Federal Investigation of 92-Year-Old’s Death Concludes with Guilty Plea

October 31st, 2008 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The last of three Atlanta police officers pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the shooting death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston nearly two years ago, thus concluding the federal investigation of that tragic incident.

It appears likely the investigation report will fault shortcuts taken by Atlanta narcotics officers to secure illegal search warrants, which, if you’ll read our summary of the incident, you’ll see is a grotesque understatement in Ms. Johnston’s case. These officers arbitrarily targeted the woman’s home as a crack house, lied to secure a no-knock warrant, shot her five or six times, and then attempted to plant a small amount of marijuana in order to justify their rampage.

Vile abuses of authority are a terrible, inevitable part of human nature. Accountability and harsh justice for the men involved in Ms. Johnston’s death are necessary and appropriate. But until we look at the policies that embolden such men, expect more abuse.

After all, these drug enforcement professionals believed they might get away with the senseless slaying of a 92-year-old woman if she were found possessing marijuana. What does that say about the attitudes that underlie our marijuana policies?

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Medical Marijuana

More Lies From Michigan

October 30th, 2008 9 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The opposition to Proposal 1, the Michigan medical marijuana initiative, is going on the air with this new TV ad — a spot so egregiously dishonest that even my very jaded jaw dropped when I saw it. It may set an all-time record for the most lies ever packed into a 30-second commercial, spoken by a narrator over grainy, black-and-white footage of what purports to be a medical marijuana dispensary. The most obvious:

1) California’s medical marijuana law is “just like Proposal 1.” No, it’s not. California’s law has almost none of the limitations and restrictions the Michigan proposal does — including a defined list of qualifying conditions and a mandatory patient registry and ID card system. And unlike California’s law, Michigan’s initiative does not authorize dispensaries. Period. Read the rest of this entry »

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We Can’t Make This Stuff Up

October 29th, 2008 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

It turns out that three of the Massachusetts district attorneys leading the fight against Question 2, the Massachusetts marijuana decriminalization initiative, admit to having used marijuana themselves in the past. To our knowledge, they have yet to explain how their having criminal records that would have barred them from their present careers would leave the state  better off.

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How Bizarre is Our Drug Czar: John Walters and the Unicorns

October 29th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

You may remember a few weeks back when Dan posted a couple of John Walters’s question and answer segments from a drug czar press conference where Walters claimed that “finding somebody in jail or prison for a first time, non-violent offender [sic] for possession of marijuana is like finding a unicorn.”  More recently, Ben found plenty of unicorns by Walters’s definition.

Over at MPP-TV, we decided to take a look at the drug czar’s numbers and do the math ourselves … and came up with this video on his bizarre claims. Enjoy!

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Just How Bizarre is Our Drug Czar?

October 28th, 2008 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Drug Czar John Walters claims that finding a first time marijuana offender in jail for possession is like finding a unicorn. Here’s what we think.

You know what you can get for just seven cents per day? Not much! But, just seven cents a day will get you a MPP membership and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are helping the nation’s number one marijuana policy reform organization.

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Pain Study Needs Volunteers

October 28th, 2008 7 Comments Kate Zawidzki

There is evidence that marijuana may work synergistically with opioid pain drugs, allowing equal or better relief with reduced doses of narcotics and reduced development of tolerance to the drugs. But most of this evidence comes from animal studies, so data from human clinical trials is urgently needed.

Dr. Donald Abrams of the University of California, San Francisco, is doing just such a study right now and needs volunteers who are suffering from chronic pain and currently taking OxyContin or MS Contin. Compensation and assistance with transportation to San Francisco are available. If you or anyone you know might be eligible to participate, please check out the details here and consider joining this important effort.

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Drug Czar Supports Decriminalization — In Mexico

October 27th, 2008 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Dealing with White House drug czar John Walters increasingly feels like a trip into some sort of alternate universe. Last week he told The New York Times that he supports a Mexican government proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana or other illicit drugs. 

How shocking is that? Well, in a March 19, 2008, press release, deputy drug czar Scott Burns called a New Hampshire proposal to impose a $200 fine rather than jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana “a dangerous first step toward complete drug legalization.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s proposal is much more sweeping than the New Hampshire bill, applying not only to marijuana, but also to drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth. And there would be no fine at all, just drug treatment for those who are addicted or drug education for those who aren’t. And yet our drug czar told The Times, “I don’t think that’s legalization.”

Hypocrisy, thy name is John P. Walters.


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Medical Marijuana, Tax and Regulate

Drug Warrior Day of Reckoning

October 24th, 2008 4 Comments Kate Zawidzki

What else will happen on November 4?

As Bruce Mirken pointed out in another post, Rep. Mark Souder, a stalwart drug warrior, may lose his seat in Congress this year.  Souder’s possible departure is part of a larger trend of drug warriors losing elections to more sensible candidates.

This change is largely due to the unpopularity of President Bush and the fact that most virulent prohibitionists have maintained close ties with his policies for the last eight years.  Their departure is significant for MPP and other drug policy organizations that hope to pass legislation in the next Congress.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more exciting contests.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana

A New Low in New Mexico

October 23rd, 2008 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

I don’t know how much attention this is going to get in the press, but this strikes me as an extraordinary – and as far as I know, unique – instance of cowardice and cruelty:

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — A woman was told to move out of her apartment when the landlord discovered she has marijuana for medical use.

Bobbie Wooten, 47, uses a wheelchair because she was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash several years ago and suffers severe spasms. She joined the state’s medical marijuana program when it went into effect last year. …

“My lease provides for a drug-free environment,” said David Kotin of Kay-Kay Realty. “Obviously, she is in violation of my lease.”

I suppose Kotin will also be going through the building checking for beer, Tylenol, and coffeepots now, right? That, or he and Kay-Kay Realty are unforgivably stupid, intellectually lazy, and inhumane. Or both.

Has anybody out there heard of similar instances of housing discrimination toward qualified medical marijuana patients operating within legal limits?

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Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana’s Arch-Foe in Trouble?

October 22nd, 2008 6 Comments Kate Zawidzki

We have special feelings for Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) here at the Marijuana Policy Project, because a few years ago he called our executive director, Rob Kampia, “an articulate advocate for an evil position.” Souder is perhaps the most implacable foe of medical marijuana in the U.S. Congress. And he may be in trouble.

Last week CQ Politics, which tracks House races, changed its rating of Souder’s Indiana 3rd District from “Republican Favored” to “Leans Republican,” writing that “Republican strategists are concerned about Souder, even though he represents a strongly Republican-leaning district.”

His latest troubles involve a report that he sought a congressional earmark for a company in which he owned stock. That would seem to be a pretty blatant ethical no-no, even though Souder’s stock holdings were fairly minor. 

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