy evidence.

Not only were the cops overly aggressive given the totality of the circumstances, Rothstein-Youakim concluded, they violated the "knock and announce" law by announcing their presence, but then breaking down the door "with such haste that the occupant does not have a reasonable opportunity to respond."

The court reversed Falcon's conviction for maintaining a marijuana grow house.

In the Michigan case, the state Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion, throwing out the convictions of two Kent County jail guards for possessing marijuana-infused butter after Kent County narcotics agents conducted predawn raids without warrants on their homes. One raid came at 4am and the other at 5:30am.

The Kent County narcs insisted the warrantless raids were proper because they were only doing "knock and talk" interactions with the suspects. Under the state's "knock and talk" law, police can go to someone's home without a warrant and engage them in hopes of turning up suspicious behavior. In these cases, heavily armed police appeared in the middle of the night, demanded entrance to the homes, and the intimidated homeowners and their families consented to the search.

The jail guards later challenged the legality of those searches, and in a unanimous decision, the state Supreme Court agreed the searches were unlawful:

In these cases, the police officers exceeded the scope of the implied license to knock and talk because the officers approached defendants’ respective homes without warrants during the predawn hours; therefore, the officers trespassed on Fourth-Amendment-protected property. And because the officers trespassed while seeking information about defendants’ alleged possession of marijuana butter, they performed searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

In the wake of that ruling, the trial judge in the case ruled last month that the marijuana-infused butter seized in the raids could not be used as evidence because police had violated the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unwarranted searches and seizures.

Police conduct thousands of these SWAT-style drug raids each year. In rare cases, the resort to paramilitarized SWAT teams to go after drug suspects in middle of the night raids resembling combat operations may be justified, but in all too many cases, they amount to dangerous overkill. It's a shame that elected officials fail to rein them in, but at least some state courts still uphold the Constitution. 

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WeedMD Secures License From Health Canada to Sell Cannabis Oil - GlobeNewswire (press release)

Google - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:17

WeedMD Secures License From Health Canada to Sell Cannabis Oil
GlobeNewswire (press release)
TORONTO, Dec. 01, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WeedMD Inc. (TSX-V:WMD) (“WeedMD” or the “Company”), a federally-licensed producer (LP) and distributor of medical cannabis, is pleased to announce that the Company has secured its cannabis oil sales license ...

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Will Citizens Be Able To Grow Their Own Marijuana In New Jersey?

Alternet - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 11:50
If there's no home cultivation, it's not really legalization.

Since Phil Murphy became governor elect, replacing the nation’s least popular governor in history, Chris Christie, New Jerseyites have been waiting with bated breath to see cannabis become legal. Some out of worry, but most out of pure excitement.

Murphy promised to legalize recreational cannabis within his first 100 days in office. While there was already a bill introduced in January, it has stayed in committee and in Assembly respectively, with Christie’s foot firm on the brakes.

Legislators and advocates are working on drafting a new bill now, as they acknowledge that the older bill needed some tweaking to pass the Legislature.

To answer the above question on home cultivation, the answer is a strong maybe. In the current bill the answer is no, no growing your own, however, that could change with the new bill. Kate Bell from the Marijuana Policy Project says that they are advocating strongly for home grow inclusion and they seem to be making progress with their case, according to

As to the rest of what we know about the existing bill, adults 21 and over will be able to possess up to one ounce of dried cannabis. Only towns that allow recreational sales will stand to benefit from the tax revenue. Best of all, those whose criminal records consist of nonviolent cannabis “crimes” will be eligible to have their records expunged.

Criminal justice is one of Murphy’s main reasons for wanting to dispel of prohibition. He knows the numbers and that black and brown people are arrested and incarcerated at much higher levels than whites, while data shows that people of all races use cannabis at around the same rate.

A new, diverse market is about to open in New Jersey, and diversity is one of the original bill’s points. It calls for women and minorities to be given the chance at licenses to grow or distribute. It’s not all about the weed, it’s about jobs, justice, diversification, infrastructure and the tax revenue that will help in all areas.

And though the original bill doesn’t allow for public usage, there’s a great possibility that legislators have been doing their homework and know that places to consume are a must. Plus, MPP is already on it. New Jersey may have a new kind of social club sooner than later…


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Another 6,000 Tainted Massachusetts Drug Cases Get Overturned

Alternet - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 11:29
That's in addition to another 21,000 earlier this year. Something is rotten in the Bay State.

BOSTON (CN) – Closing out a banner year for overturned drug convictions, the American Civil Liberties Union announced a 25 percent boost Thursday to the number of cases being dismissed by prosecutors over tainted evidence.

“Today we announce that multiple Massachusetts district attorneys are now poised to dismiss thousands of wrongful convictions due to evidence tainted by Sonja Farak,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, addressing reporters from the group’s offices in Boston. “This shameful history of misconduct keeps repeating itself.”

The Thursday morning press conference marks the second blast this year at drug convictions in the commonwealth tainted by laboratory misconduct.

More than 21,000 drug convictions were overturned in April based on their connection to Annie Dookhan, the disgraced Hinton State Laboratory chemist who went to prison after she admitted to having doctored the results about one in six of the criminal drug cases tried in Massachusetts between 2003 and 2012.

While Dookhan’s efforts served to goose her lab work, Farak at the Amherst drug lab pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing cocaine she was supposed to be testing.

The ACLU noted in a petition to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this fall that Farak was abusing a pharmacy’s worth of drugs on an almost daily basis from August 2004 until Jan. 18, 2013. During this time she “was under the influence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, phentermine, ketamine, MDMA, MDEA, LSD, cocaine, or other narcotics (or suffering withdrawal from those substances),” the petition said.

Attorneys at the ACLU want the evidence that crossed paths with Farak to meet the same fate as the Dookhan cases. They say the state attempted to conceal the extent of the damage.

“Upon finding out about Ms. Farak’s malfeasance, prosecutors mislead the public about the scope of the scandal,” said Rose. “Our primary purpose today is to seek justice for thousands of people who have been needlessly suffering.”

The ACLU’s Farak petition led the Supreme Judicial Court to demand that Massachusetts district attorneys produce a list of affected cases as well as a list of cases that they intended to dismiss.

They had until the end of the day Thursday to comply.

Five district attorneys announced ahead of the ACLU’s morning press conference that they were dismissing a total of 6,057 cases.

“Given the nature and extent of her misconduct, retesting the substances at issue is unlikely to yield a reliable result,” Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said. “The most appropriate step is to notify the court that we will not pursue any further litigation in any of the identified cases.”

Suffolk, which is home to Boston, is dismissing 135 cases. Hampden County accounts for the bulk of dismissed cases (3,940), while the Northwestern District DA, who handles Franklin and Hampshire counties, is dismissing the next highest number of cases (1,497). Middlesex and Worcester counties are dismissing 245 and 241 cases, respectively.

The remaining district attorneys released their numbers later Thursday, announcing the dismissal of roughly 1,000 more cases. Essex is dismissing about 500 cases, Bristol reported 203, Plymouth gave an estimate of about 100, and Norfolk reported 76. The DA of the three counties making up the Cape & Islands did not find any cases. Berkshire County was reportedly reviewing 600 cases but has not revealed how many it will dismiss.

Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office, said that her office did not submit any dismissals because they were not away of any cases from their office that were affected by Farak.

“It’s unfortunate that the ACLU chose to stage a press conference without reading the AG’s brief filed in this case, which calls for speedy relief for these defendants,” Fennimore said in an email. “Sonja Farak’s crimes were egregious and, as our filings today make clear, this office has been working hard to resolve these cases as quickly as possible. Staff in the AG’s Office have been working hard for months to review databases, identify the Farak defendants, and secure their speedy relief. For the ACLU to suggest otherwise is false and irresponsible.”

The ACLU brought its Farak petition with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and the firm Fick & Marx.

“This case is a reflection of how a misguided war on drugs turned into a war on poor people and a war on people of color,” Randy Gioia, deputy chief counsel at the Committee for Public Counsel Services, said Thursday. “It turns out that for thousands of people the system that sent them to jail or put them on probation was rotten to the core.

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Canada Safety Council warns against driving while high on marijuana - The Gander Beacon

Google - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 11:16

The Gander Beacon

Canada Safety Council warns against driving while high on marijuana
The Gander Beacon
State Farm Insurance compiled research in 2016 that shows more than 60 per cent of respondents foresee an increase in impaired driving when marijuana is legalized next year. Out of those same respondents, only one in 10 admitted to driving high – and ...

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Is Quebec missing out on the marijuana boom? -

Google - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 02:59

Is Quebec missing out on the marijuana boom?
Access to capital a hurdle. One reason for the discrepancy? Toronto investment banks have the cash to back the projects in the early stages, said Chuck Rifici, a marijuana industry pioneer and the CEO of Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. "They provide ...

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Canadian marijuana advocate blasts 'hypocrisy' of ex-police cashing in on cannabis - The Guardian

Google - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 01:15

The Guardian

Canadian marijuana advocate blasts 'hypocrisy' of ex-police cashing in on cannabis
The Guardian
One of Canada's most prominent marijuana activists has taken aim at former police officers who have entered the country's fledgling cannabis industry, saying it was “hard to stomach” that those who spent years sending people to jail for pot offences ...

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OR: Oregon - KOIN 6

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OR: Veterans hospital reduces methadone use after patient dies - KOIN 6

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OR: Massive Illegal Pot Grow In Western Washington Allegedly Has Connections to China - Jefferson Public Radio

Bot - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 00:49 (US) Shumate said some of the arrested immigrants said through a translator they understood marijuana was legalized in the Northwest. (Fri Dec 01 21:49:14 2017 PST)
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Cannabis bills pass debate after Communist China interlude - Edmonton Journal

Google - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 00:48

Edmonton Journal

Cannabis bills pass debate after Communist China interlude
Edmonton Journal
Debate on Alberta's two bills outlining how legal cannabis will be dealt with took an unexpected trip to Asia this week. During discussion on Bill 26, which regulates the sale of cannabis, Lacombe-Ponoka United Conservative MLA Ronald Orr called Ottawa ...

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St. Albert greenhouse icon getting into cannabis-growing business - Edmonton Journal

Google - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 00:48

Edmonton Journal

St. Albert greenhouse icon getting into cannabis-growing business
Edmonton Journal
Jim Hole is getting into the commercial cannabis game and he couldn't be happier. In fact, the St. Albert greenhouse owner who has dedicated a lifetime to horticulture can't remember the last time he was this excited about growing a plant. This week ...

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OR: OLCC 'Go Legal!' campaign promotes cannabis industry - KTVZ

Bot - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 00:37 (US) This is a very modern and scientific industry. We hope that prospective cannabis business owners will appreciate hearing directly from their peers about the importance of operating within the regulated market. (Fri Dec 01 21:37:08 2017 PST)
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OR: News - Eugene News, Weather, Sports and Breaking News -- KEZI 9 News

Bot - Cannabis - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 00:36 (US) Continued protection sought for medical-marijuana states ... (Fri Dec 01 21:36:09 2017 PST)
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OR: US Approves Monthly Injection for Opioid Addiction

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OR: Sessions Calls Marijuana Use Detrimental And Suggests Federal Action

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OR: Willamette Week -- Portland News, Movies, Music, Restaurants, Arts - Willamette Week

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