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Friday, September 12, 2008

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Presidential nominee, has had a change of heart.

Bob Barr: Federal Drug War Rethought: "As both a U.S. Attorney and Member of Congress, I defended drug prohibition. But it has become increasingly clear to me, after much study, that our current strategy has not worked and will not work. The other candidates for president prefer not to address this issue, but ignoring the failure of existing policy exhibits both a poverty of thought and an absence of political courage. The federal government must turn the decision on drug policy back to the states and the citizens themselves."

I really don't know whether Barr is sincere or he just finds his new libertarian leanings on the drug war to be politically expedient. In any case, I think that Barr is probably our most viable, pro-legalization choice for president right now. However, I'd like to see him more contrite about his prosecution of the federal war on drugs as U.S. attorney. How many lives has he ruined in the course of his neo-con past?

On July 29th the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Cheye Calvo was victimized twice. Mayor Calvo was the victim of a marijuana trafficking scheme where packages are dropped by delivery drivers, in this case UPS, and the package is then stolen off the porch by drug dealers. The raiding police then murdered the mayor's two Labrador retrievers in the process of serving a standard drug warrant.

The police were supposed to knock at the door and announce themselves. Instead they entered the home by force acting as if the warrant had the required "no-knock" clause. The incompetent police have been exonerated of any wrongdoing. Mayor Calvo was recently interviewed by the Cato Institute. You can listen to the interview below.

For more information on no-knock raids and the rising use of military-style tactics in the war on drugs read Overkill by Radley Balko.

I wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow, September 13, is the big Southern Heritage Classic game at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The tailgate parties have already started, and from what I hear, it's the biggest party in Memphis.

The annual Cooper-Young Festival is also tomorrow . Over 300 artisans are displaying their works and over 80,000 people are expected to pass through.

Update: Citizens To Preserve Overton Park will be at the C-Y Festival at booth D31 in the First Congregational Church parking lot. CPOP will have organic cotton Save the Old Forest t-shirts for a $10 donation.

If going out isn't your thing and you have Comcast cable, you can always stay in and watch the University of Memphis Tigers play the the Thundering Herd of Marshal on CSS tomorrow at 6 pm. The Tigers are looking for their first win this season, and if we can't do it against Marshal then God help us.

Redwood National Forest has become the latest battleground in the War on Drugs. The ancient forest is now the home to guerrilla growers who plant their clandestine farms in the dense old-growth in order to hide their crop from law enforcement and rival gangs.

Sequoia sempervirens in Redwood National ParkFive-Acre Marijuana Farm Found in Redwood National Park - FoxNewsAuthorities have discovered thousands of marijuana plants growing in Redwood National Park.
While marijuana has been found growing on public lands for years, officials say they're finding larger, more damaging operations — many of them connected to gangs with ties to Mexico.

I've written before on the environmental destruction caused by the drug war. Not only does this deadly war threaten the environment, but also the lives of every tourist, camper, and hiker that visit the forest every summer. If marijuana crops were legal crops could be planted in private farms and the environmental and public threat would be eliminated.

The photo above is in the public domain: Coastal Redwood

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Roane County (TN) School District is drug testing student athletes in violation of state law.

Alert - American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee: "The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN)
today sent a letter to the Roane County school district demanding a stop to the random drug testing of student athletes which is in clear violation of state law. In addition to being illegal, random drug testing of students is proven to be ineffective in deterring drug use and is opposed by leading experts in adolescent health, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Education Association, the Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers.

“Random drug testing is not only patently illegal under state law, but demonstrably ineffective and frequently counterproductive,” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “These unsubstantiated searches make a mockery of the civics lessons taught in our classrooms, and should be roundly and readily rejected by parents and school officials alike.”"
Not only is this behavior illegal, random drug testing has been proven to be ineffective as a deterrent. It simply does not prevent students from using drugs. In fact, when children are tested for a safe and non-toxic substance like marijuana, students then have an incentive to instead use deadly drugs like inhalants. I believe the only effective and ethical way of preventing adolescent drug abuse, without violating individual rights is to foster a healthy relationship between the parent and child. School policy and the drug war instead foster mistrust, a snitch culture, and pit children against parents by creating adversarial relationships.

For more information read my post on fooling urine drug tests.

Read the full alert from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.
Associated Press article here: ACLU Demands Tennessee School Stop Drug Testing Student Athletes.

Ron White asserts that he is a medical marijuana user, this comes after his arrest for simple possession of 3 grams of cannabis and a glass pipe. An anonymous tipster narced out The Tater and police sprang into action. This is freaking ridiculous and completely conflicts with Drug Czar John Walters assertion that people don't go to jail for simple possession. Ron White had 3 grams of marijuana, that's about 1/10th of an ounce or less than $100 worth of high quality, medical marijuana. He was arrested, booked and release with a $1000 bond. I guess the streets are safe now. Great police work. How many personnel hours do you think that law enforcement is wasting on the investigation, processing, prosecution, and incarceration of a non-violent medical marijuana user? Ron was flying to Florida for a sold-out show. Over 1000 people were inconvenienced when the show started an hour late.

The Memphis Flyer is giving away free tickets to see Widespread Panic in Memphis. There are 5 drawings over the next five weeks. You have to turn off any ad blocking software you have running in order to see the link. Good luck.

The Cato Institute is having a forum on so-called "No-Knock" raids. Details below. Sorry, the stream is only available in RealMedia format, gross.

Cato Institute: Should No-Knock Police Raids be Rare-or Routine? (Policy Forum): "Should No-Knock Police Raids be Rare-or Routine?

Thursday, September 11, 2008
4:00 PM (Reception To Follow)

Featuring Cheye Calvo, Mayor, Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Radley Balko, Senior Writer, Reason and author of Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, Peter Christ, Co-founder, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.

The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Watch the Event Live in RealVideo
Listen to the Event in RealAudio (Audio Only)

The Prince George’s County police department is under fire for a recent drug raid on the home of Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo. Unbeknownst to Calvo, a box containing marijuana was delivered to his home. Shortly thereafter, police officers kicked in the front door and shot both of Calvo’s pet Labrador retrievers. The police have subsequently cleared Calvo of any wrongdoing but are unapologetic about their raid tactics. Are no-knock, paramilitary raids an appropriate tactic for drug investigations? Or do sudden, unannounced entries bring unnecessary violence to police investigations? Join us for a discussion of the Prince George’s incident and, more broadly, the militarization of police work in America."

*Update: I fixed the links to the media streams.

The University of Memphis is off to a rough start this season. Keep your head up Tigers. I was watching a National Geographic special entitled "Tigers of the Swamp" about tigers that live in the Bay of Bengal. Due to the flooding rivers descending from the Himalayas bodies of flood victims get washed into the swamp. As a result, some of these tigers have a taste for human blood. That's f-ing hardcore! Ok, I'm motivated again. Go Tigers! Watch the full documentary below.

*The image above is in the public domain, Panthera Tigris, Tigris.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This story from Chicago saddens me, but is not surprising. When the passive aggressive use the force of government to exact their revenge the results can be deadly. In this fortunate instance the tables were turned.

Chicago officer charged in frame job: "Bogdan Mazur, who is in the midst of a divorce, tried to set up his estranged wife by planting cocaine, marijuana and a gun in her vehicle in April 2007 and having Grand-Central District Officer Slawomir Plewa arrest her, according to Assistant State's Atty. Lynn McCarthy.

Plewa, 30, was arrested Monday and charged with official misconduct, perjury, obstruction of justice, unlawful restraint and false reporting."
People often use drug laws to exact retribution, vengeance, and hate against others. Sometimes drug users are snitched on, not to "make the streets safer" but because someone has simply felt personally slighted. Snitching is a great way for the passive aggressive to earn some quick cash while narcing out a personal enemy and subjecting them to the terror of the courts and prisons. The article continues:

After the acquittal, the woman's attorney, Steven Messner, said he told Assistant State's Atty. Bob Milan he suspected the case was phony. Plewa had admitted he never made note of the meeting with the informant nor tried to verify the information with anyone else, Messner said.

And a fingerprint taken from the packaging around the gun and drugs did not match the estranged wife's, Messner said.

Plewa is a seven-year veteran of the department, assigned to the gang-narcotics team for much of that time, and has never before been disciplined by the department, said Dan Herbert, Plewa's attorney.

In other instances innocent people are framed by their enemies. Vindictive individuals know that police are more interested in racking up arrest numbers in order to seize assets and qualify for federal grants. Law enforcement has no incentive to filter through these bogus accusations. Instead they frequently take the snitch's word without any corroborating investigation. In extreme circumstances police knowingly use false information because the incentives to disregard it are simply to great.

Law enforcement should be about justice, righting wrongs. They should be available to protect our life, our liberty, our property. The drug war conflicts with this mission. When cops are used to enforce societal norms we all suffer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In a true WTF moment, Kid Rock is now making propaganda films for the government. Mrs. Blue, who's had a decade-long crush on the Early Morning Stoned Pimp [Video], will be highly disappointed.

View the music video for "Warrior", by Kid Rock featuring Dale Earnhart, Jr who drives the National Guard number 88 car.

Hat tip: JJ of

One of the most popular web searches related to marijuana is, "How to fool a drug test." While the answer remains elusive there are few tricks that can help you when your future or current employer hands you the little white cup.

Chemical & Engineering News: Business - To Catch A Cheat: "The hundreds of products marketed to help drug users circumvent urine drug tests fall into three main categories: products that are consumed prior to the test, products that are added to the test sample, and devices for smuggling synthetic or borrowed 'clean' urine into the testing facility. Toxicologists focus on the first two because, as Sample pointed out, 'if it's someone else's urine, there is not a lab test in the world that would tell you that.'"
So the answer from this unlikely source is simply, "swap urine." Of course using a warmer like "Hot Hands" available in the outdoors section of Walmart, is necessary to keep urine within a normal range of body temperature. Detox systems simply dilute urine to undetectable levels. This trick is easily recognized by competent laboratories.

There are several problems I have with employer drug screening. Marijuana users are unfairly discriminated against because THC is stored in body fat and is detectable long after hard, dangerous drugs have left the system. Prescription drugs are oft abused, even when acquired under legitimate pretense. However many "scripts" aren't tested and if the individual can produce documentation positive results are excused. Finally, drug tests can't actually determine if an employee is or will be impaired at work. THC remains in the body long after, sometimes weeks after the high has subsided.

Here's a table from the article above you might find useful.

Apparently dogs weren't able to be trained at Mark H. Luttrell Correctional Center because of a lack of air conditioning. Apparently in Tennessee we'll cage women in boxes not suitable for animals. I wish people would wake up and understand that the war on drugs is an affront to human rights.

Tennessee Women’s Prison to again Train Dogs: "A West Tennessee women's prison that was deemed this summer to be too hot for a dog training program is scheduled to get air conditioning."

Prosecutors and judges often have to deceive jurors in order to win medical marijuana prosecutions. By omitting relevant facts and disallowing testimony of witnesses, jurors are often tricked into believing individuals running legitimate businesses are running criminal enterprises. Now two jurors in California are fighting back.

The Modesto Bee - Second thoughts and a new pot trial?: "Buyer's remorse from two of 12 jurors is not enough to toss out guilty verdicts that could send two men who ran a Modesto-based medical marijuana dispensary to prison for decades or even life.

So attorneys who want to win a new trial for Ricardo Ruiz Montes and Luke Scarmazzo are taking a different approach, arguing that jurors were unduly influenced by a San Francisco Chronicle story about pot clubs that was published during their deliberations."