A Year in the Life of Pot Prohibition

A Year in the Life of Pot Prohibition
Posted by FoM on April 05, 2001 at 13:26:31 PT
By Kevin Christopher Nelson
Source: Honolulu Weekly
JANUARY 18 Atlanta: Louis E. Covar Jr., 51, a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident on July 4, 1967, who says he uses marijuana to relieve the pain from muscle spasms in his neck, is sentenced to seven years in prison after being accused of selling marijuana out of his home. Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sent Covar to prison after investigators found about 1.25 ounces of marijuana in his home. "We feel strongly he was selling out of his house," Richmond County DA Danny Craig said. 
Covar denied the charges, insisting the small amount was for his personal medicinal use. According to the Department of Corrections, the special care Covar will need will cost $258.33 a day — or more than $660,000 if he serves his full seven years. A typical prisoner costs taxpayers $47.63 per day.Quadriplegic To Stay In Home 9Arizona: Deborah Lynn Quinn, 39, born with no arms or legs, is sentenced to one year in an Arizona prison for marijuana possession, thus violating her probation on a previous drug offense — the attempted sale of 4 grams of marijuana to a police informant for $20. Quinn will require around-the-clock care for feeding, bathing and hygiene. Terry L. Stewart, Arizona Corrections Director, expressed his frustration: "I simply cannot understand how a judge can sentence a disabled woman to prison who presents absolutely no escape risk, no physical danger to the public, and who will be an extremely difficult and expensive person to care for at $345 per day, without exploring any alternative sentence measures such as intensive probation."Health Costs Earn Inmate Ticket Home 15 The United States’ prison and jail population surpasses 2 million people. Prisons are one of the fastest-growing expenses of government, costing about $100,000 to build a single prison cell and about $24,000 per year for each prisoner. Some 1.3 million U.S. inmates are currently serving time for "nonviolent offenses." One-quarter of the world’s prisoners are now incarcerated in the "land of the free." Nations Prison Population Climbs To Over 2 Million 23Honolulu: The Hawai‘i Medical Association comes out formally against the pending state medical-marijuana initiative. Heidi Singh, director of legislative and government affairs for the Hawai‘i Medical Association, said more studies should be done on medical marijuana, and that "physicians cannot in good faith recommend a drug therapy without clinical evidence to back it up."FEBRUARY 28Madrid: The chemical in marijuana that produces a "high" shows promise as a weapon against deadly brain tumors, say Spanish scientists. In the study on rats a research team from Complutense University and Autonoma University in Madrid found that one of marijuana’s active ingredients, THC, killed tumor cells in advanced cases of glioma, a quick-killing cancer for which there is currently no effective treatment. The scientists found that THC pumped into the tumors cleared the cancer in more than a third of the test rats. The drug also prolonged the life of another third by up to 40 days but was ineffective in the rest. The cancer did not come back in any of the survivors. Researchers are not sure why, but the Spanish team says THC caused a buildup of a fat molecule called ceramide, which provoked a die-off of the cancer cells.  Study Indicates THC May Eradicate Brain Tumors 2United Kingdom: Marijuana-like compounds ease tremors in mice with a condition similar to multiple sclerosis, researchers say in a study published in the British journal Nature that appears to corroborate patients who say pot helps them deal with the disease. "This lends credence to the anecdotal reports that some people with MS have said that cannabis can help control these distressing symptoms," said Lorna Layward, one of the study’s authors. Layward heads the research arm of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Multiple Sclerosis Study Aided by Marijuana 13Mondovi, Wisconsin: Mondovi police conduct a 3:30 a.m. raid at the home of medical-marijuana activist Jackie Rickert, seize a small amount of marijuana and search her home until 10 a.m. Rickert is 49, wheelchair-bound and weighs 90 pounds. Rickert suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and reflexive-sympathetic dystrophy, bone and muscle illnesses that keep her in constant pain and often unable to eat. She smokes marijuana to ease her pain and restore her appetite. Rickert had just missed being accepted into the federal government’s Investigative New Drug program, which distributes a tin of 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes to eight legally protected American citizens each month. Rickert’s daughter, Tammy, claims the police raid has left her mother a wreck. "She’s tiny, frail," Tammy Rickert said. "She’s not out to hurt anybody. She’s trying to maintain some semblance of a quality of life. The marijuana, which the government pretty much told her she could use, helps a little. This whole thing is unbelievable." Mondovi Woman, 48, Won't Face Drug Charges 16New York City: An unarmed black security guard, Patrick Dorismond, waiting for a cab with his friend Kevin Kaiser, is shot dead by undercover New York City police officers conducting a marijuana "buy-and-bust." Two plainclothes detectives approached Dorismond asking if he would sell them "some weed." Dorismond rebuffed the men, a scuffle ensued and a third officer, Anthony Vasquez, rushed in, pulled out his revolver and fired a single bullet into Dorismond’s chest. No drugs or other contraband were found on Dorismond’s body. The shooting was the third time in 13 months plainclothes New York City police officers have shot and killed an unarmed black man. Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, marijuana arrests in the city have risen from 720 in 1992, to 59,945 in the first 11 months of 2000.Unarmed Man Slain In Police Struggle 1Toronto: Canada’s premier national newspaper, The National Post, editorializes in favor of legalizing marijuana: "Marijuana legalization has long been the subject of academic debate. The time has come to turn conjecture into law. Canada’s police, judges and prosecutors have better things to do with their time than track down those who produce and consume a substance no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. We should begin the decriminalization of marijuana by immediately reducing the punishments that can be imposed for its possession to modest fines — and start thinking about how to regulate its use."Time To Legalize Pot 12Santa Cruz, California: The Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approves an ordinance making the city the first in the nation to legalize the production and sale of medical marijuana without a doctor’s prescription, as long as it is sold at cost or given away.Santa Cruz Council OKs Cultivation Of Marijuana 25Honolulu: Despite the formal opposition of the Hawai‘i Diocese of the Catholic Church, the Hawai‘i State Senate passes medical-marijuana legislation, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Alaska, Arizona and the District of Columbia in shielding medical marijuana patients from criminal prosecution.2000 Hawaii Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill 11Charleston, West Virginia: The West Virginia Supreme Court, voting 4-1, denies a "medical necessity" defense to Donna Jean Poling, a multiple-sclerosis patient in the terminal stages of her illness, who was arrested for growing marijuana in her home. Poling claimed that marijuana kept her symptom-free for three years preceding her 1998 arrest, after which her condition worsened dramatically.JUNE 9New York City: Human Rights Watch releases a study finding that Illinois is the worst state for racial disparity among jailed drug offenders. Illinois’ black men are 57 times more likely than white men to be sent to prison on drug charges, and blacks comprise 90 percent of all prison admissions in Illinois for drug charges — the highest percentage in the country. Nationwide, federal studies show that white drug users outnumber black drug users 5 to 1, blacks make up about 62 percent of prisoners incarcerated on drug charges in the United States, compared with 36 percent of whites.More Whites Use Drugs, More Blacks Imprisoned 14Los Angeles: Bestselling author, cancer and AIDS patient and high-profile, medical-marijuana activist Peter McWilliams is found dead in his home. McWilliams, barred by a federal court order from using marijuana to counteract the extreme nausea caused by his AIDS drugs, is found dead on his bathroom floor, having choked to death on his own vomit. His federal prosecutors say they were "saddened by his death."McWilliams bestselling books included How to Heal Depression, Getting Over the Loss of a Love, Life 101 and Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes In Our Free Country.Peter McWilliams Passes Away 31Ontario, Canada: Ontario’s top court rules unanimously (3-0) that Canada’s law making marijuana possession a crime is unconstitutional, because it does not take into account the needs of Canadian medical-marijuana patients. The judges allow the current law to remain in effect for another 12 months to permit Parliament to rewrite it. However, if the Canadian government fails to set up a medical-marijuana distribution program by July 31, 2001, all marijuana laws in Canada will be struck down. The decision comes in the case of Terry Parker, an epileptic who had been denied a federal medical-marijuana exemption. Parker has been hospitalized over 100 times for injuries sustained during seizures. Ontario Court of Appeal Upholds Decision 16Los Angeles: The American Medical Marijuana Association reports that medical-marijuana patient, grower and author of How to Grow Medical Marijuana, Todd McCormick, confined to federal prison while appealing his drug-possession conviction, was sent to solitary confinement. According to his mother, Ann McCormick, Todd went to the prison’s medical office and requested the synthetic form of marijuana, Marinol, produced by Unimed Pharmaceuticals, that he had been taking prior to his incarceration. One day after Todd requested the legal medicine, the Feds ordered that he be drug-tested. When the results came back positive for marijuana, Todd was placed in solitary confinement. "The pain in his neck and back has been unbearable lately," said McCormick’s mother. "Todd has a spinal fusion — the top five vertebrae were fused when he was 2 years old. A tumor had completely eaten the second vertebrae and the old fusion is now literally carving grooves in the base of his skull, prompting severe headaches as well. His left hip stopped growing when he was 9, a result of radiation treatments for childhood cancer. He has severe scoliosis, nerve damage in his upper back, shoulders and neck and severe muscle spasms in his lower back. He has received no medical treatment since January," said Mrs. McCormick.Benefit For Todd McCormick 20Seattle: An estimated crowd of 100,000 people gather at Myrtle Edwards Park for Hempfest 2000, calling for the legalization of marijuana for personal and medical use, as well as legalization of hemp for environmentally sustainable industrial uses. The event is the largest of its kind in the world, with no arrests reported.Hempfest 2000 Heavy On Toke-Lore 8Santa Fe, New Mexico: Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader joins New Mexico’s Republican Governor Gary Johnson in criticizing the nation’s war on drugs, calling for the legalization of marijuana and reform of what Nader calls "self-defeating and antiquated" drug laws. "Addiction, no matter what kind of addiction, should not be criminalized," Nader says at a news conference with Johnson in Santa Fe. "It’s got to be subjected to health programs and caring programs, because they work." Rehabilitating drug addicts gives a far better payoff than "criminalizing and militarizing the situation," he said. "Study after study has shown that, and yet somehow it doesn’t get through to federal policy."Nader Says Decriminalize Marijuana 16Washington, D.C.: U.S. Drug "Czar" Barry McCaffrey announces his resignation, effective January 6, 2001. McCaffrey To Leave White House Job 16Washington, D.C.: The FBI releases its 1999 Uniform Crime Report. There were a record total of 704,812 U.S. marijuana arrests in 1999, or one every 45 seconds. Of those arrests, 620,541 (88 percent) were for simple marijuana possession while 84,271 (12 percent) were for sales/cultivation. During the Clinton administration, there were 4,175,357 marijuana arrests, a record for any U.S. presidency.  Police Arrest More For Marijuana Than Murder 7Election Day: Voters across the United States pass sweeping drug-law reform initiatives. In California, despite opposition from Governor Gray Davis, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, statewide police associations and prison guard unions, citizens vote 61-39 to pass Proposition 36, diverting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment rather than prison for first and second offenses. Proponents claim the move will save the state $150 million annually and will cancel the need for a new state prison. In Mendocino County, CA, voters approve Measure G by a 58-42 margin, decriminalizing personal use and cultivation of up to 25 marijuana plants. Nevadans vote 65-35 to pass Question 9 allowing qualifying patients to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes. In response, a self-appointed task force of state healthcare officials, the Nevada Medical Marijuana Initiative Work Group, moves to limit use of the drug to research studies, adding months if not years to approval time. Said Louis Ling, general counsel for the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy and part of the work group, "No matter what system gets passed, it’s going to be a good long time before medical marijuana is available." By a 53-47 margin, Colorado voters pass Amendment 20, allowing qualifying patients to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. Tom Strickland, U.S. attorney for Colorado, in a statement released on the afternoon of Nov. 7, says that his office will continue to "aggressively enforce federal drug laws, including the prohibition of marijuana, regardless of the passage of this ballot initiative." Utahns, by a margin of 69-31, pass Initiative B, denying government agencies the right to seize property from individuals before they are convicted of a crime. Salt Lake County District Attorney Dave Yocom responds, "Obviously we’re going to rethink this and decide whether or not to work to get (the initiative) repealed during the next legislative session." Oregonians pass a similar property-seizure reform initiative, Measure 3 — the Oregon Property Protection Act — by a margin of 66-34. Measure 3 diverts drug forfeiture proceeds from police treasuries into drug treatment programs.Voters Approve Medical Marijuana 27Washington, D.C.: In the case U.S. vs. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, 00-151, the U.S. Supreme Court takes on the issue of whether "medical necessity" is an acceptable exception to the federal law that makes marijuana distribution a crime. A decision is expected by June 2001.Supreme Court To Decide Medical Marijuana Case 6Brussels, Belgium: The Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and the Brussels coalition of Liberals, Socialists and Greens vote to end marijuana prohibition. As of January 1, 2001, Belgium, joining its neighbor The Netherlands in embracing tolerance, will "exempt from punishment possession, consumption and trade of up to five grams hashish or marijuana." Belgium is the host country of the European Union.Belgium Agrees To Legalize Cannabis 6New York City: In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine released today, President Bill Clinton was asked if he thought "people should go to jail for using or even selling small amounts of marijuana?" Clinton replied, "I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be." Clinton added, "We really need a reexamination of our entire policy on imprisonment. … a lot of people are in prison because they have drug problems or alcohol problems and too many of them are getting out — particularly out of state systems — without treatment, without education, without skills, without serious efforts at job placement."Clinton: Pot Smoking Should Not Be Prison Offense Christopher Nelson is a writer living in Bellingham, WA E-mail: kcnelson Complete Title: Marijuana 2000: A Year in the Life of Pot ProhibitionSource: Honolulu Weekly (HI)Author: Kevin Christopher NelsonPublished: March 28-April 3, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Honolulu Weekly Inc.Contact: letters honoluluweekly.comWebsite: The Home Grown Front - Sidebar Article
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Comment #12 posted by Dan Hillman on April 06, 2001 at 16:09:16 PT
Some have no shame.
> "We feel strongly he was selling out of his house," Richmond County DA Danny Craig said. My jaw dropped at this nugget. To Dan Craig: Danny boy, it is with acute embarassment that I note that we share a first name. That aside, I would suggest to you that before you imprison any more elderly quadrapalegics that you would take the trouble to get somewhat better evidence against your unfortunate victim than "strong feelings." Danny, do you remember the East German police popularly known as "statsi"? Members of this once greatly feared force eventually found themselves sitting in the same courtroom dock to which they had sent so many. Think it can't happen here? That must be why you feel comfortable imprisoning, again, I can hardly believe I'm writing this, elderly quadrapalegics.  
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Comment #11 posted by observer on April 06, 2001 at 12:39:48 PT
re: Help finding stats re: alcohol vs illegal drug
quantify the death rates and other collateral harm caused by alcohol vs illegal drugssee especially:Annual Causes of Death in the United States see:Drug War Facts Drug War FAQlets, Death Rates 
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on April 06, 2001 at 11:47:38 PT
Thanks GCW
To live in the Spirit is to walk in it. Not to offend people who are Atheists or another Faith but as far as I'm concerned when in doubt about how to act or be, think how would Jesus act in the same situation? 
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Comment #9 posted by The GCW on April 06, 2001 at 11:26:20 PT
FoM, The saying pertains to an animal, but just so happens to relate this time to police. I use that saying for all kinds of situations, seldom, refering to police while using it. The war corrupts the police more than any other temptation police confront, yet I have learned that it is inapropriate to refer to them as the P word. I apologise for the unintended coincidence. My will through the Holy Spirit is to be right with God, which includes not refering to police as the P word. As a man trying to live w/ the Holy Spirit, I welcome my neighbors helping me be conscience of living in the Holy Spirit, since on my own, it would not happen.Never try to teach a kitten to sing, it only wastes your time and it annoys the kitten.Peace.
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Comment #8 posted by Frank on April 06, 2001 at 10:40:07 PT:
Help finding stats re: alcohol vs illegal drugs?
I'm engaged in a debate with some people about the harm caused by alcohol vs illegal drugs. Can anyone provide any specific links/stats that quantify the death rates and other collateral harm caused by alcohol vs illegal drugs? I know I've read this several places, but I can't seem to find it when I need it. You guys are the best!
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Comment #7 posted by Sudaca on April 06, 2001 at 10:06:39 PT
Mr. Cowan
Wow, If Mr. Cowan's analyses start showing up on paper media the prohibiters are going to be in more trouble than they could ever dream of.Good reporting may be the end of the WOD yet. 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 06, 2001 at 08:56:06 PT
Just a short comment
I just want to say that I have never liked calling anyone a pig. We never know who might be helping our cause. My sister is a retired cop and she sends me articles when she finds them. She talks to people about marijuana even though she is from a time when it wasn't around. She is 14 years older then me and yet she has learned and now sees the error of the way we are approaching the drug war. We have Ministers against the drug war too. When people bash different life styles you never know who lost someone to Aids. When we say bad things about any group of people we really can cause pain. We need to respect humanity as a whole in my opinion.
My Activist's Page
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on April 06, 2001 at 04:01:35 PT:
That's a good one, GCW, I'll remember that one. Ignoids.BTW, it sounds as if you have been frequenting the Forums; The bit about the pig is a favorite 'broken record' aphorism one of the Officer Boot types indulges in with every post. (Pity he always takes it out of context; the man credited with it was Robert Heinlein, a 20th Century SF writer and pro-libertarian who, in his writings made it quite clear what he thinks of well-meaning do-gooders who use the power of the State to ram their prejudices and idiocies down the throats of others. In his novella "If This Goes On..." that was republished as "Revolt in 2100 AD" you find some shockingly prophetic views of modern society. All we're missing is personal energy weapons and ghettos for Jews, Mormons, Catholics, etc. Everything else is already in place.. Like the collusion between the Religious Right and Big Business.) I check in the Forum from time to time, and quickly leave; the discourse in their only goes to prove my basic assertions that one cannot expect moral determinism from those who's paychecks are dependant upon rousting, arresting and killing cannabis consumers. The most salient argument I read there went like this (paraphrased for brevity):People who are not in power demand changes in the laws. Those who are in power do all they can to prevent those changes. And we take our orders from them.That's why I say it is never profitable to argue with the vessels of power; go after the power, itself, and force change from them. The blue-clad-and-badged robots will follow whatever programming they're given. 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on April 05, 2001 at 20:18:37 PT
Congressman Suet, qoute: WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE THESE NAZI-NARCO-WARRIORS?When we take our police and ask them to do this filthy work, and they shoot people... There comes a point where the SWAT police mentality gets muddled in the Nazi Swastika mentality. Thus they become SWATSTIKA. SWATSTIKA perhaps could make a good household word to use in favor of exposing the ignoids.
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on April 05, 2001 at 20:10:13 PT
This may need to be placed on the desk of every politician in America. For Amendment 20 (vote 4:20 after Buckley died and was found w/enough uncounted signed pititions in her desk taking the Amendment 19 to the 20 mark, 'cause she did not allow 19 to be counted after it was on the ballot)in Colorado, our govenor bill owens said about 20 "not on my watch". Bill, get past page one of the Bible. Then you will have a friend in the mercy and compassion business.Never Try to teach a pig to sing, it only wastes your time and it annoys the pig!Sounds good, but I am not wasting my time, but trying to tame the pig anyway. 
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Comment #2 posted by CongressmanSuet on April 05, 2001 at 19:54:28 PT:
Mans inhumanity toward fellow men..
  has always appaled me so. Just think of the mentality of the cops who make these "para-quadraplegic" busts? What could they possibly think they are doing to stop the drug trade? "Oh, oh, Officer Krupke here, please send backup, I detect a immovable, non-violent quadraplegic in excruciating pain smoking Cannabis to gain relief, also, please send a canine so we can search for hidden compartments in his/her wheelchair. I found 3 separate baggies with about 3 dollars worth of "Child poison" in them, so I believe we have a major trafficer. Also, please send a large piece of plastic to line the seat of my patrol car, the "dealer" is oozing bodily fluids". WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE THESE NAZI-NARCO-WARRIORS? Thank God there are no cops in my family, I would die from the shame....
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on April 05, 2001 at 14:02:06 PT:
A Searing Indictment of the the Drug War
Presented in this fashion, using the incredible resources of, the pernicious and pervasive lunacy of the Drug War is highlighted."physicians cannot in good faith recommend a drug therapy without clinical evidence to back it up."I never recommend cannabis without the evidence to back it up. Those who claim there is none are ideologues, or merely have not looked very hard."Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, marijuana arrests in the city have risen from 720 in 1992, to 59,945 in the first 11 months of 2000."I hope that this is not true. If true, this represents an increase of 8326%. Drug use did not increase accordingly, so this merely represents a concerted effort at repression. Despite the drama of the numbers, the benefit to society is nil, while the damage to our citizens, and their confidence in the Amerikan judicial system is inestimable. 
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