Tag Archive: DEA


Colorado farmers harvest industrial hemp despite federal prohibition

Finished hemp, marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin, is legal in the US, but growing it remains off-limits under federal law

Colorado Hemp

Volunteer walks through a hemp field at a farm in Colorado during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the US since the 1950s. Photo: P Solomon Banda/AP

Ryan Loflin, a farmer from southeast Colorado, tried an illegal crop this year. He didn’t hide it from neighbors, and he was never afraid that law enforcement would come asking about it. Loflin is among about two dozen Colorado farmers who raised industrial hemp, marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin that cannot be grown under federal drug law, bringing in the nation’s first acknowledged crop in more than five decades.

Emboldened by voters in Colorado and Washington last year giving the green light to both marijuana and industrial hemp production, Loflin planted 55 acres of several varieties of hemp alongside his typical alfalfa and wheat crops. The hemp came in sparse and scraggly this month, but Loflin said he is still turning away buyers.

“Phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Loflin, who plans to press the seeds into oil and sell the fibrous remainder to buyers who will use it in building materials, fabric and rope. “People want to buy more than I can grow.”

Hemp’s prospects, however, are far from certain. Finished hemp is legal in the US, but growing it remains off-limits under federal law. The Congressional Research Service recently noted wildly differing projections about hemp’s economic potential.

However, America is one of hemp’s fastest-growing markets, with imports largely coming from China and Canada. In 2011, the US imported $11.5m worth of hemp products, up from $1.4m in 2000. Most of that is hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars, soaps, lotions and even cooking oil. Whole Foods Market now sells hemp milk, hemp tortilla chips and hemp seeds coated in dark chocolate.

Colorado will nt start granting hemp-cultivation licenses until 2014, but Loflin didn’t wait. His confidence got a boost in August, when the US Department of Justice said the federal government would generally defer to state marijuana laws as long as states kept marijuana away from children and drug cartels. The memo did not mention hemp as an enforcement priority for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“I figured they have more important things to worry about than, you know, rope,” a smiling Loflin said as he hand-harvested 4ft plants on his Baca County land.

Colorado’s hemp experiment may not be unique for long. Ten states now have industrial hemp laws that conflict with federal drug policy, including one signed by California Governor Jerry Brown last month. And it’s not just the typical marijuana-friendly suspects: Kentucky, North Dakota and West Virginia have industrial hemp laws on the books.

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by PETE YOST and GENE JOHNSON / Associated Press

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Updated today at 5:15 PM

WASHINGTON — Despite 75 years of federal marijuana prohibition, the Justice Department said Thursday that states can let people use the drug, license people to grow it and even allow adults to stroll into stores and buy it — as long as the weed is kept away from kids, the black market and federal property.

In a sweeping new policy statement prompted by pot legalization votes in Washington and Colorado last fall, the department gave the green light to states to adopt tight regulatory schemes to oversee the medical and recreational marijuana industries burgeoning across the country.

The action, welcomed by supporters of legalization, could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana. Alaska is scheduled to vote on the question next year, and a few other states plan similar votes in 2016.

The policy change embraces what Justice Department officials called a “trust but verify” approach between the federal government and states that enact recreational drug use.

Document: Read guidance from the Justice Department about Washington’s pot law

In a memo to all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the federal government expects that states and local governments authorizing “marijuana-related conduct” will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that address the threat those state laws could pose to public health and safety.

“If state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust … the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure itself,” the memo stated.

The U.S. attorney in Colorado, John Walsh, said he will continue to focus on whether Colorado’s system has the resources and tools necessary to protect key federal public safety interests.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the state is working to improve education and prevention efforts directed at young people and on enforcement tools to prevent access to marijuana by those under age 21. Colorado also is determined to keep marijuana businesses from being fronts for criminal enterprises or other illegal activity, he said, and the state is committed to preventing the export of marijuana while also enhancing efforts to keep state roads safe from impaired drivers.

Under the policy, the federal government’s top investigative priorities range from preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors to preventing sales revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels and preventing the diversion of marijuana outside of states where it is legal under state law.

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How These 6 People — And You — Have Already Been Screwed By Obama’s War On State Weed Laws

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 08/29/2013 3:11 pm EDT  |  Updated: 08/29/2013 7:45 pm EDT

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Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that two states will be allowed to go forward with legalizing recreational marijuana use, a major move that could reshape the federal government’s policy on pot. Colorado and Washington state forced Holder’s hand when they made all marijuana use legal in November referendums — while 20 other states have some sort of medical marijuana laws on the books — but every single joint is still illegal under federal law.

Many marijuana reform advocates are hopeful, but they’ve had their hopes dashed before.

Before he was elected, President Barack Obama said he would stop federal raids on growers operating under state medical marijuana laws. Marijuana reform advocates were further cheered by a 2009 DOJ memo that said the government wouldn’t use its considerable law enforcement and prosecutorial resources to target those who complied with state law.

Despite the friendly words and the welcome memo, the raids rolled on. The Drug Enforcement Agency and prosecutors claimed they were targeting medical marijuana growers and dispensary owners operating in violation of state laws. But because a Supreme Court ruling bars marijuana users from using the defense that they are following state laws, that side never gets heard in court. And even if some dispensary owners were breaking the law, advocates argue, prison is far too high a price to pay for a consensual crime.

All along the way, every year since Obama was inaugurated in 2009, the casualties of the war on weed have kept piling up: Growers, patients and you, the American taxpayer.

Jerry Duval

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Jerry Duval was a registered Michigan marijuana patient who lost his family farm and whose son went to prison after refusing to testify against his father in the wake of a federal raid in 2011. But that wasn’t all: Suffering from juvenile diabetes, glaucoma and neuropathy, he was the recipient of both a kidney and a pancreas transplant. In 2012 a federal judge recommended he be sent to a special medical prison, a recommendation the feds initially ignored. Eventually, after months of stress for Duval and his family, the feds caved. Now he is serving out a 10-year sentence at the same medical prison where the accused Boston bomber is being held, for a term he estimates will eventually cost the feds $1.2 million.

Aaron Sandusky

aaron sandusky

(Photo via YouTube)

Aaron Sandusky of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was sentenced earlier this year to 10 years in federal prison for his medical marijuana dispensaries.

While medical marijuana is legal in California, federal prosecutors painted Sandusky’s business as a “criminal enterprise” that exploited “his customers’ good-faith search for pain relief.”

Prior to his arrest, Sandusky had received a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office warning that his stores violated federal law. Sandusky responded by closing two of them, but the following month, federal agents raided his remaining dispensary. They seized marijuana plants and $11,500 in cash, effectively wiping out Sandusky’s business.

Richard Flor

richard flor

Richard Flor was Montana’s first registered medical marijuana caregiver. In March 2011, he was providing medical marijuana to 300 patients in accordance with state laws. That’s when the feds swooped in, arrested him, his wife, his son, and everyone else involved in running Montana Cannabis.

Flor was given five years in federal prison — five years that turned out to be a death sentence. Afflicted with dementia and depression, the 68-year-old’s lawyer asked federal U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell to release his client from a private prison while they appealed his sentence.

“He is in extreme pain and still is not being given round-the-clock care as is required for someone with his medical and mental conditions,” his lawyer wrote. “It is anticipated he will not long survive general population incarceration.”

Flor’s lawyer was right. Flor died in a Las Vegas just weeks after the judge denied the request.

“I was sorry to learn of the passing of Mr. Flor,” Lovell wrote in a statement afterward. “Judicial ethics prohibit further response.”

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Bloomberg

Legal Pot Sellers Say Armored-Car Companies Halt Service

Steve DeAngelo says his staff may need to carry cash in personal vehicles to pay Harborside Health Center’s bills after his armored car provider told his co-founder that a federal agency ordered it to stop serving cannabis businesses.

“The only way we have to pay our bills is transporting cash from point A to point B,” said DeAngelo, executive director of the medicinal marijuana collective based in Oakland, California, with 128,000 patients.

Federal laws bar banks from offering accounts to pot shops, forcing medical marijuana firms to pay their sales taxes and other bills in cash. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

“This includes 15 percent of our $30 million-a-year gross that goes to the cities of San Jose and Oakland and the state of California for our taxes,” he said. “This is a huge threat to the safety of my patients and staff, and beyond that it’s a huge threat to the general public.”

DeAngelo isn’t alone. Several large marijuana dispensaries in California and Colorado received similar notices from their armored vehicle services, said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Washington-based National Cannabis Industry Association.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the matter, Ellen Canale, a spokeswoman, said by e-mail in response to repeated requests. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration referred questions to the Justice Department, its parent agency.

The end of armored-car service to some marijuana dispensaries underscores ongoing tension between federal law, under which cannabis remains illegal, and laws in 20 states and the District of Columbia that legalized medical marijuana consumption, plus measures in Colorado and Washington that allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of pot.

Federal Response

Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t provided a federal response to the laws in Washington and Colorado that will also allow retail sales of pot next year.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws on Sept. 10, Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, announced Aug. 26.

Federal laws bar banks from offering accounts to pot shops, forcing medical marijuana firms to pay their sales taxes and other bills in cash. Cannabis businesses also are unable to obtain credit cards.

DeAngelo’s car service, Dunbar Armored Inc., didn’t return calls and messages for comment.

Fox, of the cannabis trade group, said that other medical marijuana dispensaries affected by the issue didn’t want to come forward because of security concerns.

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People Killed By The War On Drugs

Kathryn Johnston

In November 2006, a narcotics team from the

Atlanta Police Department apprehended a man with a known drug history. They planted marijuana on him, then threatened to arrest him unless he gave them information about where they could find a supply of illegal drugs. He gave them the address of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston. Instead of finding an informant to make a controlled buy from the address, the officer instead lied on the search warrant, inventing an informant and describing a drug buy that never happened.
Ashley Villarreal

Ashley Villarreal, 14, was shot and killed by DEA agents in 2003 in San Antonio.

Ashley was attempting to show off her driving skills to family friend David Robles by taking a drive around the block. But at the time, the DEA was investigating Ashley’s father, Joey Villarreal, for drug trafficking. As Ashley pulled out of the driveway of the home where Joey Villarreal’s mother and Ashley lived, the federal agents were in the process of staking out the house.

Later explaining that they had mistaken Robles for Ashley’s father, the agents boxed in the vehicle the girl was driving. They claimed she then continued driving toward them, at which point they opened fire, shooting her in the back of the head. Robles and several witnesses said the agents never identified themselves, and that Ashley posed no threat, given that her vehicle was already boxed in. The police found no drugs or weapons in the vehicle, or in the house, nor did they find any evidence that Ashley’s father had been using the house for drug trafficking.

Nevertheless, the agents were cleared of any wrongdoing. Joey Villarreal was later arrested, convicted of drug charges, and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Source: Pete Brady, “The Murder of Ashley,” Cannabis Culture, October 8, 2003.

Johnathan Ayers

In September 2009, Johnathan Ayers, a 28-year-old Baptist pastor from Lavonia, Ga., was gunned down by a North Georgia narcotics task force in the parking lot of a gas station. Police would later acknowledge he was not using or trafficking in illicit drugs. Instead, Ayers had been ministering to Johanna Barrett, the actual target of the investigation.

According to an interview Barrett gave to a North Georgia newspaper shortly after Ayers’ death, on the day he died the pastor had seen her walking near a gas station on her way back to an extended-stay motel where she lived with her boyfriend. Ayers had known Barrett for a number of years, and offered her a ride back to the motel. He also gave her the money in his pocket, $23, to help pay her rent.

The police were trailing Barrett at the time. But instead of apprehending her at the motel, they instead followed Ayers, who they saw hand Ayers cash.

They followed Ayers to a nearby gas station where he withdrew some money from an ATM. Shortly after he got back into his car, a black Escalade pulled up behind him. Three officers, all undercover, rushed Ayers’ vehicle and pointed their guns at him. The pastor panicked and attempted to escape. As he backed out, Ayers’ car grazed one police officer. Officer Billy Shane Harrison then opened fire, shooting Ayers in the stomach. Ayers drove for another thousand yards before crashing his car. He died at the hospital. His last words to his family and medical staff were that he thought he was being robbed. The police found no illicit drugs in his car.

A grand jury later declined to indict Harrison for any crime. District Attorney Brian Rickman praised the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for going to “very extraordinary lengths” to conduct a fair investigation. But a civil suit suggested otherwise. The complaint alleged that Harrison wasn’t authorized to arrest him. On the day Ayerswas killed, Harrison had yet to take the firearms training classes required for his certification as a police officer. In fact, Harrison had no training at all in the use of lethal force.

Harrison’s lack of training was later confirmed by local TV station WSB-TV and, after the fact, by the GBI. Harrison was suspended. The civil suit also alleged prior disciplinary problems with Harrison and another officer involved in her husband’s death, including alleged drug use.

Sources: Rob Moore, “Case File: Ayers Feared a Robbery,” The Northeast Georgian, December 29, 2009; Steve Huff, “Did a Good Dead Lead Pastor Jonathan Ayers to his Death?” September 10, 2009; Jessica Waters, “GBI Findings Outlined,” The Toccoa Record, December 28, 2009; Denise Matthews, “Grand Jury Declares Ayers Shooting Justified,” Franklin County Citizen, December 24, 2009; Charlie Bauder, “District Attorney Defends Investigation of Preacher’s Death,” Anderson Independent-Mail, December 22, 2009; Estate of Jonathan Ayers v. Officer Billy Shane Harrison, et al., complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, March 15, 2010; “Arrest Made in Pastor Death Case,” Actions News 2, WSB-TV Atlanta, June 18, 2010; Rob Moore, “NCIS Officer on Leave Pending Probe,” The Toccoa Record, March 29, 2010; Jessica Waters, “Ayers Federal Civil Case Updated,” The Toccoa Record, January 6, 2011.

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Raids on Legal Dispensaries

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Is NSA Secretly Feeding Spy Intel to Police for Petty Crimes?

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Though the cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.’ (Photo: file)An exclusive investigative report by Reuters appears to confirm fears held by critics that the vast network of surveillance programs maintained by the National Security Agency is being used not only for countering international terrorism, but also for targeting common criminals within the U.S.

Though NSA officials and their backers have repeatedly said that the spy programs are designed to “keep America safe” from international terrorism, the new revelations show that domestic law enforcement is likely being supplied with data from these same operations.

According to the report, a secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit—called Special Operations Division, or SOD—”is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.”

Documents obtained by Reuters reveal that DEA agents or other law enforcement agencies are supplied with information used from “classified” sources to initiate investigations but that internal protocols demand that investigators then “recreate” the source of where the information came from so to keep SOD’s involvement off the books.

Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011, told Reuters she’d “never heard of anything like this.”

From Reuters:

Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”

Though the secretive and classified nature of these programs makes it impossible to know the degree to which they betray constitutional and legal norms, the revelations only deepen the suspicions about how the spying capabilities are being used by government agencies.

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist behind much of the recent reporting on the NSA spying programs, read the Reuter’s article and tweeted in response:

Defense attorneys who spoke to Reuters called the program “outrageous,” “indefensible,” and “blatantly unconstitutional.”

“You can’t game the system,” said one former federal prosecutor. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”

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The Drugging Of Our Children (Full Length)

TruthTube1111 TruthTube1111

Uploaded on Jul 9, 2011

In the absence of any objective medical tests to determine who has ADD or ADHD, doctors rely in part on standardized assessments and the impressions of teachers and guardians while the they administer leave little room for other causes or aggravating factors, such as diet, or environment. Hence, diagnosing a child or adolescent with ADD or ADHD is often the outcome, although no organic basis for either disease has yet to be clinically proven. Psychiatrists may then prescribe psychotropic drugs for the children without first without making it clear to parents that these medications can have severe side-effects including insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, psychotic symptoms and even potentially fatal adverse reactions, such as cardiac arrhythmia. And yet, despite these dangers, many school systems actually work with government agencies to force parents to drug their children, threatening those who refuse with the prospect of having their children taken from the home unless they cooperate.

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By Dr. Mercola

Millions of US children are taking powerful mind-altering drugs, often before they’re even old enough to attend school.

Oftentimes the side effects are far worse than the conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for which they’re prescribed, and rival illegal street drugs in terms of their dangerous risks to health.

In children, the long-term effects are often largely unknown, while in the short term, we’ve seen shocking increases in violent and aggressive acts committed by teens taking one or more psychotropic drugs.

With the problem getting increasingly worse instead of better, now is a perfect time to view Gary Null’s excellent documentary, The Drugging of Our Children.

The number of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for children more than doubled between 1995 and 2000; the documentary details the devastating consequences of this excessive medicating of our children, with a focus on children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Most Children Diagnosed with ADHD Are Given Drugs Even Though Misdiagnosis Is Common

As the documentary points out, many of you reading this probably don’t remember any kids in your class at school who were taking mind-altering drugs. And that’s likely because the vast majority were not.

In contrast, one in 10 US children is now claimed to have ADHD, which is a 22 percent increase since 2003.1 About two-thirds of the children diagnosed with ADHD are on some form of prescription medication, which is unfortunate not only because there are far better (and safer) treatment options but also because many are misdiagnosed.

ADHD seems to have become more or less the catchall designation for children who do not “behave well” — and one study determined that about 20 percent of children have likely been misdiagnosed.2 That’s nearly 1 million children in the US alone.

The study found that many of the youngest children in any given grade level are perceived as exhibiting “symptoms” of ADHD, such as fidgeting and an inability to concentrate, simply because they’re younger and being compared to their older, more mature classmates.

The documentary, too, points out that an ADHD diagnosis is often made, in part, on the highly subjective observations of teachers or guardians, based on signs nearly every child will display at some point (fidgeting, easily distracted, difficulty waiting his or her turn, and so on), and with little regard for other factors that could be aggravating a child’s behavior, such as diet or home environment.

The outcome is, sadly, typically the same: another child placed on powerful drugs, of which parents are often completely unaware of the extreme side effects they carry.

We’re Talking Hard-Core ‘Class 2’ Narcotics

Drugs prescribed for ADHD are not “mild” by any means. These are hard-core, “class 2″ narcotics, regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a controlled substance because they can lead to dependence. The majority of kids diagnosed with ADHD will be prescribed these potentially dangerous drugs, the most common being Ritalin.

By definition, Ritalin stimulates your central nervous system and may certainly interfere with the delicate and complex workings of your brain and personality. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),3 side effects include:

Sudden death in people who have heart problems or heart defects Stroke and heart attack Increased blood pressure
New or worse behavior and thought problems New or worse bipolar illness New or worse aggressive behavior or hostility
New psychotic symptoms (such as hearing voices, believing things that are not true, are suspicious) New manic symptoms Increased heart rate
Slowing of growth (height and weight) in children Seizures Eyesight changes or blurred vision

There are reports of children committing suicide while taking the drug, and the long-term effects are unknown. Researchers have also revealed that Ritalin appears to delay puberty, an effect that was previously unknown, raising questions about what other effects may have yet to be uncovered. Another common ADHD drug is Adderall, which contains amphetamine (aka “speed”) and dextroamphetamine, and is used to reduce impulsiveness and hyperactivity in patients with ADHD. Like Ritalin, Adderall can cause potentially life-threatening side effects. Among them:

Aggressive behavior or hostility Bipolar illness Worse behavior or thought problems
Psychotic symptoms (hearing voices, believing things that are not true) or manic symptoms Sudden death in patients who have heart problems or heart defects Stroke or heart attack
Increased blood pressure and heart rate Seizures and eyesight changes Slowing of growth in children

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