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Category Archives: War On Drugs

The Latest Move to Repair the Racist War on Drugs – TheStranger.com

Posted: February 27, 2020 at 1:50 am

Pot farm owner Joy Hollingsworth is 100 percent behind the proposed law. courtesy of Hollingsworth Cannabis company

The United States has a cruel relationship with weed. When pot was illegal everywhere, African Americans were arrested for pot crimes at far higher rates than white people. Now white people are raking in billions of dollars in weed revenue while Black people are largely shut out of the legal pot system.

Nowhere is this cruel reality more true than in Washington State, where Black people were 280 percent more likely to get arrested for pot than a white person during the war on drugs. Black people currently own only 4 percent of the state's weed retailers and 1 percent of the state's pot farms, according to data from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB).

Our state has never tried to tackle this disparity. Rick Garza, director of the WSLCB, recently told a legislative hearing that our state "missed an opportunity to focus on social equity" when we legalized pot.

Now Garza wants to change that. The WSLCB proposed a law that would allow the agency to give its unused retail pot licenses to people who were previously convicted of a misdemeanor pot offense or who come from neighborhoods that were over-policed during the war on drugs. (The agency would not confirm how many licenses are available but estimates range from 13 to less than 40.) The proposed law cannot rely only on the race of the applicants to allocate the retail licenses, because affirmative action is illegal in Washington State.

Garza explicitly said that he wants social equity to help repair some of the harm of the war on drugs.

"By social equity, I mean two things," Garza said. "One, that the new cannabis industry should reflect the diverse population of our state. Second, it challenges us to create economic opportunity in the cannabis industry for people in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition."

The proposed law would also fund a new grant program and create a new task force that can recommend further programs. The grant programfunded with $1 million of pot-tax revenue a yearwould provide money for social equity license holders to navigate the bureaucratic nightmare of keeping pot licenses in compliance.

The task force would be composed of 12 members drawn from various boards and commissions, including organizations representing the African American and Latinx communities, which would be charged with making further social equity recommendations by the end of this year. Those recommendations could include calls for more pot licenses.

Joy Hollingsworth, who is Black and owns the pot farm Hollingsworth Cannabis Company with her family, said the task force was one of the reasons she is "fully, 100 percent supporting the bill."

"I have trust that they have the best intentions for the minority community and trying to get more people of color in the industry," Hollingsworth said. "That's why I really like this bill, because it's not just narrowing it down to one thing."

But not everyone is happy. Aaron Bossett, of the Black Cannabis Commission, said that any attempt to fix the harm of the war on drugs needs to include more than just pot licenses.

"For me, it's still a no. It's just not broad enough," Bossett said. "There needs to be more programs outside of just cannabis, because cannabis was used as a weapon. At least allow some of that tax money to go into community development and other programs."

The proposed law passed the state house of representatives on February 16 and is now awaiting a vote in the senate. If it passes, all it will need is a signature from Governor Jay Inslee before the state can start at least trying to use pot legalization to repair the harm of the war on drugs.

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CPD keeps pace with ever-changing drug culture – Cumberland Times-News

Posted: at 1:50 am

Police practices and policies evolve throughout the years. When police leaders attended leadership schools, they often learned about the crack epidemic of the 1980s and how this era changed policing. The sudden influx of crack cocaine and the crime associated with it overwhelmed police resources and caused chaos in every community.

This era brought the war on drugs and the formation of specialized police drug task forcesthat made agencies on federal, state and local levels cooperate and organize investigations. These investigations worked drug cases from the street to the supplier across jurisdictions. After several years of working drug cases this new way, the changes proved effective and the crack epidemic started to subside.

The next generations of police leaders will learn about the current opioid epidemic we are now living and how it changed policing. I can remember when I started at the Cumberland Police Department we would occasionally get called to a drug overdose, and most of those ended up being intentional acts. Then in late 2015, the opioid crisis hit us hard with overdoses happening several times a week instead of being rare occurrences.

At the Cumberland Police Department, we first handled this new rash of overdoses as we had routinely done: If the patient was not breathing, perform CPR and call for the Cumberland Fire Department. Officers would then gather any evidence at the scene and file charges for any drug or drug paraphernalia of which there was evidence.

I can remember being on the scenes of these early overdoses and our officers explaining to family members that filing charges were for the best because a judge could potentially order drug treatment programs, which was often the only way to get some people the help they needed.

As the opioid drug crisis continued, police were showing up at some drug-related death investigation scenes and discovering that the victims may have survived if they had received the proper help; however, fear of being arrested kept people from calling 911 at the time.

Good Samaritan Law

Even in Cumberland, this was further evidenced by unconscious overdose patients occasionally being dumped on a street or outside the fire station or hospital. This brought about the Good Samaritan Law, which gave immunity for minor drug- and alcohol-related crimes to the victim and anyone else who summoned help for an overdose patient. This new law encouraged people to help those who overdosed and has undoubtedly saved lives.

The benefit of saving lives outweighed the ability of police to make arrests; however, it took away a tool that we had previously used to get people drug treatment. I can remember working with my squad through the changes brought about by the Good Samaritan Law as well as the frustration it brought. With no drug arrests for overdoses, officers and concerned family members could no longer hope for court-ordered drug treatment. All of my officers were being approached by concerned family members and even addicts wanting help with addiction, and as a department we were sometimes a bit lost as to what we could do.

Miracle drug

Fortunately, in Cumberland we have a professional fire department with a quick response time. These city paramedics carried what became known as the miracle drug, naloxone (Narcan), that reversed the effect of opioids and really brought people back from the dead. This gave them a second chance at life that the rescuers hoped would not be wasted.

Unfortunately, in the past, if a person was successfully revived through the use of naloxone and was oriented, they could refuse further treatment and walk away. Knowing the person had broken the law, needed help, could still possibly die and yet was free to go was devastating to first responders.

In later years, the Allegany County Health Department trained all of our officers in the use of naloxone and we started carrying it on duty. It soon became commonplace for our own officers to start administering naloxone and reviving patients in cooperation with the responding Cumberland Fire Department. Over the years we have been credited with saving many lives.

Traditionally, if there was an illegal drug issue, the police would handle it. People in this area thought that any illegal drug issue use, abuse, buying, selling, prevention all fell under the realm of the Cumberland Police Department. However, this latest era of drug abuse made us realize that we could not do this alone.

A social problem

The Cumberland Police Department knew we had to change our approach to the opioid epidemic. Fortunately, we were not alone in this thinking. Police departments and community groups along the eastern U.S. were also faced with this issue and were willing to work through it together. We started to realize that this was not a police problem, but a social problem, and started to form partnerships with other entities that could offer support and advice.

This hodgepodge of partnerships soon began to take shape into an organized system of referrals we could offer families for help. Some of our greatest assets were our very own Allegany County Health Department as well as the Western Maryland Health System who have graciously supported CPD in every way. Soon officers were carrying pamphlets and making phone calls to drug counselors while on the streets trying to get help for those who wanted it.

Also during this time, the public, as well as officers had to become educated about drug addiction. Many times, I heard people saying they didnt understand why people would keep taking heroin if it could kill them. ...why didnt they just stop? It was through educating ourselves about the science of addictions that we came to the realization that drug addiction was a mental health problem that crossed over into criminal behavior, not the other way around.

Mental health issue

Again, it was time to make an adjustment. We were no longer allowed to arrest overdose patients due to the Good Samaritan Law, however, we could now associate overdose patients with drug addiction, which is a mental health diagnosis.

If an overdose patient was near death we could articulate that they were a danger to themselves and suffered from a mental illness which fit the criteria for a police officer to force a person to have a mental health evaluation done. We didnt have to watch people walk away from near death experiences any longer. Instead we could make them go to the hospital where a counselor could begin to try to get them help. At first this was not accepted by all hospital medical staff, but supported by mental health staff and drug counselors. The Cumberland model soon became an accepted best practice and copied statewide.

D.A.R.T.

The Cumberland Police Department expanded on this model in later years by establishing a Drug Abatement Response Team or D.A.R.T, which was modeled after similar domestic violence teams. When an overdose patient is identified through some type of police response, such as the overdose patient requiring hospitalization, the team consisting of a police officer and a peer drug counselor track the patient in the days after their release from the hospital the time when they are most susceptible to relapse. Support is then offered by the team to help keep the person from using again. This is also a CPD original programthat has been adopted in other jurisdictions.

Although we had to adjust and move more toward non-traditional ways of policing, we also kept true to our duty. We adopted new drug crime information sharing and intelligence-gathering practices across agencies, and we increased drug enforcement efforts. We went after the dealers who were providing heroin, fentanyl and opioid pills. We conducted investigations into prescription fraud and doctors over-prescribing opioids.

We still continue to go after the criminals who are helping fuel these drug problems and all of the crime associated with it. Although we are quite proud of the work we have done at CPD we could not have been as successful without the help of our partners at the Allegany County Narcotics Task Force, C3I, Allegany County Sheriffs Office, Maryland State Police, Frostburg Police Department, Frostburg University Police, Natural Resources Police and the Allegany County States Attorneys Office all who have supported us in our various drug enforcement initiatives.

Opioid task force

As these programs were put in place, our partnerships continued to strengthen. We have united with a common goal of eliminating our areas drug abuse problem.

The Allegany County Opioid and Overdose Task Force was developed, as well as the Opioid Summits and similar boards. The successful Cumberland Police Department Safe Streets program was modified to focus on drug crime. The communitys successful Prescribe Change media campaign was developed. The health department started training citizens and other first responders on the administration of Naloxone. Many other private and faith-based organizations came forward and wanted to partner with the police to help in any way they could.

In all, since the opioid crisis started to first affect Cumberland, the police department has undergone a cultural change. We were forced to move away from the traditional policing of just locking up the bad guy and move toward more social intervention by helping in other ways to solve this problem.

We have had to continually react and adjust to find new ways to develop tools to combat drug abuse as well as all of the crimes that associate with it. I will tell you that this drug crisis did cause stress on the department.

Remember that not only drug crime increased, but all of the other crimes associated with it such as people intoxicated on the streets to addicts stealing to support their habit to shootings and robberies between drug dealers. This coupled with manpower and budget shortfalls over the years was tough on the officers, however, they persevered.

The city can be proud of the CPD officers. Each step we took addressing the opioid epidemic along the way saved lives. Sometimes only one at a time, but they add up. We now understand more about drug addiction and how hard it is to overcome. Occasionally we get those who walk up to us and thank us for teaching them a DARE lesson, referring them to a counselor, arresting them, causing them to go to jail, making them go to the hospital, or even bringing them back to life.

It was not one single action but a combination of all of these effortsthat have helped the city during this crisis. We are proud to say that for the first time in years overdoses and drug crime are down. Our city is looking better every day. We pray that it will continue to get better and we will continue our efforts to insure that happens. We thank everyone for their support.

Chuck Ternent, a 25-year veteran of the Cumberland Police Department, serves as its interim chief.

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For Want of a Visa? Values and Institutions in US-Philippine Relations – War on the Rocks

Posted: at 1:50 am

Losing a military alliance for the sake of a tourist visa seems like a poor exchange, but in the Philippines, it is an outcome that the United States must be willing to accept. The current crisis in U.S.-Philippine relations stems from the decision by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement; Sen. Ronald Bato dela Rosa a key political ally had his American tourist visa revoked. But this is about something much bigger than a visa. For nearly 20 years the United States has worked to strengthen professional norms within the Philippine security forces. Dutertes dictum is not dependent on dela Rosas distant destinations, but a larger question of whether the United States is prepared to sacrifice its support for democratic governance and accountability in the Philippines in order to save the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Throughout the Cold War, Philippine national security existed as a division of labor. The United States assumed responsibility for external defense while the Armed Forces of the Philippines addressed internal threats like the Hukbalahap Rebellion and the New Peoples Army. During the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos from 1965 to 1986, and especially after the declaration of martial law in 1972, this internal security mission became highly politicized with systemic abuses and intimidation serving as central tenets of the Marcos regime. More than just degrading the Philippine militarys effectiveness, Marcos gutted the professional norms, standards, and institutional infrastructure needed to sustain the security forces. Although Marcos was ousted by a popular uprising in 1986, Philippine defense institutions continued to be plagued by the rot entrenched during his 20 year reign well after his departure.

When the Philippine Senate voted in 1991 to close U.S. bases and evict American military forces from the archipelago, it created a security vacuum. This not only facilitated Chinas 1995 seizure of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea and exacerbated the long-simmering conflict in Mindanao, but also exposed the inadequacies of the Philippine military as well as the lingering institutional damage dealt during Marcos dictatorship. Even as security conditions in the Philippines spiraled following the American departure, the 1990s continued to be defined by coup attempts, mutinies, human rights violations, and endemic corruption within the Philippine security forces.

The signing of the Visiting Forces Agreement in 1998 renewed U.S.-Philippine defense cooperation. However, Washington did not fully appreciate the extent of the institutional decay within the Philippine security forces until the start of joint counter-terrorism operations after the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration identified the Philippines as a frontline state in the war on terror and dispatched American military advisors to Mindanao in 2002. Their mission was to assist the military in combating regional terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf. Upon arriving in the Philippines, American advisors were dismayed at the condition of their Philippine counterparts and particularly the poor state of military equipment and training. Moreover, the advisors identified a larger issue at play in Mindanao. A long history of abuse and neglect had engendered an adversarial relationship between the Philippine military and the Muslim population of Mindanao. This fracture between the population and the military deprived the latter of local support, and hamstrung any attempt at effective counter-terrorism operations. Faced with these mounting obstacles, American defense officials realized that the problem of terrorism in the Philippines could never be solved without also addressing the institutional malaise that afflicted the Philippine security forces.

Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippine evolved from just combating terrorists to also aiding the fundamental reform of Philippine defense institutions. Through the efforts of key allies within the Philippines such as Secretaries of National Defense Avelino Cruz and Gilberto Teodoro, Philippine defense reform became a national priority in Manila. It also became a focal point within the alliance. Just as the United States sent advisors to Mindanao, so too were policy experts dispatched to Manila to address underlying issues like procurement, budgeting, and strategic planning. In addition to institutional reforms designed to combat corruption, the United States also helped overhaul the training program in order to emphasize issues like professionalization, accountability, respect for human rights, and community engagement.

By 2006, these changes started to have a clear effect. In Mindanao, the Philippine armed forces implemented a new strategy that combined targeted military operations with increased community outreach. This hybrid approach to counter-terrorism made significant gains in defeating Abu Sayyaf and helped to pave the way for meaningful progress in peace negotiations. At the time, Filipino officers were quick to credit American training initiatives for enabling this new strategy and for instilling civil engagement and professionalization as critical missions for the Philippine armed forces.

American efforts to bolster professional norms within the Philippine security forces and strengthen the rule of law did not end with Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines, and have continued to be critical missions within the alliance. However, it is precisely these facets of the bilateral relationship and the progress that has been made within the Philippines that President Duterte threatens to undermine.

Since assuming the presidency in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has worked to erode, disregard, and violate nearly all standards of democratic governance. As part of his brutal war on drugs, Duterte has promoted an air of impunity within law enforcement that has normalized extrajudicial killings and led to the deaths of over 20,000 people. During the siege of Marawi in 2017, Duterte instructed his military to simply kill all enemies because he did not want to feed any prisoners. And when rebuked for his autocratic actions, Duterte moved to silence critical media outlets and imprison political opponents. These actions are not only an affront to American values, but indicative of the behavior that Washington downplayed during the Marcos era and that it has spent the past 20 years trying to overcome.

Despite pressure from the Malacaang Palace, the Philippine armed forces have worked to defend their professional standards and avoid participation in the drug war. This reluctance on the part of the military is a reflection of both how far the Philippine military has come since the Marcos era, and how much the Philippine military values its security cooperation with the United States and is wary of jeopardizing that relationship. Indeed, the ability to leverage U.S. military cooperation as a moderating influence within the Duterte administration is a key reason why such cooperation should continue despite the volatility within the relationship.

The Philippine National Police have not been as fortunate. Then known as the Philippine constabulary, this service was the primary instrument of regime security for Marcos. Separated from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and rebranded as the Philippine National Police in the 1990s, the national police force has continued to struggle with a reputation for corruption and a history of abuse. Under Duterte the national police force has again been wielded like a cudgel to assail drug users, everyday citizens, and regime critics. As Dutertes first chief of police from July 2016 to April 2018, Bato dela Rosa personally oversaw the violent implementation of Dutertes war on drugs as well as the arrest of key political opponents, including Sen. Leila de Lima.

Unlike during the Marcos era, the United States has been unwilling to passively watch this erosion of professional standards within the Philippine security forces. The Philippine National Police has already been targeted for severe cuts in U.S. support. During the Obama administration, human rights became a major flashpoint within the bilateral relationship. Although the dispute between Duterte and Obama imperiled the alliance, it also helped forestall efforts to have the countrys military play an active role in the drug war. The Trump administration has proven to be less keen on championing human rights in the Philippines. However, a bipartisan group of senators has taken the lead in condemning the systemic abuses occurring in the Philippines and has worked to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. As such, the State Departments decision to revoke dela Rosas visa was not an arbitrary decision. Instead it was an act of principle in line with American laws, ideals, and longstanding strategic interests in promoting professionalism within the Philippines security forces.

Now that the United States has received Dutertes official notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, the dispute can no longer be construed as a disagreement over a visa. Washington instead must decide whether it will overlook the erosion of democratic norms within an ally in the hope of preserving its military prerogatives. During the Cold War, Jeane Kirkpatrick lampooned the Carter administration for its refusal to make such tradeoffs. She argued that pushing for democratic reform within friendly dictatorships only fostered instability at the expense of American strategic interests. Yet, the Philippines has proved the danger of such a pernicious disregard for values. Washingtons backing ultimately did not save Marcos. Rather, it abetted the decay of Philippine institutions and stoked the popular resentment that led to the expulsion of American forces in 1992. Duterte provides Washington with an opportunity to learn from this history rather than repeat its follies.

This is not to say that the alliance with the Philippines should be abandoned in the face of Dutertes diatribes. Despite the ongoing drama, the Philippines has remained a close American ally. Where there are substantive areas of Philippine dissatisfaction within the alliance, it is important for the United States to be responsive and amenable to changes. This is particularly true regarding increasing Philippine self-reliance. Even if the Visiting Forces Agreement cannot be saved, the United States should continue to support the alliance and use initiatives like the International Military Education and Training program to sustain the partnership with the Philippine armed forces. Yet, the alliances salvation cannot come at the expense of abandoning reform and accountability within the Philippine security forces. The history of the U.S.-Philippine relationship has repeatedly shown that sacrificing professional standards for expediency ultimately undermines Philippine national security and the viability of the alliance. Surrendering on these issues will harm only Washingtons friends in the Philippines and Americas long-term strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific.

Gregory H. Winger is an Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines and a Fellow with the National Asia Research Program.

Image: U.S. Marine Corps (Photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert)

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Needle In The Hay Spotlight: Les Krills – ‘The Valley of Giants’ – Happy Mag

Posted: at 1:50 am

With ourNeedle In The Hayvinyl competitionopen once more, were back to enjoying an esteemed selection of tunes submitted by Australian and New Zealand artists. Every now and then a particular song catches your ear though the latest beingThe Valley of Giants byLes Krills.

Recording out of band member Alain de Carnes garage just north of Byron Bay, Les Krills have been active since 2017 with two EPs to their name. They make a distinctly surf-tinged indie rock, as if Julian from The Strokes dropped in on Adam from The War On Drugs and the two got their limbs and brains all tangled together.

Photo: James Adams

The Valley of Giants was the leading single from Les Krills most recent EPWhile They Are Sleeping, which dropped in January this year. Its a gorgeous listen; warm guitar tones chugging along like a steam train while sunny vocal lines fly high and low.

The EP itself is an extension of that easygoing feeling;Here Comes My Girlslows it down for a sea-breeze ballad and openerMelting Into Youkicks the record into gear with gusto. Check out the full release below.

It isnt all sunshine and daisies for de Carne and bandmate Nick Pollet, though. Their songs tackle a number of tough themes, such as 2017 singleOld Shoeswhich draws from experiences of slipping back into binge drinking.

Whatever they choose to sing of, Les Krills will make it look damn beautiful. For anyone who counts Kurt Vile, Dope Lemon, or the aforementioned The War On Drugs amongst your favourites, heres another band to add to that list.

Needle In The Hay is a competition run by Happy Mag, giving one artist the chance to win 250 copies of their single on 7-inch vinyl. To enter or find out more, clickhere.

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Drug War Prisoners Receive Clemency, as Well They Should – TheStranger.com

Posted: at 1:50 am

ISTOCK / MACROVECTOR

For those who slept through poly-sci, heres the New York Times to clarify what that means exactly:

The Constitution gives presidents what the Supreme Court has ruled is the unlimited authority to grant pardons, which excuse or forgive a federal crime. A commutation, by contrast, makes a punishment milder without wiping out the underlying conviction. Both are forms of presidential clemency.

At this point in our Donnie Two-Scoops dystopian timeline, its not a huge surprise that rich white men who enjoy licking the boots of fascist dictators are being gifted Get Out of Jail Free'' cards. But among this fresh hell, there was some good news. A few of the people receiving this favor from the fhrer are actually deserving. Andshockerthese people are the victims of the endless and mercy-free war on drugs, AND are women, AND are people of color. Wait... what?

Meet these two women now, and know that they represent hundreds if not thousands of other men and women rotting in our overcrowded, underfunded, and racist prison system.

The first is Tynice Nichole Hall, whose sentence was commuted. From the New York Times:

Tynice Nichole Hall was sentenced in 2006 after she was convicted on various drug charges in Lubbock, Texas, according to the Justice Department. The evidence at trial showed that Ms. Halls residence was used as a stash house for drugs by her boyfriend, who was the main target of an investigation, according to court documents. The police found large quantities of crack and powder cocaine and loaded firearms in her apartment.

Ms. Hall has spent the last 14 years in prison, where she has participated in apprenticeships, completed coursework toward a college degree and led educational programs for other inmates, the White House statement said.

Hall was the subject of a Change.org petition which laid out her case in her own words. In that petition, she wrote:

When I was 19 years old, I made the colossal mistake of being romantically involved with a man who was living a criminal lifestyle by distributing illegal drugs. This iniquitous choice I made not only affected my life, freedom and future, but my family and my community in the most detrimental way possible.

In my naivety, I thought that I could not be held responsible for my boyfriends behavior or actions. I turned a blind eye, although I was not directly in contact with his illegal activities or criminality...I knew that there could be consequences and repercussions for him if he was to ever get caught, but I had no idea that I could be equally punished for having knowledge about his actions.

After three years of my on/off again relationship with this man, federal agents kicked in my door with a search warrant. I was home alone. Two guns were found that belonged to my boyfriend and drugs. The house was in my name; therefore I was held liable for everything in the house and convicted for possessing the drugs and guns in the commission for a crime.

Although my involvement was minimal, conspiracy law held me accountable for all of the illegal conducts, making me equally culpable as my co-defendant, who actually peddled the illegal drugs. I was unable to provide substantial assistance to the United States Attorney due to the fact I had no knowledge of the inner working of his lawless undertakings. I wanted to immediately take a plea deal because I was scared I didn't understand or know what to do. Therefore I went to trial, in hopes that the jury would also agree that my role was far more minimal than his, thus imposing a sentence that was fair and fit the description of the acts I committed. After going to trial, I received the enhancements at the top of the guidelines as if I was the leader/organizer of the operation.

That "conspiracy law" was a factor in the case of the other woman receiving commutation, Crystal Munoz, who in 2008, according to the Times was found guilty of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. The details behind her charges and sentencing were well covered by Rolling Stone way back in 2017, which reported:

(The) 38-year-old Navajo mother of two young girls, was sentenced to almost two decades for drawing a map of a road in Big Bend National Park on a piece of notebook paper a favor, she says, for some friends. These friends would end up using that map to circumvent a drug checkpoint in a large marijuana trafficking operation. Later, they testified against her hoping for more lenient sentences. Its not clear if they succeeded, but Munoz is nine years into an 18 year sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.

Thats a lot of pot. But she maintains that any role she might have played in the operation was minimal. The map was on a piece of notebook paper and with arrows/lines for the road. It was not very sophisticated she writes from Carswell, a minimum-security womens prison.

Despite her allegedly small role, she faced a very long sentence. Thats because when a person is charged with conspiracy, all the government has to do to hook a defendant for all the drugs sold is to have witnesses testify against them. The defendant doesn't even have to be caught with drugs.

Thats where you get the drugless drug cases, where theres no drugs in evidence, Eric Sterling, the former congressional staffer who helped draft mandatory minimums back in the 1980s, says. In theory, this is meant to take down kingpins, who are less likely to get caught with drugs on them than lower-level dealers. But the higher-up someone is in an operation, the more information they can trade for reduced sentences. Meanwhile, mid-level people might not be too eager to testify against the real ringleader, especially if theyre violent. I wouldnt want to identify the kingpin because what if he finds out I ratted him out and kills my family?, says Sterling. So I make up a story, or help the government entrap someone.

At first Munoz had considered pleading guilty, which would have triggered a 10-year mandatory minimum. But her lawyer cautioned that she could also get 30-to-life, and if she pled guilty, shed lose her right to appeal. So she took her chances at trial and lost.

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Fire Up A Bowl, Numb Out: Tucker Carlson Mocks Bernie, Claims Hes Pushing for the Unemployed to Smoke a Ton More Weed – Mediaite

Posted: at 1:50 am

Fox News Tucker Carlson riffed against Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Wednesday night, mocking what he claims is the candidates position that the unemployed middle class smoke a ton more weed.

Carson sarcastically added, fire up a bowl and numb out.

The segment began with Carlson aiming at Sanders over his plan to decriminalize non-violent marijuana charges.

Oh, the war on drugs! Bernie Sanders talks about that in every speech he gives. A declining country with a sad underemployed middle class obviously needs to smoke a ton more weed. Thats Bernies solutionFire up a bowl. Numb out. Maybe you wont notice, Carson stated.

The Fox News host then jokingly asked, So where is this weed going to come from? Bernie has a plan for that, too. Black people are going to sell it to you.

Carlson then played a clip from Tuesday nights debate of the senator, stating that as president, his administration would aid in helping minorities to launch businesses to sell legal marijuana rather than let a few corporations that control the legalized marijuana market.

The primetime Fox News host then poked fun at Sanders policy proposal.

Thats a real clip, by the way. So first, they fill black neighborhoods with abortion clinics. Now the frontrunner is encouraging more black kids to sill drugs, but somehow this is the party that loves black America, Carlson concluded.

Watch above, via Fox News.

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Cambridge Revises Position, Will Accept and Process Applications for Cannabis Businesses | News – Harvard Crimson

Posted: at 1:50 am

Cambridge will now accept and process bids for recreational cannabis businesses after a Superior Court judge ruled the city must do so, according to a Feb. 20 announcement.

The Cambridge solicitors office filed a motion last week appealing a Middlesex Superior Court decision which ruled Cambridges marijuana moratorium illegal. The moratorium which gave economic empowerment applicants a two-year head-start in recreational marijuana sales violated the the home rule amendment to the Massachusetts state constitution, the judge ruled.

Cambridge defined economic empowerment applicants as businesses run by people who have been disproportionately harmed by past marijuana laws.

During a city council meeting in June, Sumbul Siddiqui who now serves as Cambridges mayor spoke about the need for the two-year economic empowerment amendment.

The country's racist war on drugs has heavily impacted and criminalized black and brown folks, Siddiqui said.It's our collective responsibility to do the best we can to fight [for] policies that provide equitable access to the wealth and opportunity inherent in this emerging billion dollar cannabis industry.

Though a Feb. 14 statement said Cambridge would await further action by either the Superior Court or the Appeals Court before agreeing to new contracts with recreational pot companies, the city has revised its original position.

Cambridge will now accept all applications for host community agreements from interested parties. The city will also enter into HCAs with qualifying applicants, according to the revised announcement.

In order to obtain an HCA in Cambridge, businesses must submit a statement of interest to the city. Applicants may also be asked to present their information in person so city staff can ask them further questions.

According to city guidelines, a statement of interest consists of a cover letter, a special permit from the Cambridge planning board, a cannabis business permit, a management and operations profile, and qualifying documentation.

Moreover, applicants must submit a plan for positive community impact and certification, which mandates that a majority of the applicants employees will be minorities, women, or military veterans. Certification guidelines also encourage businesses to hire Cambridge residents.

Finally, if the application is approved, the business must hold semi-annual community outreach meetings.

Staff Writer Maria G. Gonzalez can be reached at maria.gonzalez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mariaagrace1.

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Candidates come together in Francisco – The Stokes News

Posted: at 1:50 am

FRANCISCO Ten of the 13 local candidates for countywide office were present at the Candidate Forum sponsored by Our Communities of Northwest Stokes, even a Democrat.

Brian Davis, the lone Democratic candidate for County Commissioner who automatically advances to the General Election because he has no opposition, was invited to participate with the Republicans who will appear on Tuesdays primary ballot.

Both candidates for Register of Deeds, four of the five candidates for Commissioners and three of the five Board of Education hopefuls participated in the event at the Community Building, and everyone offered their presentation with polite professionalism.

The most newsworthy aspect of the event was that Board of Education candidates Cheryl Lawson Knight, Von Robertson and Dwayne Bryant who have been running as a trio offered the first draft of a drug abuse plan called Project Help, which would decriminalize drug usage.

This is a proposal that is 25 pages long and still growing, said Robertson. Opioids now kill more Americans than automobiles. Two hundred Americans die daily from opioids. But its not just an opioid crisis; we have a drug addiction crisis. Its cocaine, methamphetamine, and vaping is destroying peoples lungs.

Robertson noted that America has spent $1 trillion in the 49-year War on Drugs and the problem is only worse.

There is too much emphasis on incarceration, Bryant said. African Americans are 13-times more likely to be incarcerated than white people. In Stokes County, we have the DARE program and random drug testing. If a student asks for help they get help. But if they get caught with drugs they go out in handcuffs.

Drug addiction should not be a crime, Knight added. Its an illness. There is a program in Nashville, N.C., near Rocky Mount, that helps hundreds at a cost of only $65,000. Seattle has a great program. We need to start in the schools, because thats the age most drug use starts.

The program would not complete with DARE, Knight added, but would compliment it.

In his introduction, Davis said he was not a typical Democrat. I have a concealed carry permit myself. Trump is my president, and I was in the Navy.

He said he sees the county slowly going down-hill and thats his reason for running. We need more things for our kids to do. Families move out because there is not a lot to offer our youth. We need better cell service and internet; those things bring in business. If we put the focus on local businesses then the local economy will go through the roof.

The first question offered to the Commissioner candidates dealt with the local economy.

Mike Brown complained that when he went to the county for help in starting a small business, they told me if we help you then we have to help everyone. But 99 percent of businesses are small businesses.

Ronnie Mendenhall, the incumbent Commissioner who is seeking re-election, said hed like to see more emphasis on tourism. Were blessed with many great attractions here, he said.

Mike Fulp mentioned the need for more water and sewer lines. If we move forward with better infrastructure, business will come here. Fulp also talked about the lack of businesses in the northwestern quadrant of the county. There aint nothing up here, he said. There used to be a racetrack here that brought people in. It took ten years to get a Dollar General to Lawsonville.

Both Register of Deeds candidates, incumbent Brandon Hooker and Karen Handy, who worked in the office for years, talked about the rise of technology in that department. When I came to work 30 years ago it was pen and paper, and maybe the typewriter, Handy said. Technology is wonderful. But you have to make sure all the work is done accurately.

Technology has been the silver bullet in the office for the last 10 or 15 years, said Hooker. Its made things more convenient. The bulk of our records come (online) from out of county, from Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and those people dont want to have to drive to Danbury. The technology has changed the office more than anything else.

In closing remarks, Sonya Cox cited her record and years of public service. Im very passionate about this county, Cox said. No one will work harder.

Fulp said he work to attract business and leave no community behind. Brown said that his business experience gives me a unique perspective. He also pledged to donate his Commissioners salary to local charities and pushed for term limits for local offices.

Mendenhall said my wife wonders why I do this; we miss a lot of our grandchildrens events. But I believe Stokes County is the greatest county in North Carolina and I want to serve it.

Davis said he already had two strikes against him. Im black and Im a Democrat. But we need more diversity. Things wont change by keeping them the same old way.

Hooker said he would continue to try and make the Register of Deeds office more user-friendly. He also noted that this position allows me to help more people than any Ive ever had. Handy mentioned her many years of working in the office until she stepped down on Nov. 1 to run for the office.

Knight mentioned having a view of the schools from her parents perspective, while Robertson said he would work from his business experience to make sure the school system gets a dollars worth of value for every dollar spent. Bryant talked about listening to people. The complaint I hear most often on the campaign trail is that if you go and speak to the school board they do not respond, other to say thank you, never put your issue on the agenda and you never hear about it again.

Candidate Mike Fulp (right) speaks at the Francisco Candidate Form on Sunday, as Ronnie Mendenhall and Sonya Cox listen to his comment.

Register of Deeds Brandon Hooker is seeking re-election on Tuesday.

Brian Davis (left) was the lone Democrat at the Forum. Hes unopposed in the primary election. Fellow candidate Mike Brown and Ronnie Mendenhall are at right.

Education candidates unveil Project Help

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The science of medicinal, lifestyle cannabis products at the forefront of sixth annual Emerald Conference – Marijuana Business Daily

Posted: at 1:49 am

The Emerald Conference, which focuses on how science and data support several sectors of the cannabis industry, kicked off Wednesday in California.

The event, now in its sixth year, is an industry forum for discussion on best practices in cultivation, production and quality assurance through the lens of science.

The conference runs through Saturday at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego and is expected to draw around 800.

This year, the session content is aimed at segments of the cannabis industry that generate products intended for medicinal and lifestyle use, as well as other key areas of science and research.

Speakers and attendees represent the fields of analytical testing, extraction science, research and development, cultivation science, formulations and preclinical research, among others.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to sit in on sessions on a wide range of science-focused cannabis topics, including:

Emerald Scientific, headquartered in San Luis Obispo, California, distributes scientific equipment and supplies exclusively to the cannabis industry.

The company launched the Emerald Conference in 2015 to bring together scientists, researchers, testing labs and businesses to advance cannabis science.

Marijuana Business Dailyhas partnered with Emerald Scientific since 2016 to produce the one-day Science Symposium, a precursor to the companys marquee event,MJBizCon, in Las Vegas.

MJBizDaily acquiredthe Emerald Conference inundisclosed terms in January, highlighting the importance of research to the cannabis industry.

The Emerald Conferences programming this year is guided by a committee of scientists and others tasked withcutting-edge technical content to provoke collaboration and the advancement of science in the cannabis industry.

The conference also includes talks by:

The four-day event began Wednesday with a golf outingto benefit the Last Prisoner Project,a nonprofit that seeks to correct the ills of the war on drugs, and ends Saturday with a separately ticketed Quality Summit.

More information about the Emerald Conference is available here.

Bart Schaneman can be reached at [emailprotected]

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Drugs seized in 6 of the largest fentanyl busts were enough to kill 229 million Americans – Fox News

Posted: at 1:49 am

A drug bust last year was hailed as the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history254 pounds seized at an Arizona border crossing.

The seizure came as the scourge of fentanyl continues to fueltheopioid epidemic,ravagingcommunities across the U.S. while killingtens of thousands of people.

"Fentanyl also continues to be a tremendous problem, contributing to 68,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2018,"Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Congress in November. He said CBP's seizures of fentanyl rose by 30 percent in fiscal year 2019, totaling2,770 pounds.

Fentanyl comes from China. Often it is smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico by drug cartels involved in a violent war withMexican police and military forces.

The historic 254-pound bust was just one of a half-dozen big fentanyl busts recorded by law enforcement in recent years, a tally shows.

These six busts have led to the seizure of some 818pounds of fentanyl--enough to kill 229 million people, according to authorities.

OHIO DRUG BUST NETS ENOUGH FENTANYL TO 'KILL EVERYONE' IN THE STATE

Heres the list:

Nogales, Ariz., 254 pounds

A Border Patrol K-9 at the Nogales border crossing sniffed narcotics when an 18-wheeler transporting cucumbers from Mexico came through for inspection on Jan. 31, 2019.

Photo from news conference announcing the seizure of 254 pounds of fentanyl at the Port of Nogales border crossing in Arizona. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)

Further inspection discovered nearly 254 pounds of fentanyl worth $3.5 million in a secret compartment, enough to kill 115 million people.

It was the largest fentanyl seizure ever at a U.S. border crossing.

MISSOURI FENTANYL DEALER LEFT CLIENT DYING OF OVERDOSE IN CASINO BEFORE ODING IN ANOTHER: PROSECUTORS

This past weekend our CBP officers were able to stop an enormous amount of these deadly narcotics from hitting our streets, Nogales Area Port Director Michael Humphries said.

The truck was also carrying 395 pounds of methamphetamine.

Trucker Juan Antonio Torres-Barraza, a 26-year-old Mexican national, told agents he didnt know he was hauling narcotics.

He has since pleaded guilty.

Queens, New York City, 140 pounds

Federal drug agents and police raided an apartment in Kew Gardens, Queens and seized 140 pounds of fentanyl on Aug. 1, 2017, enough to kill 32 million people.

At the time, it was the nations largest seizure of pure fentanyl, officials said.

SAN FRANCISCO SAW 150 PERCENT SPIKE IN FENTANYL-RELATED DEATHS LAST YEAR, REPORT SAYS

Another 48 pounds of fentanyl mixed with heroin was also seized.

The 188 pounds of drugs were worth about $30 million.

A Nebraska State Trooper found 118 pounds of fentanyl in a hidden compartment in a tractor-trailer he stopped on I-80. (Nebraska State Patrol)

Kearney, Neb., 118 pounds

A Nebraska State Trooper stopped a tractor-trailer on I-80 on April 26, 2018, and, after conducting a search, seized 118 pounds of fentanyl worth $20 million, enough to kill 26 million people.

The seized opioid was hidden in a false compartment of the vehicle.

The trucks two occupants Felipe Genao-Minaya, 46, and Nelson Nunez, 52, both of Newark, N.J., were arrested on drug trafficking charges.

The trooper who pulled over the truck described Geano-Minaya as nervous and shaking visibly in the truck as he questioned him.

Charges against the two men are stillpending.

FENTANYL A 'GAME CHANGER' IN DRUG WAR, SAYS DEA SPECIAL AGENT

Philadelphia, Pa., 110 pounds

At the port of Philadelphia, border agents seized 110 pounds of fentanyl worth $1.7 million on June 28, 2018, enough to kill 24 million people.

The fentanyl was found in a shipment of iron oxide from China.

A Border Patrol K-9 alerted agents after going through barrels of iron oxide barrels and detecting narcotics.

Photo shows fentanyl found in barrels of iron oxide during an inspection by Customs agents at the Port of Philadelphia (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)

"Opioids, including fentanyl and its analogues, are a serious public health concern, and the importation of vast amounts of this deadly synthetic chemical compound is a national security threat, Casey Durst, CBP Director of Field Operations in Baltimore said after the seizure.

North Bergen and Willingboro, N.J., 99 pounds

New Jersey State Police detectives grabbed 88 pounds of fentanyl after observing a drug transaction in a commercialparking lot in North Bergen on June 28, 2017.

Mugshots for, left, Jesus Carrillo-Pineda , 31, Philadelphia, Pa., and, right, Daniel Vasquez, 28, of Somerton, Ariz. (New Jersey Office of the Attorney General)

Detectives swooped in as the fentanyl was being transferred from a tractor-trailer to the trunk of Mercedes-Benz.

The bust led to another seizure the next day of 11 more pounds of fentanyl at a home in Willingboro.

The fentanyl was enough to kill 18 million people, investigators said.

33 POUNDS OF FENTANYL ENOUGH TO WIPE OUT MASSACHUSETTS SEIZED IN BOSTON

Two men were arrested: Jesus Carrillo-Pineda, 31, of Philadelphia and Daniel Vasquez, 28, of Somerton, Ariz.,

After pleading guilty, Carrillo-Pineda was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Vasquez was sentenced to six years.

The seizure of the 99 pounds drove home the scope of the problem we face in New Jersey with this highly lethal opioid, Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said.

San Diego County, Calif., 97 pounds

After stopping a rented vehicle in San Diego County on Nov. 30, 2016, DEA agents seized 33 pounds in the trunk.

After arresting Anna Baker, the agents obtained a search warrant to search her home and seized another 64 pounds of fentanyl.

The 97 pounds of fentanyl was enough to kill 14 million people.

Two othersJonathan Ibarra, 45, and Hector Fernando Garcia, 46, were also arrested.

All three pleaded guilty and sentenced to prison.

Baker, the daughter of a former mayor of Lemon Grovein Southern California, was sentenced to four years in prison two years ago.

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"I made a terrible, huge mistake," Baker said, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. "I'm very ashamed about what I did."

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