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The peak month for government marijuana eradication efforts in North Carolina is August. The Marijuana Found In Six Western North Carolina Counties this year was minimal. It took three federal and three state agencies, law enforcement specialist, helicopter pilots and National Guard  to eradicate 815 plants.

Graphic1

Law enforcement agencies using fly-over operations…
The August raids netted 815 plants In Western North Carolina…
Three people face trafficking charges.

Federal agents seize about 4,000 pounds of the finished product a year in North Carolina, according to the U.S.  Drug Enforcement Administration.

Authorities so far this year seized 45,000 plants statewide, which the N.C.  State Bureau of Investigation says is on pace with last year’s rate.

“It is ongoing,” said Haywood County Sheriff Bobby Suttles…we are going to be looking for it.”

Eradication teams typically work in August at the end of the growing season when plants are tall and easier to spot from the air.

Deputies and police work with helicopter pilots from the N.C.  National Guard and the N.C.  Highway Patrol to spot and destroy patches.  SBI agents and the U.S.  Forest Service also join the effort.

Haywood County started at the county fairgrounds, where deputies and federal police went over target areas with Highway Patrol pilots.

When the helicopter took flight, deputies and U.S.  Forest Service police rode in a caravan to the first area in a remote section off White Oak Road.

The team that day hit several more spots with no luck.  …The Highway Patrol aviation unit averages about 400 hours a year on flights searching for marijuana. Since 2007, it has helped eradicate 74,151 plants.

The National Guard averages 2,000 hours in the air each year helping state authorities find pot.

Some communities are tired of the Drug War and Stopped Taking DEA Money for eradication. https://cannabistv.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/drug-war-funds-cut-digging-our-way-out-of-prohibition/

Haywood County deputies seized 431 plants from patches in the White Oak and Fines Creek communities and off Rabbit Skin Road in the first of two fly-overs.

Some of the plants were 10 feet tall and had four-inch buds, the part marijuana users smoke.

“It was a success,” said narcotics detective Mark Mease.  “we had good air support.” Authorities said they found 20 plants in a garden .  A search of the property the next day uncovered an indoor growing operation in a shed.

Sometimes the operations just aren’t productive.

A fly-over in Transylvania County turned up nothing last month and a brief outing in Jackson County uncovered just one plant. Investigators found nothing in Swain County.

How It’s Done In Amsterdam- “The Sniffer Chopper”

Blog Posted by Ray Pague

“Cannabis has become the football in a contest between evidence and passion”

Headline: May 8, 2008UK: Cannabis Upgrade Made Official – Britain has moved Cannabis back to “Class B” – the culmination of months of debate and propaganda regarding the relative safety of Cannabis (marijuana), especially in the area of mental health among the young.  In January 2004, under Tony Blair’s administration, Cannabis was downgraded to “Class C” – along with tranquilizers and the like, possession of which is a non-arrestable offence.

Here is a TV show in Britain from last week that frames the debate, with additional annotation from from the You Tube producer:Question Time – 5.5.2008 Reclassification of Cannabis

Much has been made of “Skunk” – a generic name for the “new, powerful” Cannabis– blamed for many evils, including triggering of psychosis. Government and media concentrated on reports of a supposed 40% rise of schizophrenia cases among young people experimenting with the new marijuana. (Note that alcohol and other drugs cause a much higher incidence of mental illness – see below.) Much debate continues concerning the relative strength of today’s Cannabis compared with Cannabis of the past. One thing is certain, though – Prohibition always causes an escalation of concentrated substances, as bulky smelly items are difficult to smuggle and conceal. (Remember “Bathtub Gin & “Moonshine”? – they trumped beer & wine.) Therefore, pills and powders are favored while producers and traffickers of Cannabis are forced to concentrate their product, by using more potent varieties.

 There are always markets for high and low grade Cannabis (swag), just as was the case in the 1970’s – remember “Maui-Wowi”, “Thai Stick”, “Panama Red”, “Alculpoco Gold” – the list goes on. As smuggling across international borders has become very risky, it is true that the milder Sativa varieties indigenous to South America (“Columbian”) are largely unavailable, as indoor farming has favored Indica varieties and crosses, enabling a quicker harvest and more potent product.  The Modern Prohibitionists (Drug War proponents) can take credit for that one.

UK: OPED: Hysteria Over Cannabis Is Getting in the Way of Truth – “Cannabis has become the football in a contest between evidence and passion“. All this comes after an expert panel, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs ( ACMD ), tasked with recommending the best approach to the Cannabis “problem”, came to the conclusion that the classification should not to changed. Among the reasons: The supposed rise in mental illness is not reflected in the population during the rise in Cannabis potency, other factors than official classification influence young people to try Cannabis; and the saddling of these young people with criminal records and the resulting sanctions is detrimental to their futures.

At the 2007 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) conference in California, Mitchell Earleywine, PhD, addresses the comparative risks of marijuana and other drugs for mental illness:2007 NORML Conference – Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D

Headline: July 30, 2007U.S. Reefer Inanity: Never trust the Media on Pot – Last summer, at the start of this debate, mental health experts tried to defuse the hysteria, as cited in this article by the Huffington Post. “One study found that alcohol has been found to increase the risk of psychosis by 800% for men and 300% for women.”

Headline: May 10, 2008US: Pot May Worsen Depression, Drug Czar Says – While acknowledging that he had no proof for what he was saying, America’s “Drug CzarJohn Waters warned parents of teens who are depressed and medicating themselves with Cannabis that pot may may the situation worse.  Experts, including one from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), pointed out that many young people smoke marijuana and never develop mental illness and that the evidence had been “stretched”.White House Report on Teen Marijuana Use

Blog: May 12, 2008 – How To Tell If The Drug Czar Is Lying? His Lips Are Moving – Paul Armantono, Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws) has an in depth analysis of this story.

Headline: May 13, 2008US: Heavy Marijuana Use Linked to Risk of Heart Attacks78 to 350 Joints per Week – Are you kidding?

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
– Samuel Adams

            On Saturday, May 3rd, I traveled to the Capitol grounds of my home state of North Carolina (a “Decrim“, but “No Medical Necessity Defense” state, for those versed in the inequitable hodgepodge of laws regarding Cannabis across the country) to attend our annual Raleigh Marijuana Rally & Music Festival, hosted by the North Carolina Cannabis Association. It was a beautiful day, a pleasant, yet energized gathering of many ages, races and hair styles – all declaring their support for the Cannabis Hemp plant, advocating for change in the laws and enjoying the music and culture associated with this versatile gift from Nature. In Colonial times, North Carolina was famous for the quality of its’ hemp,  so it seems appropriate that we celebrated among statues of our forebearers. Global Marijuana Freedom March 2008 – Raleigh, NC, USA

Under the watchful Assyrian gaze of Hammurabi’s statue high atop the Law & Justice building across the street ( Undoubtedly a Hashish user like his fellows, Hammurabi was responsible for the first written laws – set down on clay tablets. Cannabis Hemp was not prohibited by the Code of Hammurabi.), the different speakers at the rally brought out several important issues that the prohibition of Cannabis has complicated – access to herbal medicine; environmental benefits of hemp; and the enjoyment of personal freedoms guaranteed under the U. S. and NC Constitutions.

The same issues that face us in North Carolina are experienced in cities around the world, as fellow compatriots join the Global Marijuana March, still coordinated by long time activist Dana Beal and Cures-Not-Wars in New York. In a show that aired just before the marches, Dana discusses Cannabis politics in Europe and America; problems with the United Nations Drug Policies and the admission by the U.N. Drug Czar that prohibition does have unintended consequences; harm reduction; reform of the Rockefeller-era drug laws; medical marijuana science and more.Dana Beal on the Marijuana March in New York City

Dana calls on the United Nations to Change Drug War to Drug Peace.” On Saturday, marchers around the world shared the same visions of hope and unity. Here are a few of the marches, beginning with New YorkMarijuana March May 3 2008 NYC UN Tompkins Square Pot Pt.2/7

In Canada, emotions are running high as the new “Conservative” (sic) government is preparing to throw Marc Emory to the DEA/White House wolves to serve time in a U. S. prison for an activity that was legal in Canada. You can help Marc out of this travesty of justice by visiting www.NoExtradition.net. Marc appeared at the Toronto Marijuana March Saturday and cheerfully exhorted everyone to talk to everyone about marijuana and to “Get ’em High!”Marc Emery, Prince of Pot, May 3, 2008 – 1

In Marc’s home town of “Vansterdam” (Vancouver, British Columbia), the people will soon be even more up in arms, as the Canadian federal government is planning to end the licencing of medical marijuana “grows” by individuals, after it works out problems with it’s own program to supply medical grade Cannabis to Canadian patients. Pot-TV, founded by Marc Emory (along with Cannabis Culture magazine) posted this coverage of the Vancouver march.Global Marijuana March Vancouver BC 2008

When in Rome, Italy, do what these people did! Here’s a highly creative video that lets us experience the excitement of this march:Street Parade Roma 2008

Oslo, Norway The Global Cannabis March in Oslo garnered two nights of news coverage and looks like a good time was had by all. Could someone tell me the current status of Cannabis laws in Scandanavia?MarihuanaMarsjen i Oslo 2008

Back in the U. S., several hundred marchers took to the streets of Seattle, Washington– one of the legal medical marijuana states. Certainly on everyone’s mind was the recent death of Tim Garon (See Post Below), who was denied a liver transplant due to his legal prescription for medical Cannabis.Seattle Marijuana March 2008

All over America, everyone is seeking support for legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives:

H.R. 5842 – “The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act“, which would allow possession of 100 grams and money-free transfer of one ounce.

H.R. 5843 – “Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults“, which would end DEA “raids” on buyer’s cooperatives and patients in states that have legalized Cannabis for medicine.

In Denver, where citizens have voted to legalize small amounts of Cannabis, medical marijuana patients and other supporters of the herb gathered on the Capitol steps – temporarily.Marijuana Patients Kicked off Capital Steps! Marijuana March

In Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love” and the home of the Liberty Bell, the enthusiastic marchers invoked freedoms cherished by the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.PhillyNORML GCM 2008

Headline: May 6, 2008 – US: Reports Find Racial Gap in Drug Arrests This news story verifies what the young African-American man at our North Carolina rally was saying – that, because of his color, he would be more likely to be arrested and jailed than others as we left our festive event. The arbitrary nature of marijuana laws and their enforcement is one good reason to end our modern prohibition of a God-given plant.

Rights come from GOD not the state. You have rights antecedent to any earthly governments, rights that can not be repealed or restrained by human laws – Rights derived from the great
legislator, God.
– John Adams

 

*** Update: April 18.2008 – Rep. Barney Frank has introduced this billH.R. 5843 -“Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults“. Please tell your representative to support this legislation! ***

Headline: March 21.2008 – Rep. Frank to File Bill to Legalize Marijuanacaptl.jpgWhen the U.S. House of Representatives reconvenes shortly, Rep. Barney Frank (D) MA, has stated that he will introduce legislation to legalize small amounts of marijuana (Cannabis) on the federal level. Making the announcement on “Real Time”, hosted by Bill Maher (Friday night on HBO), Rep. Frank said that locking people up for smoking marijuana is “pretty silly.”

As Barney Frank is a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, he knows full well the priorities faced by legislators regarding law and order. Here is a video post from Friday night’s “Real Time“, with Bill Maher and Barney’s bombshell:Rep. Barney Frank – Make Room For The Serious Criminals Bill

Barney Frank has realized for years that most politicians are way behind the American people on the marijuana issue, even ignoring the results of free and open elections in states that have legalized Cannabis for medical purposes.

nml.gifIn this video from a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference in Washington, DC, 2001, Barney Frank questions the logic of “conservatives”, normally respectful of a state’s right to autonomy on the health and welfare of its’ citizens, in defying the will of the people and the Constitution.Rep. Barney Frank (MA): Marijuana, Politics & State’s Rights

Headline: March 23, 2008 – Rep. Frank Defends Proposal to Decriminalize Marijuana – Yesterday in the Boston Herald, Barney Frank  expressed concern about the federal raids on medical marijuana clubs in California, saying “I don’t think smoking marijuana should be a federal case”. Also, he insists that “the federal government shouldn’t have a law on the books that is rarely enforced and which doesn’t make sense to large portions of the public”.

*** Please Educate your Representatives in Congress, especially the House of Representatives, on the tragedy, enormous cost and ineffectiveness of the prohibtion of Cannabis. Tell your friends to tell their friends…to support Rep. Frank’s legislation. Call your elected officials on this – it’s your duty as a citizen.***

Cultural leaders like comedian and social critic Bill Maher, who take a stand on problems that the public seems unable to fix, are providing a service by sharing their stage with political leaders brave enough to challenge taboos. With a personal stake in the issue  (his friend Todd McCormick was in prison for researching medical marijuana production for a book project with Peter McWilliams), Bill Maher (then still hosting “Politically Incorrect”) spoke to a highly receptive NORML convention in San Francisco in 2002 on the tragic comedy of America’s war on marijuana.Bill Maher on Marijuana Legalization, NORML 2002

The inequities in our drug laws and the hypocritical politicians that dream them up have frustrated Americans for decades, especially as we export our convoluted, Neo-Puritan ideas out to the rest of the world – even alienating our neighbors in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. Reforming our drug laws would go far in reforming our image in the eyes of the world and politicians in the eyes of Americans.

jeff2.jpg“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
-Thomas Jefferson

***Update*** – Nov 5, 2008 – Massachusetts is now the 13th state to decriminalize Cannabis (marijuana) and Michigan is the 13th state to legalize Cannabis as medicine! Read more on a post from NORML.

Headline: March 18.2008 MA: Lawmakers Consider Marijuana Legalization (Actually, the headline should read “Decriminalization” – more on the difference later)

maflag.gifMembers of the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary are considering change in their state’s law on Cannabis possession, constitutionally bound to address an initiative brought by the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy(CSMP). The legislature has until May 6 to pass the initiative and send it to the governor, draft its own version to place on the ballot, or take no action and allow CSMP to continue the initiative process.

The initiative, House bill No.  4468, is titled “An Act Establishing a Sensible Marijuana Policy for the Commonwealth.”

csmp.jpg“By creating a civil penalty system for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, the initiative will greatly reduce the human and financial costs of current laws.  Massachusetts’ taxpayers spend $29.5 million a year just to arrest and book these offenders.  Even more costly is the creation of a criminal record for the approximately 7,500 offenders arrested every year”, stated Whitney A.  Taylor, campaign manager for CSMP

Predictably, the wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun, as seen in this video of a MA state representative regurgitating the “gateway drug” myth and even suggesting that alcohol could be prohibited again. This video provided by The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN):MA State Rep- Martin “Mental Institution” Walsh on Decrim

Ironically, the only way Cannabis (marijuana) can be considered a “gateway drug” is in the context of its’ prohibition. That is, to obtain marijuana, one must contact a dealer in the “black market” – exposing one to the whole gamut of illegal drugs. If it were legal, no such connection need be made. Indeed, in European countries where Cannabis is legal or decriminalized, its’ use among teenagers is lower than in the U.S. Every American teen knows that it’s easier to buy marijuana than beer.

mag.jpgScientifically, it has been shown that physically addictive drugs like tobacco and alcohol actually wire the brain for addiction, especially in the young, thereby setting the stage for more addictions.  Real world data shows that marijuana users tend to not use hard drugs. Unfortunately, drug testing is driving more and more people to narcotics like methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol, as these drugs pass out of the system quickly – enabling one to keep ones’ job.

A legimate concern for the citizens of Massachusetts is law and order, as some think that prohibition keeps crime down – contrary to logic and experience. leap.jpgOrganized crime; drive-by shootings; corruption of law enforcement and other government institutions; impure, contaminated products; lack of respect for the law – all these societal horrors were experienced during alcohol prohibition and our “drug war” alike.

 Jack Cole, a former undercover narcotics officer and an original signer of the initiative, is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and will be testifying at the hearing for MA House bill 4468. Dean Becker of the Drug Truth Network interviewed Jack Cole for this video:Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Interview

 If Massachusetts decriminalizes marijuana, it will join twelve states that have done so since 1973. Amazingly, civilization has endured and life goes on in these states.

Meanwhile, north of the boarder in New Hampshire…

 Headline:March 19.2008 – N.H. House OKs Marijuana Billnhempshire.jpgSparked by a backlash against tragic consequences resulting from the Higher Education Act (HEA), New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has voted to decriminalize possession of up to a quarter-ounce of marijuana (Cannabis). Currently, possession is a criminal misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in county jail and/or fines up to $2,000. If  HB 1623 makes it past the state Senate over the opposition of Governor Lynch, citizens of New Hampshire would  face a $200 fine for a 1/4 ounce or less.

“Our representatives in the House did the right thing for New Hampshire and especially for New Hampshire’s young people”, said Matt Simon of the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

The New Hampshire Coalition has been working for three years to change state marijuana laws, but an infamous “drug warrior”- Rep. Mark Souder (R)IN, author of overreaching and unfair provisions in the HEA, is getting some of the credit for drawing attention to inequities needing remedy. The fact that a college student can lose access to student loans for a minor drug violation, while perpetrators of much more serious crimes face no such penalty,  is an inequity in dire need of correction and has been opposed byssdp.gif Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and many other education advocacy organizations.

 SSDP has a Students for Sensible Drug Policy “Channel” on You Tube that features videos educating the public about the HEA provisions, including this one from the viewpoint of Rep. Mark Souder:Mark Souder expresses his love for NORML and SSDP

The Ridley Report on You Tube has several videos folowing this issue in New Hamphire:NH: State House passes marijuana decrim, but…

It is important to remember that alcohol was decriminalized during all of the prohibition of the 1920’s, so decrim’ is certainly not a satisfactory conclusion to Cannabis law reform.  (Decriminalization means that only dealers and manufacturers of a substance face criminal prosecution, whereas users face “only” fines, somtimes quite substantial.)

Many drug warriors will assert that few people go to jail just for small amounts of pot. Although these arrests/prosecutions are wildly arbitrary throughout America,  there is a “de facto” acceptance of decriminalization, even in non-decrim states.  In fact, the large fines Americans shell out for pot “offences” fill county coffers and long probations ensure warm bodies for the prohibition/industrial complex to consume for years to come. 

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. albert.jpgFor nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.
Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921