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May 2015
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We don’t make the laws…

How many times have we heard that? “We don’t make the laws; we just enforce them.”

Of course, that’s complete crap, as any of us who have attended a legislative session about medical marijuana legalization know – seeing the law enforcement officers in uniform there attempting to influence the process, even to the point of giving testimony regarding what is “medicine.” We see the police associations lobbying and spreading misinformation.

This next bit of information has been already discussed at length here in comments, but I think it’s important enough to have as a main post.

Ray Stern with the Phoenix New Times reported on this: Forfeiture Funds Used to Opposed Marijuana Legalization

A law-enforcement task force in Yavapai County cut a $50,000 check from RICO funds to a substance-abuse group dedicated to fighting marijuana legalization in Arizona, New Times has learned.

The deal between the Yavapai County-based Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT) task force and MATFORCE was made soon after the Marijuana Policy Project announced it would launch a 2016 legalization campaign in Arizona — and more public funding against legalization could be on the way.

And here’s no surprise…

We don’t want to make any rash assumptions, but a Google search shows that MATFORCE conducted quite a bit of anti-marijuana-legalization campaigning in early 2014, after it received the RICO funds. Various boards and town councils were approached and asked to sign resolutions against legalization — resolutions which were sometimes filled with half-truths and rank propaganda. A few months after getting Polk’s RICO check, MATFORCE also brought in nationally-known anti-legalization speaker Kevin Sabet for its annual conference that April. We’ll let you know if we find out Sabet received expense reimbursements or direct payments from MATFORCE for his appearance. […]

UPDATE May 14: Sheila Polk got back to us, letting us know — essentially — that we were correct. The RICO funds helped pay for Sabet’s appearance in April of 2014. Here’s her email to New Times:

“The RICO funds have been used by MATFORCE to conduct a public awareness campaign on the harms of marijuana through billboards, focus groups on effective messaging, radio PSAs, rack cards, a marijuana tool kit, books, associated contract and travel expenses, and two conferences on marijuana in 2014. Our first conference was in April where we brought out Kevin Sabet, the leading national expert on marijuana, its harms, and the negative impact on communities in states that have legalized it for either medical or retail purposes, and the second was in November. Both conferences were open to the public. Kevin Sabet is the founder of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, along with Patrick Kennedy.

This kind of use of taxpayer money to lobby against citizen initiatives is obviously wrong in so many ways, but those doing it were initially bolstered by the Arizona Attorney General:

Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an opinion, based on a question by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, that public resources could continue to “educate” the public about the alleged evils of marijuana legalization.

However, this statement created such an outcry, that he has backed off that position.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has withdrawn his May 4 opinion regarding the use of public resources in elections following intense criticism.

A link to the opinion now returns a message of the withdrawal, and Brnovich’s office issued a public statement about it today:

“Attorney General Brnovich takes the allegations that the previously issued opinion may have provided an opportunity for potential government abuse very seriously. Like those who requested the original opinion, our office has a responsibility to protect the taxpayer dollars of hardworking Arizonans.”

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15 comments to We don’t make the laws…

  • Tony Aroma

    “We don’t make the laws; we just enforce them.”

    That is the most fundamentally false statement that could possibly be made by law enforcement regarding marijuana laws (or any other controlled substance). The DEA is now solely responsible for scheduling controlled substances. They decide which drugs are illegal and, in theory, which drugs are not. So, in the most literal sense, they do make the drugs laws that they are paid to enforce. I don’t understand how such a blatant conflict of interest continues to exist.

    • Windy

      The DEA and ALL federal law enforcement are completely unconstitutional because the Constitution actually forbids the fed gov from having ANY policing powers at all. State and municipal police are unnecessary, the Sheriff’s department can handle all necessary law enforcement in his/her county, the State and municipal police forces are overkill. Besides, the only Constitutional form of law enforcement IS the county Sheriff, due to the fact s/he is elected and can be recalled before the term is complete for misconduct or ignoring the main duty of the Sheriff — to protect all the residents of the county from any and ALL unconstitutional acts, actions, and statutes regardless their source.

  • kaptinemo

    And, as usual, they are clumsy about their lies: MATFORCE Changes Website After New Times’ Article, Removes Names of Alleged Supporters

    from the article:

    A Yavapai County-based anti-substance-abuse coalition fighting marijuana legalization has decided to be more honest about who supports it.

    Following our blog post last week that mentioned MATFORCE’s screwed-up billboard and outdated “About Us” page, the group removed the names of most of its alleged supporters.

    MATFORCE began years ago with an anti-meth bent, and we’ll commend the work it does to inform people about the mortal dangers of abusing hard drugs and misusing prescription medicines.

    Led by anti-pot crusader Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney, and prohibitionist Merilee Fower, though, MATFORCE has wafted into politics with its “Reefer Madness”-style push to stop a 2016 legalization effort in Arizona.

    And they even drew an innocent bystander into it:

    “We did, however, receive word from Dr. Patricia Kerrigan, founder of the Think Again! Foundation, which helps kids recover from cancer. As our blog post related last week, at least one billboard put up by MATFORCE in the Phoenix area flubbed its message, promoting Kerrigan’s site instead of its own…

    She caught all kinds of Hell because they slipped up:

    Kerrigan found out that not all cannabis lovers are mellow.

    “I got many irate callers,” she says. “One woman wanted me to burn in hell for shoving pharmaceuticals down the throats of children.”

    This is what I meant by the ‘tall grass’ provided by the authoritarian ‘Greatest Generation’s support for ignoring civil rights in favor of ‘law ‘n’ order’ enabling support for the DrugWar. Now that the tall grass is being cut down, and people can see what was hiding behind it all along, all the old ways of doing business that the prohibs had are receiving the legal challenges they were previously shielded from.

    The laws to defeat the prohibs were always on the books. The problem was the laws were being selectively prosecuted by those who had enough political cover to ignore the laws that would retard their ‘progress’ and act as a check against the inevitable abuses of power that such a situation engenders.

    But now, a new political generation arises, one that wants cannabis legal again, and that is in direct confrontation with the behind-the-scenes machinery that depends on only lip service being paid to democracy so that it can continue its predations from under legal cover.

    The democratic vote threatens to rip the top off the machine and show what’s been toiling away inside it, needlessly destroying lives, families, rights and careers, and doing so with public money. The new electorate is in collision course with the old machine. The threat of being overwhelmed by sheer electoral numbers is only just now beginning to sink into the cognizance of the prohib leadership vis-a-vis incidents like this…which will become more common, count on it.

  • Will

    “Our first conference was in April where we brought out Kevin Sabet, the leading national expert on marijuana, its harms, and the negative impact on communities in states that have legalized it for either medical or retail purposes…”

    As we all know, this is completely and utterly false. Kevin Sabet is NOT an expert in any way related to cannabis. The only way he can be cited as a “leading national expert” in anything is in intentionally misleading the public. Even though he puts “Dr.” in front of his name, he is not a phycician, not a clinical researcher and relies on skewing scientific data for his fraudulent claims. In fact, he proudly continues to tout flawed data from studies already debunked. He has never objectively studied cannabis in any way, shape or form. He has no special powers to glean hidden ‘scary’ information from studies the rest of us are somehow blind to. Among the couple of degrees I have, my 38-year-old community college Associate of Arts degree (which took me 4 semesters to complete and was essentially an extension of high school) is every bit as relevant when it comes to understanding cannabis as is his PhD in social policy. Although he’s tightly bound to addiction and substance abuse “experts”, he merely relies on the bullshit of those experts to amplify the same bullshit. He’s listed as an associate professor at the University of Florida where he heads the Drug Policy Institute. But, as was communicated directly to me by someone at UF, he “works” about 4 hours a week, is paid a little over $3K a year and teaches no classes (thank GOD!). Another sham credential (and a waste of a measly $3K). Sure, he has written books, blogged, and written articles about cannabis. But so what? Anyone with rudimentary typing skills can lie with impunity using the written word as a vehicle. Kevin Sabet’s greatest achievement and legacy will go down as being a consummate liar regarding all that surrounds the cannabis plant, with the net result of his “work” being a degradation of social good. How grand :/

    Yeah, I know, all of the above has been stated many times before about “Dr.” Sabet. I just felt like ranting about it all over again. Apologies for the redundancy.

    • kaptinemo

      So, how is what he is purveying now – at 3K a speaking engagement – worth that much more, when he was peddling the very same ‘stuff’, on our dime and our time, when he worked salary for ONDCP?

      Is manure more valuable today than it was then? Somehow, I doubt it…

      • Will

        The same manure is more valuable today because of desperation. Similar to a gambler on a losing streak, throwing more and more money at the roulette wheel in a desperate attempt to “hit it big” before all his money is gone, some prohibitionists are increasingly willing to pay what it takes to hear what they want to hear before there’s no one left to preach to them. They need to be increasingly assuaged. And Kevin Sabet, with manure circa 1992 (or ’82 or ’72) enticingly in hand, is more than willing to take the money from their sweaty hands. Just in time before the whole thing collapses.

        That, and/or they are just plain stupid.

    • n.t. greene

      …clearly the people in charge didn’t even google search kevkev.

      I’m not even sure he could be considered an expert at slinging the manure he is prone to sling.

      I’d rather poll strangers on the street!

    • Servetus

      It might be a mistake to believe Kevin Sabet is involved in the prohibition business just for the salary. It appears his family has money, and that like them he doesn’t need a real job. Three of his close relatives can be Googled to make the point: Homa Sabet Tavangar, Shahrzad Sabet-esfahani, and Zabiholah Sabet-Sharghi.

      Tavanger is the author of a book about raising children to be global citizens, typical of the Baha’i attitude that promotes a united world citizenship. Sabet-esfahani has a degree from Harvard, and is currently a post grad fellow at Princeton. Zabiholah Sabet-Sharghi has a PhD from Case Western Reserve University (1971).

      Ivy league schools aren’t cheap, and so far I can detect little or no visible means of support for Kevin, nor for some of his immediate family. I suppose the cartels could be funding him, as he is doing everything he can to keep the cartels alive.

      • DdC

        “The masses have little time to think. And how incredible is the willingness of modern man to believe.”

        Several vested ignorance’s, not just for the salary. Still a tax paid grant, corporate donation or University paid salary to perpetuate gossip and prohibition profits. His theme since Clinton has been McCaffrey’s treating it like cancer in asylum type rehabilitation facilities. Califono treatments or Koch cages if you flunk rehab.

        His motive may be serving his Cult, but he has still wasted taxes for two decades. Wasted countless lives and has an ugly contempt for the ideals of Liberty from Religious and Government tyranny. Weasel. Is this a Cult type of Baha’i Sharia law teabags and ditto’s rant over? Sharia, or sharia law, is the Islamic legal system derived from commands in the basic texts of Islam, the Quran and Hadith. A modern puritan in an imperfect universe.

        In 1948 the United Nations, as well as the International Criminal Court (ICC), defined the crime of genocide as: any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

        (a) Killing members of the group;

        (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

        (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

        (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

        (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

        “Parallel to the training of the body a struggle against the poisoning of the soul must begin. Our whole public life today is like a hothouse for sexual ideas and simulations. Just look at the bill of fare served up in our movies, vaudeville and theaters, and you will hardly be able to deny that this is not the right kind of food, particularly for the youth…Theater, art, literature, cinema, press, posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral, political, and cultural idea.”
        Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 10

  • Servetus

    Arizona State Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s mea culpa is as shallow as Arizona’s human rights record.

    Brnovich is sorry $50,000 worth of public funds were diverted to protect and preserve an ongoing human rights crime that targets minorities for drug crimes. Yeah, he’s sorry he can’t do it anymore.

    When Arizona was penalized $26-million by the federal government because Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided non-citizens should be excluded from police protection and services, Arpaio was really sorry when a federal court ordered Arizona to provide policing services to illegal aliens, or those perceived as such. He wasn’t sorry to lose Arizona tax money to a federal fine, because it wasn’t his. In 2011, Arpaio misappropriated $99-million in state funds. Sheriff Arpaio wasn’t sorry then, either.

    Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was sorry when she caused Arizona to face fines of $500,000 per day for failing to act in a timely manner on providing English instruction for non-English speaking students in Arizona schools.

    When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer ran an expensive, frivolous, federal lawsuit to obstruct Arizona voters’ choice of legalized access to medical marijuana, she and the attorney general were so sorry the court threw the case out, and disappointed they couldn’t defy the will of Arizona voters.

    Brnovich, Arpaio, and the current governor will be sorry to lose all the federal funding supporting state operated drug interdiction once marijuana and other drugs are decriminalized or legalized. Brnovich may even need to fire some of his staff if Arizona can’t find enough petty crimes to waste taxpayer dollars on. Sheriff Arpaio may be forced to close his infamous prison tent-city in the desert. And the next time Arizona’s state elected officials do something inappropriate or illegal, they will feign being sorry again.

    Arizonans themselves must be a sorry bunch if they won’t rid themselves of their corrupt state and county employees and politicians. Due to this, Arizona can at the very least be declared an irrational society — something similar to a failed state:

    “An irrational society accepts injustice because it does not analyze the pretensions made by the powerful and privileged groups of society. Even that portion of society which suffers most from injustice may hold the power [responsible for the injustice] in reverence.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, p. 31.

    • tensity1

      If Brnovich is really sorry and sincere about withdrawing his statement, he should ask for the 50K back. I don’t think that’s happened or is going to happen.

      • primus

        Seeing as they cannot ask for the 50K back, and seeing as this was a subversion of democracy, it would appear that the only way to somewhat make up for it, would be to donate the same amount to the pro-legalization movement. That way, the effect of their illegal acts would be partially mitigated.

  • generaljamshitta

    “The fight to bring even a limited medicinal cannabis program to Pennsylvania is far from over,” says Patrick K. Nightingale, Esq., Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML. “It seems incredible to activists, patients and supporters that medicinal cannabis enjoys 88% support here in the Commonwealth but the future of a medicinal cannabis bill remains uncertain.”

    “It should also come as no surprise to activists and patients alike that Chairman Baker takes his marching orders from the pharmaceutical industry, as they have been his primary donors,” Nightingale says. “No wonder Chairman Baker has the audacity to counsel the parents of severely epileptic children to simply wait for GW Pharmaceuticals to come to the rescue with an anti-seizure drug in 2017.”

    “Now we are tasked with the challenge of moving legislation forward in a committee system that all but guarantees that one man can thwart the will of 88% of Pennsylvanians who support medicinal cannabis,” Nightingale added.

    Activists are already planning lobbying efforts in Harrisburg, aimed at persuading Rep. Baker to take action on Senate Bill 3.

    “He does not yet understand the political weight and pressure we are about to bring down on him.” says Les Stark of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. “It’s easier to turn up the heat on one man than the entire General Assembly.”

    “It’s going to be a wild ride,” Stark added.

    For Pennsylvania residents wishing to contact Rep. Baker, his official contact information is as follows:

    Capitol Office
    213 Ryan Office Building
    PO Box 202068
    Harrisburg, PA 17120-2068
    Phone: 717-772-5371
    Fax: 717-705-1850
    TTY: 855-282-0614

    E-mail: mbaker@pahousegop.com

    http://tinyurl.com/ldav7m6