UK: Government’s Official Drug Advisers Want to Decriminalize All Personal Drug Use

Possession of any drug for personal use should be decriminalized, the UK government’s official drug advisers have recommended. Tens of thousands of people caught with drugs ranging from heroin to cannabis would go on drug education courses rather than being punished in the courts under the proposals, The London Times reported Friday.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said the change would save police, courts, probation and prison services the costs of dealing with drug offenders. It would also allow more drug users to be assessed for treatment rather than being given criminal records. The council’s call to decriminalize the personal use of hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine puts it on a collision course with the government, which is opposed to any weakening of existing drug laws.

UK: Government's Official Drug Advisers Want to Decriminalize All Personal Drug Use.

Professor Les Iversen, chairman of the council, believes there is now an opportunity to be more creative in dealing with those who are caught in possession of drugs. "For people found to be in possession of (any) drug for personal use (and involved in no other criminal offenses), they should not be processed through the criminal justice system but instead be diverted into drug education/awareness courses," the council said.

The council also suggests drug users could have their driving licenses and passports confiscated as part of a civil rather than criminal penalty. The council is clear that anyone caught with drugs for personal possession who is also involved or linked to other crime would be dealt with through the court system. About 35,000 people were sentenced for drug possession in 2009. A further 11,490 were given an on-the-spot fine and 43,000 were cautioned for drug offenses.

USA: Feds Threaten Medical Marijuana Advertisers

The Justice Department's revived offensive against medical marijuana distribution is expanding to include media outlets that advertise for dispensaries, a California US Attorney told California Watch in an interview this week. Last week, the state's four US Attorneys held a joint news conference in Sacramento to announce they were targeting dispensary landlords and property owners, as well as going after dispensaries that violated the prosecutors' idea of what was permissible.

Those included dispensaries located within a thousand feet or schools or parks (a federal -- not state -- sentencing enhancement) and dispensaries that did too much business -- more than 200 kilograms in a year. Now, radio, TV, print, and electronic media are to be added to the list of those threatened by the feds.

Laura Duffy, US Attorney for Southern California, said medical marijuana advertising is the next area she will be "going to be moving onto as part of the enforcement efforts in Southern California."

USA/California: Brown Vetoes California Hemp Bill, Criticizes Federal Ban 

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has vetoed a bill that would have allowed farmers in select counties to grow hemp, saying it would subject them to federal prosecution, but in doing so, he lashed out at the federal ban on hemp farming in the US, calling it "absurd." Sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the bill, Senate Bill 676, would have allowed farmers in four Central California counties to grow industrial hemp for the legal sale of hemp seed, oil, and fiber to manufacturers.

The bill specified that hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and farmers would have to submit their crops to testing before they go to market. The bill had mandated an eight-year pilot program that would end in 2020, but not before the California attorney general would issue a report on law enforcement impact and the Hemp Industries Association would issue a report on its economic impact. But although, like three other hemp bills that have been vetoed in California in the past decade, the bill passed the legislature and had the broadest support of any hemp measure considered in the state, Gov. Brown killed it, citing the federal proscription on hemp farming.

USA: DEA Raids California, Colorado Medical Marijuana Operations

Putting some law enforcement muscle behind last week's words of warning from federal prosecutors that a new crackdown on medical marijuana distribution was getting underway, DEA agents this week raided a model regulated medical marijuana grow in Northern California, a medical marijuana dispensary in Southern California, and a medical marijuana grow in Colorado.

"The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick," claimed Laura Duffy, the San Diego-based US Attorney at the October 8 Sacramento press conference. "It's a pervasive, for-profit industry that violates federal law." But the operation raided Thursday, Northstone Organics in Mendocino County, has been touted as a model medical marijuana grow. It holds a Mendocino County sheriff's permit to grow the 99 pot plants seized and destroyed by the feds, pays an estimated $8,500 annually in fees to remain compliant, and has even had sheriff's deputies testify favorably about it in a state court case where Northstone drivers delivering medicine to patients were arrested in Sonoma County.

Northstone Organics founder and owner Matt Cohen told the Ukiah Daily News Friday that heavily-armed agents raided his home and property early Thursday morning, destroying plants and hauling off evidence, but not charging him with a crime.  "They destroyed our home and eradicated everything," Cohen said. "They came in, guns blazing. They calmed down and were pleasant at the end, but they came in with machine guns."

Brought to you by The Greenish Warbler

October 17th 2011

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