Marc Emery claims victory in drug war

Marc Emery and wife Jodie embrace in the visitors’ area of U.S. medium-security prison in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Photograph by: Contributed , Cannabis Culture

YAZOO CITY PRISON, Mississippi — Vancouver cannabis crusader Marc Emery may be facing two more frustrating years behind bars in the Deep South of the United States. But he’s more confident than ever he’s winning the war on drug prohibition.

The Prince of Pot believes the drug legalization campaign he’s waged for more than 30 years is already over at the "intellectual" level. And it’s only a matter of time before marijuana and other recreational drugs are sold in stores in Canada and the U.S. – and taxed and regulated just like liquor and cigarettes.

"The end of prohibition is close, five years for marijuana or less," he told me from inside the U.S. federal correctional complex where he’s serving a five-year term for selling marijuana seeds. "And I can take a lot of credit for it."

Crisply dressed in khaki prison fatigues and black boots, Emery said he was heartened that John McKay, the former U.S. attorney who helped put Emery in jail, has had a Saul-on the-road-to-Damascus conversion and is now championing a Washington State initiative to legalize pot.

He’s also encouraged that a raft of Canadian VIPs, including four former B.C. attorneys-general, have jumped on the decriminalization bandwagon.

"I’m running out of people who disagree with me anymore," the pot entrepreneur quipped, as we sipped pop together inside the visitors’ area of the massive, razor-wire-clad jail northwest of the Mississippi state capital of Jackson.

The 54-year-old activist, who once raised the ire of Canadian and U.S. cops by publicly flaunting his marijuana-smoking habits, even admits he doesn’t miss the weed that he first smoked in 1980, when he was 22.

"It’s the most common question I’m asked in letters and even among inmates here, but I have never once thought of marijuana in the actual in two years," he said in a prison email. "Not missed smoking it. In fact, I’ve never thought about it once."

Emery explained that this might stem from the realization that he misses nothing except his devoted wife, Jodie, who runs what remains of his once-thriving pot empire – which, he says, grossed $15 million between 1995 and 2005.

The 27-year-old Jodie, now owner and operator of Cannabis Culture on West Hastings, flies down from Vancouver to visit him every two to four weeks.

"I think of her every hour of every day," Emery said, adding he spends much of his time practising bass guitar and honing his skills as leader of Yazoo, an interracial rock band named after the prison’s rural hometown, known for its blues musicians.

"I never believed I would emerge from prison an accomplished musician, a band leader, playing music I have loved my whole life, with other far more accomplished and talented musicians," he said in another email. "This is a miracle that I’m very grateful for."

My prison visit, which Emery says is the first by any journalist in the two years since he’s been locked up in the U.S., wasn’t easy to arrange. And I wasn’t allowed to bring in a pen, notepad, tape recorder or other reporting tools. Taking pictures on the property was also a no-no, and my rental car was searched. But what really surprised me was how tanned and fit Emery looked compared to how he appeared when I last saw him on TV in Vancouver.

I asked him whether this wasn’t due to the fact that prison had forced him to give up marijuana (and that being caught with pot could lead to a whole range of punishments, including up to three months in solitary).

Emery insisted this was not so. It was simply that he was much less stressed and had far fewer legal/ money worries than when, at the helm of the world’s largest marijuana seed-selling business, he was facing the sobering prospect of extradition to the United States.

Judging by what he says and how he appears, he’s fitting well into prison life as the only Canadian among 1,700 mostly black inmates, many of them serving what appear to be cruelly long sentences for crack cocaine and other drug offences.

Coming from outside with no "cultural baggage" obviously helps, as it does for former newspaper publisher Conrad Black, another Canadian celebrity who’s been doing hard time in the U.S. south.

But Emery says prison life is probably harder on Black because he’s older and used to luxury in his life. "I come from a more working class/ middle class background so it’s not so difficult for me," he said.

The Mississippi climate is also in his favour.

Indeed, Emery says he far prefers the fresh air and sunny climate in the Magnolia State to the "morose" Vancouver weather.

"And I have never had an unkind word spoken to me by any inmate in two years," he said.

"And I am frequently asked, probably every day, for some help or information, as they think of me as a useful, knowledgeable person."

What perhaps misses most are fresh vegetables. However, little niceties are generally only a postage stamp away.

Yes, in the absence of cash, the $1 postage stamp is the universal prison currency.

And he says you can buy services like getting your hair cut, your cell cleaned, your running shoes washed or your headphones fixed for one to five stamps.

Smoking is officially prohibited, but contraband cigs tend to get broken up into four or five small cigarettes and sold for, say, stamps apiece. That means a single street cigarette can fetch $25 . . . with a couple of batteries and a piece of toilet paper serving as a makeshift lighter.

So life is not overly harsh. Indeed, Emery, who shares a cell, thinks he has fewer grey hairs now than when he did when he was in Vancouver.

"I didn’t know your hair could reverse its direction like that regarding colour," he told me. "I was losing my hair from 2002 to 2004. When I look at my hair, its thicker than it was some 10 years ago."

But is the natural-born showman, known in Vancouver for his take-no-prisoners outbursts, really a changed individual? Can a leopard change his spots?

Well, he says he’s matured and learned to tone things down: "Confrontation will get you nowhere good in prison."

Violence in a medium-security prison, though, is always just around the corner. And Emery tells me that only a couple of weeks ago a Hispanic inmate suspected of being an informant was bludgeoned half to death by two others. He was apparently beaten over the head by a metal door-locker lock inside a sock.

Emery’s official release date is July 9, 2014. But he could be free as early as next year, if Ottawa allows him to be transferred back to Canada.

On his return to B.C., he plans to have a big welcome-back bash outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, followed by a world tour with Jodie, including stops in Jamaica and Italy.

As for his career future, he says he’ll finish the autobiography he’s writing and try to become a radio talk show host, a job he used to do back in his hometown of London, Ont.

"One of the problems of the so-called entertainment right-wing radio shows I hear on many AM and FM channels here is they don’t respect facts or balance.

"The discussion is all one-sided, and often just derision, insult and talking in a circular manner," he said.

"I believe I can provoke but still welcome all sides in a discussion."

Like it or not, in other words, you’ll be hearing a lot more from Emery whatever band — or bandwagon — he’s heading.

jferry@theprovince.com

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Marc+Emery+claims+victory+drug/6538092/story.html#ixzz1tTmf0274

Marc Emery’s U.S. prosecutor urges pot legalization

John McKay once prosecuted B.C.’s ‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery
CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2012 12:12 PM PT

Former U.S. Attorney John McKay joined marijuana legalization activist Jodie Emery in Vancouver on Wednesday.

The former U.S. district attorney who prosecuted B.C. marijuana activist Marc Emery in a cross-border sting is calling for the legalization and taxation of pot in Canada and the U.S.

John McKay, a former U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington State, was joined by Emery’s wife Jodie and former B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant at a lecture in Vancouver on Wednesday.

McKay said he did not regret prosecuting Emery because he broke U.S. law, but he believes the war on pot has been a complete and total failure. He said the laws keeping pot illegal no longer serve any purpose, but allow gangs and cartels to generate billions in profits.

"I want to say this just as clearly and as forthrightly as I can, marijuana prohibition, criminal prohibition of marijuana is a complete failure," McKay said.

McKay said marijuana, like alcohol, should be produced and sold to adults by the government, and that would generate at least half a billion dollars in revenue annually in Washington State alone.

More importantly, he said, ending prohibition would end the violent reign of gangs and drug cartels who are profiting from the situation. He said any prohibition in society requires broad support from the population, and that isn’t the case with marijuana.

The appearance was organized by Stop the Violence BC, a coalition of high-profile academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts, which is working to reduce crime and public health problems stemming from the prohibition on marijuana.

The group includes several former B.C. attorneys general, several former Vancouver mayors, a former B.C. premier and a former RCMP superintendent for the province.

McKay, a Republican, was a U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2007, when he resigned or was fired along with eight other U.S attorneys by President Bush.

He is now a professor in the faculty of law at Seattle University and an avid supporter of the Washington State ballot initiative for the November election to implement a regulated, taxed market for marijuana.

Marc Emery remains in prison in the U.S., serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana through his mail-order cannabis seed business.

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail

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Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail and using the proceeds to finance advocacy and political campaigns in the United States and worldwide from 1994-2005. See www.FreeMarc.ca for more information

 

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When I first began my Vancouver hemp store, HEMP BC, in July 1994, my first hires were Ian Hunter and Danna Rozek, two people I’d met in the months prior to opening my retail shop at 324 West Hastings (across from the location, 18 years later, of Cannabis Culture Headquarters). I noticed right away that Danna and her friend, also hired at Hemp BC, Cindy Lassu, were ‘Deadheads,’ totally committed to the culture and language and music of the Grateful Dead.

I remember my surprise and curiosity when Ian and Danna both yelled elatedly at 4:20 pm each afternoon I was in their company, "It’s 4:20, smoke ’em if ya got ’em." I had never heard that phrase or ritual before, and yet I’d been smoking pot (in London, Ontario) since 1981. I moved to Vancouver in March of 1994.

I thought it was an odd west coast thing, something peculiar to Vancouver. In conversations I had with High Times editor Steve Hagar, I learned that it first became a ritual in the high schools of central California around 1976 or so. Up to the mid-70’s, high school classes went to 4 pm, so by the time school was out, and you got out of class, 4:20 pm became a time of congregation to smoke a joint.

Some of those high school students were followers of the Grateful Dead, joining in the legendary treks across America following that ubiquitous San Francisco band on what is known as ‘Dead Tour.’ There they continued their smoking pot at 4.20 pm ritual with an enthusiastic "It’s Four Twenty!"

So starting in those California high schools, those students graduated and continued their ritual in the very iconoclastic society of "Deadheads" that followed the band the Grateful Dead on their tours across America and Europe in the mid and late 70’s. 4:20 become an established part of Deadhead culture by the early 80’s, and when ever one Deadhead wanted to see how hip you might be, the question "What time is it?" began to be a litmus test of the culture. If you gave the regular time, you were ‘straight,’ but if you responded "It’s 4:20!" (no matter what time it was), you were cool, ‘one of us.’ In Deadhead culture, at 4:20 pm, one yelled out to friends, "It’s 4:20!" and joint smoking ensued.

When in July 1994, in my little revolutionary activist headquarters HEMP BC shop open on Hastings St. in downtown Vancouver, I allowed the staff and any customers to smoke pot in the store, so at 4:20 pm every day, Danna, Ian, Cindy, and by November 1994, Dana Larsen, would yell "It’s 4:20" and everyone would light up. Back then, even most of our customers had never heard this ‘4:20’ thing before, as only a few months earlier, neither had I.

In March 1995, while working as manager of my Hemp BC store, Danna and Cindy asked me at my desk, "Marc, can we have a 420 celebration next door at Hemp For Victory Square (which is what we called Victory Square at Cambie & Hastings back then) on April 20?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, " You mean we should go over and smoke in the park at 4:20 on April 20 because that’s the 4th month, 20th day?"

"No," replied Danna, " I mean we should party over there all day on April 20, not just at 4:20 in the afternoon."

"My God, no, that’s decadent, we can’t party all day" I said, being very much of the Ayn Rand school of cannabis liberation, and thinking a day-long party was unthinkable to my capitalist work ethic.

So Danna and Cindy went back to work in the store. An hour later Danna came back to me and said, "Even though you don’t approve, can we do it anyway?"

I thought about that and asked, "Well, what would you do?"

Danna replied, "We’d get a PA system, invite a few bands, give speeches, smoke lots of pot, from, say, noon to 5 pm."

"Do you think we’d get away with that?" I asked incredulously.

"Yes! It’ll be so much fun."

"All right. You can give it a shot." I conceded.

"Will you help us because you have the money and we’ll need electrical power, cables, PA equipment, and other things?" she cajoled.

"Okay," I remember laughing at her audacity, "I’ll help you."

On April 20, 1995, it was a beautiful sunny day, and 6 cables ran from various electrical outlets at Hemp BC seventy-five feet to Victory Square to supply power for the PA system, the microphones, amplifiers. The party began around noon but because it was a very new idea, never done on April 20 any time before, there were about only 150 people by 2 pm, peaking at 250 people at 4:20 pm. Nonetheless, open pot smoking went on for about 6 hours without any police interference, much to my surprise, only 25 feet from a major intersection of Hastings and Cambie. Everyone who came seemed to have a wonderful time.

The following year, in 1996, at Victory Square again, 500 people came at its peak. For 1997, we moved the event to the Vancouver Art Gallery, its current location, where about 1,000 people came. By 2003 and 2004, 3,000 people attended at its peak at 4:20pm, but in 2005, the number attending exploded to 6,000, and every year since then, numbers increase, with 10,000 in 2009, 13,000 in 2011, and upwards of 15,000 expected this year.

You can see video of Vancouver 4/20 from 2006 to 2011 at the website www.Vancouver420.com. My pioneering video website www.Pot.tv has archival footage of the 4/20 from 2002 to 2005. When YouTube came out, videos of our smoking protest party went viral and the event was emulated in other cities. Now the Vancouver event is so popular, hundreds of people come as early as 9 am to start the party, with thousands at the art gallery grounds by noon, and by 3 pm it is densely packed.

From 2000 to 2008, the master of ceremonies was activist David Malmo-Levine, who at 4:10 would ask people in the crowds to sit down while he and other ‘volunteers’ tossed joints out to the masses, making sure all would have something to smoke at 4:20 pm. Then Peter Tosh’s ‘Legalize It’ would play at 4:20 pm and a huge, incredible plume of bluish smoke would rise above the assembled mass; you could smell it 3 to 4 blocks away, and on video and in photographs looked spectacular.

Over the years pot vendors selling joints, bags of pot, pot cookies, pot brownies, and various cannabis consumables became a prominent aspect of the festivities. Never in the history of the 4/20 celebration have police interfered with selling or consumption of cannabis. Beautifully, there have been very few incidents of cannabis overuse and virtually no unhappy medical emergencies.

For 2011 and 2012, the event has become very sophisticated, with excellent musical entertainment organized by Adam Bowen, featuring musicians and genres from across the musical spectrum, with prominent staging and sound amplification. Media from all over Canada photograph, videotape, broadcast and cover the event. As always since the beginning, www.CannabisCulture.com has coverage of the event.

In the recent decade, April 20 celebrations by the cannabis culture began to be seen everywhere around the world, certainly every major city in the United States and Canada now has a April 20 celebration, and in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. That’s the power of YouTube and 4/20!

This day is now famous everywhere in the world now as ‘the national holiday of the cannabis culture,’ but we’re proud it started here in Vancouver first, 17 years ago, in 1995!

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail and using the proceeds to finance advocacy and political campaigns in the United States and worldwide from 1994-2005. See www.FreeMarc.ca for more information

Weird: Medical Marijuana Advocates Oppose Legalization Bids

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Submitted by Reason Foundation on Apr 16, 2012

By Mike Riggs

Members of the medical marijuana industry have come out against ballot initiatives in two states that would allow consumers over the age of 21 to legally purchase and consume small quantities of marijuana for recreational use.

Washington State’s Initiative 502 and Colorado’s Amendment 64 would regulate pot similarly to alcohol and tobacco, according to their backers. In Washington, even home growers producing for personal use would have to seek a license from the state liquor board, and consumers would be allowed to possess only an ounce at a time. Colorado’s initiative would have the same possession limit, and would allow home growers to have up to six plants.

The bills, in other words, don’t treat pot exactly like alcohol, of which a consumer can own as much as he likes and brew at home without a license, but they’re being sold by their proponents as better than the status quo. For some medical marijuana activists, better than the status quo is not good enough.

Here’s what Washington’s I-502 would do, in the words of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and former U.S. Attorney (and drug warrior) John McKay, who are the initiative’s most well-known proponents:

This measure would remove state-law prohibitions against producing, processing, and selling marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board; allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged twenty-one and over; and impose 25% excise taxes on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for purposes that include substance-abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare.  Laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include maximum thresholds for THC blood concentration.

Gil Mobley, a Washington physician who owns a medical marijuana clinic, created Patients Against I-502 to oppose the initiative. The name has since been changed to No on I-502. It sums up its opposition to the bill simply: "I-502 is not legalization."

It simply creates a legal exception for possession of an ounce and a few other minor cannabis related crimes. Under this initiative it would still be illegal for individuals to grow any amount. In addition, hemp would still not be explicitly legal, passing a joint would still be felony distribution, and a new form of prohibition will be introduced that will cause cannabis consumers to be wrongfully convicted and imprisoned (the per se DUID mandate). People under 21 have the potential to be convicted of a DUID simply for being in the presence of cannabis smoke for an extended period of time. Beyond this, the entire distribution system will be federally preempted (rendered invalid in court) due to the fact that it creates a positive conflict with our federal Controlled Substances Act (you can’t force a state to accept taxes from a federally illegal substance).

Mobley and his allies received a drubbing last week when The Stranger’s Dominic Holden criticized No on I-502 in a New York Times op-ed, writing, “I haven’t found a single scientific study showing that even the heaviest of pot users would exceed the five-nanogram [DUI] cutoff after 24 hours. And the civil liberties attacks are simply dishonest. The rules would remain the same as they currently are for medical marijuana—no registration requirements and no database.”

Holden went on to say that “it’s more than a little strange to defend the status quo, in which nearly 10,000 people are arrested in Washington for possession each year, on civil liberties grounds. And it’s not as if voters would accept a law that didn’t include restrictions on smoking and driving.” His op-ed also featured an appearance by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Allen St. Pierre, who said, “The medical marijuana industry is driven by profit…It’s not driven by compassion anymore. It is driven by the need to make money.”

(St. Pierre expressed a similar sentiment earlier this year when he wrote that “Cannabis consumers…want good, affordable cannabis products without having to go through the insult and expense of ‘qualifying’ as a ‘medical’ patient by paying physicians and/or the state for some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. How intellectually honest is all of this?”)

I reached out to a Washington-based marijuana activist about opposition to the bill. He was at odds with both St. Pierre and No on I-502:

Of course there are some bad apples that only care about profit, but they are usually weeded out (no pun intended) by patients themselves and market forces. Others are able to turn a tidy profit while still providing a valuable service to their patients. This is America. What is wrong with wanting your business to make money? As long as no one is being exploited, particularly patients, who is getting hurt? This is the only industry that is being punished by the federal government for being too successful.

When people lump all members of the industry together, it makes it that much easier for prohibitionists to dismiss calls for policy change and gives the feds carte blanche to shut them all down because they are just ‘greedy drug dealers’.

In terms of politics, I would have to say that when it comes to the opponents of I-502 within the marijuana industry, there are certainly some that are looking out for their own financial interests, while others don’t necessarily understand the initiative. Still others simply don’t care about full legalization and are convinced that they will lose their driving privileges, or think that this initiative is too restrictive in one way or another.

It is unfortunate that some within the industry do not realize that the best way to ensure safe and affordable medical access for patients is to remove criminal penalties for all adults, or that they will continue to be able to make a living under a taxed and regulated legal framework. That does not make the whole industry a sham.

In Colorado, medical marijuana dispensaries opposed to Amendment 64 are less organized, and less concerned with how the bill will affect users who drive. Here’s a sample complaint voiced last month:

Although he supports adult recreational marijuana use, Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher said legalizing pot for all Colorado adults could jeopardize the business model he and other state dispensary owners have worked hard to create. Specifically, Fisher said he’s concerned approval of a system that permits recreational marijuana use would lead to increased federal intervention in Colorado.

“While we support adult access to cannabis in any form, we’re not sure supporting this initiative is right at this time,” Fisher said last week.

Fisher said the state’s medical marijuana industry has come a long way in a short time. He didn’t want anything to jeopardize his business, which now employs 40 people.

“We still have plenty of growing pains on the medical side on the local, state and federal levels,” he said. “Moving forward with the retail model for recreational use, I’m not sure where we sit. I don’t want to go to federal prison."

The sense I get from some activists is that internecine fighting over the best way to make marijuana fully legal at the state level is a) limited to big-time activists and players in the medi-mari industry, not medical or recreational users; and b) bad for the movement. 

And yet it seems as if the reform movement can’t progress until it addresses opposition from protectionists in the medical marijuana community, as well as people who want better protections for recreational users and home growers. A failure to address that first concern led growers in Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties to vote against California’s Prop 19 in 2010, and the inability of I-502 advocates to thoroughly address No on I-502’s complaints—the DUI aspect, the penalties for sharing marijuana—may seal the initiative’s fate long before November.

"Every recent poll except one has shown most Washington voters are now ready to pass the initiative," Holden writes in his op-ed. "But support has slipped since last fall, down to only 51 percent, according to SurveyUSA. The flagging enthusiasm correlates with the escalating effort to stop the initiative."

RE: Chuck Byrnes from HempRock Radio “Burnman”…

 

 

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High Everyone. We’re sad to say our friend and fellow activist, Chuck ‘the Burnman’ Byrnes from HempRock Radio and TV, is loosing his battle with cancer!

I know he’d love to hear from you all so we’re asking those of you who can’t visit him or reach him by phone, to please leave a message for him on the HempRock Hempline. I will be collecting them over the next few days and will burn them all on a CD for him to listen to. You can leave up to a 3 minute message.

Thanx from me and Burnman!

HempRock Hempline 513-68-4-HEMP (4367)

When It Comes To Marijuana Prohibition, The April Fool’s Day Joke Is On Us

 

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OREGON–(ENEWSPF)–April 1, 2012.  Ending marijuana prohibition is a serious issue. However, politicians are rarely willing to take the issue seriously. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths would suggest that they are joking, but they are completely serious. I read a media report that exemplifies the stupidity that permeates the halls of Washington D.C. not too long ago. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) told a constituent via letter that he doesn’t support the idea of marijuana legalization because marijuana can lead to death.

Almost every argument that marijuana opponents make should have a disclaimer at the end that states, ‘April Fool’s!’ because hardly any of their arguments are based in fact. The phrase that marijuana opponents are throwing around right now most often is that ‘if marijuana prohibition ends, there will be a ‘stoned driver epidemic.’ I would point to a study in AMERICA by the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who said the following, “Comparing traffic deaths over time in states with and without medical marijuana law changes, the researchers found that fatal car wrecks dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical use — which was largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving. The researchers controlled for other factors like changes in driving laws and the number of miles driven that could affect the results.” The link I provided in this paragraph clearly shows that worries about drugged driving are exaggerated.

I don’t have a team of researchers and untold resources to find facts like politicians and the government. So why is it so easy for me to find these obvious facts, yet the government and politicians act like they don’t exist? Is it an April Fool’s Day joke? Or is it blatant lying, because they say this stupid stuff 365 days a year? The fact of the matter is that when it comes to marijuana prohibition, the joke is on America. The joke is on all of the people that can’t get college aid because they were caught one time with marijuana in the wrong state. The joke is on all of the unemployed people that would love to work a legitimate job in the cannabusiness industry, but they are forced to live in poverty or pursue a non-honest living. The joke is on suffering patients that would love to give up their organ-killing pills for a harmless plant, but they are forced to be slaves to big pharm.

It’s beyond time that the citizens of America stand up, marijuana consumers and non-marijuana consumers, and demand that the government and politicians take this issue seriously, instead of trying to act like it’s some 365 day long April Fool’s joke. Generating tax revenue from a more than willing cannabis industry is a serious issue. Directing police resources towards REAL crime is a serious issue. Helping suffering people is a serious issue. Trying to figure out a way to harness the power of hemp for energy and textile purposes is a serious issue. The solution to so many problems is staring politicians and government officials in the face. Hopefully they quit trying to act the fool, and start taking their jobs seriously.

Related Posts:

Source: www.theweedblog.com

Richard Lee is giving up his downtown Oakland-based pot businesses after a federal raid bankrupted him.

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Above:  U.S. marshals stand at the entrance of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, April 2, 2012. The federal agents raided the medical marijuana training school at the heart of California’s pot legalization movement. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

OAKLAND, Calif.—The founder of a Northern California medical marijuana training school said Friday he was giving up his downtown Oakland-based pot businesses after a federal raid bankrupted him.

Richard Lee has been instrumental in pushing for ballot measures to legalize the drug, giving more than $1.5 million as the lead financial backer of a 2010 initiative to legalize the drug in the state. He said he will now focus solely on his advocacy work.

"I am now in this legal situation, so it’s better for me to step aside," Lee said.

Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Monday raided Oaksterdam University, Lee’s home and a medical marijuana dispensary he also founded. The purpose of the raids hasn’t been disclosed.

Oaksterdam University offers classes to would-be medical marijuana providers in fields ranging from horticulture to business to the legal ins-and-outs of running a dispensary. It does not distribute marijuana.

Agents confiscated marijuana, computers and files from Lee’s businesses, making it difficult to continue operations, he said. The university has held some classes since the raid and is soliciting donations to stay up and running. Oaksterdam Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones is working to put together a new leadership team for the school, he said.

Lee said the agents who came to his home Monday morning showed him search warrants but did not tell him what they were seeking or the purpose of their investigation.

"It was something we’ve always feared, but we’ve always known it’s a part of the politics of this issue," Lee said.

Federal prosecutors in San Francisco, who have been leading a months-long crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Lee said he was not interrogated but simply detained while the agents conducted the raids. He was not arrested.

Lee said his decision to step back from the businesses was not part of any deal with investigators.

"We don’t know if it will make any difference at all to them," he said.

But the 49-year-old paraplegic and former roadie said he hopes the raid will make a difference in promoting the pro-marijuana legalization agenda.

A street protest drew several hundred demonstrators to downtown Oakland within a few hours of the raids, and more than 18,000 have signed Lee’s online petition on Change.org demanding an end to the federal crackdown on medical marijuana in California.

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POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl US Army Captured Afghanistan 6/30/2009

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Diane Gibbons Malanga

    For those who do not know this following information
    POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
    On July 18, 2009, the Taliban released a video showing they had captured Bergdahl. In the video, Bergdahl appeared downcast and frightened. A Department of Defense statement issued on July 19 confirmed that Bergdahl was declared "missing/whereabouts unknown" on July 1, and his status was changed to "missing/captured" on July 3. In the 28-minute video his captors hold up his dog tags to establish the captured man is Bergdahl. Bergdahl gives the date as July 14 and mentions an attack which occurred that day. Accounts of his capture differ. The version offered by Bergdahl, in the video, is that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. CNN, in its report, cites both Taliban and U.S. military sources, the former alleging he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base, and the latter denying that claim stating: "The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true." A Department of Defense spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Christine Sidenstricker, said, "I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law."] According to the Associated Press, General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Their other sources inform them that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who has moved him to Ghazni Province. The Guardian quoted sources who speculated about the increased difficulty of a rescue mission if Bergdahl had been smuggled across the nearby border into Pakistan. CNN described two Pashto-language leaflets the U.S. military was distributing in seeking Bergdahl. One showed a smiling GI shaking hands with Afghan children, with a caption that called him a guest in Afghanistan. The other showed a door being broken down, and threatened that those holding Bergdahl would be hunted down. In December 2009, five months after Bergdahl’s disappearance, the media arm of the Afghan Taliban announced the release of a new video of "a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan," titled "One of Their People Testified." In the announcement the Taliban did not name the American, but the only U.S. soldier known to be in captivity is Bergdahl. U.S. military officials have been searching for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or in neighboring Pakistan, an area off-limits to U.S. forces based in Afghanistan. On December 25, another video was released that features Bergdahl in a combat uniform and helmet. He describes his place of birth, deployment to Afghanistan and subsequent capture. He then makes several statements regarding his humane treatment by his captors, contrasting this to the abuses suffered by insurgents in prisons. He finishes by saying that America should not be in Afghanistan and that it is just another Vietnam. On April 7, 2010, the Taliban released a third video of Bergdahl, now with a full head of hair and a beard, pleading for the release of Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo and Bagram. In November 2010, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fourth video In May 2011, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fifth video. In December 2011, it was reported that Bergdahl tried to escape three months earlier but was recaptured after three days.

Schapelle Corby

bag were meant to be collected in Sydney by him.

They suppressed this corroborative evidence, and never told anyone.

SchapelleCorby

“Schapelle Corby was unjustly jailed in Indonesia. Why was she denied access to all evidence that could potentially clear her. Why did the Bali police say fingerprinting was not necessary? Why was the baggage not weighed as requested by Corby. Why was DNA testing refused to determine country of origin? What happened to all the security tapes at three International airports on the same day? Australia needs answers to these questions.”

A few weeks ago, The Expendable Project received information which showed that the AFP had information which corroborated the story of a man who had been ridiculed by the media in 2005, when he confessed that the drugs in Schapelle’s bag were meant to be collected in Sydney by him. They suppressed this corroborative evidence, and never told anyone.

Expendable has today produced a report on this: see the story is below.

Somehow, though, this is business as usual in Australia. The Expendable Project has proved… not alleged… PROVED…  corruption and criminality by the Australian government and the AFP. There is no scope for any doubt, as the government emails and cables amount to a smoking gun confession, again and again and again.

But proof of a national scandal of the highest magnitude is not enough. Proof that an innocent has been sacrificed for commercial interests, and to hide AFP corruption, is not enough. The people of Australia are largely ignorant of it. They world is oblivious. Why?

Because the media, which in Australia is owned by a tiny handful of rich and powerful vested interests, refuse to report it. They are hiding it from the people. Those damning cables and emails don’t exist as far as they are concerned. And yes, they all know about them.

There is one, and only one, way around this…. US. We have to take this to everyone. We have to take it to the world, person by person, day after day. In the coming weeks People For Schapelle will be rolling out a campaign, leading to a ‘Schapelle Week’ and a ‘Schapelle Day’.

More information will be posted soon. But in the meantime, please continue to post www.expendable.tv to wherever you can. Send it to your friends, colleagues, media, politicians, anyone…. Facebook, Twitter, emails, forums. Print the posters, write the CDs, talk, anything. 

Schapelle’s life depends on us all…. let’s fight for her.

Thanks for caring.

Kathryn

PS: Today’s story on the police corruption is below:

From: Bart Vaart [mailto:bdvaart@gmail.com]
Sent: 03 April 2012 10:41
To: contact.list@gmail.com
Subject: URGENT: Here Is Tomorrows News

On Wednesday 4th April, ex-Detective Sergeant Christopher Laycock will appear for sentencing in a Sydney court, for a string of offences. These stem from the Cobalt Report, which was presented by the Police Integrity Commission to Parliament in 2005, and which presents him as one of the most notorious criminals in Australian history.
But, what meets the eye will be something of a mirage. His last hearing, on 29th March 2012, was closed to the public, on account of a mysterious 30 page ‘naming and shaming’ document, which his lawyer had dramatically presented at the hearing previous to this. The AAP has subsequently reported what the court instructed them to report.
The real story here is not only what is in that document, and why it has taken 8 years for Laycock to meet his fate, but what the New South Wales Crime Commission, and the AFP, have hidden from the public for 7 years.
THE LAYCOCK GANG
The Laycock gang, including John Robert Dunks, and David John Hopes, engaged almost every crime in the book. One was drug syndication. Indeed, a man called William Miller had named Dunks, on oath, to a court, as the man who had given him the job to pick up a quantity of marijuana from Sydney airport, on 8th October 2004.
You will recognize the date, and perhaps the name. Miller had been ridiculed by the media in July 2005, as a money chaser, when he broadly presented this story in the wake of Schapelle Corby’s dysfunctional Bali trial. 
The NSWCC and AFP? The Expendable Project have just published an extract from the minutes of a confidential NSWCC internal meeting, attended by Mark Standen, amongst others (header attached).
This confirms that Dunks was a ‘Person Of Interest’ in 2004, and that the NSWCC had secretly recorded a conversation between him, and Miller. The conversation corroborated Miller’s account of the airport pickup job.
The NSWCC recognized the significance of this recording, and consulted a named officer within the AFP with this information.
But both parties sat on it. Schapelle Corby was never told. No-one was ever told.
No-one would ever have been told, had The Expendable Project not obtained those minutes.
The latest Expendable report should be read very carefully. It can be viewed on the following web page:
http://www.expendable.tv/2012/04/candidate-sources-report.html
The Laycock/Miller affair is documented in Section 2. On Page 2-34 of the PDF you will find the extracts from the NSWCC meeting.
The Expendable Project have stated that further information will be published in due course.
B der Vaart

San Francisco Supervisors, Oaksterdam official speak

By: Bay City News | 04/03/12 4:55 PM

An enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 medical marijuana patients and supporters rallied at San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday to hear six city supervisors and an Oaksterdam University official decry a recent federal crackdown on cannabis dispensaries.

The midday protest was planned five weeks ago, according to Americans for Safe Access Executive Director Steph Sherer, but coincidentally came the day after Monday’s federal searches of Oaksterdam University, a cannabis industry trade school in Oakland.

Oaksterdam Executive Chancellor Dale Jones, speaking from the steps of City Hall, evoked both the raids and the unrelated mass shooting that also occurred in Oakland on Monday and resulted in the deaths of seven people at Oikos University.

“Two universities were struck yesterday,” said Jones, who said police resources should be used to prevent violence and not to stop patients from obtaining medical marijuana.

“Why are law enforcement officers guarding a plant that hasn’t killed a person in human history?” she asked.

Jones told the crowd, “This raid was meant to demoralize us, but it did not cripple us, it merely galvanized us.”

Federal agents searched Oaksterdam’s headquarters and four other Oakland sites associated with Oaksterdam President Richard Lee on Monday. The school teaches courses on marijuana horticulture and dispensary management.

Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said he could not comment on possible next steps in the investigation or on when the search warrants used in the raids will be unsealed.

Tuesday’s San Francisco rally was aimed at protesting a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries announced in October by the four regional U.S. attorneys in California, including Haag, who is the chief federal prosecutor for Northern California.

The prosecutors said they planned to target large-scale commercial enterprises that operate under the guise of providing medical marijuana. Haag said her office would begin by concentrating on dispensaries near schools and parks.

California’s Compassionate Use Act, approved by state voters in 1996, allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s permission, but federal laws criminalizing the drug make no exception for state medical marijuana laws.

Eaton said Haag had no comment onTuesday’s protest.

Six supervisors — a majority of the 11-member Board of Supervisors — told the crowd they opposed the crackdown, as audience members cheered and waved signs saying “Cannabis is medicine, let states regulate.”

They were Board President David Chiu and Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, Christina Olague and Scott Wiener.

“What people are asking for is something simple: they need access to their medicine,” Olague said.

“I hope that in a few short years, everyone in the United States will understand what we are fighting for,” Chiu said.

Several other legislators and officials, including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma, and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, did not attend the rally in person, but sent representatives with messages of support.

Charley Pappas, a patient and the former operator of the now-closed Divinity Tree Patients Wellness Cooperative in the city, said, “We’re not a profit-making criminal organization. We are supplying medicine for those who need it.”

The dispensary on Geary Street at the edge of the Tenderloin District, which was near a small public playground, was forced to shut down after Haag’s office threatened Pappas’s landlord with forfeiture of his property.

After the speeches, the crowd marched two blocks to the Federal Building, which houses Haag’s office, and chanted “Shame, shame, shame” and “We’re patients, not criminals” at the building before dispersing.

"Overgrowing the Government"

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