Smoked Out

  Smoked Out

Posted by CN Staff on June 25, 2003 at 20:17:48 PT
By Thom Pugh 
Source: Boston Weekly Dig  

When Montana State University student Adam Jones organized a benefit concert for May 30 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge in Billings, MT, he intended to raise money for the fight to legalize marijuana for medical use. The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, may not have approved. On the eve of his first major foray into drug reform activism, Jones found himself in jail and the lodge's board of trustees pulled the plug. Though none of the show's three local bands had a chance to play a single chord, critics and advocates of a controversial new law, the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, also known as the RAVE Act, heard the reverberations loud and clear.
On May 29, Jones, who is serving three years probation for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms, was arrested by his parole officer after testing positive for drugs (a second test came up negative, and he was later released). The following day, a Special Agent with the Billings office of the DEA approached the Eagles lodge manager, Kelly, with a copy of the Act in hand.“He ... explained that if we had the concert and somebody did some sort of illegal activity, like smoke weed in the parking lot, that we could be fined $250,000,” said Kelly, who requested that her last name be withheld. “He didn't come out and say we couldn't hold the concert, and he was polite.”As the bands were unloading their equipment and the stage was being set up for a live TV simulcast, Kelly delivered the news to the lodge trustees. After consulting their lawyer, they decided to cancel the show.“The lawyer said that if the DEA went through the trouble of sending someone down here to warn us, the chances of the police showing up, even undercover, were pretty good. The trustees were very nervous about the place being closed down ... Nobody wanted to be made into an example.”The Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, signed into law by President Bush last April, passed quietly through both houses of Congress as an amendment to the Child Abduction Prevention Act, or “Amber Alert” Bill. The law targets venue owners who intentionally use their property for the production, distribution or use of controlled substances. The mere presence of drugs in the hands of a third party - for example, a concertgoer smoking marijuana in a parking lot - is not sufficient grounds for prosecution. Critics, however, accuse the act of being so loosely worded that the government could use it to muzzle opposition.“Without question, this was an attempt to silence political dissent,” said Keith Stroup, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “This venue has frequently held concerts every few weeks; bands have played there in the past and had no problems whatsoever. It was only when Adam Jones ran an ad in the local paper advertising the concert as a fundraiser for Students for Sensible Drug Policy and MSU-Billings NORML that the DEA decided it was their responsibility to inform the Eagles lodge about the RAVE Act ... The Order of Eagles is a mainstream, patriotic group - it's a service club. This is not a case where there was even the slightest allegation that the club owners were involved in drug dealing.”If the DEA intended its visit as a warning, then the Billings case may be the first time that the Act has been used to preemptively shut down an event.Chip Unruh, Deputy Press Secretary for Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), who sponsored the Act, explained that the intent of the law was never to threaten legal events. “The bill was crafted with very narrow and specific language, and it should be interpreted that way,” he said “We set the bar high for a reason, to protect people's rights and prevent someone from misapplying the law.”According to Unruh, Biden recently contacted representatives from the DEA, including acting administrator William Simpkins, to ask them to explain their actions in the Billings case. The agency's reply: “Regrettably, the ... Special Agent's incorrect interpretation of the statute contributed to the decision of the Eagle's Lodge to cancel the event.”The senator and members of his staff also spoke with Karen Tandy, the DEA's future Administrator. “We seem to be on the same page, so we don't anticipate a situation like the one in Billings occurring again, “ said Unruh.Despite the DEA's admittance that it's agents made an error and Biden's office indicating that the DEA does not foresee such problems arising again, back in Montana, members of the state chapter of NORML are not so convinced.“In light of the DEA's action in Billings, we are now carefully evaluating future events, such as the Missoula Hempfest, which attracts over 5,000 people every year,” said Montana NORML Director John Masterson. “Will the DEA threaten the Missoula City Council with quarter-million dollar fines this year?”On the national level, a coalition consisting of NORML, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union plan to file a lawsuit against the DEA seeking an injunction and a declaration that the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act violates the First Amendment.“Frankly, the reason we are so committed to challenging this is that we fear that if we don't, we will run into this over and over again every time we try to run an event,” said Stroup. “It would be very easy for the DEA to scare the owners before an event. The purpose of this suit is to alert the DEA nationwide that we're not going to stand for this, and we don't think the federal courts will, either.”Note: Did the DEA Misuse a Controversial Statute to Silence Anti-drug Law Activists? Source: Boston Weekly Dig (MA)Author: Thom PughPublished: June 2003Copyright: 2003 Boston Weekly DigContact: letters weeklydig.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:SSDP: NORML: RAVE Act Stomp Out Drugs -- Or Dissent? Law Assists Political Intimidation Drugs or Free Speech? 

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Comment #8 posted by kaptinemo on June 26, 2003 at 13:22:40 PT:
Oh, I feel so relieved...NOT!!!!
*According to Unruh, Biden recently contacted representatives from the DEA, including acting administrator William Simpkins, to ask them to explain their actions in the Billings case. The agency's reply: “Regrettably, the ... Special Agent's incorrect interpretation of the statute contributed to the decision of the Eagle's Lodge to cancel the event.”The senator and members of his staff also spoke with Karen Tandy, the DEA's future Administrator. “We seem to be on the same page, so we don't anticipate a situation like the one in Billings occurring again, “ said Unruh.*In Japan, when the government wants to fob you off, it will tell you that the matter is "being taken under due advisement", which is a polite way to say "F**k off!"In America, the government employs almost the same means...using the exact same spirit.I'd sooner trust a fox in the henhouse than I would arch-prohibitionist Biden asking arch-prohib organization toadies if they've been good little boys and not stepped on the Constitution lately, when their entire organization is a leftover from Nixon wiping himself with that document.Oh, excuse me, it IS the same thing as trusting said fox. Sorry, my mistake...
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on June 26, 2003 at 11:09:37 PT:
The state has no right in bedrooms of the nation
Dumb Laws down...Netscape Poll - Current Results:What you do in your own bedroom is: My private business 94% Subject to government regulation 6% 
Does that include toking?
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Comment #6 posted by ekim on June 26, 2003 at 08:09:15 PT
some upcomming events
Hemcore: Industry EventsSanta Barbara Hemp Festival, 
July 12 - 13 - Santa Barbara, CA www.santabarbarahempco.comReggae on the River, 
August 1 - 3 French’s Camp, Piercy, CA 
http://www.reggaeontheriver.comAll Things Organic Festival, 
August 9 - 10
Mendocino Co, Fairgrounds, Boonville, CA 
707-895-3616HIA 10th Annual Convention, 
August 20-23
Pine Ridge Reservation, SD 
Click here to download a PDF info sheet
http://www.thehia.orgSeattle Hemp Fest, 
August 16 - 17 - Seattle, WA – http://www.seattlehempfest.comMAGIC
August 25 - 28 - Las Vegas, NV
www.magiconline.comYoga Expo
September 25 - 28
Los Angeles Convention Center
http://www.yogaexpo.comHemp Harvest Celebration 
September 27th 
Hempola Valley Farms - Barrie, Ontario
(800) 240-9215 
Wagon rides, guided interpretive trail through the hemp fields, musical concerts, arts and crafts, demonstrations and seminars, hemp straw home, hemp food village. http://www.hempola.comCHFA Expo East,
October 16 - 19 - Toronto, ON Canada 4th Hemp and Eco-Technologies Exhibition
November 7 - 9 • Paris, France
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Comment #4 posted by Kegan on June 26, 2003 at 07:55:21 PT

Kingston, Ontario
Newshawk: CMAP ( )
Pubdate: Thursday, June 26, 2003
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Contact: whiged
Author: Greg McArthurMarijuana: ‘Everything’s in limbo’By Greg McArthurLocal News - One of Canada’s biggest marijuana activists has some advice for
potheads in his home town of Kingston.“If police take your cannabis away, talk to a lawyer,” said Mike Foster, the
owner of one of the biggest headshops in Ottawa and a founding member of the
Marijuana Party of Canada.“If it’s not illegal, they can’t take it.”Since May 16, when an Ontario Superior Court judge upheld a lower court
decision to quash a charge against a youth for simple possession of
marijuana, it’s become increasingly unclear how much authority police can
exercise over someone caught with less than 30 grams of pot.Like police across the province, Kingston Police have changed the way they
deal with simple possession.Anyone caught with under 30 grams will be investigated and the pot
confiscated, but officers won’t lay charges until someone – whether it’s the
federal government or the Supreme Court – makes a decision about the
legality of simple possession, said Insp. Brian Cookman.“The bottom line is, we’re going to investigate and we’re going to seize the
marijuana,” Cookman said.Foster, an outspoken advocate for pot smokers, runs Crosstown Traffic, a
popular shop in the nation’s capital that sells everything from rolling
papers to pipes to comic books.The 48-year-old also helped publish the first children’s book on medicinal
marijuana, called Mommy’s Funny Medicine.He went to high school in Napanee and spent his early 20s in Kingston. His
homes on Earl Street and Victoria Street were subject to frequent RCMP raids
in the early 1970s.He said the court decision means that pot smokers such as himself can
consider their pastime legal – no matter what police say.“It’s technically legal,” he said.The Criminal Code of Canada, which outlaws simple possession, gives officers
the authority to investigate people with under 30 grams of pot, Cookman
argued.But he acknowledged that the May 16 decision has blurred the law.“It’s a very difficult spot they’ve left us in,” he said.Kingston Police aren’t the only ones who’ve had to change the way they
handle simple possession.Five people who were accused of simple possession of marijuana had charges
withdrawn by a federal Crown attorney in Kingston on Tuesday – adding to a
growing list of local pot smokers who are dodging convictions.“They were surprised … it’s been a lucky break for them, that’s for sure,”
said federal prosecutor David Crowe, who has been instructed to withdraw or
stay simple possession charges while Ontario’s cannabis laws remain up in
the air.“Everything’s in limbo,” he said.With the federal government’s proposal to decriminalize possession of under
15 grams still before the House of Commons and no firm cannabis law in
place, prosecutors aren’t attempting to try someone for simple possession.Some Crown attorneys, such as those in Lanark County, have been staying
charges, which allows them to reinstate the charges within a year.Crowe said he’s opting to withdraw the charges completely.The longer the charges are delayed, the more likely they’ll be defeated
later on, he said.Defence lawyers are also preparing for clients who might take police to
court if their pot is seized.If an officer seizes a few joints from someone at a party and marijuana is
later decriminalized by Ottawa, it may open Kingston Police to a lawsuit.“No doubt someone will try it,” said Clyde Smith, a Kingston defence lawyer
who has had simple possession charges withdrawn against a few of his
clients. “That could be interesting.”Cookman said all marijuana seized by Kingston Police is packaged and sent to
Health Canada for testing to determine if it is cannabis.When it is returned to police, it is stored, sealed and numbered.If Ottawa eventually decides that simple possession isn’t a crime – a
decision that won’t likely come about until at least the fall – pot smokers
could theoretically go to police headquarters and ask to have their weed
returned.“If you’re going to want your dope returned after it’s been sitting in a
vault, I guess it’s possible,” Cookman said.“It is plant material so it will degrade to some degree.”But until the federal government makes a decision on the proposed
decriminalization legislation, the law will continue to be fuzzy.Even though everyone has different opinions on the issue of possession –
from police to activists to lawyers – they all want the same thing.Ottawa needs to take a stand, they say.“We are here to enforce what society deems us to enforce. If society
dictates that possession of cannabis is no longer important to them, then we
will go with the flow,” Cookman said.“But is it a confusing time? You bet.”

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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on June 26, 2003 at 04:03:22 PT

SenatorFeinsteinBreaksSilenceAboutMedicalMarijuana Senator Feinstein Breaks Silence About Medical Marijuana
Questions DEA Nominee About Raids on Patients
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has confirmed that she will question Karen Tandy, nominated to be the administrator of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, about the appropriateness of the DEA's raids on medical marijuana patients and caregivers in California. Until now, neither Sen. Feinstein nor California's other senator, Barbara Boxer, has publicly addressed the DEA's actions against seriously ill Californians.   Tandy's nomination will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon. Due to a conflicting hearing on intelligence matters, Feinstein does not expect to attend the hearing in person, but will submit the questions to Tandy in writing. Feinstein will also ask Tandy whether she will support research that could lead to the reclassification of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, ending the federal ban on medical use.   Suzanne Pfeil, a disabled patient with post-polio syndrome who was threatened at gunpoint by DEA agents last September during the agency's raid on the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, expressed gratitude for Feinstein's commitment. "I am relieved that one of my U.S. senators is willing to ask whether I should have to live in fear of my own government," Pfeil said.   Pfeil, along with MPP Director of Government Relations Steve Fox, will speak at a 1 p.m. press conference in front of the Dirksen Senate Office Building (on the Constitution Avenue side, near the corner of Constitution and First St. NE). Pfeil and Fox will attend Tandy's hearing and will be available to the media afterward.   "The DEA's cruel and pointless attacks on the sick have sparked outrage throughout California and across the nation," Fox said. "We are grateful that Senator Feinstein seems prepared to question Karen Tandy about whether she will continue such actions. People fighting disabling and often terminal illnesses should not have to live in terror of their own government."   For more information about Tandy's nomination, see   

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Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on June 26, 2003 at 03:15:41 PT

Cocaine Found On Nearly All Euro Notes:>>Three per cent were found to be contaminated with an average of 0.4 microgrammes of cocaine particles, just days after the euro's launch, and this figure soared to 90 per cent in seven months.
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Comment #1 posted by Arthropod on June 26, 2003 at 02:52:48 PT:

Promise only an inch...
and take several hundred miles that you promised would never be traveled. This is exactly what rights activists and drug reformers have been warning about for decades, but the idiotic, mollified public refuses to listen and understand. The DEA didn't even bother to wait to take advantage of this one, simply because they know this will never make big news. Remember Tulia, anyone?
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