Tag Archives: indiana

Indiana law for felony arrest DNA collection taking effect

Photo credit: CNN

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana authorities are being required under a new state law to collect a DNA sample from those who are arrested for a felony crime.

The law taking effect Monday requires that police collect a DNA cheek swab, along with fingerprints and photographs during the booking process. That will enable law enforcement to check a database for matches with DNA evidence gathered in other crimes.

The sample may be expunged from the system if an arrestee is acquitted, a charge is lowered below a felony, or if no charges are filed after a year.

State legislators approved the new law last April. Supporters contended it would help solve crimes, along with exonerating the innocent. Critics argued the DNA collection goes against the U.S. Constitution’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

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Class-action suit challenges constitutionality of civil forfeiture

Fatima Hussein , IndyStar 10:17 p.m. EST November 27, 2016

 

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella wears his beliefs on his sleeve, in the form of a pair of large, pastel yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” cuff links.

In between explanations of his libertarian principles, the 34-year-old Cardella  said his clients may not always be the most sympathetic individuals, but they deserve their rights, too.

Cardella filed a federal class-action lawsuit this month, on behalf of Leroy Washington, whose vehicle was taken by police in September. Washington was arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement, dealing in marijuana and obstruction of justice.

The suit argues that the Indiana law that allows police to seize property from alleged drug dealers and others, regardless of their guilt or innocence, violates criminal defendants’ constitutional right to due process.

It “allows the executive branch to seize and hold the vehicle of an owner for several months without affording the owner the right to a postseizure preforfeiture hearing to challenge the seizure,” according to the complaint.

It’s an argument that could, if it prevails in court, have a sweeping effect on law enforcement.

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella stands in front

Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella stands in front of the Justice Statue at the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Photo: Michelle Pemberton / IndyStar)

According to Justice Department data, Indiana State Police seized more than $2.2 million in personal property from Indiana residents in 2014. In Marion County, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department seized roughly $48,022 in personal property that year, according to the data.

The suit, limited specifically to vehicles in IMPD possession, does not seek monetary damages. Rather, Washington wants law enforcement to give back his vehicle, and the vehicles of countless individuals whose property was seized under Indiana’s civil forfeiture laws.

Cardella also seeks a reduction in the period of time law enforcement can hold property without stating a reason for seizing it.

“It’s a matter of protecting the constitutional rights of my clients,” said Cardella, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, who is vehemently opposed to “unjust government taking.”

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Police Chief Troy Riggs are named defendants in the complaint.

Curry told IndyStar that there are a variety of reasons why the law, as it exists today, is reasonable and constitutional.

“There are protections built in the law to protect innocent people,” Curry said. “An aggrieved party could ask for an emergency hearing to get their property back.”

However, experts and civil libertarians such as Cardella argue that civil forfeiture laws may be due for U.S. Supreme Court review.

Civil forfeiture around the country

Today, all states allow for forfeiture and there are more than 400 federal forfeiture statutes. Legal opinions written on the matter show an inconsistency as to what is and is not a violation of an individual’s property rights.

On a federal level, writing for a six-justice majority in Kaley v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan stated that a criminal defendant indicted by a grand jury has essentially no right to challenge the forfeiture of her assets, even if the defendant needs those very assets to pay lawyers to defend her at trial.

The dissenters in the case were strange bedfellows, ranging from traditionally conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the more liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

There is also room for interpretation at the state level.

In Indiana, former Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who wrote the Supreme Court ruling in another civil forfeiture case, said criticisms of asset seizure may be legitimate in some places. But instances vary from one jurisdiction to another. “There are places where it’s used more forcefully than most people would think is appropriate,” Shepard said.

Because the process is characterized as “civil forfeiture” rather than “criminal forfeiture,” he said, property can be taken regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused party, which raises concerns.

“The relative ease of effecting such forfeiture and the disposition of the assets have become a matter of public note,” Shepard wrote.

Washington, through Cardella, argues that the length of time that police have to possess individuals’ property unduly burdens property owners.

Under Indiana law, the executive branch can hold a vehicle for up to six months. If the state decides to file a forfeiture claim against the vehicle within the first 180 days, the vehicle is held indefinitely until the case is concluded, which can often be several additional months, according to court documents. ​

“I think there is a widespread misunderstanding (that civil forfeiture) is not a unilateral act,” Curry told IndyStar. He explained that most of individuals whose property is seized are drug dealers and the like.

However, case law throughout the country suggests that Indiana’s laws — when it comes to the length of time that law enforcement can hold onto a vehicle — may be unconstitutional.

In a 2002 U.S. Court of Appeals opinion authored by Sotomayor, the court held that the Constitution demanded a speedy process to determine whether the government was likely to win the forfeiture claim.

In the case, Krimstock v. Kelly, three automobile owners challenged a New York City policy that allowed the city to seize motor vehicles from individuals accused of certain crimes involving motor vehicles and then to hold the vehicles — sometimes for years — in hopes of gaining title in civil forfeiture proceedings.

The U.S. Supreme Court has passed on making a substantive ruling on civil forfeiture matters, specifically pertaining to vehicles.

INDIANAPOLIS STAR

In some cases, police seize cars, homes — with no charges filed

Challenges coming from all sides

And Cardella’s isn’t the only suit challenging Indiana’s statute.

Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nonprofit based in Arlington, Va., filed a lawsuit in February (Jeana M. Horner, Dennis Jack Horner, et al. v. Terry R. Curry, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, et al.) in Marion Superior Court charging the IMPD and prosecutors with violating the Indiana Constitution by not forwarding all civil forfeiture proceeds to the state’s common school fund.

Instead, the county is keeping 100 percent of the money in a “policing for profit” scheme, the institute said.

INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Indy civil forfeiture lawsuit will proceed

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department divvy up all the money received from civil forfeitures based on a 30/70 split, according to the lawsuit.

The case has yet to be decided.

Regarding Washington and Cardella’s lawsuit, Gedge said, “There are two fundamental problems which make it a serious assault on property rights: It allows law enforcement to seize property, that’s ripe for abuse. And what makes the process more pernicious, (is that law enforcement) is seizing a direct stake in property.”

Cardella, said while it’s not likely that the case will go to the Supreme Court, “I hope it does.”

Cardella, who lives in a rural area outside of Indianapolis, said he prizes his privacy and freedoms as an American.

Citing the Join, or Die political cartoon of a snake cut into pieces drawn by Benjamin Franklin in 1754, Cardella believes in the collective power of the people to unite against tyranny and unfairness.

He sees current civil forfeiture laws as the government’s way of trampling on citizens’ rights.

“This is the kind of case that made me want to go to law school.”

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Marijuana Missionaries: First Cannabis Church Rolls Into Michigan

There’s no religious dogma in this church, but these marijuana missionaries are intent in on bringing ostracized stoners back into the fold.

By Beth Dalbey (Patch Staff) – September 19, 2016 10:05 pm ET

Marijuana Missionaries: First Cannabis Church Rolls Into Michigan

Congregants in this church aren’t high on Jesus. In fact, the very name of the church sounds like lyrics from a rock and (ahem) roll song or the backdrop for a classic Cheech and Chong movie.

It’s true that First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason’s sacrament might be a doobie or marijuana-infused brownie instead of the body and blood of Christ, and its dogma is steeped in giving thanks to the cannabis plant for its healing nature and the sense of well-being it gives users instead of Jesus’ sacrifices for sinners.

The church, made up of a congregation of mostly atheists and agnostics, made its debut in Lansing, Michigan, earlier this summer.

So, how can it be a church if its members eschew a higher power — beyond, that is, the feeling of euphoria they get from smoking pot or the satisfaction of using a sustainable crop for fuel and fiber?

“Well, the reality is it sounded better than a cannabis cult,” organizer Jeremy Hall told the Lansing State Journal after the congregation’s inaugural service last June that included time for fellowship and a potluck with “both medicated and non-medicated food.”

First Cannabis Church in Indiana

The First Church of Cannabis traces its roots to Indiana as a political statement in response to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, backed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate.

Self-anointed Grand Poobah Bill Levin has made all sorts of glib proclamations, including the Deity Dozen, which is sort of like the Ten Commandments— for example, “Do not be a ‘troll’ on the internet, respect others without name calling and being vulgarly aggressive,” and “Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.” Also, don’t be a jerk, or words to that effect.

There are also marijuana-based churches in Florida, Alabama, Oregon and Arizona. Many of them embrace organized religion to one extent or another, but Hall is more resolute in his iteration.

At the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason in Michigan, it’s all cannabis, all the time — whether in its leafy tobacco form, as fiber for clothing, as a biofuel or for shelter, paper and plastics.

It’s a miracle,” Hall told The Detroit News. “It can save humanity. Cannabis is something to be put on a pedestal, to be revered.”

What’s God Got To Do With It?

An ordained minister with the online Universal Life Church and a marijuana caregiver who originally hails from Ypsilanti, Hall moved back to Michigan from Tennessee in part because legal medical marijuana is available for treatment of his wife’s lupus.

He hopes congregants at the Lansing church can change attitudes about pot smokers with service projects around the city, like a recent cleanup at a Lansing park.

From his early youth indoctrinated in the Young Earth Creationist congregation — a fundamentalist church that rejected evolution and forbade the use of radios because it supposedly played the devil’s music — to his new role as the founder of the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason, Hall has experienced both ends of the religious spectrum.

Though he rejected many of the tenets of his early teachings and other religions, he told The Detroit News he liked the fellowship aspect of church in general and the way a house of worship can gather in people who live on the margins. So he formed a church, taking God out of the equation.

Still, Hall’s church embodies the WWJD — “What would Jesus do?” — spirit more than you might think, even though it is not rooted in Christianity.

On a flyer seeking participants in a recent park cleanup, Hall acknowledged that pot smokers “have been demonized in the eyes of the public as miscreants and law breakers, ignorant and unmotivated.”

So, just as Jesus reached out to the disenfranchised, the church is a chance for Hall and his wife to reach out to people who have been “using cannabis and feeling ostracized” by their regular places of worship, Michigan Radio reported.

“We’re using our church to elevate the community and to show we aren’t a drain on society or a bunch of unmotivated criminals,” Hall told the Lansing State Journal.

Pot City, Michigan?

Not surprisingly, the church, located in the shadow of four medical marijuana dispensaries, has some detractors.

The Rejuvenating South Lansing citizens’ group, which wants more restrictions on dispensaries, worries the church further mainstreams marijuana use and will draw more users to the city.

“This is just another way they can do whatever they want,” Elaine Womboldt, the group’s founder, told The Detroit News. “We don’t want to be known as the pot city of Michigan.”

Also, at the first service earlier this summer, a lonely protester, Quaker traditionalist Rhonda Fuller, of Lansing, held a sign that warned the only people who benefit from marijuana are profiting financially from it: “It’s about money, not you. It’s misery for everyone else.”

Fuller told The Detroit News it’s unconscionable to call the First Church of Cannabis a church.

“Anyone can call anything a church,” she said. “It has nothing to do with Christianity — but neither does most churches.”

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Another push for medical pot in Indiana not likely to work

Odds against Indiana legislators backing medical marijuana

Posted: Sunday, January 3, 2016 5:00 am | Updated: 5:14 pm, Sun Jan 3, 2016.

By Jeff Parrott South Bend Tribune

Posted on Jan 3, 2016

The husband and father was near death from Crohn’s Disease in 2009….

Over a three-month period, his weight dropped from about 175 pounds to 117 pounds. He had his large intestine, colon and rectum removed, and he was largely confined to his bed or a chair.

He had no appetite and was surviving largely on IV fluid. He was so worried about accidentally jarring the stapled incision in his abdomen that his muscles ached from the constant tension.

Marijuana had just been legalized for medical use that year. At his wife’s suggestion, he tried smoking some, first illegally because he wanted to see whether it helped him before he went through the process of applying for a legal permit.

“It was amazing,” recalled the man, who lives in Michigan, just a few miles from the Indiana line. “Instantaneous. I could feel my shoulders drop and my body relax. In less than 10 minutes, I was feeling the urge in my stomach to eat. I started feeling better. I ate more. Started gaining more weight.”

It’s stories like his that have prompted two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes and Rep. Sue Errington of Muncie, to sponsor medical marijuana bills in the Indiana General Assembly session that starts Monday. Indiana would join 23 other states in legalizing marijuana and become part of a national debate over the medical merits.

The odds of success for the legislators, however, are not great. Bills they introduced in the 2015 session died in committee for lack of a hearing. With Republicans in firm control of both houses, Tallian isn’t overly optimistic 2016 will be any different.

Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, echoes the sentiments of many in his party. He stops short of disputing that marijuana can provide relief for some medical problems, but he thinks that would be overshadowed by a corresponding increase in recreational use and abuse.

"I would listen to the arguments as to its medical use," Zakas said. "I just haven’t heard a convincing argument on that yet. I want to hear the evidence from solid sources that it’s a viable medical tool."

Tallian, a criminal defense attorney who thinks it’s wasteful to jail people for smoking pot when recreational use is now legal in four states, had for the past three years introduced bills to decriminalize recreational marijuana use. It would still be illegal but possessing small amounts would be treated as an infraction, similar to a traffic ticket. Her bills have never received a hearing.

In 2015, Tallian changed tack, authoring a bill to legalize medical marijuana by creating an Indiana Department of Marijuana Enforcement that would regulate it much like pharmaceuticals, in a pilot program for people suffering a specific list of ailments.

Her bill also would have allowed Indiana universities and pharmaceutical companies to conduct research on medicinal use. Errington introduced a companion measure in the House.

In the coming session, Tallian and Errington said they’ll introduce bills for both decriminalization and medical use. Tallian said she would be willing to drop the decriminalization component if it meant finally getting a hearing for medical use.

“We move by inches down there, so I’d take every inch I could get,” she said. “I have a lot of votes over there on the Republican side if I could just get a hearing.”

Last session, her bill was assigned to the Health and Provider Services Committee, where chair Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, declined to give it a hearing. Miller was unavailable for comment.

“Pat Miller kept saying, ‘We don’t have enough proof yet” that marijuana offers medicinal benefits, Tallian said. “That’s because we haven’t had the opportunity to do research.”

Her bill has yet to be assigned a committee for the 2016 session.

‘A buzz or a high’

Asked to identify a supportive Republican, Tallian mentioned Sen. Jim Tomes of Poseyville, a small, rural town outside Evansville. Tomes this year introduced a bill to legalize the growing of hemp, a form of marijuana that lacks THC, the drug that gives marijuana smokers a high.

In addition to a variety of industrial textile uses, hemp can produce cannabis oil, which has a well-documented record of alleviating seizures in children with epilepsy.

Tomes said parents of children with epilepsy have increasingly turned to him for their cause.

“This is extremely different than what Sen. Tallian is trying to do,” said Tomes, who doesn’t support legalizing medical marijuana.

“I understand there are certain applications and I’m not taking that away from anyone,” he added. “But it also has the ability to give people a buzz or a high. That’s a factor I just cannot support.”

The concept has found more traction in other states. Illinois recently launched a Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, allowing 13 licensed dispensaries to open around the state. Sales began in November to about 3,900 licensed patients.

Kentucky last year became one of 18 states that allows use or research of cannabis oil for seizure treatment.

Ohio voters last month overwhelming rejected a ballot initiative to legalize recreational use, but observers have attributed that more to the fact that the right to produce and distribute marijuana would have been concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy producers.

In the coming year, recreational marijuana may be on the ballot in 11 states, including Michigan, according to Ballotpedia, a website that tracks ballots issues nationwide. Another five states might consider medical pot initiatives.

Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, said he isn’t ready to commit to supporting medical marijuana, but he hopes it will at least receive a committee hearing in the coming session.

“For me, it’s very important that it be very narrowly tailored so it does address medical issues, it’s administered by the health care community or by a doctor,” Broden said. “I’m certainly open to hearing about it.”

Conducting committee hearings would allow testimony from officials in other states that have legalized medical marijuana, such as law enforcement officials in Michigan.

“If these other states have had positive experiences or at least not had negative experiences … that would be critical for me,” he said.

When asked whether she knew of any doctors who wish they could legally prescribe marijuana, Errington pointed to Dr. Bruce Ippel, a 66-year-old family practice physician near Muncie. Over his 40 years as a doctor, Ippel said, many of his patients have reported using marijuana for relief from ailments such as headaches and migraines, as well as appetite stimulation for people with cancer and chronic intestinal illness from diabetes.

He isn’t sure if medical marijuana will become legal in Indiana in his lifetime. But while admitting he’s cynical, Ippel thinks Indiana lawmakers eventually will legalize marijuana so that they can tax it and grow state revenue. Colorado collected almost $70 million in marijuana taxes last fiscal year, nearly double the $42 million collected from alcohol taxes, according to Time magazine.

Ippel noted that even in Indiana, society has grown more tolerant of pot.

"The landscape has changed," he said. "Twenty years ago, anyone using marijuana was at high risk of being locked up. Indiana law enforcement agencies have largely backed off common users. I think that’s a change in the last six to eight years that’s been a benefit."

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400-plus People Running for U.S. President

 

usmjpIN

 

 

 

Friday, June 26, 2015 :: Staff infoZine

By Quentin Misiag – Thirteen Republicans. Four Democrats.

Washington, DC – infoZine – Scripps Howard Foundation Wire – A growing list of contenders have tossed their hats in the political ring for the 2016 race to the White House.
But the official tally spans longer than the 17 most talked-about political brands of this cycle.

Like over 400 candidates longer.

As of Thursday, 419 Americans seeking the presidency had filed a Form 2 statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. In the last week alone, 18 new candidates have joined the lineup.

 

Jill Stein, a 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, discusses her “Power to the People Plan” campaign platform during a press conference Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington. SFHWire photo by Quentin Misiag

Thomas Keister, a blogger and author from Clarksville, Ind., is lighting up his long-shot White House bid on two decidedly different levels: promoting marijuana bong rips and trolling New York business magnate Donald Trump on Twitter.

Over 1,000 miles away, Silvia Stagg of Miami is mounting her campaign on the niche topic of life-extension. Stagg favors expanded research and medicinal techniques in hospitals that would slow or reverse the human aging process.

Keister and Stagg represent a narrow sliver of afterthought politicians who are choosing to go head-to-head against the 17 mainstream choices thus far: Democrats Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, as well as Republicans Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump.

Most filed as independents, while many are Republicans or Democrats.

Others are far more tongue in cheek.

William Richardson of Las Vegas registered with the FEC under the Helluva Party.

Under the National Born Citizen Party, there are Christopher Strunk and Harold Van Allen, both of New York State.

There’s no deadline to file as a candidate with the FEC, but states have explicit filing deadlines so they can prepare ballots.

Politicians officially transition from presumptive to declared candidate when they send in FEC forms.

“You can file at any time, but once you raise or spend $5,000, you’re required to file,” Christian Hilland, an FEC spokesman, said.
The Constitution says presidents must be at least 35 years old when they take office and be natural born U.S. citizens.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia allow presidential write-in candidates. Hawaii, Nevada, South Dakota, South Carolina and Oklahoma do not.
By sheer number, these underdog candidates have 2016’s most popular pols surrounded.

On the other hand, most lack the deep-pocket allies who can reel in big dollars, according to a review of FEC records.
Take Keister, 39, the founder of DasUberBlog!
“I have not raised a single dollar since declaring on Jan. 1 that I was getting into this,” said Keister, the lone candidate running in the American Marijuana Party.
Keister is one distant contender with a noticeable social media presence. He has more Twitter followers than Chaffee, the former Rhode Island senator and governor who launched his bid June 3.
Asked about which of the leading pols he and his campaign platform could beat, Keister fired off: “Most of them.”
Several, including Keister, said they plan to skip Iowa and New Hampshire, a pair of the early presidential picking states seen as crucial to locking up early voter momentum.
“I have not raised a single dollar since declaring on Jan. 1 that I was getting into this,” Keister said.
Keister’s launch came largely from what he called a prime example of government gridlock: Construction of the new Ohio River Bridges Project in greater Louisville, Ky., that was the culmination of 50 years of legal wrangling.

 

And if it seems that interest in running for title of America’s leading political leader has surged in recent years, that’s because it has.
The number of candidates has already surpassed the 2012 election list, when 417 people filed during the two-year presidential reporting process.
In 2004, 224 people filed as a presidential candidates. Four years later, that number grew to 367, an increase of more than 60 percent.
Leonard Steinhorn, a professor of public communication and history at American University, attributes the climb over the last four election cycles to the ease of information access spurred largely by the growth in mobile email and the “sharing society.”

“This is the sort of the media age we’re living in where everybody has a chance to tell their story,” said Steinhorn, whose expertise includes the presidency, strategic communication and the media. “Does it mean it they have a prayer to win? No, not at all.”

Although they are dark horse choices, some of these lesser-known candidates have found some success in past political pursuits.
Vermin Supreme of New Hampshire, placed third in the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 2012 with 833 votes. Supreme, who is known for wearing a boot as a hat and carrying a large toothbrush, hinged his campaign on zombie apocalypse awareness and time travel research.

“I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not discounting it either,” Stein said.

Take Jill Stein, a darling of the Green Party. On Tuesday she launched her 2016 bid in an attempt to rekindle the trail she tread four years ago.

“I’m not holding my breath, but I’m not discounting it either,” Stein, a physician, said of her pursuit, dubbed the “Power to the People Plan.” She announced in an address to reporters at the National Press Club.
Stein’s newest platform is based mainly on the Green Party New Deal, an ambitious road map for domestic energy independence. It would provide millions of jobs by transitioning to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030, she said.

And then there’s Stagg, who said political alliances with high-level Republicans are the necessary backbone for gaining real political traction.
Stagg said she has spent years courting Rubio, Paul and Fiorina at conservative meet-ups, including the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
But now, she says she’s ready to take them on in her own attempt to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I have Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, who will never institute socioeconomic programs,” Stagg, a backer of raising the U.S. minimum wage equal to an annual salary of $100,000, said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Hi how are you, Hillary?’ and before you know it, they’ve got your cash in their hand.”

Should her bid take hold, Stagg said she would make the American dollar the worldwide currency, enact a flat federal income tax of 10 percent and work to eliminate poverty in the U.S.
While many long-shot choices have kept to establishing their brands on social media exclusively, some, including Arthur Herbert Brooks Jr., have created websites to help foster a stronger following.
His site has all the basics of a typical online presidential presence. A tagline, “Everyday People for America,” is clearly defined, and donation tabs and an official campaign announcement video dot the page.
However the website features stock images and incomplete details, including broken links.

In his June 8 filing to the FEC, Paul DeLong of Williamsport, Pa., outlined his former job as a grassroots team leader. He claimed he is a veteran campaign operative for the Bush political family.
In a letter to FEC officials, DeLong said: “I feel that I am more than capable of running my own campaign at this time once I announce myself to some Republican Committees. I am hoping that one of them may pick me up.”

In the face of disappointing support, at least one politician has decided to pull out of the pursuit.

Brian Cole, a Pennsylvania Republican who rolled out his 2016 presidential plan five years ago, recently disbanded the endeavor.
Cole said he will now direct his attention to becoming a U.S. ambassador to Iceland, Chile, Spain, Norway or Madagascar.

But with party names such as American Marijuana Party and Democratic-Farm-Labor, these far less known candidates say they’ve got some political bite to them and aren’t backing down.
At least, not yet.

“The only problem I have is getting myself a vice president,” Stagg said.

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Whoops: Indiana’s anti-gay ‘religious freedom’ act opens the door for the First Church of Cannabis

Tom Boggioni

Tom Boggioni
29 Mar 2015 at 20:55 ET

Rastafarian businessman (Shutterstock)

Rastafarian businessman (Shutterstock)

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In a classic case of “unintended consequences,” the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana may have opened the door for the establishment of the First Church of Cannabis in the Hoosier State.

While Governor Mike Pence (R) was holding a signing ceremony for the bill allowing businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds or values, paperwork for the First Church of Cannabis Inc. was being filed with the Secretary of State’s office, reports RTV6.

Church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that the church’s registration has been approved, writing, “Status: Approved by Secretary of State of Indiana – “Congratulations your registration has been approved!” Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.”

Levin is currently seeking $4.20 donations towards his non-profit church.

According to Indiana attorney and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, Indiana legislators, in their haste to protect the religious values and practices of their constituents, may have unwittingly put the state in an awkward position with those who profess to smoke pot as a religious sacrament.

Shabazz pointed out that it is still illegal to smoke pot in Indiana, but wrote, “I would argue that under RFRA, as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free.”

Noting that RFRA supporters say the bill “only spells out a test as to whether a government mandate would unduly burden a person’s faith and the government has to articulate a compelling interest for that rule and how it would be carried out in the least restrictive manner,” Shabazz contends the law may tie the state’s hands.

“So, with that said, what ‘compelling interest’ would the state of Indiana have to prohibit me from using marijuana as part of my religious practice?” he asked. ” I would argue marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and wine used in religious ceremonies. Marijuana isn’t any more ‘addictive’ than alcohol and wine is used in some religious ceremonies. And marijuana isn’t any more of a ‘gateway’ drug than the wine used in a religious ceremony will make you go out and buy hard liquor. (At least not on Sunday.)”

Shabazz concluded, “I want a front row seat at the trial that we all know is going to happen when all this goes down.”

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Laws elsewhere may doom medical marijuana in Indiana

Senator says Colorado, California have ‘made mockery’ of process

2015 Legislative Logo

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 8:15 am

By MAUREEN HAYDEN

INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Karen Tallian posted details of her plan to allow medicinal use of marijuana on Facebook this week, drawing thousands of supportive comments.

The Democrat had given up a years-long push to decriminalize the drug, instead narrowing her focus to making pot a legal painkiller when prescribed by doctors for certain life-threatening or debilitating conditions.

“At least we can make the exception for compassionate use,” Tallian said of Indiana’s law forbidding marijuana use. “Anyone who has terminal cancer deserves all the help they can get.”

But as more states loosen their laws, it may be harder for the lawmaker from Ogden Dunes to make her case.

Some potential allies in the GOP-controlled Legislature say reports of problems and pot-related crime in states with liberalized marijuana laws may chill the conversation in Indiana.

“If you look at states that have medical marijuana or have legalized marijuana, they’ve made a mockery of it,” said state Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford. “They’ve actually tainted the well for states that want to take a more legitimate look at this issue.”

Steele, the influential conservative who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, stunned fellow Republicans two years ago when he came out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. At the time he likened Indiana’s pot laws — then some of the toughest in nation — to “smashing an ant with sledgehammer.”

He argued it was time to rethink the law, including the ban on medicinal use of marijuana.

He’s given up the argument, at least temporarily. Steele said he won’t co-author Tallian’s medical marijuana bill — which represents a blow to the Democratic lawmaker who needs some Republican support just to get a hearing.

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Mummy Proves America Is 2,400 Years Behind On Medical Marijuana

mummyemebed

Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons.

A 2,400-year-old “Siberian Ice Maiden” apparently knew something that not all US lawmakers do: Cannabis is a perfect palliative for cancer.
Discovered in 1993 by archaeologist Natalia Polosmak, the mummified remains of this woman, also known as the “Princess of Ukok,” were recently examined by a team of Russian scientists. They found that the woman, who was heavily tattooed and died when she was between 20 and 30 years old, suffered from and ultimately succumbed to breast cancer.
“‘I am quite sure of the diagnosis — she had cancer,” one of the scientists told the Siberian Times. “She was extremely emaciated. Given her rather high rank in society and the information scientists obtained studying mummies of elite Pazyryks, I do not have any other explanation of her state. Only cancer could have such an impact.”
The researchers also believe that the woman used cannabis to treat herself. A container of the herb was found in her burial chamber, along with a “cosmetics bag.”
“Probably for this sick woman, sniffing cannabis was a forced necessity,” another scientist said, noting that wine, hashish, opium, henbane, mandrake, aconite, and Indian hemp were all used at the time as painkillers. “And she was often in altered state of mind. We can suggest that through her could speak the ancestral spirits and gods. Her ecstatic visions in all likelihood allowed her to be considered as some chosen being, necessary and crucial for the benefit of society. She can be seen as the darling of spirits and cherished until her last breath.”
Hey, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. (Siberian Times)

Indiana lawmaker to introduce marijuana decriminalization bill

Sep 22, 2012
Indiana Sen. Brent Steele said pot decriminalized in other states didn’t cause problems.
Written by
Associated Press

Indiana Sen. Brent Steele said pot decriminali-zation in other states didn't cause problems.INDIANAPOLIS — An influential Indiana lawmaker intends to sponsor a bill in the next session that would reduce penalties for people found in possession of small amounts of marijuana.

State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said his legislation would make possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana an infraction rather than a criminal misdemeanor. Ten grams is about one-third of an ounce, roughly enough to make 20 to 30 marijuana cigarettes.

Steele, chairman of the Senate committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters, noted that many other states and college campuses already ticket offenders for possessing small amounts of pot instead of arresting them.

“Society didn’t melt down, and we didn’t turn into a drug-crazed culture as a result of it,” he told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

His support for decriminalization could be a turning point for Indiana, which only began considering the issue in 2011. Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, pushed for a summer study group in 2011 and this year introduced a bill that would have decriminalized possession of a larger amount, 3 ounces. Tallian’s bill received a hearing in the Senate but was not brought to a vote.

Currently, possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor on the first offense. Possession of more than 30 grams is a Class D felony, which is the lowest level of felony.

Steele said he’ll include the marijuana provision in a bill that revises the Indiana criminal code. The Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, which is in its fourth summer of work, is looking to align charges and sentencing in proportion to the offenses.

In addition to driving up costs in the judicial system, Steele said, a lack of “proportionality” in the criminal code is unfair to young offenders.

He said he knows a man who stole gas out of a farmer’s tank when he was 19 and ended up with a felony on his record.

“His family had a lesser standard of living for years as a result of the stupid decision he made when he was 19,” Steele said.

The long-term consequences of harsh sentencing laws are starting to gain attention in the business community, especially as cities like Indianapolis deal with the employment challenges of ex-offenders.

Indianapolis Democratic City-County Councilor Vop Osili is trying to establish a bipartisan study commission on ex-offender re-entry, and the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is surveying its members on how they treat criminal records in the hiring process.

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