From The ACLU. A reminder of who is watching.
From The ACLU. A reminder of who is watching.
The world’s most far-reaching cannabis law has been passed by the Uruguayan parliament, opening the way for the state to regulate the production, distribution, sale and consumption of the planet’s favourite illegal drug.
The law, effective from next year, will: allow registered users to buy up to 40g of marijuana a month from a chemist’s; registered growers to keep up to six plants; and cannabis clubs to have up to 45 members and cultivate as many as 99 plants.
A government-run cannabis institute will set the price – initially likely to be close to the current black market rate of $1 a gramme – and monitor the impact of the programme, which aims to bring the industry under state control and push illegal traffickers out of business.
Julio Bango, one of the politicians who helped draft the bill, said it would probably be four months until the first harvest of legal cannabis, by which time the government would have a licensing system in place. “We know this has generated an international debate and we hope it brings another element to discussions about a model [the war on drugs] that has totally failed and that has generated the opposite results from what it set out to achieve.”
Before the passage of the bill, president José Mujica called on the international community to assist in what he admitted was an experiment aimed at finding an alternative to the deadly and unsuccessful war on drugs.
“We are asking the world to help us with this experience, which will allow the adoption of a social and political experiment to face a serious problem – drug trafficking,” he said earlier this month. “The effects of drug trafficking are worse than those of the drugs themselves.”
If the results of the law prove negative, Mujica has said it could be rescinded. The current illegal market in Uruguay is estimated to be worth $30m (£18m) a year, according to Martin Fernández, a lawyer working for the Association of Cannabis Studies, who says one in five Uruguayans have tried marijuana. The government estimates 115,000 people are regular users.
Consumption of marijuana has been permitted for many years in Uruguay – one of Latin America’s most tolerant nations – but production and sales are prohibited and largely run by gangs who smuggle drugs in from Paraguay.
The government is taking a political risk by trying to regulate the business – a move not supported by most voters. Opposition politicians have demanded a referendum.
“Public perception, reflected in public opinion polls, is that this measure is the wrong way to address a serious problem,” Gerardo Amarilla of the National party said.
Drug rehab workers have mixed views about the likely risks and benefits. Nancy Alonso, a psychologists who runs an addiction treatment centre, believes the law will create social and health problems.
“Marijuana is highly addictive. It’s 15 times more carcinogenic than tobacco. It produces psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and – for big consumers – schizophrenia,” she said. “As a healthcare agent, I think the social harm will be huge.”
However, staff at the government-funded Ciudadela treatment centre are more upbeat. “I think the law is a positive step,” said Pablo Anzalone, a programme co-ordinator. “State regulation will reduce problematic consumption. We also hope that it will generate more money for us and other treatment centres.”
Growers were ecstatic that their pastime will no longer get them thrown in jail. To celebrate, several planned what they called “a final march with illegal cannabis” through the streets of Montevideo.
Marcelo Vazquez said he now had the opportunity to fulfil an ambition. “It’s a utopia,” he said. “I want to work, pay taxes and grow cannabis for clubs, for medicine, for whatever.”
Juan Guano, who runs a small shop selling growbags, heat lamps and books on cannabis cultivation, said he expected his market to expand. More hopefully, he predicted the measure could help Uruguayan and world society.
“Uruguay doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, but obviously the outside world will be watching how this works. We are not regulating marijuana with the aim of encouraging others to follow our lead, we are doing it because this is what we need as a society. But one possible positive is that, if things go well, other countries in the region could take this as a model for marijuana regulation.”
Additional reporting by Mauricio Rabuffetti in Montevideo
A study in the August edition of The Journal of School Health finds that the generations old theory of a “gateway drug” effect is in fact accurate for some drug users, but shifts the blame for those addicts’ escalating substance abuse away from marijuana and onto the most pervasive and socially accepted drug in American life: alcohol.
Using a nationally representative sample from the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future survey, the study blasts holes in drug war orthodoxy wide enough to drive a truck through, definitively proving that marijuana use is not the primary indicator of whether a person will move on to more dangerous substances.
“By delaying the onset of alcohol initiation, rates of both licit substance abuse like tobacco and illicit substance use like marijuana and other drugs will be positively affected, and they’ll hopefully go down,” study co-author Adam E. Barry, an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Department of Health Education & Behavior, told Raw Story in an exclusive interview.
While Barry’s study shows evidence that substance abuse behaviors can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy by examining a subject’s drug history, he believes that the persistent and misguided notion of marijuana as the primary gateway to more harmful substances went awry because its creators — who called it the “Stepping Stone Hypothesis” in the “Reefer Madness” era of the 1930s – fundamentally misread the data and failed to conduct an adequate follow-up.
“Some of these earlier iterations needed to be fleshed out,” Barry said. “That’s why we wanted to study this. The latest form of the gateway theory is that it begins with [marijuana] and moves on finally to what laypeople often call ‘harder drugs.’ As you can see from the findings of our study, it confirmed this gateway hypothesis, but it follows progression from licit substances, specifically alcohol, and moves on to illicit substances.”
“So, basically, if we know what someone says with regards to their alcohol use, then we should be able to predict what they respond to with other [drugs],” he explained. “Another way to say it is, if we know someone has done [the least prevalent drug] heroin, then we can assume they have tried all the others.”
And while that standardized progression certainly doesn’t fit every single drug user, the study took that into account too. “There were a low enough number of errors that you are able to accurately predict [future substance abuse behavior]… with about 92 percent accuracy,” Barry said.
By comparing substance abuse rates between drinkers and non-drinkers, they ultimately found that seniors in high school who had consumed alcohol at least once in their lives “were 13 times more likely to use cigarettes, 16 times more likely to use marijuana and other narcotics, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine.”
Barry also noted that the rates of tobacco and marijuana use among all 12th grade high school students were virtually the same, confirming a report the Centers for Disease Control published in June, and an analysis Raw Story published in May.
The study should give pause to anyone involved in youth drug awareness programs, as its findings suggest that making science-based alcohol education a top priority could actually turn the tide of the drug war — but only if lawmakers and leading educators decide to use that same science as a foundation for public policy and school curriculum.
“I think [these results] have to do with level of access children have to alcohol, and that alcohol is viewed as less harmful than some of these other substances,” Barry added.
That social misconception, largely driven by the sheer popularity of alcohol and the profits it generates for private industry, is diametrically opposed to the most current science available on drug harms. A study published in 2010 in the medical journal Lancet ranked alcohol as the most harmful drug of all, above heroin, crack, meth, cocaine and tobacco. Even more striking: The Lancet study found that harms to others near the user were more than double those of the second most harmful drug, heroin.
In its last Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the CDC found (PDF) that about 71 percent of American students have had at least one alcoholic beverage in their lifetime, and almost 39 percent reported having at least one drink within the last 30 days.
“This is a time of budget tightening,” Barry concluded. “Many social services are being cut. If you take [our findings] and apply them to a school health setting, we believe that you are going to get the best bang for your buck by focusing on alcohol.”
Updated from a prior version to add CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey and clarify that the study’s confirmed ‘gateway drug’ effect only pertains to students who reported abusing substances other than alcohol.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
By Alison Crawford, CBC News Dec 05, 2013
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says allowing police to take DNA from people on arrest instead of after conviction would help solve more crimes.
It’s an idea Justice Minister Peter MacKay has said the federal government is actively examining.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson support the concept too.
But many are uncomfortable with the idea of holding the genetic material of people who might never be charged, let alone found guilty.
Speaking on CBC-Radio, Paulson said he’s in favour of taking samples from people when they’re arrested.
“The Identification of Criminals Act has been very well tested and has endured for fingerprints and so on. And I think that the more DNA we can get, the better we’re going to be,” Paulson said.
Canada’s DNA databank contains the blood, saliva and hair of roughly 266,000 people who have been convicted of a crime.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this year that police may swab people on arrest.
Bernard Dickens, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, said the split decision in the American court illustrated the debate over giving police more investigative powers.
“The narrowness of the 5-4 decision shows that the contrast between preservation of individual privacy and protection of the public so that wrongdoers are identified can be a very narrow balance,” Dickens said.
In Canada, the opposition parties aren’t on board with the idea.
Liberal MP Wayne Easter used to be Canada’s solicitor general.
“It’s a person’s genetic footprint. [It] tells you a lot more information than just the identity of the person … there’s a whole range of privacy issues,” he said.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said seizing DNA before someone is charged — let alone found guilty — would not respect an important principle of the criminal justice system.
“We do still have the presumption of innocence in this country and so I would have very serious concerns about DNA sampling upon arrest rather than at conviction.”
Garrison added an expanded database would cost a fortune.
The RCMP runs the national DNA database. Paulson conceded it might be tough to process, manage and store so many new samples.
“It’ll be an administrative, logistical challenge, but I think we’d be up to it,” he said.
Dickens raised concerns about profiling.
“The danger is of the police being able to act without discipline of justifying what they propose to do to the independent scrutiny of a judge,” he said.
But Michael Kempa, a criminologist at the University of Ottawa, said seizing DNA on arrest is part of the criminal justice continuum where law enforcement is trying to be pre-emptive and manage risks as well as people it feels are risky.
“It’s just the state doing more of what they’ve always done because they’re able to. So if all we have are ink and paper and we can take fingerprints, we’ll do that. But as we evolve this technology we can find out [and] store more and more about you and your DNA,” said Kempa.
He added it would be up to society as a whole to debate and decide the legal limits on how the information could be used and how much profiling should be tolerated.
So far the government has not moved to change the DNA Collection Act, but experts predict any such legislation would kick off a constitutional challenge.
With kindly permission from The Daily Californian
*** The Daily Californian is neutral in regards to our viewpoints or arguments. ***
New York Times reporter James Risen speaks in an event titled “Prosecuting the Press” at Stanley Hall. Risen faces incarceration for refusing to disclose his sources.
By Savannah Luschei
November 18, 2013
James Risen, the New York Times reporter facing imprisonment for refusing to disclose his sources, denounced the federal government’s infringement on the press in a rare public appearance Thursday, saying it is time for journalists to “surrender or fight.”
Risen spoke to a crowd of about 300 lawyers, journalists and others at Berdahl Auditorium in Stanley Hall on Thursday evening in a talk hosted by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism titled “Prosecuting the Press.” He spoke alongside Lowell Bergman, director of the graduate school’s Investigative Reporting Program.
The lack of protection for national security reporters, he said, has allowed the federal government to demand that journalists like him reveal their sources, which threatens the integrity of the press.
“The basic issue is, can we continue as journalists to protect and offer the confidentiality to someone who knows something going on in the government but doesn’t want to go public?” he asked the audience, which included high-profile guests such as Daniel Ellsberg, the whistle-blower responsible for leaking the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971.
Risen faces incarceration after refusing to comply with a 2008 subpoena issued by a federal grand jury demanding that he testify in the case of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling is charged with allegedly leaking information included in a chapter of Risen’s 2006 book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”
Risen’s lawyers are preparing an appeal for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Risen said his initial surprise at the subpoena subsided as President Barack Obama adopted more and more national security laws established by the Bush administration, using the events of 9/11 to increase federal scrutiny of journalists.
“When I first started covering the CIA in the ’90s, everyone knew what the game was,” he said. “You would write a story, the government would be upset, they would do a leak investigation and you never heard about it. Nobody wanted to go to war.”
The increased prosecution of journalists, Bergman said, will turn reporting into “more of a guerilla war.” Without a media shield law, “we are going to have to learn new ways to truthfully ensure confidentiality,” he said.
When asked about whether he was concerned about his own well-being, Risen said he thought about it for a long time before he decided to publish his book.
“I thought, I either publish these stories or I’m getting out of journalism,” he said. “The default position for a reporter should be to publish.”
The talk is a first in a series of events hosted by the Graduate School of Journalism to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement.
The foregoing clip is from Risen’s appearance at the National Press Club in May 2012
TRANSCRIPT: “The point of terrorism is to terrorize a culture and a society. To the degree that the society allows it self to be changed and transformed by terror, the terrorists are successful. The problem with the way the United States has responded to terrorism, is that we have transformed ourselves based on fear. The culture of secrecy that has surrounded the war on terror, has allowed that to happen to a great degree without any public debate. The press’ role has been over time and very haphazardly and in a very ad hoc way to try to find out what has been going on in the war on terror and what has been going on in American national security. Since it’s all secret — we’ve been conducting a secret war for a decade — we are naturally going to have to find out classified things. So if you’re a war correspondent in the war on terror, you’re dealing every day with classified information, or trying to deal with classified information. It’s very different from a war correspondent in World War II. If you’re covering the War On Terror — and consider yourself a war correspondent — in the War On Terror, everything you’re writing about is secret. So, you have to decide: do you want to give up democracy? Do you want to give up a free press? Do you want to give up aggressive investigative reporting, in order to fight terrorism? It’s a fundamental philosophical issue. And that’s what this is really all about.”
Dear America, do you remember being “shocked” in the 1980′s about the inability of people in those days to travel freely across the Soviet Union? You laughed that Russians had to carry ID and be stopped at checkpoints just to travel to the next town, didn’t you? You shouldn’t have laughed. What the heck happened to America? Lou
Nov 18, 2013
“This is not increasing our security, in fact, it’s making us less secure. It’s just feeding an empire building, it’s feeding agency budgets, and job security for various law enforcement agencies,” says the University of Arizona’s Terry Bressi of in-country immigration checkpoints.
Bressi sat down with ReasonTV’s Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss these checkpoints and their implications for civil liberties. Bressi estimates that he has been stopped by border patrol between 300-350 times. After his first encounter, he started carrying cameras and audio recording equipment, and has since been videotaping his checkpoint interactions. He says this holds officers accountable for their actions, and he hopes that by posting these videos online, citizens will become more aware of their rights.
“A federal agent who is standing in the middle of a public highway, wearing a public uniform, collecting a public paycheck while seizing the public absent reasonable suspicion has no expectation of privacy,” says Bressi in regards to filming border patrol agents. “This is something that I like to remind folks of, that the government thinks that we don’t have any right to privacy whatsoever, but that’s a double-edged sword.”
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Nov. 17 2013
‘I’m sorry, Eric, but there is nothing we can do for you.” Sharp pain and anger grew in my chest as I stared across the large wooden desk. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.
“Are you going to be okay? Let me know if I can do anything.” The words of the associate dean were meaningless, a performance dictated by institutional etiquette.
“You mean I have to drop out of law school, in my third year?” Absurd, a comedy. I wanted to laugh and cry.
“We can make arrangements so that you can take an academic leave of absence for up to two years.”
It sounded like I would be planning the funeral of my academic career. As I walked away from the student service offices at the University of Ottawa, I felt I had reached the end of a long journey – a journey around an oval track, carrying a boulder on my back. The boulder was poverty, and its grinding physical and psychological strain had finally brought me to my knees.
The university shrugged its shoulders as the “hard work equals success” myth dissolved in front of me. Don’t come to law school if you are poor, was the message. Don’t try to become a lawyer if you are poor.
I was dropping out because I couldn’t afford to continue. Tuition for the year was $15,000 and the government’s cap on student loans for me was $12,000. I was denied a line of credit by five commercial banks because I had a low credit score and no one to co-sign. I had no one to co-sign because my mother made $19,000 last year.
What is it to be “poor”? For me it was being raised by a single mother on disability; public housing; the food bank; parcels from the Salvation Army at Christmas; seeing my brother stabbed nearly to death, police take my mother to a psychiatric hospital and Children’s Aid take my four-year-old niece. And not being able to do anything about any of this.
What does poverty look like? There’s the day to day: You open the fridge and there’s a mustard or mayo sandwich for dinner. Then the month to month: You wait for your bus, are buzzed like cattle into an Ontario Works cubicle to get your cheque, hang your head as a smiling volunteer hands you a box of food. You carry your box home on the bus, wearily eyeing the canned string beans and cranberry jelly from someone’s Thanksgiving.
You can use these images to tell a story, but what does poverty feel like? Usually it starts with anger. You are angry at yourself, your family, and the indifferent forces that eventually grind you down. You push against these feelings because you don’t have the luxury – you have to keep on. You feel vulnerable. You teeter between risks not taken because the difference between failure and success is homelessness. Or you take stupid risks because you have nothing to lose.
I learned early on that anger and envy will paralyze you. You need to deal with it somehow. My mother had prayer and Jesus Christ; my brother turned to drugs. I did what I was told and became what is known as a member of the “respectable poor.” To be in this group you study hard, stay out of trouble, respect your scummy restaurant bosses and borrow on your Visa card at 25 per cent interest. Most importantly, you buy into the myth “where there’s a will there’s a way.”
My generation has reluctantly accepted the myth amid “austerity” and a new type of poverty. We’re entering the work force just as employers, governments and unions are hedging themselves against falling pensions, benefits, pay and jobs. Two years ago we said “enough” and occupied parks across the world. Our neighbours eventually got annoyed and gave police and politicians the nod to push us back to our Starbucks jobs, where we exist between the dreams of our parents, our useless degrees and the reality of minimum-wage jobs. We make your lattes to the tune of our own contempt.
For those who have made it out of this youth unemployment crisis, there is a sense you are either lucky or connected. We also feed the myth. We need it. Why else would we borrow $50,000 for an education?
Meanwhile, school administrators, politicians, employers and bureaucrats prune away to make that education inaccessible. The law school adds an extra box to a scholarship application that puts it out of reach, or raises tuition another $1,000.
I faced a phalanx of administrators at the University of Ottawa, each pushing me along with a version of “No, we can’t help you until you pay your tuition.” When I got to the top of the authority chain I felt like I was meeting the all-powerful Wizard of Oz. But unlike the wizard, the associate deans weren’t incompetent – they just didn’t care. I gave them a short story of my life and current circumstances and they told me my only recourse was to apply for an “emergency bursary.” But since my financial hardship was “foreseen” I didn’t qualify.
I am by far not the only one who’s faced this crisis. Since I opened up to my peers, many have told me they are in the same boat. This is why there are so few working-class lawyers.
Fortunately for me, my own story has a happy ending. This summer, when I’d accepted I would have to drop out, a friend offered to co-sign a loan. Knowing I would graduate on time meant I could apply for articling positions, which led to an offer that I hope will be my one-way ticket out of poverty. I know I got lucky.
Eric C. Girard lives in Ottawa.
14 Nov 2013
Abby Martin remarks on a recent ACLU report highlighting the shockingly high number of people serving life sentences without parole for non-violent crime, calling out state laws that leave judges without options when setting these mandatory sentences.
I know you cannot generalize from a few incidents, etc., but police in North America are way out of control. Police forces used to be respected. Not anymore. With the advent of law knowledge and video cameras the population is not going to take it anymore like in the good old days. Perhaps this is a good time for law enforcement agencies all over North America to ask themselves where they are at.
Are they truly following the spirit of the law and the philosophy of service to mankind? I don’t think so. The serving part applies only to themselves. The question is who are they really serving? Not us, the general population who pay their salaries and lifestyles, so are they just having an imaginary orgasmic tale of power and control over the general population?
Hey coppers, you are part of us. You are not anymore special than the least of us. Some of you, as witnessed by countless videos and other anecdotal evidence, are even worse than our worse enemy. Some of you are the criminals. Hey, while I am at it, get a real job that will benefit society and your mother.
By the way, I went to school with cops. When I did a criminology degree. Honors cum laud degree. I can tell you this: Most cops are at best C + students. Police departments are not interested in smart coppers. They tend to rock the boat.
8 Nov 2013
Anglo American governments created police forces in 1829. Rome did not have any police. No past empire ever policed humans and imprisoned people for being angry or for being on drugs or mentally ill. Russia and China do not imprison people for social behavior or being poor. The American police state is almost perfected. The only thing left is the mark on your forehead.
Criminal courts in the United States are facing a surge in the number of defendants arguing that their brains were to blame for their crimes and relying on questionable scans and other controversial, unproven neuroscience, a legal expert who has advised the president has warned.
Nita Farahany, a professor of law who sits on Barack Obama’s bioethics advisory panel, told a Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego that those on trial were mounting ever more sophisticated defences that drew on neurological evidence in an effort to show they were not fully responsible for murderous or other criminal actions.
Lawyers typically drew on brain scans and neuropsychological tests to reduce defendants’ sentences, but in a substantial number of cases the evidence was used to try to clear defendants of all culpability. “What is novel is the use by criminal defendants to say, essentially, that my brain made me do it,” Farahany said following an analysis of more than 1,500 judicial opinions from 2005 to 2012.
The rise of so-called neurolaw cases has caused serious concerns in the country where brain science first appeared in murder cases. The supreme court has begun a review of how such evidence can be used in criminal cases. But legal and scientific experts nevertheless foresee the trend spreading to other countries, including the UK, and Farahany said she was expanding her work abroad.
The survey even found cases where defendants had used neuroscience to argue that their confessions should be struck out because they were not competent to provide them. “When people introduce this evidence for competency, it has actually been relatively successful,” Farahany said.
Few cases turn solely on neuroscience evidence, but scans and other techniques have swayed judgments in the past. In 2009, an Italian woman called Stefania Albertani pleaded guilty to murdering her sister, setting fire to the corpse and later attempting to kill her parents. She received a life sentence, but in 2011 Judge Luisa lo Gatto at a court near Milan considered new evidence based on brain scans and genetics. Experts argued that Albertani’s crime was driven by abnormalities in the anterior cingulate gyrus, which is involved in impulsivity, and the insula, which has been linked to aggression. The judge reduced Albertani’s sentence to 20 years.
Despite the fact that the science is often poorly understood, and that some experts say it is too flimsy to use in court, such evidence has succeeded in reducing defendants’ sentences and in some cases clearing them of guilt altogether.
The number of neurolaw cases rose from 100 to 250 a year over the eight-year survey. In 2005, neuroscience appeared in 30 felony cases that did not involve homicide. That number rose to more than 100 in 2012.
Evidence submitted to the US courts ranged from accounts of head injuries to apparent structural or functional abnormalities picked up by brain scans. Lawyers argued that these affected defendants’ behaviour by making them more violent, more impulsive, or incapable of planning a crime.Some defendants escaped death sentences on the basis of neurological evidence. Others complained of poor legal assistance when their lawyers failed to have them tested for brain impairments.
Farahany said judges and lawyers urgently needed educating in neuroscience to understand its uses and limitations: lie tests based on brain scans are not infallible, and many brain studies on “criminal minds” draw statistical conclusions from populations and cannot reliably be applied to individuals.
“Law asks questions that science can’t answer, and science answers questions that law doesn’t ask. You can’t leap from a dynamic brain scan to notions of responsibility,” said Nigel Eastman, professor of law and ethics in psychiatry at St George’s, University of London.
“If you look at functional brain imaging of psychopaths, there’s emerging evidence that as a population, people measured as psychopaths psychologically show some slightly abnormal brain scans, but that doesn’t mean you can take an individual and do a brain scan and say, ‘He’s got an abnormal brain.’”
But there are cases where abnormalities in the brain cause criminal behaviour. In 2002, Russell Swerdlow and Jeffrey Burns, neurologists at the University of Virginia medical centre, reported the case of a 40-year-old schoolteacher from Virginia who developed sudden, impulsive paedophilia and was convicted of child molestation. He was signed up for rehabilitation, but was kicked off for propositioning staff.
The evening before the man was sentenced, he complained of a headache and being unsteady on his feet. He was taken to hospital, where doctors found an egg-size tumour in his right orbitofrontal cortex. Once surgeons had removed the tumour, the man’s urges disappeared and he was allowed home.
When the man later started collecting child pornography, an MRI scan found that his tumour had grown back. His behaviour returned to normal when the tumour was removed for the second time.
One problem facing the legal system centres on the definition of responsibility. In a rising number of cases, defendants have argued that even though they committed a crime, they cannot be held responsible because their brains made them impulsive, or violent, or incapable of premeditating a crime.
“The question is, how do we best use this evidence in ways that are appropriate, while recognising there are areas where we do things wrong in criminal law and need to improve upon them?” said Farahany.
“A lot of early failures of this evidence in criminal cases could lead to a bias against its validity and its use for a long time to come, so using it for inappropriate claims and stretching the science beyond what it actually says can be devastating,” she added.
November 6th, 2013
Monsanto’s massive campaign to defeat your very right to know what’s in your food has been backed by over $22 million in corporate funding from sources like DuPont and Bayer, but the reality is that these corrupt corporate monopolies are fighting just to survive within the world’s food supply.
Perhaps most amazing to me is the fact that just $550 of the $22 million donated to fighting the GMO labeling initiative actually came from Washington citizens. To put that into perspective, that’s around .0025% of the total finances. The rest, actually came from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience — the same corporations who are actively dominating the food supply with all forms of genetically modified varieties.
Monsanto right now is backed against a corner like a stray animal, fighting with mass amounts of the almighty dollar in order to survive for just a few moments longer. Even the mainstream media now has been forced to reveal Monsanto’s ugly head in light of the Washington voting initiative.
Overall, it is not time to lose morale in the fight for the reclamation of our food, but instead to voice another rallying cry as the beast that is Monsanto begins to truly show how desperate it really is.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Luis Carlos Jimenez del rio
In Uruguay, it has long been legal to smoke cannabis, but growing, buying, selling or carrying it can result in prison time. However, the Uruguayan House passed a cannabis legalization bill in late July and contingent on a senate vote set for November, Uruguay is readying to become the first country in the world to completely legalize the government-controlled sale, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis. And as sales will start at just $1 per gram, it is likely to provide the most accessible cannabis anywhere in the world.
The Uruguayan system will operate similarly to the new system of legalized cannabis in Colorado, where people can buy the herb at licensed stores and grow alimited amount in their homes.
The move to legalize is an effort to explore alternatives to the unsuccessful global war on drugs. Julio Calzada, head of Uruguay’s National Drugs Board, told the Guardian the government planned on setting the low price on cannabis sales in an effort to push illegal drug traffickers out of the market.
“The illegal market is very risky and of poor quality,” he said. “The price of marijuana from Paraguay that gets sold on the streets here is about $1 a gram, so we’re going to set the price of government-controlled cannabis at around that same price. We want to snatch the market away from the drug traffickers.”
A few months cannabis legalization passes the senate it will be sold freely at pharmacies. Calzada told the Uruguayan newspaper El País the system would take effect around mid-2014 in order to make time to harvest plants.
According to the same Guardian article , “Uruguay’s government will also control the psychoactive level of the cannabis sold through the pharmacies to the consuming public by testing the THC content [the main psychoactive element in cannabis] of the plants grown under the new system.”
Uruguay’s National Drugs Board is setting the THC content at between 5% and 12%, Calzada told the Guardian.
Under the new bill, Uruguayans will be allowed to cultivate a maximum of six plants in their homes and cooperatives of 45 members or less will be allowed to grow up to 99 plants for their own use.
Some of you may remember this video last year of this young man speeding down the highway at 299km/h. I live where it happened. The verdict came down: Not guilty. Of course he did it. Such is Canadian law. Lou
The man accused of dangerous driving after a video was posted showing a motorcycle going up to 299 km/h was found not guilty in Victoria provincial court Thursday.
Randy George Scott, 26, did not speak to the media as he made his way to a silver Mercedes outside the courthouse. He was accompanied by another man, who took the wheel and pulled quickly away from the curb.
In his ruling, Judge Robert Higinbotham said he was satisfied that the motorcycle in a video posted to YouTube and the one seen in police photographs were “one and the same,” but had reasonable doubt about who was actually in the driver’s seat.
The video, shot from a camera mounted on the motorcycle, showed the bike weaving at high speed through traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway through Greater Victoria in April 2012.
Oct 22, 2013
Abby Martin speaks with ANSWER Coalition organizer, Mike Prysner, about a new documentary titled ‘No Justice, No Peace’, which exposes the rise of rampant brutality by police.
WATCH No Justice, No Peace! Police Brutality Documentary @ http://bit.ly/17a5vks
By Leslie MacKinnon
Oct 06, 2013
On Monday a symposium of academics and aboriginal leaders gathers near Ottawa to commemorate one of the most important documents in Canadian history.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III, essentially defined the relationship between the Crown and the native peoples in the new territories in North America acquired by the British — land that would become Canada.
The document became a guide to all treaty-making since, and its presence is felt in the legal underpinnings of Confederation in 1867 and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Some refer to it as the Indian Magna Carta.
‘The treaty relationships and aspirations that were expressed in the Royal Proclamation are about us sharing the land, wealth and resources of this country. That has not happened’- Shawn Atleo, AFN National Chief
The Creating Canada symposium marking the 250th anniversary of the signing of the document was organized by the Land Claims Agreements Coalition, a group of modern treaty governments and organizations in Canada.
In a press release, the coalition’s co-chair, Mitchell Stevens, president of Nisqa’a Nation, said, “The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is a foundational document in Canadian history because it affirms the government-to-government relationship between First Nations and the Crown.”
The Royal Proclamation put in writing the inherent right of aboriginals to their land, and it acknowledged the “the great Frauds and Abuses have been committed in the purchasing Lands of the Indians, to the great Prejudice of Our Interests, and to the great Dissatisfaction of the said Indians.”
But Chief Danny Cresswell of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation in the Yukon said in an interview the Royal Proclamation has never been implemented, nor have modern-day treaties. He said Carcross/Tagish signed a treaty with Ottawa seven years ago, but the guaranteed law-making authority for education and child welfare that was promised in the treaty has not happened.
The Royal Proclamation, Cresswell said, “says our people [the Crown's] can’t go in and invade their lands without some kind of a consultation or, more than that, it says they have to be compensated, dealt with, treated fairly…It
It wasn’t lived up to or enforced. It was nice to say…”
However, Cresswell said he was pleased both the Governor General, David Johnston, and the minister for aboriginal affairs, Bernard Valcourt will be present at the symposium Monday.
“That’s a big step. That shows there’s some meaning to this,” he said.
Issued by King George III at the end of the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 set out how the inhabitants of the former colony of New France, now part of Quebec, would be governed under the British.
It also recognized that indigenous peoples in British North America had rights to the lands they occupied, and promised to protect and not “molest them.”
Because of that promise, which lives on in Article 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982 and a series of Supreme Court rulings, natives have long viewed the Royal Proclamation as a bill of rights for indigenous peoples in this part of North America.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in an interview with Evan Solomon of CBC Radio’s The House, “The treaty relationships and aspirations that were expressed in the Royal Proclamation are about us sharing the land, wealth and resources of this country. That has not happened.”
This is a critical time for a government which is pitting a lot of its economic policy on resource development, Atleo said, speaking of the more than $600 billion in natural resources that Canada wishes to develop.
“First Nations are absolutely four-square right in front of and adjacent to and in the middle of these proposed development areas, and have the right to free, prior informed consent and will have a say over natural resources development in Canada.
“Direct nation-to-nation discussions is the only way forward,” he said.
Atleo added he intends to accompany the Governor General to London at a future date to commemorate the signing of the Royal Proclamation.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, speaking to reporters Sunday during a meeting of the NDP’s Federal Council in Ottawa, called the event “the 250th anniversary of broken promises.”
He noted the proclamation was “the first time the word nation was used to describe the original inhabitants of Canada. The NDP will become the first government in Canadian history to respect that nation-to-nation approach.”
The Creating Canada symposium is taking place at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que.
The protest group Idle No More plans to hold a rally at the museum along with what an article on its website says is “an international day of action ” on Oct. 7, with rallies planned across Canada and in the U.S. and U.K.
The federal government has contributed $30,000 to the symposium which is otherwise funded by the Land Claims Agreement Coalition and the registration fees of participants.
Although the government spent $28 million on celebrations for the War of 1812, and has plans for the 200th birthday of Sir John A. MacDonald and the 25th anniversary of the signing of NAFTA, it did not make similar preparations for the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation.
By Sunnie Huang
Oct 07, 2013
Now that the federal government has opened up the production of medical marijuana to the free market, scores of entrepreneurs have begun the race to vie for a piece of the billion-dollar pie in this new commercial industry.
“This is a very rare moment when you start to look at the beginning of a brand new market space,” said Anton Mattadeen, chief strategy officer of MediJean, a British Columbia-based company that has recently received a research and development licence under the new regime.
Starting April 1, 2014, the only legal source to obtain medical marijuana in Canada will be through producers approved by Health Canada.
Businesses, especially medium-sized ones, will be among the beneficiaries of the change, the ministry says.
Since the ministry made this announcement in June, 171 parties have applied to become licensed producers. Of these applications, 40 are from individuals and 131 are from corporations, according to the most recent numbers obtained from Health Canada by CBC News.
Under the old regime, which will be gradually phased out over the next six months, licensed medical marijuana users were able to grow their own cannabis or purchase from Health Canada’s sole supplier, Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems.
Since Health Canada started issuing medical marijuana in 2001, the number of users has grown exponentially from 500 to over 37,000 today. Health Canada forecasts that the number will increase to as many as 450,000 by 2024.
This rapid growth is one of the reasons behind the program’s overhaul — Health Canada says it has led to “unintended consequences” and “abuse” — but it also means the commercial industry could be worth $1.3 billion by 2024, according to the forecast.
While interested players are hoping to tap into this potentially lucrative industry, critics such as the Medicinal Cannabis Patients Alliance of Canada and the B.C. Compassion Club Society say that the cannabis supplied by sanctioned producers will be more expensive than homegrown yields.
If sellers are to woo medical marijuana users to the new program, they can distinguish themselves by providing supply of better and more consistent quality, said Paul Grootendorst, an expert in health economics at McMaster University.
The quality of homegrown weed, he said, was “rather haphazard.”
Producers are also working on offering personalized cannabis with varying amounts of active ingredients, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), to cater to specific health conditions.
“Sellers would want to distinguish their product from their competitors’ product,” Grootendorst said. “One way of doing so is to modulate their THC content to make it more attractive to users.”
MediJean is one of the growers taking this approach. Based in Richmond, B.C., the company has just received a research and development licence and it is waiting for the result of its licensed producer application.
“If … you can provide [patients] with substances that really target their specific ailment, it’s much better for patients,” said Mattadeen.
When asked about competition, Mattadeen said he expects the market to be robust enough to have room for different types of producers.
“This could potentially be quite a significant industry,” he said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that there are over 150 different organizations that are interested in taking a look at it and becoming involved.”
In addition to better quality and more variety, switching to larger growers makes economic sense, according to Grootendorst, as the “mom-and-pop-ish” production under the old regime can be cost intensive.
Here’s a look at the costs per gram of medical marijuana under the old and new systems.
Current price if buying from Health Canada’s supplier: $5
Health Canada’s projection of profitable private-sector price in 2014: $7.60
Projection of average price as market matures in several years: $8.80
Advertised price of products of CannaMed, the first licensed distributor in the new system: $9 to $12
Current estimated cost of black-market dried marijuana purchased on the street: $10 to $15
“As you get bigger, the cost per gram produced would go down. That should be another [piece of] good news for consumers,” he said.
Health Canada’s cost-benefit analysis shows that dried marijuana will be selling for about $7.60 per gram in a year, but Grootendorst said the price could be lower as more firms enter the market.
However, for patients who require several grams of cannabis a day, buying from licensed suppliers will prove to be much more expensive than growing their own supply, according to Zachary Walsh, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.
After the initial setup investment, the cost for someone to grow plants in their home is minimal, he said.
“They can harvest their own seeds and just keep replanting it,” he said. “Those costs [such as fertilizers] are far less than even the low estimates for the new program.”
Health Canada offers a list of the approved licensed producers on its web site, but only those who have provided their consent to share their contact information will be made public.
Licensed producers must meet security and quality control requirements, including:
These safety and security measures come at a price for growers, said Brent Zettl, CEO of Prairie Plant Systems, Health Canada’s supplier for the past 13 years.
The company and its subsidiary, CanniMed, received the first two licenses from Health Canada last month to produce medical marijuana as the new regime kicks in.
Zettl said making medical marijuana affordable should be a discussion for the politicians, not entrepreneurs.
“The debate about affordability is an evolutionary thing. We can see probably in time those folks who want to have access should be having some form of compensation, but that should be more of a political discussion,” he said.
Health Canada’s new regime allows dried marijuana to be sold at whatever price the market will bear, leading many to label it a free market. But what can businesses and entrepreneurs really expect?
“It’s a modestly free market,” UBC’s Walsh said. “It’s still going to be pretty tightly regulated, but it’s a freer market than the single monopoly in production that was available before.”
In a 5 to 4 vote, Washington State’s Supreme Court has ruled that individuals charged for cannabis can argue that they needed, and were in possession of the cannabis for medical purposes, and can be set free on “medical necessity”, even if they’ve never received a written authorization.
Justice Barbara Madsen wrote the majority opinion, stating that people who fail to follow the state’s medical cannabis law can nevertheless argue in court that they needed the cannabis for medical reasons. In order to do so, however, they must also show why complying with the state’s medical cannabis law wasn’t a viable alternative for them (financial issues may be one example of a reason, given the sometimes high-cost of receiving a medical cannabis recommendation for those whose primary physician may not be cannabis-friendly).
This ruling stems from a 2010 case where a man was found guilty of manufacturing and possession cannabis after police conducted a search warrant on his home. The man, William Kurtz, appealed the case, arguing that the court never allowed him to use medical necessity as a defense; the court claimed that such a defense no longer exists. The Supreme Court, with this new ruling, has overturned this claim, upholding “medical necessity” as a viable legal defense for cannabis defendants who don’t have a written recommendation, but use the substance medicinally.
The full ruling can be viewed by clicking here.
Hat tip to http://spiritandanimal.wordpress.com/
It is a very simple and fundamental message to all governments: Stay away from our backyards and get out of our homes. Lou
by Elizabeth Renter
September 7th, 2013
Attitudes towards marijuana are changing across the nation, and subsequently, so are the laws. But none have been as bold as the newly proposed California Hemp Act 2014 (CHA) recently filed by the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014 (CCHI). The CHA would essentially legalize all marijuana and hemp, but unlike laws in a select few states, it would go so far as to stop the California state government from taxing or regulating marijuana at all.
Cannabis activists and supporters are ultimately hoping to get the CHA on the 2014 ballot. On August 5, the paperwork was filed with the state Attorney General. Now, we wait to hear just what sort of requirements will have to be met before the initiative goes before voters. As reported by NaturalNews, it will likely be hundreds of thousands of petition signatures.
The proposed CHA is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it would bar the state of California from passing any laws restricting any aspect of the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana. It would also bar them from regulating or taxing the manufacturing, production, sale or use of the plant in any form. Essentially it would be a total “hands off” policy, unlike the strictly regulated and justly so alcohol and tobacco—both of which are responsible for thousands of deaths each year.
Within the last year, we’ve seen firsthand just how much a state can regulate the recreational marijuana trade in the states of Washington and Colorado, both of whom legalized recreational marijuana late in 2012. With the changing tides of marijuana attitudes, we’ve also been given more information than ever on why marijuana should not only be approved for medicinal reasons, but as a matter of principle and personal rights.
In addition to telling state officials to back off marijuana, the CHA bars any actor of the state to assist the federal government in enforcing their marijuana laws. In other words, no California law enforcement would be participating in federal raids or investigations. And, for those who stand in the way of Californians and their marijuana—misdemeanor charges could be brought. Yes, the CHA criminalizes marijuana enjoyment interference.
So what are the chances of this law passing? As it stands, pretty slim. But it’s not impossible. Depending on the requirements set by the state Attorney General’s Office, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative is going to need all the support they can get—in the way of signatures, petitioners, and town criers. In other words, we can all do something to give it a better chance.
To read more about the CHA, check out the CCHI’s official website: http://www.cchi2014.org/