Jamaica Parliament Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

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http://jurist.org/paperchase/2015/02/jamaica-parliament-decriminalizes-small-amounts-of-marijuana.php

The Jurist

[JURIST] The Jamaican House of Parliament [official website] passed an act Tuesday decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Under the new law, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana is considered a petty offense [AP report] punishable by a ticket.

Beyond consumption, the legislation allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants on any premises. Minister of National Security Peter Bunting [official website] issued a statement following the act’s passage, reinforcing the governments intent to continue combating transnational drug trafficking and illegal cultivation of marijuana.

The new law also lays the ground work for the establishment of a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry in the country. Additional regulations regarding the licensing agencies and the establishment of the medical marijuana sector are expected in the coming months.

Jamaica is the most recent country to join a growing global trend of loosening anti-marijuana laws [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this week Alaska’s voter initiative legalizing marijuana [JURIST report] use took effect, making it the third state, along with Colorado and Washington, to legalize recreational marijuana. In November voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana. Also in November the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] expressed concern that the legalization of marijuana by some US states is not compatible with existing international drug conventions.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST’s real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

 

Senate Organization Chart for the 114th Congress

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http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/e_one_section_no_teasers/org_chart.htm

The Virtual Reference Desk provides resources about Senate Leadership, committees, and officers.

 

Another Potential Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation Ban in California

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 MMJ business Daily December 10, 2014

http://mmjbusinessdaily.com/another-possible-outdoor-cultivation-ban-in-ca-county/

More than 300 people, mostly medical cannabis patients and growers, attended a meeting in Yuba County, California, as supervisors considered a ban on outdoor marijuana cultivation.

About 45 people spoke during the event in which supervisors considered three ordinances from other counties – Sacramento, Shasta and Fresno – that all ban outdoor grows in the wake of court rulings allowing them to impose severe restrictions on cannabis cultivation, according to the Appeal-Democrat.

Patients told county supervisors a ban on outdoor grows was a bad idea during a three-hour workshop, while others were in favor of the moratorium, saying they’ve seen their neighborhoods turned into a “war zone,” the newspaper said.

In question is a Yuba County ordinance adopted in 2012 that allows 18 outdoor plants on less than an acre, 30 on one to five acres, 60 on five to 20 acres and 99 plants on parcels bigger than 20 acres. Opponents of the ban told board they’d be increasing the burden on law enforcement and creating a new class of criminals. Proponents said Yuba County has become a haven for criminals.

After three hours of testimony, supervisors didn’t discuss any of the model ordinances or testimony, delaying further discussion until Jan. 13.

Video: Mindblowing Microscopic Footage of Cancer Cells Being Eliminated by Cannabis Oil

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From Before It’s News November 27, 2014

http://themindunleashed.org/2014/11/mindblowing-microscopic-footage-cancer-cells-eliminated-cannabis-oil.html

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2014/11/video-mindblowing-microscopic-footage-of-cancer-cells-being-eliminated-by-cannabis-oil-3068946.html

Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required

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http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/law-lets-irs-seize-accounts-on-suspicion-no-crime-required/ar-BBbbfW3?ocid=mailsignout

The New York Times SHAILA DEWAN October 26, 2014
Carole Hinders at her modest, cash-only Mexican restaurant in Arnolds Park, Iowa. Last year tax agents seized her funds. © Angela Jimenez for The New York Times Carole Hinders at her modest, cash-only Mexican restaurant in Arnolds Park, Iowa. Last year tax agents seized her funds. ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her funds, almost $33,000.The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”The federal government does.Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes.

The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up and settle the case for a portion of their money.

“They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”

On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by “exceptional circumstances.”

Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement, “This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.’s mission and key priorities.”

He added that making deposits under $10,000 to evade reporting requirements, called structuring, is still a crime whether the money is from legal or illegal sources. The new policy will not affect seizures that have already occurred.

Jeff Hirsch, an owner of Bi-County Distributors on Long Island. The government seized $447,000 from the business, a candy and cigarette distributor run by one family for 27 years. © Bryan Thomas for The New York Times Jeff Hirsch, an owner of Bi-County Distributors on Long Island. The government seized $447,000 from the business, a candy and cigarette distributor run by one family…

The I.R.S. is one of several federal agencies that pursue such cases and then refer them to the Justice Department. The Justice Department does not track the total number of cases pursued, the amount of money seized or how many of the cases were related to other crimes, said Peter Carr, a spokesman.

But the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm that is seeking to reform civil forfeiture practices, analyzed structuring data from the I.R.S., which made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005. Only one in five were prosecuted as a criminal case.

The practice has swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in Virginia saving for his children’s college education and Ms. Hinders, 67, who has borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going.

Her money was seized under an increasingly controversial area of law known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agents to take property they suspect of being tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited.

Owners who are caught up in structuring cases often cannot afford to fight. The median amount seized by the I.R.S. was $34,000, according to the Institute for Justice analysis, while legal costs can easily mount to $20,000 or more.

Under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks and other financial institutions must report cash deposits greater than $10,000. But since many criminals are aware of that requirement, banks also are supposed to report any suspicious transactions, including deposit patterns below $10,000. Last year, banks filed more than 700,000 suspicious activity reports, which are reviewed by over 100 multiagency task forces.

There is nothing illegal about depositing less than $10,000 unless it is done specifically to evade the reporting requirement. But often a mere bank statement is enough for investigators to obtain a seizure warrant. In one Long Island case, the police submitted almost a year’s worth of daily deposits by a business, ranging from $5,550 to $9,910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that based on his training and experience, the pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government seized $447,000 from the business, a cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that has been run by one family for 27 years.

There are often legitimate business reasons for keeping deposits below $10,000, said Larry Salzman, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice who is representing Ms. Hinders and the Long Island family pro bono. For example, he said, some grocery store owners in Fraser, Mich., had an insurance policy that covered only up to $10,000 cash. When they neared the limit, they would make a deposit.

Ms. Hinders said that she did not know about the reporting requirement and that for decades, she thought she had been doing everyone a favor.

“My mom had told me if you keep your deposits under $10,000, the bank avoids paperwork,” she said. “I didn’t actually think it had anything to do with the I.R.S.” Lawyers say it is not unusual for depositors to be advised by financial professionals, or even bank tellers, to keep their deposits below the reporting threshold.

In the Long Island case, the company, Bi-County Distributors, had three bank accounts closed because of the paperwork burden of its frequent cash deposits, said Jeff Hirsch, the eldest of three brothers who own the company. Their accountant then recommended staying below the limit, so the company began using the excess cash to pay vendors, and carried on for more than a decade.

More than two years ago, the government seized $447,000, and the brothers have been unable to retrieve it. Mr. Salzman, who has taken over legal representation of the brothers, has argued that prosecutors violated a strict timeline laid out in the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, passed in 2000 to curb abuses.

The office of the federal attorney for the Eastern District of New York said the law’s timeline did not apply in this case. The federal attorney’s office said that parties often voluntarily negotiated to avoid going to court, and that Joseph Potashnik, the Hirsches’ first lawyer, had been engaged in talks until just a few months ago. But Mr. Potashnik said he had spent that time trying, to no avail, to show that the brothers were innocent. They even paid a forensic accounting firm $25,000 to check the books.

“I don’t think they’re really interested in anything,” Mr. Potashnik said of the prosecutors. “They just want the money.”

Bi-County has survived only because longtime vendors have extended credit — one is owed almost $300,000, Mr. Hirsch said. Twice, the government has made settlement offers that would require the brothers to give up an “excessive” portion of the money, according to a new court filing.

“We’re just hanging on as a family here,” Mr. Hirsch said. “We weren’t going to take a settlement, because I was not guilty.”

Army Sgt. Jeff Cortazzo of Arlington, Va., began saving for his daughters’ college costs during the financial crisis, when many banks were failing. He stored cash first in his basement and then in a safe deposit box. All of the money came from his paychecks, he said, but he worried that when he finally deposited it in a bank, he would be forced to pay taxes on the money a second time. So he asked the bank teller what to do.

“She said: ‘Oh, that’s easy. You just have to deposit less than $10,000.’”

The government seized $66,000; settling cost Sergeant Cortazzo $21,000. As a result, the eldest of his three daughters had to delay college by a year.

“Why didn’t the teller tell me that was illegal?” he said. “I would have just plopped the whole thing in the account and been done with it.”

Washington State Attorney General’s Office Prescription Drug Abuse

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Prescription Drug Abuse

http://www.atg.wa.gov/prescriptiondrug.aspx#.VE57Q1dhBkg

Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in Washington state. There are more deaths annually from prescription drug abuse than from meth, cocaine, and heroin combined.

What’s causing this epidemic? Drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Methadone are now commonly prescribed for pain. Painkillers offer relief to millions of Americans but present a hidden danger.

These kinds of prescription drugs are called “opiates.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines “opiate” as a sedative narcotic, “[C]ontaining opium or one or more of its natural or synthetic derivatives.”  In a way, these drugs are the cousins of a better known—and more feared— drug: heroin. But unlike heroin, most people don’t know how potentially addicting and dangerous prescription opiates can be.

Some recreational users crush prescription painkillers and then ingest them in order to bypass the time-release function of the medications. This provides a somewhat immediate, and sometimes deadly, high.

When overdosed, prescription painkillers can cause a significant decrease in lung function and death. They can also be lethal when they’re combined with other prescribed or over-the-counter drugs. High-profile deaths include actor Heath Ledger, who died from a lethal combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.

Teenagers are increasingly experimenting with drugs commonly found in their parents’ medicine cabinets. According to the Healthy Youth Survey, 12 percent of 12th graders used prescription pain medications to get high in the past 30 days. The same survey also shows that an alarming number of younger kids experiment with these drugs. That’s why it’s critical to learn how to properly safeguard and dispose of your medications.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that more than 47 percent of teens get prescription drugs from their friends for free. About 10 percent buy them from their friends, and another 10 percent take them from friends without asking.

What the AGO is doing about prescription drug abuse in Washington State

The Attorney General’s Office uses funds from consumer protection settlements with drug manufacturers—including the makers of OxyContin— to provide grants to promote drug abuse prevention and prescription drug safety.  To date those grants have totaled more than $2.7 million and include:

  • $1,000,000 dollars to fund the Washington Prevention Summits and Spring Youth Forums, where kids learn to use the latest technology to create prevention programs in their schools.
  • $683,000 to the State Department of Health to create a prescription drug monitoring program to prevent the “doctor shopping” that allows addicts to get access to dangerous drugs.
  • $400,000 for the University of Washington  to educate doctors on drug marketing. The funding is a portion of the $9 million awarded in grants nationwide from a settlement with Neurontin.
  • $30,000 to The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Network to develop the Unwanted Medicine Return Program. This program promotes drug safety and a cleaner enviornment by promoting the safe disposal of unwanted medications.
  • $15,000 for Prescriptions for Life, a local nonprofit organization working to eliminate prescription drug abuse. The money will help pay for a new educational video that will be shown to students, teachers, school counselors, law enforcement, medical professionals and civic and business leaders.
  • $400,000 for the Washington Health Foundation launch a  program  to reduce prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse among college students, creating one of the first programs in the nation to target young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 (more below).

What the AGO is doing about prescription drug abuse in Tribal Communities

According to DOH, American Indians and Alaska Natives are hardest-hit by prescription drug abuse.
amind
The AGO has addressed this issue by targeting a series of grants for programs that address substance abuse prevention programs in tribal communities:

  • $101,700 for the Boys & Girls Club of America to establish two new clubhouses on Native American lands by 2011, targeting ages 7-18. The two anticipated newly established clubs on reservation lands should see an enrollment per club in excess of 700 youth.  Boys & Girls Club substance abuse programs include SMART (Skills, Mastery And Resistance Training) Moves.
  • $198,550 to the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board to provide four “mini-grants” of $30,000 each to tribal partners for community based projects to fight prescription drug abuse, and to fund a one-day regional training conference on prescription abuse among tribal members.
  • $25,250 to Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling to help pay for a 6-day youth camp called New Directions: Tribal Youth Music Academy for Addiction Awareness & Prevention.

Prescription drug abuse on campus

The Attorney General’s Office has partnered with the Washington Health Foundation, the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and other national organizations to provide an online health community and a set of resources to help college kids confront the prescription drug epidemic.
The Washington Health Foundation asks college students to be part a part of the solution – to help address prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse and abuse. Learn more on The Washington Health Foundation’s Web site.  There, you can tell your story, share your ideas, explore innovative resources, and participate in social media discussions

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The Importance of Having Those Conversations About Cannabis

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annapurnajaya:

The importance of having those conversations about cannabis

Originally posted on Cannabis Patients Alliance:

0725084730 Enjoying my morning coffee along the banks of the Platte River in 2011.

2011 was a life-changing year for my husband and me. After he got laid off from his job, we decided to put most of our worldly belongings into storage and take off with our 4 dogs in our 22-foot motorhome. Aside from camping and hiking, we spent most of 8 months traveling around Colorado talking to people about marijuana. We talked to patients, dispensary workers, growers, and just average citizens. We wanted to get a feel for what the state, outside of Denver, thought about medical marijuana in Colorado.

I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people, usually about marijuana. People are so curious. I never really know what impact these conversations have. I just try to open people’s minds to new possibilities.

The other day I got a surprising message from someone I met…

View original 408 more words

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