All posts by dpaghi

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Why It’s a Shame the FBI Isn’t Overturning its Ban on Hiring Marijuana Users

I encourage you to read this excellent op-ed from the Huffington Post.

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You may recall a bit of a media frenzy from a couple of weeks ago when the FBI was reportedly struggling to find qualified hackers that did not smoke marijuana.

The FBI received congressional authorization to hire up to 2,000 new computer crimes experts to counter some of the Chinese national electronic espionage efforts that you may remember from last week’s news. The problem? The FBI cannot hire anyone who has consumed marijuana in the last 3 years. All of the best, most successful hackers, according to the FBI are marijuana users, and the FBI briefly considered bringing its hiring policy into the 21st century.

Tragically, though, this story became a victim of the politicized nature of marijuana, and the plan to remove this ban was scrapped. I suppose that means, at least for now, that not admitting that marijuana doesn’t make you a shiftless layabout is more important than keeping America safe from cyber-terrorism.

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DEA Accused of Blackmailing Doctors in Massachusetts

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Read the full story at the Huffington post.
Pressure on the DEA to finally accept medical marijuana has been intensifying in recent years. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment seems increasingly likely to pass, abs high level personnel in the DEA and the ONDCP have been repeatedly grilled by Congress on the rationale behind its focus on marijuana.
Perhaps this pressure is why the DEA was allegedly visiting doctors who sat on the boards of medical marijuana dispensaries at their homes and forcing them to resign. Hopefully, this abuse of the doctors who should be in control of the system is just one more nail in the coffin of the law enforcement approach to marijuana.

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Anti-Cannabis Candidate Loses in Uruguayan Primary

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Read the full story here.
The single biggest threat to the promising Uruguayan experiment with legalization has been defeated in the presidential primary.

Jorge Larranaga ran on a platform of reactionary opposition to the country’s legalization.  Some commentators worried that the extremely progressive nationwide legalization would engender just this kind of backlash. It seems though, that at least for now the nation’s population doesn’t agree with Larranaga.

Obama in the 2011 "Youtube town hall" that Project SAM believes happened a few days ago.

Anti-cannabis Group Makes Fools of Themselves

Obama in the 2011 "Youtube town hall" that Project SAM believes happened a few days ago.
Obama in the 2011 “Youtube town hall” that Project SAM believes happened a few days ago.

We in Hawaii have had an unfortunately large amount of contact with the misnamed anti-cannabis organization “Smart Approaches to Marijuana” or project SAM. They’ve been known to say the occasional silly thing about marijuana, and recently sent out a mass email asking for donations given a statement that president Obama made in 2011. I have sent out misworded and innacurate emails from time to time, and I fully understand that this is an embarrassing mistake made by an intern that probably has no real bearing on the organization as a whole.

That being the case, I think we need to pause for a moment and think about what this really means. While it is an embarrassing misstep on the surface it points to a larger problem with Project SAM and organizations like it that prioritize political optics over the truth. Surely Project SAM knows that they did not in fact influence the president to say anything against marijuana. They found a statement they thought was current, and falsely attributed it to their influence. The silly mistake wherein they took credit for something said 2 years before their organization was founded can only happen in an organization that is willing to tell full bore lies in order to operate.

This kind of widespread misinformation is irksome and troubling to me, but I can take some solace in the fact that in this day and age the mistake was instantly recognized. It is much harder to spread these outright untruths with an educated public. To find out more, and to read Project SAM’s retraction, visit this article at reason.com.

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6 Months into Legalization in Colorado

doobieRead the full story at Mic.

The news from Colorado is good. Revenue is up and crime is down. Jobs in the marijuana sector are booming, from “budtenders” to growmasters. In all, the experience from Colorado is that legalization can be a good thing for the state and for the economy if everyone is committed to making it work. This is the distinction with Washington state, where laws forbidding patients from growing their own medicine, and an oppositional law enforcement attitude threaten to make legalization a difficult and controversial process. The lesson from these states is that whether we like it or not, we need to include in the process those who are opposed to the adult use of cannabis. We have to convince these parts of society that working legalization like they have in Colorado is the reasonable way forward.

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A “Seismic Shift” in Global Drugs Policy

warondrugsRead the full story here.

This surely isn’t the first you’ve heard about a change in attitudes toward drug Policy. Still, it is easy working on the state level to develop a myopic focus on the minutia of our legislation, and miss the national and even global changes. This article shows that a sea change is underway. The UN recently published a report recommending decriminalization of marijuana. A cadre of Nobel Prize winning economists has now published an article saying that Drug Wars are misguided and ineffective. In all of this there has been an overarching narrative: the world is waking up to the fact that a law enforcement approach to drugs is the wrong one.

Image Courtesy of Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

The Media is Spreading Bad Science About Marijuana

Image Courtesy of Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance
Image Courtesy of Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

I posted something very similar to this on MCCHI.org last week, but now it looks like National Public Radio is stepping into the Mix. I really encourage everyone to take a look at the original article at NPR.org.

The article is written by someone who seems to be anti-cannabis but pro-fact, and that is a pretty good way for reporters to comport themselves. The tragedy is that after having told his 12 year old son, on the basis of misreported science, that there was now proof that marijuana harms your brain, he is left with this quandary: “should I sit my son down and explain to him that, as a matter of fact, the press got it wrong, that it has not been proved that smoking pot is bad for the brain.”

And perhaps the fact that this is even up for debate shows the real problem. Even the most conscientious reporters are treating us all a bit like their children: a lie they agree with is better than a truth that doesn’t.

Roger Christie Sentenced

The Following summary of the Roger Christie Sentencing was prepared by a supporter, Tracy Ryan.

CHRISTIE GETS FIVE YEARS
Judge allows credit for time served, grants early release
Share sentenced to jail remains out on appeal.

 

By Tracy Ryan

April 28, 2014

 

Roger Christie. Image Courtesy of Big Island Now
Roger Christie. Image Courtesy of Big Island Now

The Reverend Roger Christie of the Hilo based THC ministry was sentenced today in Federal court in Honolulu. Judge Leslie Kobayashi following, the Federal minimum sentencing guidelines, sentenced him to sixty months on count one of his indictment relating to the distribution of marijuana and one year each for two separate tax related crimes. As per the defendant’s plea agreement several other charges were dismissed.

 

Entering the court in handcuffs and shackle the defendant sat quietly while the attorneys argued about his role in the case. He was allowed to speak briefly on his own behalf and did so with dignity that impressed everyone as he read his prepared remarks.

 

As part of the Federal sentencing rules Rev. Christie must serve a minimum of forty eight months before becoming eligible for supervised release into the community. The court allowed for this early release to take place and counted the almost four years in jail served to date against his sentence. The two other convictions carrying the one year sentences were allowed to be served as part of the four years as well. With these decisions Rev. Christie should be out of jail within a few weeks. He will be moved to a half-way house.

 

Christie’s attorney argued about the terms and conditions under which his client’s release would be governed. Rev. Christie wanted the right under his religious freedom to use marijuana as a sacrament and to take part in the operations of the THC ministry. The court separated these issues. Judge Kobayashi was clear in stating that he could not use or possess marijuana, or any other controlled substance for that matter, or participate in group activities with individuals who were in the possession of or using marijuana, during his period of supervised release. He would also be subject to periodic drug testing. He was not required to attend any drug treatment plan.

 

The judge did make it clear that the defendant’s rights to engage in political activity and church activities that did not involve the specific prohibitions outlined were part of his rights and would not be considered violations of his supervised release.

 

Share Christie, who had married the defendant while he was in Federal custody, was sentenced following Rev Christie’s hearing. Roger was not allowed to stay for this as the US Marshall’s had to have him back to the Federal detention center by a certain hour. Share was sentenced under Federal guidelines to twenty seven months in jail. The prosecution made much of arguments that she was the “money” person who handled finance and had a much more avaricious interest than her husband. Share was visibly shaken, but remains free pending appeal.

 

In addition to the sentence the court levied a fine of $13,944 on Roger which was the amount of cash seized from his safe in the 2010 raid. This money was assigned to the IRS for back taxes. Roger was instructed by the court that he must make efforts to pay all delinquent taxes plus penalties and interest. The interest would not begin to be added until he was released. The condo where he had been living, which was a gift from his late mother, was also confiscated. How any funds realized from its sale would be divided among various federal agencies was not mentioned by the court.

 

Both Share and Roger hope for relief from the 9th District Court of Appeals in California.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana Should Be Legal

John Paul Stevens It isn’t really news anymore when someone important points out the obvious truth that marijuana should be legal like alcohol, but it is interesting to hear former Justice Stevens say it on HPR. Here’s what he said:

I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion [that’s] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug.