NYPD admits to planting drugs on innocent people
Category: News | Posted on Thu, October, 13th 2011 by THCFinder
Former Detective Stephen Anderson, seen here in 2009, is testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors.
A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.
Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.
“Tavarez was … was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
“I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
He made clear he wasn’t about to pass off the two legit arrests he had made in the bar to Tavarez.
“As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division,” he said.
NYPD officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Anderson worked in the Queens and Brooklyn South narcotics squads and was called to the stand at Arbeeny’s bench trial to show the illegal conduct wasn’t limited to a single squad.
“Did you observe with some frequency this … practice which is taking someone who was seemingly not guilty of a crime and laying the drugs on them?” Justice Gustin Reichbach asked Anderson.
“Yes, multiple times,” he replied.
The judge pressed Anderson on whether he ever gave a thought to the damage he was inflicting on the innocent.
“It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators,” he said.
“It’s almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they’re going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway.”
The city paid $300,000 to settle a false arrest suit by Jose Colon and his brother Maximo, who were falsely arrested by Anderson and Tavarez. A surveillance tape inside the bar showed they had been framed.
A federal judge presiding over the suit said the NYPD’s plagued by “widespread falsification” by arresting officers.
R.I. medical-marijuana advocates: Calif. a completely different world
Category: News | Posted on Mon, October, 10th 2011 by THCFinder
PROVIDENCE — Advocates of Rhode Island’s medical-marijuana program were not surprised when they learned that four U.S. Attorneys in California announced last week that they were cracking down on large commercial marijuana operations that make millions of dollars and supply the drug to hundreds of dispensaries across the state.
But, they said, it’s important to note that Rhode Island is nothing like California. The biggest difference is that the licensing of dispensaries in California is not regulated, while state law in Rhode Island permits the opening of just three dispensaries in the nation’s smallest state.
“It’s a completely different world,” said JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. “It’s apples and oranges. The face of the patients has gotten lost in California.”
The announcement in California came just days after Governor Chafee issued a statement saying that he would not grant licenses to three dispensaries that the state Health Department selected last spring to provide marijuana to approximately 4,000 patients in the Rhode Island medical-marijuana program.
The dispensaries are the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick and Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth. Chafee, bowing to a threat from Peter F. Neronha, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, said he was worried the federal authorities might raid the dispensaries and arrest anyone affiliated with their operation.
The governor’s decision angered patients and advocates of the program who said Chafee was violating state law by refusing to grant the licenses, and robbing patients of an opportunity to legally buy marijuana from state-regulated facilities.
The move by the federal prosecutors in California seems to buttress Chafee’s argument.
“Large commercial operations cloak their money-making activities in the guise of helping sick people when, in fact, they are helping themselves,” said Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. “Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people and those who are caring for them.”
Added Laura E. Duffy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California: “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick. It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. As the number-one marijuana-producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana, but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public-safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.”
California has an estimated 5,000 marijuana dispensaries or stores in the state, including about 1,000 in the greater Los Angeles area. Supporting the industry is more than 200,000 patients who are licensed by the state to buy medical marijuana.
Leppanen said that California, which first permitted medical marijuana in 1996, lost its way years ago. She said that physicians on the Venice Beach boardwalk offer, for $50, passersby the opportunity to get the OK to buy marijuana. She said she wants to see the marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island, also referred to as compassion centers, “reflect the Rhode Island population.”
Leppanen and Seth Bock, proprietor of Greenleaf Compassionate, said the Rhode Island dispensaries would be tightly regulated and serve only patients in the medical-marijuana program. Bock pointed out that the program’s growth has been steady, but fairly slow, climbing to 4,000 in five years.
“What has been proposed here is a much smaller scale,” he said, adding that California has been “pushing the boundaries of medical programs.”
Bock and Leppanen said that they would be willing to meet with Chafee and his staff with the hope of reaching an agreement on the future of the dispensaries. They said the answer might be in scaling back the grow operations and revenue projections of the three Rhode Island establishments.
Chris Reilly, a spokesman for the Slater Center, said that Slater officials also would be willing to reduce its size “as long as the patient needs can be met.”
When Neronha, the state’s federal prosecutor, first hinted that the federal authorities might raid the Rhode Island dispensaries, he cited the projected size of Slater, Summit and Greenleaf. Summit called for revenues of $24.8 million in year three and up to 8,000 patients, while Slater projected 1,500 patients and revenues of $2.9 million after two years.
Greenleaf projections are more modest.
Christine Hunsinger, Chafee’s spokeswoman, said that Claire Richards, the governor’s chief legal counsel, will meet with Leppanen about the dispensaries and discuss the possibility of reaching an agreement on smaller marijuana distribution that might be acceptable to federal authorities.
She said that the governor supports the medical-marijuana program, and he wants to do what’s right by the patients.
“There is a community in need of this,” she said.
Dutch coffee shops face new curbs on cannabis sale
Category: News | Posted on Mon, October, 10th 2011 by THCFinder
(Reuters) - Coffee shops in the Netherlands were left wondering on Saturday how to comply with restrictions announced by the Dutch government on the sale of "strong" cannabis, saying enforcement would be difficult given the laws on production.
The Netherlands is famous for its liberal soft drugs policies. A Dutch citizen can grow a maximum of five cannabis plants at home for personal use but large-scale production and transport is a crime.
On Friday, the coalition government said it would seek to ban what it considered to be highly potent forms of cannabis -- known as "skunk" -- placing them in the same category as hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
But the industry said the guidelines were not clear enough.
"Commercial cannabis growers are already breaking the law so how can testing be legal? It's not clear what coffee shops need to do," said Maurice Veldman, a lawyer from the Dutch cannabis retailers association who represents coffee shops in court.
A pioneer of liberal drug policies, the Netherlands has backtracked on its tolerance in the last few years, announcing plans in May to ban tourists from coffee shops, which are popular attractions in cities such as Amsterdam.
The government said it would now outlaw the sale of cannabis whose concentration of THC, seen as the main psychoactive substance, exceeds 15 percent.
The average THC concentration in cannabis sold by Dutch coffee shops is between 16 and 18 percent, according to the Trimbos Institute.
"All this will do is lead to people smoking more joints and me selling more grams. But as it's used with tobacco it will damage their health more," said Marc Josemans, who owns a coffee shop in the city of Maastricht.
The Dutch government says high THC content is detrimental to mental health, particularly when used at a young age, and that it wants to send a clear signal that strong cannabis poses an unacceptable risk to users.
Federal agents raid 2nd Oregon medical marijuana growing operation
Category: News | Posted on Fri, October, 7th 2011 by THCFinder
CENTRAL POINT, Ore — Federal agents have confiscated a second major haul of medical marijuana from Southern Oregon.
The government says medical marijuana grown in Oregon is being sold on the black market.
The Medford Mail Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/plfqHf ) that Drug Enforcement Administration agents, accompanied Wednesday by local officers, took at least four dump trucks of marijuana from a Central Point property belonging to a medical marijuana provider.
Last week, agents seized more than 400 plants in Gold Hill.
Both towns are in Jackson County, which has the second largest number of medical marijuana cardholders in Oregon. Multnomah County, with Portland, is first.
The U.S. attorney's office says search warrants for the two raids remain sealed.
Feds come down hard again on licensed pot growers
Category: News | Posted on Thu, October, 6th 2011 by THCFinder
CENTRAL POINT — For the second time in as many weeks, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents have rolled into Jackson County to haul away dump trucks full of medical marijuana.
DEA agents, with assistance from various local law enforcement agencies, on Wednesday trucked away at least four large dump truck loads of marijuana from a property on East Gregory Road east of Central Point.
According to the latest statistics released by the state on Oct. 1, there are 55,322 patient cardholders in Oregon. In addition, there are 28,411 card-holding providers working in Oregon.
Between Oct. 1, 2010, and Sept. 1, 2011, the state received 21,722 new applications for medical marijuana cards. The number of renewal applications in that same time period stands at 30,416.
Jackson County remains second in the state for total number of medical marijuana cardholders, with 7,467. Multnomah County, which includes Portland, is first with 9,644 cardholders.
The property belongs to Brian Simmons, who is a medical marijuana provider. In addition, Simmons grows vegetables and hops on the property, said Lori Duckworth, the executive director of Southern Oregon NORML, a medical marijuana resource center in Medford.
The farm, which is in the 300 block of East Gregory Road, is the second Rogue Valley farm to be served a federal search warrant in a week. DEA agents also raided a large medical marijuana farm Sept. 27 on Old Stage Road in Gold Hill where more than 400 plants were seized.
Duckworth said she toured the property three weeks ago and said the marijuana garden was within state guidelines for plants allowed per patient. The site is less than a mile north of the Medford airport and about a half-mile east of Table Rock Road.
Duckworth said 22 patients who receive medical marijuana from the East Gregory Road garden are members of SONORML.
"Counting the previous raid, we now have 30 patients who will be without their medicine," she said.
Marine wants marijuana regulated properly so patients can use it to ease pain
Category: News | Posted on Wed, October, 5th 2011 by THCFinder
A U.S. Marine who spent six months in Operation Enduring Freedom and has a severe back injury has found some relief in legally using marijuana three times a week.
Spec. 4 Chris Swift, a 31-year-old Waterford Township father of two with his current wife, Jaclyn, 27, also spent time in Okinawa Prefecture before being honorably discharged from the Marines on July 20, 2008.
Swift, who went to Parris Island, S.C., for training to be a Marine, also has post-traumatic stress disorder.
He was involved in a severe car accident while stationed near San Diego and has degenerative disc disease in his lower back, he said.
He is applying for Social Security Disability Income, and he and his wife, and two young girls, live on his $500 a month in veteran's benefits, he said. In addition, the family receives food stamps. His wife just gave birth to their second child and plans "to go back to school to study to be an ultrasound tech."
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