Idaho authorities bust a dozen head shops

While neighboring states Washington and likely Oregon will be deciding whether marijuana should be legal for all adults, my birth state of Idaho is still trying to put people in cages for selling pieces of glass.

District of Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said she was not sure how much Spice was seized from shops that sell tobacco and smoking paraphernalia in Boise, Kuna, and Nampa Thursday but did say additional state or federal drug charges are possible against the 16 people indicted on paraphernalia charges.

Olson said the Boise-area “headshops” were selling drug paraphernalia to drug users and traffickers under the guise of tobacco products, which allowed a federal grand jury to return the felony charges of conspiracy to sell, offer for sale and transport drug paraphernalia; offering drug paraphernalia for sale; and sale of drug paraphernalia. Those crime are punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Olson said at least nine of the 13 shops were openly selling Spice, and several of those stores sold the synthetic marijuana to undercover officers.

Idaho has some of the toughest statutes in the nation regarding paraphernalia and simple pot smoking.  Merely being in a place where people smoke pot is a misdemeanor worth 3 months in jail.  If you are found to be stoned in public, you can get 6 months in jail.  Being caught with a pot pipe (with no pot) can get you a year in prison.  If you’re caught with some pot, there’s another year in prison.  If you do any of this around a child, the crimes rise to a felony with 5 years in prison.  Selling pipes, bongs, grinders, and kief boxes in Idaho is a felony worthy of nine years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

But what happens if you don’t smoke pot and instead impregnate your underage girlfriend and then abuse your infant so severely it dies at the age of three months from blunt force trauma?

RUPERT • The father of an infant who died in 2008 from multiple injuries was sentenced Monday to serve 3 1/2 years in prison for felony injury to a child.

Three-month-old Nivea Lopez died Dec. 19, 2008, in a Pocatello hospital after receiving injuries that included skull fractures and healed rib fractures.

Monday’s sentence will run concurrent with a two- to 10-year prison term Lopez received for violating his probation on a rape conviction, stemming from the statutory nature of his relationship with Martinez.

Got that?  Beat your baby to death = 3.5 years.  Smoke pot around your baby = 5 years.  Sell someone a bong = 9 years.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom… but I hope you understand why I don’t visit often.

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First the States, Now Congress OKs Drug-Testing for Unemployment Benefits

By Kellen Russoniello, student, George Washington University Law Center and NORML legal intern

As several states are considering or implementing policies that require recipients of government benefits such as welfare to undergo drug tests, the federal government has shown approval for the same flawed rationale. Last week, President Obama signed into law an agreement reached by Congress which maintains the payroll tax cut and extends unemployment benefits, but also allows states to drug test people who seek unemployment benefits if they were fired from their previous job for using drugs or if they are seeking a job that would ordinarily require drug tests.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, H.R. 3630, was signed on February 22, 2012. Section 2105 amends the Social Security Act by allowing states to drug test applicants for unemployment benefits and deny those benefits in the case of a positive result.

What percentage of those applying would be forced to pee in a cup? Although the numbers are unclear, Republicans had cited a study claiming 84% of employers required new hires to pass a drug test. Initially, Republicans had pushed for drug testing all applicants, but this was opposed by Democrats. In order to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment, however, Democrats caved on the issue of drug testing.

A columnist for Time pointed out several flaws in this policy. First, a single failure of a drug test does not treat addiction or even determine if treatment is necessary. In fact, because marijuana can stay in the body’s system for extended periods of time, drug tests are likely to disqualify cannabis users even though it is one of the least addictive drugs. Second, people may shift their use to other drugs, such as K2 or Spice, which are more difficult to detect in a urine screen but may be more detrimental to the person’s health. Third, creating obstacles for the unemployed to get back on their feet may actually worsen drug use, as it fosters anger and resentment.

Further arguments against this policy include that although the government estimates drug use among unemployed to be about twice that of the employed population, the rates of drug use among those applying for welfare benefits were found to be equal to the general population in Michigan when it tried to implement a drug test law, and much less than the general population in Florida. Not to mention, this type of policy is most likely unconstitutional.

Hopefully states will come to their senses and not opt to implement this policy. If your state is one of the 23 states considering mandatory drug testing for welfare benefits, contact your legislators and tell them to oppose these unsound and unconstitutional policies.

Florida Man Charged With Abuse for Giving his Autistic Children Synthetic Marijuana

Click here for more coverage of FloridaA Florida Man has been arrested for child abuse relating to giving his two young autistic children synthetic marijuana. The man had taped the incident and posted it on his Facebook page. Officials, however, were not alerted until a physical argument between the man and his father resulted in this father going to the police.

Scott Crawley said that he gave his children the synthetic marijuana to try and prove it was a treatment for their autism. He told reporter from his jail cell that he didn’t plan on doing it all the time, he was only doing it the one time to raise awareness about autism and medical marijuana.

Investigators say he gave one of this children a substance he claimed was medical marijuana, but according to Crawley’s father, he had forced his 10 year old son, and his 7 year old daughter to smoke out of a vial. Testing showed it was high grade diesel potpourri with a label warning it was not for human consumption, a warning label on all K2, Spice, or other synthetic marijuana products on the market.

The video of Scott Crowley giving his children what they believe to be synthetic marijuana has been taken down, but the police reports say it showed Crowley forcing the children to take a hit off a pipe. Crawly’s facebook page talk extensively about wanting marijuana to be a legal treatment for the disease and says he wishes and says he is also autistic, schizophrenic and on medication.

Scott Crawly is currently in jail being held on a $127,000 bond. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and battery on a person over 65. The children have been placed in the car of their grandparents by Department of Children and Families, who are also investigating the incident.

External Links:

http://www.cfnews13.com/article/news/2012/january/365674/Dad-accused-of-making-autistic-children-smoke-marijuana

The Top Ten “Reefer Madness” Stories of 2011

This 2011 Reefer Madness propaganda is Anslinger Approved!

It’s end-of-year retrospective time!  While my colleagues on the NORML Blog (go check out the new look that matches the new site) are going to bring you the biggest marijuana news stories of 2011, here at The Daily Stash Blog we’re going to bring you stories that may have fallen through the cracks of other drug policy 2011 remembrances.

Today we bring you the Top Ten “Reefer Madness” Stories of 2011.  ”Reefer Madness”, of course, is the 1936 anti-pot propaganda film showing young people becoming crazed and violent on the effects of “reefer”.  Today, we use “Reefer Madness” as shorthand to describe the hysterical warnings by the anti-drug zealots as reported unchallenged by a complacent media.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the Top Ten Cannabis Science Stories of 2011.  Thursday we’ll cover the Top Ten “Stupid Stoner Stories” of 2011.  Friday we’ll cover the Top Ten People in Marijuana of 2011.

Top Ten “Reefer Madness” Stories of 2011 (audio mp3)

10. Oregonian editorial board hypes fears of medical marijuana and teen pot smoking

(The Oregonian – “Seeing through the smoke” editorial) It’s about time someone took action on the increasing number of medical marijuana dispensaries. … Right now, anyone, including teenagers, can apply [for a medical marijuana card]. A study done by Oregon Partnership found, for example, that 35 percent of students at Wilson High School and 46 percent at Marshall High School knew someone with a card.

Unlike the Oregonian editorial board, I check sources (I work for NORML: I have to.) The survey they refer to was addressed at a Marshall High community town hall meeting. The poll was conducted by students as part of a project called “SMASH” in a “confidential, random, peer-to-peer” survey – meaning one high school kid asking another high school kid. We have no control group, no control for confounding variables, not even a mention of the survey size or the randomness of those polled (maybe the SMASH kids are more likely to “randomly” speak to their friend, for instance, or stood in the hall and talked to anyone passing by who would answer.)

But besides all the methodological issues arising from trusting the polling data of high school kids talking to their friends, it’s important to note what their survey actually said:

PERCEPTION: Students surveyed believed that 8 out of 10 students smoke marijuana

REALITY: 7 out of 10 students DO NOT smoke marijuana

Kids surveyed thought 77.3% of others were smoking marijuana.  76.07% of kids never smoked marijuana, another 12.27% smoked it once or twice a month.  So, kids think 3 out of 4 other kids smoke pot when 3 out of 4 kids actually don’t.  Where, oh, where could the kids be getting the message that youth cannabis smoking is out of control, when, in fact, Oregon’s 12th grade monthly cannabis use rates have declined 14% (before | after) since 1999, when medical marijuana got underway in Oregon?

9. Papa John’s Pizza supports driver who reported medical marijuana patient to police

You would think that pizza delivery companies would understand who their customers are and that a great number of them smoke marijuana.  If you’re a pizza delivery company in Colorado, you’d understand that many of the marijuana smokers in your delivery area may be legally using cannabis for medicinal purposes.  But apparently Papa John’s pizza in Colorado doesn’t care too much about its drivers violating the privacy of its customers who are medical marijuana patients.

(9News) The man was smoking medical marijuana just before the pizza arrived on Friday evening. The delivery driver smelled the marijuana and called the cops. The Papa John’s employee, who was not identified, was concerned because the customer’s 9-year-old daughter was in the house.

8. The annual scaremongering about marijuana-laced Halloween treats begins now

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Glen Walsh said parents should definitely inspect the candy their children bring home after trick-or-treating.

Walsh said a pungent smell or an odd taste can serve as indicators on whether the food contains marijuana. As for the potency of the marijuana-laced prodcuts, Walsh said the level of THC, the chemical found in marijuana, can vary from zero to over 90 percent.

OK, so watch closely, parents.  You don’t want your kid getting a candy with 0% THC in it.  But if you find any of that 90% THC stuff, you can send it my way for proper disposal.

How stupid is this?  First off, if there is a person out there who would intentionally hand THC-laden treats to children, they are a criminal.  They’d be just as likely to poison Halloween treats or put pins or razor blades in them.. which is an urban legend with no truth to it whatsoever.

Second, if you are a person who uses THC-laden treats for medical or recreational purposes, why are you handing out a $20 “Buddafinger” when you could pass out a 20-cent “Butterfinger”?  You want to be so sure some kid you don’t know and won’t see gets high that you’ll spend 10 times more on Halloween candy?

7. Portland Reporter Anna Canzano: A medical marijuana-hating sheriff’s best friend

[Oregon Sheriff's Association President] Tom Bergin said at the rate Oregon is going, he believes Oregon is three times sicker than California. Why? Well, more than 90 percent of cardholders say they’re using pot to treat pain — not glaucoma or cancer — as the bill was initially marketed.

Here are the facts from the state’s medical marijuana program registry:

  • There are 49,220 medical marijuana patients
  • There are 44,756 patients who indicate chronic pain as a qualifying condition

So Canzano, Bergin, and every prohibitionist who scoffs at people in serious pain treating it with a non-toxic herb pull out their calculators and exclaim “90% of cardholders are using it for pain, not glaucoma or cancer!”  (The number is actually 90.9%.)

What Canzano distorts lies in the word “not”.  Under Oregon law, a registry cardholder can qualify under more than one condition.  The state even puts “A patient may have more than one diagnosed qualifying medical condition” right there on the website where you got the numbers to crunch.  Are we to believe people with cancer and glaucoma don’t suffer chronic pain as well?

6. Florida Woman Sues Over Being Arrested for Sage

A woman in Florida who was arrested for felony marijuana possession is suing for wrongful arrest. She might just have a case, she was charged with marijuana possession even though the bag they caught her with turned out to be Sage. 49 year old, Robin Brown says a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy caught her while she was bird watching back in March of 2009. He used his field kit on the herb she had in a bag, and said that in the field it tested positive for marijuana. The deputy sent the 50 grams of substance to a state crime lab.

Her lawsuit says that she was arrested before the test was performed. Her arrest was ordered by the Assistant State Attorney, Mark Horn, in June of 2009. She was arrested at her place of business, Massage Envy in Weston. She said that she was arrested in front of co-workers and her customers and subjected to a full body cavity search during her overnight stay in jail. When her lawyer discovered the herbs had not been tested a second time, he used the courts to force the tests which determined what Ms. Brown was contending all along, her sage was completely marijuana free.

5. Teen dies after plastic fumes scar lungs, media blames synthetic pot

The boy smoked the fake marijuana out of a plastic PEZ candy dispenser. The chemicals in the drugs caused extensive damage to his lungs. Brandon was put on a respirator in June and had a double lung transplant in September.

So, we’re to assume here it was the K2 that scarred the boys lungs and not the freakin’ fumes from the melting plastic of a PEZ dispenser?!?

Tonya Rice told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper Brandon was put on a respirator in June after smoking Spice fake cannabis, which is said to be ten times more dangerous than cocaine.

Not to be cruel or insensitive about the boy’s death, but he didn’t suddenly die from the acute effects of K2 use.  He used it in June, fell very ill, was given a double lung transplant, and died from an infection because of his lowered immune system in October.  So, to compare, we have cocaine, which can give you a heart attack by overdose and kill you the minute you snort / smoke / inject it, versus a synthetic cannabinoid smoked through plastic, requiring a double lung transplant, leading to a fatal infection four months later in the hospital that kills one boy.  We’re not trying to say K2 is safe – it isn’t – but it’s not “ten times more dangerous than cocaine”.

4. CASA’s Joe Califano blames marijuana for Arizona shooter

I haven’t seen press reports or talking heads discuss their concern about how easy it has been for this mentally ill young man to get marijuana. And there has been no mention of the potential of marijuana to spark latent psychosis and exacerbate schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

So as we continue to think about this killer and his deranged mind, we should be asking this question: Is Jared Loughner an individual whose psychosis was prompted or exacerbated by the use of marijuana?

Gee, Joe, what do you think we ought to do?  Make marijuana illegal?  Lock up people who use it?  Break down their doors at night and shoot their dogs?  Use helicopters and infrared to eradicate the plant wherever it’s grown?  Throw billions at American and Mexican law enforcement for armor and weapons to fight its traffickers?  Train dogs to sniff it out?  Drug test employees, high schoolers, even middle schoolers to detect its use?

The facts are that 1% of the population exhibits schizophrenia, whether it is 1979 and 60% of high school seniors have tried marijuana or it is 1992 and 33% have tried it.  A study of 186 UK mental hospitals found no increase in schizophrenia or psychosis admissions, despite use rates of cannabis increasing greatly during that decade.

3. UK Daily Mail: Cannabis ‘kills 30,000 a year’

Cannabis ‘kills 30,000 a year’

Oh, dear.  From zero deaths* in 5,000 years of human use to ’30,000 a year’.  That sounds serious.  Let’s read on…

More than 30,000 cannabis smokers could die every year, doctors warn today.

Wait, “could die”?  We’ve gone from the active headline verb “kills” to the lede adverb “could”?  Usually you bury that wiggle room somewhere in paragraph umpteen.  Continue…

Professor John Henry, a leading authority on the drug, said the change – due to take place this summer – had undermined doctors’ efforts to highlight the risks.

He said: “Cannabis is as dangerous as cigarette smoking – in fact, it may be even worse – and downgrading its legal status has simply confused people.”

“May be” worse?  Where are the wards full of cannabis smokers?  Britain actually has some level of health care worthy of a civilized (civilised) people.  You’d think the National Health Service would bring these figures up.  It sounds like quite a cost to the government.

2. American Cancer Society says marijuana use can lead to amputation

Although it is rare, severe shutdown of blood circulation to the arms or legs has been reported in young people who smoked marijuana. In some cases, it was so severe that amputation was required.

In all my years beating back reefer madness, this is a first.  I have never heard a story of someone’s marijuana use leading to amputation.  I have covered stories of people who use marijuana for their already-existing amputation, since it is a superior medication for “phantom” pain, and I’ve covered one double-amputee diabetic’s eviction for her medical marijuana use, though.

1. Butt-chugging, vodka tampons, drinking bleach, and other parent-frightening urban legends

(KPHO) [School Resource Officer Chris] Thomas spends his days patrolling the halls of a Valley high school. He’s heard first hand how kids are getting tipsy.

“What we’re hearing about is teenagers utilizing tampons, soak them in vodka first before using them,” Thomas said.

“This is definitely not just girls,” Thomas said. “Guys will also use it and they’ll insert it into their rectums.”

Rather than the traditional beer bong you’d find at a college party, kids are sticking the tube elsewhere to get wasted.

They’re calling it “butt chugging.”

Rrrighttt… young teenage males, typically the most homophobic and self-conscious creatures on the planet, are dropping trou in front of their peers and inserting plastic tubes up their ass to chug beer.  And the vodka tampons?  Huffington Post reports that “the practice remains unverified despite multiple reports of incidents in the U.S. and elsewhere” and that a blogger “conducted her own informal trial to see whether the purported method worked“, where she notes the alcohol dissolves the glue and consistency of the tampon so much it couldn’t be inserted and that even if it were inserted, the burn you’d feel on your sensitive lady parts would not make this an enjoyable drunk.  Plus, the idea that it would help teens avoid detection with no alcohol on their breath is false, as alcohol metabolizes in your breath no matter how you ingest it.

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