Marijuana DUI bill clears big Colorado hurdle
Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 2nd 2012 by THCFinder
DENVER (AP) — A marijuana blood standard for drivers appears headed for approval in Colorado — thanks to a single vote change from a Republican senator.
Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial voted Tuesday in favor of the plan to consider drivers impaired if they test positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, per milliliter of blood.
Spence's decision gave the bill the support it needed to advance on a vote of 18-17 after an emotional debate.
Driving while impaired by marijuana or any drug is already illegal, but supporters of the THC blood limit say law enforcement needs an analogous standard to the blood-alcohol standard to keep stoned drivers off the road.
Spence, who voted last year with critics who said there needed to be more study of the driving-high problem, said after the vote that she's become convinced that the time has come for a bright-line standard to determine legal impairment.
"I'm just sick of the abuse that the state of Colorado has taken from the medical marijuana industry," Spence said.
Spence's vote put her in agreement with sponsoring Sen. Steve King, a Grand Junction Republican who argued that the explosion of pot use in Colorado since the state approved medical marijuana in 2000 made it past time to have a driving blood limit.
"We are well are on our way to a doped-driving epidemic that will match the DUI epidemic that we had 15 and 20 years ago," King argued. He said that the legality of medical marijuana here has led to people thinking it's OK to smoke and drive.
Opponents included lawmakers from both parties. A handful of Democrats and Republicans rose in vain to try and stop the DUI blood standard. Sen. Pat Steadman, a Denver Democrat, made the point that marijuana users who legally use the drug could be unfairly deemed impaired. Unlike alcohol, THC is fat-soluble, so blood limits can remain above the legal limit even when a user is not stoned.
"Some of these people wake up in the morning and roll out of bed at 5 nanograms," said Steadman, who tried and failed to amend the bill to exempt card-holding medical marijuana patients.
The measure now awaits one more formal vote in the Senate, though chambers seldom change course after their initial debate. After a final Senate vote, the bill heads to the Republican House, where a 5-nanogram blood limit was approved last year by a comfortable margin of 51-14.
This year's pot DUI bill originally included other drugs, including some legal mind-altering prescription drugs such as sleep aids. But the bill was pared down to deal only with marijuana. That meant a big drop in how much the state estimated it would cost to enforce.
The White House has urged all states to set a blood-level drugged driving standard, though the federal government hasn't specified what the amount should be.
The fact that Colorado would allow any amount of THC in a driver's blood when marijuana remains illegal under federal law posed a dilemma for some lawmakers. One of the Senate's most conservative members, Berthoud Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg, pointed out the dilemma before he voted against the blood standard.
"It's not that simple a situation in a state where we do, constitutionally, provide for medical marijuana," Lundberg said.
DEA almost kills student leaving him in a cell for 5 days without food or water
Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 2nd 2012 by THCFinder
Daniel Chong, the UC San Diego student who was left in a Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell for nearly five days, said the time spent in his cell was a life-altering experience.
The 23-year-old spoke with NBCSanDiego and said he was increasingly worried throughout the days he spent in a 5 ft. by 10 ft. cell, where he could not spread his arms out wide.
“They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don’t know what happened,” he said. “I’m not sure how they could forget me.”
As NBCSanDiego was first to report Saturday, the DEA confirmed its agents were investigating an incident in which a suspect, arrested Saturday, April 21, was detained at their office for several days and allegedly forgotten about.
Chong said he was at a friend’s house in University City celebrating 4/20, a day many marijuana users set aside to smoke, when agents came inside and raided the residence. Chong was then taken to the DEA office in Kearny Mesa.
He said agents questioned him, and then told him he could go home. One agent even offered him a ride, Chong said. No criminal charges were filed against him.
But Chong did not go home that night. Instead, he was placed in a cell for five days without any human contact and was not given food or drink. In his desperation, he said he was forced to drink his own urine.
“I had to do what I had to do to survive….I hallucinated by the third day,” Chong said. “I was completely insane.”
Chong said he lost roughly 15 pounds during the time he was alone. His lawyer confirmed that Chong ingested a powdery substance found inside the cell. Later testing revealed the substance was methamphetamine.
After days of being ignored, Chong said he tried to take his own life by breaking the glass from his spectacles with his teeth and then attempting to carve “Sorry mom,” on his arm. He said nurses also found pieces of glass in his throat, which led him to believe he ingested the pieces purposefully.
Chong said he could hear DEA employees and people in neighboring cells. He screamed to let them know he was there, but no one replied. He kicked the door, but no one came to get him.
By the time DEA officers found Chong in his cell Wednesday morning Chong was completely incoherent, said Iredale.
“I didn’t think I would come out,” Chong said.
He said when employees discovered him in the cell that they looked confused and nervous. A DEA employee rode with him to the hospital, where they paid for Chong’s visit.
He spent three days in the intensive care unit at Sharp Hospital and his kidneys were close to failing.
Chong and his lawyer spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the claim they will file with the federal court system on Wednesday.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said his lawyer Gene Iredale, who compared Chong’s experience to the torture suffered by inmates at in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq
The DEA has not apologized to Chong, said Iredale.
The incident also caused Chong to miss his midterms at UCSD. He said he does not know if he will return to school, as his perspective on life has changed since his isolation.
San Diego defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms said the victim could get millions if he files a lawsuit.
"In all my years of practice I've never heard of the DEA or any Federal government employee simply forgetting about someone that they have in their care," she said.
"There has to be repercussions if people do not follow the safety and the care when they have a human being in their custody."
The Drug Czar's False Statement About Marijuana and Hemp Should Be a Bigger Scandal
Category: News | Posted on Mon, April, 30th 2012 by THCFinder
In response to an online petition sponsored by the White House, which I signed seven months ago, I've finally received a response from Obama's Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, explaining why we can't let American farmers grow industrial hemp. It's written in rather plain language, but nonetheless betrays either appalling ignorance or rank dishonesty on the part of our nation's top drug policy official.
Unfortunately, while President Obama's misleading claims about medical marijuana policy have generated considerable attention, the drug czar's recent comments about hemp have gone almost entirely unnoticed and unreported. This is his entire response right here (which apparently took many months to prepare):
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO Allow Industrial Hemp to be Grown in the U.S. Once Again
What We Have to Say About Marijuana and Hemp Production
By Gil Kerlikowske
America's farmers deserve our Nation's help and support to ensure rural America's prosperity and vitality. Federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances. Hemp and marijuana are part of the same species of cannabis plant. While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance. The Administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety. [WhiteHouse.gov]
The drug czar oddly begins by declaring that, "federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances," which is simply irrelevant in the context of hemp. Hemp isn't a Schedule I controlled substance and it can legally be consumed, distributed and possessed in a variety of forms. The soap I use every day is made of it, and you can buy hemp foods at any grocery store without fear of arrest. The drug czar's failure to even acknowledge this basic fact makes his statement terribly confusing in its entirety, but it actually gets worse.
Dutch court upholds ban on foreign tourists buying pot
Category: News | Posted on Fri, April, 27th 2012 by THCFinder
AMSTERDAM — A Dutch court on Friday upheld a new law that will prevent foreign visitors from buying marijuana in coffee shops across the Netherlands, potentially ending the decades of “pot tourism” for which this city and others became universally known.
A group of coffee shops had challenged the government plan, launched after southern cities in the Netherlands complained of increased levels of drug-related crime. The decision means that coffee shops in the south must stop selling cannabis to foreign tourists by May 1, while Dutch and foreign residents will be eligible for a “weed pass” that allows them to purchase it legally. The plan is to be rolled out to other Dutch cities, including the popular tourist center of Amsterdam, by next year. The ban does not extend to carrying or consuming marijuana.
The Netherlands is moving toward tightening its renowned liberal policy on the sale of marijuana even as other countries, including the United States, are engaging in increasingly heated debates over the legalization of “soft drugs.”
Attorneys for the Netherlands’ cannabis cafes — which number more than 600 nationwide — had argued in the Hague district court that prohibiting visitors from buying marijuana while allowing Dutch citizens and residents to do so is illegal under national anti-discrimination laws. They vowed on Friday to appeal the case.
“This is a bad decision, not only for the foreigners who can be discriminated against now, but also for the image of the Netherlands in other countries,” said Maurice Veldman, attorney for a group of cafes that challenged the new law. “We are not a free country anymore because our government asks us to discriminate.”
Medbox, Inc. Files Suit Against The Makers of "Autospense"
Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 26th 2012 by THCFinder
Medbox, Inc. through its affiliate companies, filed suit today in Orange County Superior Court against Dispense Labs, LLC, and its purported parent company, The Dispensary Group, Inc., for creating the Autospense Machine. The lawsuit alleges that the makers of Autospense ignored a cease and desist notice by Medbox and continued to market a machine that Medbox believes infringes on its federal patent (7,844,363 B1).
Medbox believes the lawsuit is imperative as Dispense Labs, LLC and its affiliates are tarnishing the image of the technology Medbox had created.
"By releasing press on a known recreational (non-medical) marijuana holiday (4-20) just to gain maximum media exposure for an idea that was our company's creation was ill-advised and reckless of Dispense Labs," stated Vincent Mehdizadeh, CEO and Founder of Prescription Vending Machines, Inc., a Subsidiary of Medbox, Inc. "The federal government already thinks of the medical marijuana industry as purely recreational, with very little medical value and companies like Dispense Labs reinforce that myth through their brazen actions."
Dispense Labs also touts its ability to grant "24 hour access" to marijuana through its system. While Medbox has had offers to provide the same service to marijuana clinics nationwide over the last few years, Medbox has declined such placements of its machines.
"The reality is that the federal government does not condone medical marijuana, they simply tolerate it as long as operators of medical marijuana outlets are not willful profiteers and can demonstrate some semblance of reasonable behavior," Mehdizadeh added. "The medical marijuana industry cannot legally justify 24-hour access to marijuana at this point in time and I will make it my mission to stop Dispense Labs before they make a mockery of our company's vital technology. It's about transparency, legal compliance, and ultimately longevity for an industry that needs to be on its best behavior to legitimately flourish."
Officer Pleads Guilty To Selling Seized Marijuana
Category: News | Posted on Mon, April, 23rd 2012 by THCFinder
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - St. Louis, MO – A former St. Louis City police Sergeant has pleaded guilty to selling marijuana seized for evidence. Larry J. Davis, 46, resigned after pleading guilty to selling around 154 lbs of marijuana that was taken into evidence.
Officer Davis was investigating gang activity at package delivery branch facilities in St. Louis. According to police Officer Davis seized several packages suspected of containing marijuana. But, instead of taking them to evidence he took them to his home or his brother’s home.
Linus Davis, is the officer’s brother who lives in St. Louis county. Police say that Linus opened the packages and sold the marijuana.
Their cars and cash has been seized as part of a search warrant issues for Larry Davis’ residence.
Larry pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and one felony count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Sentencing has been set for July 26, 2012. Linus R. Davis pled guilty to the same charges. He is scheduled for sentencing on June 7, 2012.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
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