1970s Marijuana Kingpin Arrested at Seniors Community
A key member of a Miami-based marijuana-smuggling ring was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday, more than 31 years after skipping out of a federal trial. Mark Steven Phillips, 62, was arrested in his apartment at Century Village, a seniors community where he had been living in recent months, according to a press release by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Along with 13 others, Phillips was charged in May 1979 in what was then the country's largest marijuana importation prosecution in history. The ring, known as the "Black Tuna Gang," derived its name from the radio moniker for the group's Colombian source for marijuana. Phillips, who faces sentencing for a racketeering conviction and adjudication of fugitive charges, told U.S. Magistrate Edwin Torres that he has no property, $600 in a bank account and receives $667 in monthly Social Security benefits, the Miami Herald reported.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Phillips was sleeping when deputies went to his apartment on Monday and was told the "judge wants to see you, Mark" by the lead deputy marshal. "The judge wants to see me from 30 years ago," Phillips replied. Authorities estimate that the ring smuggled 500 tons of marijuana into the U.S. in the mid-'70s.
Obama: Drugs Should be Treated as a Public Health Problem
Medical-marijuana advocates raise privacy concerns
A lineup of medical-marijuana activists and business owners said today the state's proposed new rules for the cannabis industry threaten patient privacy.
Requirements that transactions at dispensaries be videotaped, purchases be documented and personal information be recorded could cause many of the state's more than 115,000 medical-marijuana patients to opt out of the system and return to buying pot on the street, advocates said. State officials say details of the purchases would be kept in a secure online database, but medical-marijuana advocates pointed to recent WikiLeaks disclosures as evidence that even guarded information can become public.
The advocates expressed their concerns this morning at the beginning of a two-day hearing on the rules, proposed by the state Revenue Department to regulate the thousands of medical-marijuana businesses that have sprung up in the last two years. About 30 advocates spoke during a public comment section of the hearing this morning.
"I am very concerned that many individuals ... will, due to the risk of having their information leaked, return to the black market," said Bruce Grainger, a dispensary owner who served on an advisory committee that helped craft some of the rules.
Read more: Denverpost.com
Would-be smugglers planned to catapult drugs over border
The U.S. National Guard spotted would-be drug smugglers on video Jan. 21 near the Naco Border Patrol station along the Mexico-Arizona border setting up a catapult, which was probably intended to be used to launch marijuana over the border.
“This is definitely an unusual find,” U.S. Border Patrol agent Jason Rheinfrank told the Star on Thursday. “It’s definitely something new.”
The border agency released a clip of a video that shows the suspects setting up the catapult and testing it without putting anything in the catapult.
The National Guard then contacted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, who contacted Mexican authorities. Mexican authorities arrived and “nothing was actually launched across the border,” Rheinfrank explained.
Officials seized an SUV, which was attached to the catapult on a trailer-like vehicle, and approximately 45 pounds of marijuana.
The suspects fled the area before they could be captured.
Medical Marijuana Effort Takes A Step Back
Efforts to establish a medical marijuana program in Iowa took a step backwards at the statehouse Wednesday. A House subcommittee approved legislation that strengthens language classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug, which is defined as a substance having no proven or acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse. Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, says the bill also makes it clear that the legislature has authority over the issue. “I do not support medical marijuana. I know there are those individuals out there that believe that it has helped them. I have no personal knowledge whether it has or has not helped them. Maybe it is up to medical professionals and the Board of Pharmacy to change our mind that we’re wrong,” Sands said.
Sands says any decisions about marijuana should be made by the legislature. “It’s quite often a gateway drug, especially for some of our younger people and more vulnerable…that it leads them into more hallucinogenic type drugs that do far more damage,” Sands said. The Executive Officer of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy says the board agrees that any decisions about marijuana should be made by the legislature. Terry Witkowski says they never intended to establish a medicinal program.
“A pharmacy could not distribute marijuana because it’s an illegal drug federally and that would essentially put the pharmacy out of business,” Witkowski said. But a lobbyist for the Justice Reform Consortium says the Iowa Board of Pharmacy has already spoken on the issue. Stephanie Fawkes Lee says after a series of public hearings in 2009 the board voted to recommend that marijuana be reclassified as a drug that does have medicinal value. “And the Board of Pharmacy took the time and used resources to go across the state and have people come and say yes we do use this for medical reasons,’” Fawkes Lee said. ”So, to have this bill introduced, it’s like calling those people liars. They were in pain, they have health issues and medical cannabis actually helps them.” Other supporters of medical marijuana are less concerned about the bill. Carl Olsen of Des Moines says it merely upholds existing law, and does not stop the Democratically controlled Senate from considering alternative legislation to reclassify the drug.
Cannabis, What's The Harm with James Alexandrou
What’s The Harm? is presented by ex-EastEnders actor James Alexandrou. With access to the Avon and Somerset police force’s drug squads and the Borders Agency, this two-part series looks at both the dealers and users and talks to the UK’s top doctors and psychologists about the effects of cannabis.
Former EastEnders star Alexandrou (Martin Fowler) explores the hidden world of organised crime linked to the supply of marijuana in Britain. He joins a drug squad and the UK Border Agency as they try to catch smugglers, and meets casualties of the trade, including a 14-year-old addict with convictions for burglary and a Vietnamese teenager smuggled into the country to work on cannabis farms.
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