Reefer Roundup: 2/24/12
Your drug war news
By Jordan Smith, 2:50PM, Fri. Feb. 24, 2012
After a rather extended hiatus, Reefer Madness' drug war news roundup is back – and this week we've got bad ideas on parade in New Orleans, a pot-smoking Texas official busted, Delaware's suspended medi-pot law, a new campaign targeting the Obama Administration's war on pot, and more!
ORANGE MARKS THE SPOT:
In a record 24-hour turnaround, New Orleans police Superintendent Ronal Serpas unveiled, and then scrapped, a program that would have officers place large orange stickers on homes in the city that had been searched for drugs. The idea, apparently, was to show that NOLA police take seriously citizen tips – the orange octagonal sticker contains a statement that police had served a search warrant there as "a result of a CRIMESTOPPERS HOTLINE CITIZEN TIP." According to the ill-fated policy, the stickers would be affixed to houses regardless of whether drugs had actually been found during the police search, reports the Times-Picayune.
Not surprisingly, the new program drew immediate ire of civil libertarians, including the ACLU of Louisiana, prompting Serpa's quick about-face. "I recognize that without widespread community support, the placarding strategy will not be successful, so we will not move forward," he said.
POT-TOTING COUNTY JUDGE GETS POPPED; EL PASO COMMISSIONER NAMED DRUG TRAFFICKER:
Here's a two-fer of bad news for Texas public officials:
According to the San Antonio Express-News, it was "whiffs of burning marijuana" coming from a College Station hotel room that led to the arrest of Guadalupe County Judge Michael T. Wiggins on a pot possession charge earlier this month. Wiggins, a former state trooper, was in College Station for a conference of county officials when he was caught toking up in his hotel room; police found a baggie of pot, a grinder and rolling papers in a duffel bag in his room at the Hilton College Station, the daily reported. Wiggins was charged with possession of under 2oz and then was released on a $3,000 bond – apparently in enough time for him to attend the two-day conference.
Meanwhile, out in El Paso, county Commissioner Willie Gandara Jr. was arrested Feb. 22 on federal drug-trafficking charges, reports the El Paso Times. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service, along with the FBI and "our local partners are conducting an ongoing operations, and we cannot release further details at this time," DEA spokeswoman Diana Apodaca told the daily.
The news has apparently surprised public officials – presumably including Beto O'Rourke, who serves on the city council and has advocated for drug legalization as a way to end the war on drugs. Ironically perhaps, O'Rourke's position hasn't impressed Gandara, who told the Times last fall that legalization was a bad idea. "Legalizing drugs is the coward practice of combating cartels, it is an insult to our men and women in law enforcement, and the laziest form of parenting our youth about the effects of drugs," he said. (How legalizing drugs would neuter parental responsibility escapes me, but hey, maybe Gandara knows what he's talking about.)
DELAWARE BACKS AWAY FROM MEDI-POT:
It looks like Delaware is the newest victim of the Obama Administration's about face on medi-pot. Obama originally told federal drug-law enforcers to back off on raids and prosecutions of medi-pot patients and providers acting in compliance with state laws, but that approach has waned over the last year in favor of a more amped up approach of federal intimidation. Case in point, Delaware officials who had been preparing to write rules to guide the licensing process for medi-mari dispensaries there have now been told to stand down by Gov. Jack Markell, after getting signals from U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III that growers, distributors, and state employees could face federal drug prosecution.
According to the Wilmington News Journal, Oberly wrote to Markell to explain that "growing, distributing and possessing marijuana, in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities." Moreover, Oberly told the Democratic governor that public employees would not be "immune from liability" if acting in their official capacity to regulate and inspect licensed medi-mari dispensaries pursuant to the state's medi-pot law.
SPEAKING OF OBAMA'S BACKSTEP ON MEDI-POT:
The ratcheted up War on Pot being waged by Obama's Dept. of Justice has really got folks in Colorado pissed. And they're not taking it anymore.
In the wake of the Jan. 12 move by Colorado's U.S. attorney, John Walsh, to have closed at least 23 medi-pot providers; in a letter to the providers, Walsh notified them that they had 45 days to shut their doors, or face government seizure of their property. Not exactly the kinder and gentler approach to medi-pot that folks thought the Obama Administration wanted.
Now, advocates in Colorado are fighting back with the Patient Voter Project, which aims to rally supporters in an effort to push back against the DOJ. "Our goal is simple: We want the Obama administration to end its attacks on legitimate and legal providers of medical marijuana and to trust the state of Colorado to regulate the industry in a thorough and competent manner, as it has done already," reads the group's website.
SPEAKING OF OBAMA AND DRUGS...:
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition was disappointed last month after President Obama failed to answer the most popular question posed as part of the YouTube "Your Interview with the President" competition. If you missed it, don't feel bad. It was, in large part, a yawner.
But what irked LEAP was that the prez skipped the top-rated question posed by retired Los Angeles PD officer Stephen Downing, who asked this:
Downing was not impressed by the official snub – in favor of queries about economics and jobs (understandable) as well as lifestyle questions about tennis and late-night snacking (not so understandable). "A majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana to de-fund cartels and gangs, lower incarceration and arrest rates and save scarce public resources, all while generating new much-needed tax revenue," Downing, who is also a LEAP board member, said about his question being ignored. "The time to discuss this issue is now. We're tired of this serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off."
WHEN COFFEE'S JUST NOT ENOUGH:
Tired of drinking coffee, soda and energy drinks for your kick of caffeine? Well, then we've got a product for you: The AeroShot Pure Energy caffeine inhaler! That's right, you can screw the sugar and other additives and go straight to the source, and inhale it. According to AeroShot maker Breathable Foods, the inhaler contains B vitamins and just 100 milligrams of caffeine in a "fine powder that dissolves quickly in your month." It's not recommended for kids and is not meant to be mixed with liquids, and consumers shouldn't use more than three inhalers per day. The shots retail for $2.99 each or $32.99 for a 12-pack.
Predictably, the feds are already all over the new product – the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing its safety, and New York Sen. Charles Schumer has already worked himself up over the whole deal. "This product is nothing more than a party enhancer, designed to give users the ability to drink until the drop and it promotes dangerously excessive consumption of caffeine among youngsters and teens," he said in a late December press release.
What a buzz kill.