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Activism decentralize drug war gun rights Intelwars Marijuana Nullify right to keep and bear arms Strategy

Dear Gun People, Follow the Lead of the Weed People

Dear Gun People,

I know a lot of you are pretty upset about the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency. He’s promised to be tough on guns and you think he might start an all-out assault on the Second Amendment. We could see more federal gun control coming down the pike. We could even see some kind of weapons ban.

Now granted, the Senate may slow Biden’s roll if it remains in Republican control. But even that isn’t a guarantee. After all, there are quite a few liberal Republican senators who might just go along with more gun control, especially if there is some kind of tragic shooting incident that gets people all riled up about guns again. On top of that, modern presidents have proven that they don’t really need Congress to implement gun control. They can do a lot of damage to the Second Amendment via executive order.

But let’s back up for a moment. Despite the rhetoric, Trump wasn’t exactly great on the Second Amendment. He ramped up enforcement of existing federal gun control each of the first three years of his presidency, and there’s no reason to think he didn’t ratchet it up again this year. Don’t forget, every federal firearms law currently on the books is a violation of the Second Amendment.

On top of that, Trump did something the “gun-grabbing” Barack Obama didn’t do – instituted new federal gun control in the form of a “bump stock” ban.

Yes, I know a lot of you don’t really care about bump stocks. But the ban was unconstitutional whether you think anybody “needs” a bump stock or not. On a side-note, it’s ironic that some of you Second Amendment supporters used that “you don’t need one” argument for bump stocks considering that’s the exact same argument the “gun-grabbers” use for “assault rifles.”

Anyway, Trump wasn’t much of a Second Amendment president. Now, I will grant you — Biden could be even worse. But it doesn’t have to matter. Because the weed people have given you the blueprint to stop federal gun control in its tracks.

Actually, the weed people didn’t come up with the blueprint. James Madison gave it to us in Federalist #46 when he said states could impede “unwarrantable” federal actions (or even warrantable actions that happen to be unpopular) with “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the union.”

This is what marijuana activists have done. Instead of focusing on D.C. politics, they took action at the state and local level. And they’ve enjoyed great success. Despite federal prohibition, 36 states have legalized marijuana in some form. During the 2020 election, four more states legalized recreational marijuana, bringing the total number to 15.

Did I mention that the federal government continues its efforts at marijuana control?

You see, the dirty little secret is the federal government can’t enforce its laws without state and local cooperation. When it comes to weed, state and local governments haven’t cooperated. In fact, they have outright defied federal prohibition.

When a state legalizes marijuana for medical or recreational use, it removes a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By legalizing cannabis, these states can essentially sweep away at least some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests. Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

The feds would almost certainly have the same problem maintaining any federal gun control scheme if states simply stopped enforcing it.

But for whatever reason, you all don’t seem to want to press that option. You gun folks would rather send money to the feckless NRA, or elect a “Second Amendment president” like Trump (who ends up awful on the Second Amendment), or beg federal judges to protect their rights.

Newsflash – that isn’t working.

What I’m trying to tell you is to follow the lead of the weed people. Show some guts like the weed people. Get out there and nullify like the weed people. Because when it’s all said and done, that’s the only way you’re going to stop the erosion of the Second Amendment. The federal government isn’t ever going to limit the federal government.

You have the blueprint. Now get busy and start building.

In liberty, your fellow gun person,

Mike

The post Dear Gun People, Follow the Lead of the Weed People first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Children Consent, Drug Decriminalization, Anthrax Petition – New World Next Week


This week on the New World Next Week: the District of Criminals plans to give 11 year olds vaccine consent behind their parents’ backs; Oregon spearheads the war on the war on drugs; and the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry petitions the government to re-open the investigation into the 2001 anthrax false flag.

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Interview 1596 – New World Next Week with James Evan Pilato


This week on the New World Next Week: the District of Criminals plans to give 11 year olds vaccine consent behind their parents’ backs; Oregon spearheads the war on the war on drugs; and the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry petitions the government to re-open the investigation into the 2001 anthrax false flag.
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Arizona ballot measure Ballot Measures Cannabis drug war Intelwars Marijuana Mississippi Montana New Jersey south dakota

Thirty-Six and Counting: More States Legalize Marijuana Despite Federal Prohibition

Yesterday, voters in two more states legalized marijuana for the first time, bringing the total number of states defying federal cannabis prohibition to 36.

Last month, Virginia became the 34th state with legal marijuana when its first dispensary opened. Virginia’s medical marijuana program slowly evolved with incremental regulatory change. Over time, the state broadened the definition of products cannabis patients can obtain and possess. According to Marijuana Moment, “Organizations like NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project now consider the state to be the 34th in the U.S. to meet its definition for having an effective medical marijuana system.”

Today, Mississippi and South Dakota became the 35th and 36th states to legalize marijuana.

South Dakota

South Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 26 legalizing medical marijuana by a 69.2-38.8 margin. The ballot measure establishes a medical marijuana program for patients with qualifying conditions. Patients will be able to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and can grow up to three plants. The measure also establishes a licensing program for commercial production of medical marijuana and sales through licensed dispensaries.

Voters also approved Amendment A 53.4-46.6 to legalize marijuana for adult use. The measure amends the state constitution to “legalize regulate and tax marijuana, and to require the legislature to pass laws regarding hemp as well as laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.”

South Dakota is the first state to legalize medical and recreational marijuana at the same time.

Mississippi

Mississippi had a choice between two competing ballot measures. Voters approved Initiative 65 by a 68-32 margin.  A citizen initiative led by Mississippians for Compassionate Care put the measure on the ballot. Activists turned in more than 214,000 signatures. The measure allows patients suffering from 22 qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana with the recommendation of a physician. Patients will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.

Initiative 65 was in competition with Alternative 65A put the constitutional amendment on the ballot with the passage of HC39. It had far less detail and has more restrictions than the citizen initiative. The legislature’s passage of a competing ballot initiative was widely seen as an attempt to prevent the legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi. According to Forbes, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) voiced opposition and suggested that the legislature propose an alternative.

OTHER STATES

Three other states expanded marijuana legalization through ballot measures.

Arizona

Arizona voters passed Prop. 207 to legalize cannabis for adult use by a 59.8-40.2 margin. The new law allows limited marijuana possession, use, and cultivation by adults 21 or older. It also sets up a tax and regulatory structure for the cultivation and sale of cannabis. The ballot measure includes a provision to allow the expungement of marijuana offenses.

Arizona voters legalized medical marijuana in 2010.

Montana 

Montana voters approved Ballot issue I-190 by a 56.6-43.4 margin. The statutory measure legalizes the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana by people 21 and older. It also establishes a licensing, taxation and regulatory scheme for cannabis sales and cultivation. I-190 includes a process for resentencing and records expungement for past marijuana offenses.

Voters also approved a separate measure, CI-118, by a 57.7- 42.3 vote. The initiative amends the state constitution to allow the legislature or a citizen initiative to establish the legal age of purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana. In effect, it will set the legal age for recreational marijuana at 21.

Montana legalized medical marijuana in 2004 through a ballot initiative.

New Jersey

New Jersey voters said “yes” to  Public Question No. 1 by a 66.9-33.1 margin. The ballot measure legalizes the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana by persons 21 and older, along with the manufacture and retail sales of cannabis products. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission that currently oversees the state’s medical-marijuana program will manage the regulatory scheme.

Public Question 1 was passed and place on the ballot by the New Jersey legislature.

New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010. The program languished under Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch opponent of cannabis. When Gov. Phil Murphy took office, he loosened requirements and expanded the number of qualifying medical conditions. The New Jersey legislature expanded the program further in 2019.

NEXT UP?

New Hampshire took a small step toward legalizing recreational marijuana during the 2020 legislative session. The House considered HB1663, a bill that would have legalized cannabis and created a regulatory scheme. The House  Criminal Justice and Public Safety didn’t approve the measure, but it voted 7-4 to form an interim study committee to produce a report on future legislation. This could create a foundation for the legalization of marijuana in a future legislative session.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) recently said legalizing marijuana represents a key way the state can recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic. During a virtual event, Cuomo said that the state will soon legalize marijuana for adult use.

“Soon, because now we need the money,” he said, according to a recording that was obtained by USA Today Network. “I’ve tried to get it done the last couple years. There are a lot of reasons to get it done, but one of the benefits is it also brings in revenue, and all states—but especially this state—we need revenue and we’re going to be searching the cupboards for revenue. And I think that is going to put marijuana over the top.”

Legislative efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee continue. Two bills (SB2441/HB2741) were introduced in February 2020 and will be taken up again later this year.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

State efforts to legalize cannabis continue despite federal prohibition.

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains the complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

The legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational use removes a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By legalizing cannabis, these states can essentially sweep away at least some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

These five states join a growing number of states simply ignoring and defying federal prohibition – nullifying it in practice.

Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019.

With 36 states allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

 

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Status Report: Nullify Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Marijuana is the granddaddy of the modern nullification movement. On no other issue do we find state-by-state resistance to federal power so advanced, well-funded, supported and successful. 

Beginning in California with the legalization of cannabis for medical use in 1996, states have advanced the issue every year. This has happened in spite of a 2005 Supreme Court opinion supporting federal prohibition, at least 12 years of relentless year-to-year increase in spending and enforcement efforts by the federal government through three presidential administrations and ongoing, complete prohibition at the federal level.

Thirty-three states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use, and 24 states along with Washington D.C. have decriminalized marijuana possession. Eleven states have expanded on these efforts and legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Each year, new state laws and regulations help expand the market, and each expansion further nullifies the unconstitutional federal ban in effect. With state and local actions accounting for as much as 99 percent of all enforcement efforts, the feds rely heavily on state and local help to fight the “drug war.” That help has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with marijuana legalization and decriminalization. 

In 2019, Illinois joined Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington State in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Illinois was the second state to legalize adult-use marijuana through legislative action. Vermont was the first in 2018.

Voters in Arizona, New Jersey and South Dakota will have the opportunity to legalize marijuana for recreational use during the 2020 election cycle. The South Dakota and Arizona referendums were placed on the ballot through a citizen initiative. The New Jersey legislature passed a resolution putting the issue before voters there.

Mississippi voters will choose between competing medical marijuana legalization initiatives in November, one placed on the ballot by citizen initiative, the other by the state legislature.

Meanwhile, several states expanded their medical marijuana programs and paved the way to grow the market even further.

New Jersey passed the biggest expansion. According to USA Today, the law  “simplifies the process for patients to qualify for, purchase and consume cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

Oklahoma also expanded its medical cannabis program and took a significant step to protect patient rights by including a provision that prohibits the denial of firearms ownership to patients using medical marijuana. The law also prohibits the state from denying a medical marijuana patient access to public assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP and WIC.

North Dakota’s expansion increased the number of qualifying conditions from 17 to 29 and expanded the definition of “health care provider” to include physicians assistants, authorizing them to offer medical marijuana recommendations. The new law also eliminated a provision that required doctors to attest that medical marijuana would definitively help a patient.

New Mexico expanded its program to allow medical cannabis use on school campuses under defined circumstances and extended the registration renewal period from one to three years. The new law also allows for licensed medical marijuana establishments to create “consumption areas.” 

Florida changed language in the current medical marijuana statutes to include the possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking.

Utah made a number of tweaks to the state’s medical-marijuana program that will help expand access for patients. Significantly, the new law doubles the caps on the number of patients to whom a doctor can recommend marijuana from 300 to 600. It also adjusts dosing parameters to allow for more flexibility.

West Virginia made a number of changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws to streamline the program, increase access for patients, and open up the market.

And finally, Washington state enacted a law that allows the consumption of medical marijuana on school grounds.

We also saw some interesting cannabis market-expanding laws in states with legal recreational marijuana.

California enacted a law that severed a link between state and federal tax law, allowing individuals to deduct expenses from legal marijuana businesses for state income tax purposes.

Colorado enacted four new laws to help expand the legal marijuana market in the state. HB1230 legalized limited on-site sales and consumption of marijuana in licensed, public establishments. These include restaurants, hotels, music venues and other businesses. Dispensaries will be able to open “tasting rooms.” The law also authorizes marijuana tour buses and limos. Establishments running the vehicles can’t sell cannabis, but marijuana consumption is allowed in a “bring-your-own-weed” system. HB1234 legalized marijuana delivery. HB1090 opens up Colorado’s cannabis industry to outside investors and capital, including publicly held companies and large venture funds. And HB1311 established the Institute of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University-Pueblo. The role and mission of the institute are to conduct research related to cannabis and publicly disseminate the results of the research.

Marijuana businesses face significant challenges accessing banking services due to ongoing federal prohibition. West Virginia enacted a law to begin addressing this issue. The legislation empowers the West Virginia Treasurer to authorize financial institutions to provide banking services for the state fees, penalties, and taxes collected under the West Virginia medical marijuana program. The bill also commits the state to do everything “permitted by law” to defend these financial institutions and cover “payment of the amount of any judgment obtained, damages, legal fees and expenses, and any other expenses incurred.” The California legislature sent a similar measure to the governor in September

Maine ensured there will be a market for edible marijuana products in the state with the passage of a law declaring that food additives or food products containing adult-use marijuana are not considered to be “adulterated,” and thus, illegal.

We’ve also seen a growing movement to expunge past marijuana charges in states where cannabis is now legal. Washington state, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, New York. and Oregon all passed expungement bills in 2019-20. 

In many states, the decriminalization of marijuana is the first step. Decrim doesn’t legalize marijuana but it does change possession from a criminal charge to a civil offense punishable by a fine. Last year, Delaware and New Mexico passed decriminalization laws. New York expanded its decriminalization law by lowering fines.

As marijuana becomes more accepted and more states simply ignore the feds, the federal government is less able to enforce its unconstitutional laws. After more than two decades of state, local and individual nullification, the federal government’s unconstitutional prohibition of cannabis is beginning to come apart at the seams. 

This is an overview of the most recent moves to legalize marijuana and expand the market for cannabis despite federal prohibition. To get more details on state efforts to undermine the drug war, along with other unconstitutional federal actions and programs, make sure you read our latest State of the Nullification Movement report. You can download it for free HERE.

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drug war Intelwars Police prohibition SWAT War on Drugs

The Police State’s War on Weed and Backyard Gardens

“They came again this morning at about 8:00 o’clock. A large cargo-type helicopter flew low over the cabin, shaking it on its very foundations. It shook all of us inside, too. I feel frightened … I see how helpless and tormented I am becoming with disgust and disillusionment with the government which has turned this beautiful country into a police state … I feel like I am in the middle of a war zone.”
-Journal entry from a California resident describing the government’s aerial searches for marijuana plants

Backyard gardeners, beware: tomato plants have become collateral damage in the government’s war on drugs, especially marijuana.

In fact, merely growing a vegetable garden on your own property, or in a greenhouse on your property, or shopping at a gardening store for gardening supplies—incredibly enough—could set you up for a drug raid sanctioned by the courts.

It’s happened before.

After shopping for hydroponic tomatoes at their local gardening store, a Kansas family found themselves subjected to a SWAT team raid as part of a multi-state, annual campaign dubbed “Operation Constant Gardener,” in which police collected the license plates of hundreds of customers at the gardening store and then investigated them for possible marijuana possession.

By “investigated,” I mean that police searched through the family’s trash. (You can thank the Supreme Court and their 1978 ruling in California v. Greenwood for allowing police to invade your trash can.) Finding “wet glob vegetation” in the garbage, the cops somehow managed to convince themselves—and a judge—that it was marijuana.

In fact, it was loose-leaf tea, but those pesky details don’t usually bother the cops when they’re conducting field tests.

Indeed, field tests routinely read positive for illegal drugs even when no drugs are present. According to investigative journalist Radley Balko, “it’s almost as if these tests come up positive whenever the police need them to. A partial list of substances that the tests have mistaken for illegal drugs would include sage, chocolate chip cookies, motor oil, spearmint, soap, tortilla dough, deodorant, billiard’s chalk, patchouli, flour, eucalyptus, breath mints, Jolly Ranchers and vitamins.”

There’s a long list of innocent ingredients that could be mistaken for drugs and get you subjected to a raid, because that’s all it takes—just the barest whiff of a suspicion by police that you might be engaged in criminal activity—to start the ball rolling.

From there, these so-called “investigations” follow the usual script: judge issues a warrant for a SWAT raid based on botched data, cops raid the home and terrorize the family at gunpoint, cops find no drugs, family sues over a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, and then the courts protect the cops and their botched raid on the basis of qualified immunity.

It happens all the time.

As Balko reports, “Police have broken down doors, screamed obscenities, and held innocent people at gunpoint only to discover that what they thought were marijuana plants were really sunflowers, hibiscus, ragweed, tomatoes, or elderberry bushes. (It’s happened with all five.)”

Surely, you might think, the government has enough on its hands right now—policing a novel coronavirus pandemic, instituting nationwide lockdowns, quelling civil unrests over police brutality—that it doesn’t need to waste time and resources ferreting out pot farmers.

You’d be wrong.

This is a government that excels at make-work projects in which it assigns at-times unnecessary jobs to government agents to keep them busy or employed.

In this case, however, the make-work principle (translation: making work to keep the police state busy at taxpayer expense) is being used to justify sending police and expensive military helicopters likely equipped with sophisticated surveillance and thermal imaging devices on exploratory sorties every summer—again at taxpayer expense—in order to uncover illegal marijuana growing operations.

Often, however, what these air and ground searches end up targeting are backyard gardeners growing tomato plants.

Just recently, in fact, eyewitnesses in Virginia reported low-flying black helicopters buzzing over rural and suburban neighborhoods as part of a multi-agency operation to search for marijuana growers. Oftentimes these joint operations involve local police, state police and the Army National Guard.

One woman reported having her “tomato plants complimented by the 7 cops that pulled up in my yard in unmarked SUVs, after a helicopter hovered over our house for 20 minutes this morning.” Another man reported a similar experience from a few years ago when police “showed up in unmarked SUV’s with guns pulled. Then the cops on the ground argued with the helicopter because the heat signature in the ‘copter didn’t match what was growing.”

Back in 2013, an aerial surveillance mission spotted what police thought might be marijuana plants. Two days later, dozens of city officials, SWAT team, police officers and code compliance employees, and numerous official vehicles including dozens of police cars and several specialized vehicular equipment, including helicopters and unmanned flying drones, descended on The Garden of Eden, a 3.5-acre farm in Arlington, Texas, for a 10-hour raid in search of marijuana that turned up nothing more than tomato, blackberry and okra plants.

These aerial and ground sweeps have become regular occurrences across the country, part of the government’s multi-million dollar Domestic Cannabis Eradication Program. Local cops refer to the annual military maneuvers as “Eradication Day.”

Started in 1979 as a way to fund local efforts to crack down on marijuana growers in California and Hawaii, the Eradication Program went national in 1985, right around the time the Reagan Administration enabled the armed forces to get more involved in the domestic “war on drugs.”

Writing for The Washington Post, Radley Balko describes how these raids started off, with the National Guard, spy planes and helicopters:

The project was called the Campaign Against Marijuana Production, or CAMP… In all, thirteen California counties were invaded by choppers, some of them blaring Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” as they dropped Guardsmen and law enforcement officers armed with automatic weapons, sandviks, and machetes into the fields of California … In CAMP’s first year, the program conducted 524 raids, arrested 128 people, and seized about 65,000 marijuana plants. Operating costs ran at a little over $1.5 million. The next year, 24 more sheriffs signed up for the program, for a total of 37. CAMP conducted 398 raids, seized nearly 160,000 plants, and made 218 arrests at a cost to taxpayers of $2.3 million.

The area’s larger growers had been put out of business (or, probably more accurately, had set up shop somewhere else), so by the start of the second campaign in 1984, CAMP officials were already targeting increasingly smaller growers. By the end of that 1984 campaign, the helicopters had to fly at lower and lower altitudes to spot smaller batches of plants. The noise, wind, and vibration from the choppers could knock out windows, kick up dust clouds, and scare livestock. The officials running the operation made no bones about the paramilitary tactics they were using. They considered the areas they were raiding to be war zones. In the interest of “officer safety,” they gave themselves permission to search any structures relatively close to a marijuana supply, without a warrant. Anyone coming anywhere near a raid operation was subject to detainment, usually at gunpoint.

Right around the same time, in the mid-1980s, the federal government started handing out grants to local police departments to assist with their local boots-on-the-ground “war on drugs.” These grants (through the Byrne Grant program and COPS program, both of which started to be phased out under George W. Bush, only to be re-upped by Barack Obama) could be used to pay for additional police personnel, equipment, training, technical assistance and information systems. However, studies show that while these federal grants did not improve police effectiveness or drug deterrence, they did incentivize SWAT team raids.

But how do you go from a “war on drugs” to SWAT-style raids on vegetable gardens?

Connect the dots, starting with the government’s war on marijuana, the emergence of SWAT teams, the militarization of local police forces through the federal 1033 Program, which allows the Pentagon to transfer “vast amounts of military equipment—machine guns and ammunition, helicopters, night-vision gear, armored cars—to local police departments,” and the transformation of American communities into battlefields: as always, it comes back to the make work principle, which starts with local police finding ways to justify the use of military equipment and federal funding.

Each year, the government spends between $14 and $18 million funding helicopter sweeps and police overtime to help the states track down illegal marijuana plants. These sweeps are even being carried out in states where it’s now legal to grow marijuana.

The sweeps work like this: Local police, working with multiple state agencies including the National Guard, carry out ground and air searches of different sectors. Air spotters flying overhead in helicopters relay their findings to police on the ground, who then carry out a search-and-destroy mission.

Mark my words: the use of police drones will make these kinds of aerial missions even more common.

For the most part, aerial surveillance is legal. As Arthur Holland Michel writes for The Atlantic: “When it comes to law enforcement, police are likewise free to use aerial surveillance without a warrant or special permission. Under current privacy law, these operations are just as legal as policing practices whereby an officer spots unlawful activity while walking or driving through a neighborhood.”

There have been a few notable exceptions.

In 2015, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that surveillance from a low-flying helicopter conducting an aerial search for marijuana by state police and the national guard was illegal under the U.S. Constitution. The court reasoned that “when low-flying aerial activity leads to more than just observation and actually causes an unreasonable intrusion on the ground—most commonly from an unreasonable amount of wind, dust, broken objects, noise, and sheer panic—then at some point courts are c and require a warrant before law enforcement engages in such activity. The Fourth Amendment and its prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures demands no less.”

In Philip Cobbs’ case, helicopter spotters claimed to have seen two lone marijuana plants growing in the wreckage of a fallen oak tree on the Virginia native’s 39-acre family farm.

Cobbs noticed the black helicopter circling overhead while spraying the blueberry bushes near his house. After watching the helicopter for several moments, Cobbs went inside to check on his blind, deaf 90-year-old mother. By the time he returned outside, several unmarked police SUVs had driven onto his property, and police (ten in all) in flak jackets, carrying semi-automatic weapons and shouting unintelligibly, had exited the vehicles and were moving toward him.

Of course, it was never about the two pot plants.

What the cops were really after was an excuse to search Cobbs’ little greenhouse, which he had used that spring to start tomato plants, cantaloupes, and watermelons, as well as asters and hollyhocks, which he planned to sell at a roadside stand near his home. The search of the greenhouse turned up nothing more than used tomato seedling containers.

Nevertheless, police charged Cobbs with misdemeanor possession of marijuana for the two plants they claimed to have found. Eventually, the charges were dismissed but not before The Rutherford Institute took up Cobbs’ case, which revealed that police hadn’t even bothered to secure a warrant before embarking on their raid of Cobbs’ property—a raid that had to cost taxpayers upwards of $25,000, at the very least—part of their routine sweep of the countryside in search of pot-growing operations.

Two plants or two hundred or no plants at all: it doesn’t matter.

A SWAT team targeted one South Carolina man for selling $50 worth of pot on two different occasions. The Washington Post reports: The SWAT team “broke down Betton’s door with a battering ram, then fired at least 57 bullets at him, hitting him nine times. He lost portions of his gallbladder, colon, bowel and rectum, and is paralyzed from the waist down. He also suffered damage to his liver, lung, small intestine and pancreas. Two of his vertebrae were damaged, and another was partially destroyed. Another bullet shattered his leg.” After security footage showed that most of what police said about the raid was a lie, the cops settled the case for $2.75 million.

Monetary awards like that are the exception, however.

Most of the time, the cops get away with murder and mayhem. Literally.

Bottom line: no amount of marijuana is too insignificant if it allows police to qualify for federal grants and equipment and lay claim to seized assets (there’s the profit motive) under the guise of fighting the War on Drugs.

SWAT teams carry out more than 80,000 no-knock raids every year. The vast majority of these raids are to serve routine drug warrants, many times for crimes no more serious than possession of marijuana.

Although growing numbers of states continue to decriminalize marijuana use and 9 out of 10 Americans favor the legalization of either medical or recreational/adult-use marijuana, the government’s profit-driven “War on Drugs”—waged with state and local police officers dressed in SWAT gear, armed to the hilt, and trained to act like soldiers on a battlefield, all thanks to funding provided by the U.S. government, particularly the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—has not abated.

Since the formation of the DHS post-9/11, hundreds of billions of dollars in grants have flowed to local police departments for SWAT teams, giving rise to a “police industrial complex” that routinely devastates communities, terrorizes families, and destroys innocent lives.

No longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day. Nationwide, SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling.

Unfortunately, general incompetence, collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids tend to go hand in hand with an overuse of paramilitary forces.

In some cases, officers misread the address on the warrant. In others, they simply barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building. In another subset of cases, police conduct a search of a building where the suspect no longer resides.

SWAT teams have even on occasion conducted multiple, sequential raids on wrong addresses or executed search warrants despite the fact that the suspect is already in police custody. Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or scent of legal substances for drugs. Incredibly, these substances have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed.

All too often, the shock-and-awe tactics utilized by many SWAT teams only increases the likelihood that someone will get hurt with little consequences for law enforcement, even when the raids are botched.

Botched SWAT team raids have resulted in the loss of countless lives, including children and the elderly. Usually, however, the first to be shot are the family dogs.

SWAT raids are usually carried out late at night or shortly before dawn. Unfortunately, to the unsuspecting homeowner—especially in cases involving mistaken identities or wrong addresses—a raid can appear to be nothing less than a violent home invasion, with armed intruders crashing through their door.

That’s exactly what happened to Jose Guerena, the young ex-Marine who was killed after a SWAT team kicked open the door of his Arizona home during a drug raid and opened fire. According to news reports, Guerena, 26 years old and the father of two young children, grabbed a gun in response to the forced invasion but never fired. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. Police officers were not as restrained. The young Iraqi war veteran was allegedly fired upon 71 times. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

The problems inherent in these situations are further compounded by the fact that SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.

This sorry state of affairs is made even worse by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have essentially done away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.

Clearly, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplesomething must be done.

When the war on drugs—a.k.a. the war on the American people—becomes little more than a thinly veiled attempt to keep SWAT teams employed and special interests appeased, it’s time to revisit our drug policies and laws.

“You take the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all the rights you expect to have—when they come in like that, the only right you have is not to get shot if you cooperate. They open that door, your life is on the line,” concluded Bob Harte, whose home was raided by a SWAT team simply because the family was seen shopping at a garden store, cops found loose tea in the family’s trash and mistook it for marijuana.

Our family will never be the same,” said Addie Harte, recalling the two-hour raid that had police invading their suburban home with a battering ram and AR-15 rifles. As The Washington Post reports:

Bob found himself flat on floor, hands behind his head, his eyes locked on the boots of the officer standing over him with an AR-15 assault rifle. “Are there kids?” the officers were yelling. “Where are the kids?” “And I’m laying there staring at this guy’s boots fearing for my kids’ lives, trying to tell them where my children are,” Harte recalled later in a deposition on July 9, 2015. “They are sending these guys with their guns drawn running upstairs to bust into my children’s house, bedroom, wake them out of bed.”

It didn’t matter that no drugs were found—nothing but a hydroponic tomato garden and loose tea leaves. The search and SWAT raid were reasonable, according to the courts.

There’s a lesson here for the rest of us. As Bob Harte concluded: “If this can happen to us, everybody in the country needs to be afraid.”

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cops drug war Intelwars Police War on Drugs

Federal Grant Program Nationalizes Local Policing

Unconstitutional federal funding helps drive local policing priorities. The Operation Relentless Pursuit (ORP) initiative serves as a prime example.

Attorney General William Barr announced the program in December 2019. ORP is intended to take on violent crime in seven of “America’s most violent cities through a surge in federal resources.”

When Barr announced the program, he pledged “to intensify federal law enforcement resources” into Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee. These seven cities have violent crime levels several times the national average. According to the press release, “The operation will involve increasing the number of federal law enforcement officers to the selected cities, as well as bulking up federal task forces through collaborative efforts with state and local law enforcement partners.”

Last month, the DOJ announced $51 million in federal grant money to hire 214 sworn law enforcement officers for state and local law enforcement task forces in the cities under the program. The grants money came through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), a federal welfare program that helps fund state and local police agencies with funds for officer hiring and retention. According to the agency website, “The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

Under the guidelines for the ORP money, “The recipients of the funding will deploy existing veteran officers to task force duties and use the CHP funding to hire new recruits to backfill those positions, as practical.”

The Bureau of Justice Assistance will make an additional $10 million available to support ORP for hiring additional prosecutors, paying overtime expenses for task force members, funding multi-agency investigations, purchasing mobile data terminals and modern technological platforms, and for the development of strategic plans to address gaps in combating violent crime.

As with all federal funding, the money comes with strings attached that effectively incentivize local police in these cities to align their efforts with federal policing priorities. Officers assigned to the ORP will work in coordination with the U.S. Attorneys Office and “other relevant federal agencies” to investigate targets involved in “gang, drug trafficking and other violent crime-related issues.”

“The COPS Office expects that officers deployed to ORP task force operations as a result of CHP funding will spend all or most of their time performing task force–related activities.”

Despite branding this as a program to battle violent crime, it is really nothing but an extension of the unconstitutional war on drugs that helped bring us militarized police and elevated levels of violence to begin with. Prohibition creates black markets that always lead to violent means to protect them. Meanwhile, the federal government has dressed, armed and trained police officers like soldiers, turning “protect and serve” into “command and control.”

In effect, the ORP money will incentivize police departments in these cities to put their veteran officers on the front lines of the war on drugs and leave everyday policing in the community to rookies. Federal priorities will come first whether or not they are really those that would most benefit local residents or not.

This is another example of how the federal government is effectively turning local police into a national police force.

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2021 Budget CURRENT EVENTS DOJ Donald Trump drug war Intelwars medical marijuana War on Drugs

Trump Administration Wants to Resume Prosecuting Medical Marijuana Users in States Where It’s Legal

The Trump administration wants to restore funding to the Department of Justice so it can prosecute medical marijuana users in states where medicinal cannabis is legal.

President Trump’s proposed 2021 budget would end an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from DoJ interference.

In 2014, Congress placed a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act providing that “[n]one of the funds made available … to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent [various] States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

This provision has been renewed by Congress each appropriations bill since.

In August 2016. a federal appeals court upheld the provision by halting prosecutions of people using marijuana legally based on their state’s laws.

“In sum, § 542 prohibits DOJ from spending money on actions that prevent the Medical Marijuana States’ giving practical effect to their state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana….

“[By prosecuting state-authorized medical marijuana users,] DOJ, without taking any legal action against the Medical Marijuana States, prevents them from implementing their laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana by prosecuting individuals for use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana that is authorized by such laws. By officially permitting certain conduct, state law provides for nonprosecution of individuals who engage in such conduct. If the federal government prosecutes such individuals, it has prevented the state from giving practical effect to its law providing for non-prosecution of individuals who engage in the permitted conduct.

“We therefore conclude that, at a minimum, § 542 prohibits DOJ from spending funds from relevant appropriations acts for the prosecution of individuals who engaged in conduct permitted by the State Medical Marijuana Laws and who fully complied with such laws…”

In simple terms, Congress has effectively prohibited federal prosecution of marijuana users whose actions comply with all relevant state medical marijuana laws – despite the ongoing federal prohibition of marijuana. In effect, Congress has tied federal prosecutors’ hands so they can’t enforce federal law – despite the fact prohibition generally remains in effect.

Trump wants to untie their hands.

The proposed Trump 2021 budget would restore funding and allow the DoJ to resume prosecuting medical marijuana users and businesses in the 33 states where it is legal.

Congress won’t likely end the current policy of noninterference. Pres. Obama also lobbied to have the provision stripped from spending bills during his tenure in the White House. But Trump has taken things to another level, hinting that he would ignore Congress and enforce federal marijuana prohibition in states where medicinal cannabis is legal despite the congressional directive.

“Division B, section 531 of the Act provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds made available under this Act to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories,” Trump wrote in a signing statement attached to the spending bill he signed last December. “My Administration will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”

While this language doesn’t explicitly say the DoJ will begin prosecuting medical marijuana users, it certainly leaves that door open. As an article in Marijuana Moment put it, “By calling out the medical marijuana rider, Trump is making clear that his administration believes it can broadly enforce federal drug laws against people complying with state medical marijuana laws even though Congress told him not to.”

It’s hard to imagine where the president thinks he gets the authority to ignore Congress. If we accept the notion that Congress has the power to regulate marijuana (although it does not) it certainly has the authority to tell the DoJ how to allocate funds to enforce the marijuana prohibition it authorized.

Even if Trump does decide to move forward with enforcement effort, it wouldn’t have much practical effect. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance. When states legalize marijuana, they effectively nullify federal prohibtion in effect.

Nevertheless, this kind of maneuvering by the feds has a chilling effect. An attorney in West Virginia reports that two of her clients who were applying for cultivation licenses under that state’s medical marijuana program withdrew their applications after Trump’s comments. Despite the fact that there is virtually no chance of actual prosecution, some people are too intimidated by federal bullying to take that chance.

Regardless of the practical impact, Trump’s push to resume federal prosecution of marijuana users in states where medicinal cannabis is legal disregards the Constitution and reveals an extreme lack of respect for state sovereignty and disregard for individual liberty.

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