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July 2014
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Open Thread

I’m on my way to Los Angeles for a few days for work.

Here are a few items to get your blood boiling…

bullet image Meet Jason Westcott, your latest, needless, inexcusable drug war tragedy

On the night of May 27, as armed men streamed through his front door, Westcott grabbed his gun. But the 29-year-old didn’t have a chance to shoot before he died in a volley of gunfire. And those who killed him weren’t robbers.

They were police officers from the same agency he had enlisted to protect his home.

bullet image Imprisoning Women for Addiction

At MCI-Framingham, women committed solely under Section 35 are, in many respects, treated worse than convicted prisoners. Like other prisoners, they are strip-searched, subjected to body-cavity inspections, and deprived of their personal possessions and dignity. But unlike other prisoners, they cannot visit the library, pray at the chapel, or participate in prison programs. In fact, civilly committed women at MCI-Framingham cannot even access the addiction treatment programs available to sentenced prisoners.

As Governor Deval Patrick has acknowledged, Massachusetts is the only state that incarcerates people suffering from addiction who have not been convicted of crimes. This lawsuit seeks to end that practice.

bullet image Via Diane Goldstein, comes this from the Center for Investigative Reporting: Doctor pleads guilty to billing fraud at Los Angeles-area rehab clinic

A Southern California physician pleaded guilty to falsely identifying teenagers as drug or alcohol addicts to justify millions in bills to the government’s rehabilitation program for the poor. […]

The Redondo Beach doctor had been medical director since 1999 and was responsible for $46 million in fraudulent claims, prosecutors said. Whitson referred questions to his attorney, who declined to comment.

Four Atlantic counselors also pleaded guilty to fraud last year. They were accused of spending only a half-hour twice a week with students while fabricating the paperwork to bill for up to five 90-minute counseling sessions each week.[…]

At Atlantic, prosecutors stated that Margarita Lopez, Tamara Diaz, Cindy Leticia Ortiz and Arthur Dominguez enrolled students in substance abuse counseling even if they didn’t have an addiction problem. At the direction of their supervisors, they then fabricated counseling notes to justify billing the government for sessions that never happened. Dominguez, for example, was instructed to improve his fake paperwork if it appeared to be copied and pasted.

bullet image Terminal Cancer Patient Rushed to Hospital During Felony Trial for Medical Pot

Despite Mackenzie’s deteriorating condition, his trial is expected to be completed Friday, Linda Bowman, the judicial trial court supervisor at the Scott County Clerk’s Office, told The Huffington Post. If Mackenzie is found guilty, he faces at least three years in prison — a punishment that he’s said equates to a death sentence. […]

District Court Judge Henry Latham ruled in May that Mackenzie is barred from using his condition as a defense in court during his trial as a reason for why he was growing marijuana, the Associated Press reported.

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39 comments to Open Thread

  • claygooding

    What happened to a person being able to use any evidence in his own defense,,the government has the right to use any evidence against a defendant but the defendant must have restrictions on his ability to defend himself against his accusers.
    Take the blindfold off the bitch,,the deck is stacked.

    Can you imagine being a federal judge,,that has probably smoked marijuana and knows it is a lie,having to remember doing this to people for the bucks and the “prestige”?

    • Being told that you can’t use your condition as a defense is the equivalent of being told you must lie and not tell the truth in this trial. That makes this trial a complete sham. He is being “railroaded”.

      http://tinyurl.com/o4eg4os
      RAILROAD
      transitive verb
      1
      a : to convict with undue haste and by means of false charges or insufficient evidence
      b : to push through hastily or without due consideration

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      How in the world has the fact that cannabis doesn’t require smoking to gain its benefits been kept such a secret from so many people? Did you know that there are people that think that edibles were invented in Colorado in the last year and a half? Oh, and it was done by the “pushers” to get “the children” “hooked” on “dope.”

      What is with the resurrection of the word “pusher” anyway?

    • Duncan20903

      You know, that has to be the most long winded argument of form over substance in existence.

      .

  • Servetus

    By being denied access to marijuana, Benton Mackenzie is being offered the poisoned chalice by the federal court. To quote Robert Jackson, chief prosecutor for the United States at Nuremburg, “The record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.” It’s doubtful District Court Judge Henry Latham would want the chalice passed to him were he in Mckenzie’s situation.

    Mackenzie, women addicts in Massachusetts, and Jason Westcott are victims of a drug war aggression by an American government that lost any sense of justice long ago. These aggressive American policies are what the U.S. would impose upon the entire world if it could.

    In recent article by Noam Chomsky entitled appropriately America Is the World Leader at Committing ‘Supreme International Crimes’, Chomsky cites the Nuremburg judgment of prominent Nazis: aggression is “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

    At the Nuremburg trials, the Tribunal drew its authority involving crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity:

    “The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

    “(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing:

    “(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment, or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity:

    “(c ) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

    “Leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.”

    The federal and state laws pertaining to the consumers of illicit drugs is a war of aggression that contains within itself the accumulated evil of the entire American judicial and political system.

  • I’ve just returned from the US Penitentiary in Tucson where I visited Leonard Pickard. He is housed with the worst of the very worst; many names you would recognize, all guilty of the most horrific crimes imaginable. And the security I went through was extraordinary. The sound of those steel doors (all three sets) closing behind you is creepier and freakier than anything on TV or the movies.

    I was Leonard’s first visitor in over a year. It will take me a few days to digest the whole thing, and even then I may not write about it. It was surreal and far more emotional than I anticipated.

    Leonard appreciates the fact he is loved and not forgotten. But nothing says love like a postcard. So please, take a few minutes of your freedom and send Leonard a postcard with just this simple message: We love you and will never forget you.

    Leonard Pickard
    FRN 82687-011
    P.O. Box 24550
    Tucson, AZ 85734

    He is allowed nothing else through the mail, so please, a postcard only. And it goes without saying – but I will – all correspondence is read, scanned and archived.

  • Tony Aroma

    Is Mackenzie’s case being tried in federal court? Didn’t sound like it from the article. If not, how can they bar him from a medical necessity defense?

  • Jean Valjean

    If ever a case was likely to end in jury nullification this is it. Even the most anti-cannabis minded jurors would be hard put not to sympathize with the defendants in this case.

    • Duncan20903

      Yep, it’s a darn shame that the jury won’t hear any of the stuff that might make them sympathetic to the defendant. For all they know he’s just got a bad case of influenza.

  • Sukoi

    Here’s something that I found interesting: CNN’s Crossfire posts a poll question daily and the question today was: “Do you support legalizing recreational marijuana?”. What was interesting is that they never disclosed the poll results on the air like Newt Gingrich clearly said they would. I checked after the show and the results were 74% yes and 26% no. Hmmm….
    http://crossfire.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/08/in-the-crossfire-immigration-and-medical-marijuana/

  • Firefighter Frank

    I thought you all could use a laugh, this made me blow coffee out of my nose this morning. The Gazette is in cahoots with this sadomoralist pilgrim, so they, (the paper) have buried this article already and would not allow comments. They also have a pay wall, but the headline says it all. http://billingsgazette.com/news/government-and-politics/zabawa-anti-marijuana-initiative-likely-didn-t-get-enough-signatures/article_76d01b76-0734-5ece-a4c6-e25c07971c01.html

    • John

      The paywall appears to have been removed. I was able to view the article with no problem.

  • Servetus

    Mango/marijuana munchie mania mobilizes media. In the connoisseur world of herbal marijuana terpenes and mercenes, the new rage is consuming a mango an hour before lighting up. An enhancement and elongation of the marijuana effect is reported.

    The new mango/marijuana trend raises questions. Did the mango industry invent the mango/marijuana effect to boost sales? If not, will the mango industry soon be threatened by its new link to marijuana and to marijuana consumers? Will marijuana consumers become healthier by consuming mangoes? What does this mean for the pizza industry? Will the FDA and prohibitionists wage war on the ingredients found in mangoes? After all, mangoes do come from a plant.

    • allan

      I saw a report from Belize that says young children are now eating mangoes. US Govcorp scientists have isolated the chemical constituent in mangoes that gives consumers that “special” enjoyment. Unfortunately that process has been duplicated by the latin america cartels and the substance is hitting streets across the region. The effects are subtle but consumption leads to addiction and those crafty drug dealers have begun calling it “sugar.” Wiwy wascals.

    • primus

      So now they will follow me home when I buy a case of mangos? I have a serious Jones for mangos.

      • allan

        and another fictional character arises from the couch… Mango Jones

        It has a certain ring to it.

    • Jean Valjean

      Will we now see produce departments raided for selling drug paraphernalia?

    • Duncan20903

      I’ve had mango mania for years, just love ’em. I never thought of them as a cannabis enhancement. Yummy, that’s the extent of my mango analysis.

  • Nunavut Tripper

    I’m doing mango dabs as we speak.

    Awesome man !!! Better than sex.

  • thelbert

    cannabis city is the place you want to be:http://tinyurl.com/ozrz8g3 exo-cannabinoids are now legal for adults in wash.

  • DdC

    Colorado man offers Obama a toke of marijuana — a Rocky Mountain ̵
    http://t.co/nXQWFnpnnD
    Marijuana-smoking Colorado residents are embracing President Obama, who puffed a lot of weed in his younger days, as one of their own.

    How to talk to the Police…
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BsIIU0QCEAAFvJj.jpg

  • Daegan

    Sent a form email to my Senator encouraging her to vote yes on defunding DEA raids against businesses which are in compliance with state law. This is her reply:

    Dear Daegan,

    Thank you for contacting me to express your support for House Amendment 748. I appreciate hearing from you, and welcome the opportunity to provide my perspective.

    On May 29, 2014, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) offered House Amendment 748 to the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 4660), which would prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds in a manner that would impede the implementation of state laws authorizing the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana. The House agreed to the amendment on May 30th by a vote of 219-189.

    Please know that I do not support this amendment for several reasons, including the impact it could have on federal efforts to investigate and prosecute rogue marijuana dispensaries. The federal government must have the ability to enforce the law as it is currently stands, and I believe this amendment goes too far in tying the federal government’s hands.

    You may be interested to know that in August 2013, the Department of Justice announced that it would not block state laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington. It also highlighted eight areas in which the Justice Department will prioritize its marijuana enforcement efforts. This guidance for United States Attorneys across the country will help ensure that serious criminal enterprises are investigated and prosecuted in the appropriate manner.

    While I support the compassionate use of medical marijuana when prescribed by a physician for certain serious illnesses, I also have concerns about youth marijuana use and rogue dispensaries. I am especially concerned about the proliferation of violence and devastating environmental impacts associated with marijuana grown on public lands and agricultural land in California, specifically in the Central Valley. For this reason I support federal efforts to investigate and prosecute the illegal dispensaries and cultivation sites – efforts that this amendment could prevent.

    Again, thank you for writing. While we may not agree on this issue, I appreciate your taking the time to share your opinion. If you have any additional comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.

    Sincerely yours,

    Dianne Feinstein
    United States Senator

    • DonDig

      “Please know that I do not support this amendment for several reasons, including the impact it could have on federal efforts to investigate and prosecute rogue marijuana dispensaries. The federal government must have the ability to enforce the law as it is currently stands, and I believe this amendment goes too far in tying the federal government’s hands.”

      So she’s representing the Federal Government. I thought she was supposed to be representing us peeps. I wonder who it is in her constituency (those who actually voted for her) she believes herself to be supporting.

      The war on pot was a racist, classist travesty when imagined, and got worse from there.

      We should all be ashamed enough to stand up for ending this immediately.  

    • DdC

      DiFi splainin why hemp is illegal…
      http://endingcannabisprohibition.yuku.com/sreply/617

      Diane Feinstein – the best argument for term limits
      http://endingcannabisprohibition.yuku.com/sreply/373

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    New York State included employee protection from being sanctioned by their employers. I’ll bet it’s good news for the 3 State residents that qualify!
    Five Things NY Employers Need To Know About Legal Marijuana

  • DdC

    OT: After sending a twitter it says…
    Return to twitter.com and returns to the twit I sent.

    Shouldn’t it be Return to drugwarrant.com?

    Med marijuana shops in Berkeley must give free pot to low-income patients, City rules: http://lat.ms/TU8Y2B

    Seattle’s City Attorney stood in line to buy legal pot yesterday for personal use http://ow.ly/yYHA9

    CelebStoner ‏@CelebStoner
    @MasonTvert: “The drug czar’s office is still tone deaf when it comes to marijuana policy.” http://bit.ly/1n9mTZC @MarijuanaPolicy

    • kaptinemo

      No one should have to pee in a bottle for employment’s sake; after all, what employers give breathalyzer tests to prospective new hires?

      This is going to be interesting. The local Chamber of Commerce is probably involved, as they are in the CO Dish TV case.

      Some employers like to think they own you. That’s what all this drug testing BS is about: social control of workers outside the workplace. (Which, when you think about it, is a hallmark of fascism.) The new re-legalization laws directly challenge that.

      The new laws may also revitalize unions, who have been under attack these past 30-40 years and have lost a lot of clout. They can regain that clout by supporting re-legalization, as many are learning in Oregon.

      The day is approaching where those who seek such control will face the wrath of those they sought to control, courtesy of some very expensive lawsuits. Oh, speed the day, for that will be more proof of the social pendulum swinging from far-right to the center again.

      • Windy

        I expect that soon employers who fire employees for use of cannabis in their off the clock lives will be running short of employees. That will cause them to rethink their drug testing policies … IF they are smart business owners.