Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jeff Sessions wants police to take more cash from American citizens

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said he'd be issuing a new directive this week aimed at increasing police seizures of cash and property.

“We hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture — especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks for a speech to the National District Attorney's Association in Minneapolis. "With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners."

Asset forfeiture is a disputed practice that allows law enforcement officials to permanently take money and goods from individuals suspected of crime. There is little disagreement among lawmakers, authorities and criminal justice reformers that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” But in many cases, neither a criminal conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary — under forfeiture laws in most states and at the federal level, mere suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to allow police to seize items permanently.

Additionally, many states allow law enforcement agencies to keep cash that they seize, creating what critics characterize as a profit motive. The practice is widespread: In 2014, federal law enforcement officers took more property from citizens than burglars did. State and local authorities seized untold millions more.

Since 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration alone has taken more than $3 billion in cash from people not charged with any crime, according to the Justice Department's Inspector General.

The practice is ripe for abuse. In one case in 2016, Oklahoma police seized $53,000 owned by a Christian band, an orphanage and a church after stopping a man on a highway for a broken taillight. A few years earlier, a Michigan drug task force raided the home of a self-described “soccer mom,” suspecting she was not in compliance with the state's medical marijuana law. They proceeded to take “every belonging” from the family, including tools, a bicycle and her daughter's birthday money.

In recent years, states have begun to clamp down on the practice.

“Thirteen states now allow forfeiture only in cases where there's been a criminal conviction,” said Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that represents forfeiture defendants.

In 2015, Eric Holder's Justice Department issued a memo sharply curtailing a particular type of forfeiture practice that allowed local police to share part of their forfeiture proceeds with federal authorities. Known as “adoptive” forfeiture, it allowed state and local authorities to sidestep sometimes stricter state laws, processing forfeiture cases under the more permissive federal statute.

These types of forfeitures amounted to a small total of assets seized by federal authorities, so the overall impact on forfeiture practices was relatively muted. Still, criminal justice reform groups on the left and the right cheered the move as a signal that the Obama administration was serious about curtailing forfeiture abuses.

In his speech Monday, Attorney General Sessions appeared to specifically call out adoptive forfeitures as an area for potential expansion. “Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate,” he said, “as is sharing with our partners.”

“This is a federalism issue,” Johnson said. “Any return to federal adoptive forfeitures would “circumvent limitations on civil forfeiture that are imposed by state legislatures … the Department of Justice is saying 'we're going to help state and local law enforcement to get around those reforms.'”

The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.


Senate Committee Overwhelmingly Passes Veterans Equal Access Amendment

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 24-7 to include the Veterans Equal Access amendment as part of the 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which would expand much needed medical marijuana access to our nation’s veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors in states where cannabis therapy is permitted are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a medical cannabis recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications to treat conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction on a scale of post-traumatic symptom scores following cannabis therapy. This is why, in recent months, two of the largest veterans’ rights groups — AMVETS and the American Legion — have resolved in favor of patients’ access to cannabis therapy.

The amendment was introduced by Senator Daines, R-Montana for the second year in a row. Last year, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

The 24-7 roll call was an increase over last years 20-10 appropriations passage. The changes came from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) all voting “aye” after having voted against the effort last year and both new members of the committee, Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting in favor.

Identical language is expected to receive a vote in the House later this year. Keep an eye on NORML’s Act page for that and other changes.


This is what activism accomplishes. We made 3 prohibitionists vote in our favor. That is the power of the people. That is what we can accomplish. There are petitions at the NORML Action Center website. Please fill these petitions out on a daily basis. This is how we get through to them and to make sure Washington DC doesn't forget about us.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jeff Sessions balks at state's rights concerning marijuana

NEW YORK — In a national vote widely viewed as a victory for conservatives, last year’s elections also yielded a win for liberals in eight states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

But the growing industry is facing a federal crackdown under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared cannabis to heroin.

A task force Sessions appointed to, in part, review links between violent crimes and marijuana is scheduled to release its findings by the end of the month. But he has already asked Senate leaders to roll back rules that block the Justice Department from bypassing state laws to enforce a federal ban on medical marijuana.

That has pitted the attorney general against members of Congress across the political spectrum — from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, — who are determined to defend states’ rights and provide some certainty for the multibillion-dollar pot industry.

“Our attorney general is giving everyone whiplash by trying to take us back to the 1960s,” said Representative Jared Huffman, Democrat of California, whose district includes the so-called Emerald Triangle that produces much of the United States’ marijuana.

“Prosecutorial discretion is everything given the current conflict between the federal law and the law of many states,” he said in an interview last month.

In February, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said the Trump administration would look into enforcing federal law against recreational marijuana businesses. Some states are considering tougher stands: In Massachusetts, for example, the Legislature is trying to rewrite a law to legalize recreational marijuana that voters passed in November.

About one-fifth of Americans now live in states where marijuana is legal for adult use, according to the Brookings Institution, and an estimated 200 million live in places where medicinal marijuana is legal.

Cannabis retailing has moved from street corners to state-of-the-art dispensaries and stores, with California entrepreneurs producing rose gold vaporizers and businesses in Colorado selling infused drinks.

Sessions is backed by a minority of Americans who view cannabis as a “gateway” drug that drives social problems, such as the recent rise in opioid addiction.

“We love Jeff Sessions’s position on marijuana because he is thinking about it clearly,” said Scott Chipman, Southern California chairman for Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.

He dismissed the idea of recreational drug use. “’Recreational’ is a bike ride, a swim, going to the beach,” he said. “Using a drug to put your brain in an altered state is not recreation. That is self-destructive behavior and escapism.”

Marijuana merchants are protected by a provision in the federal budget that prohibits the Justice Department from spending money to block state laws that allow medicinal cannabis. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department did not interfere with state laws that legalize marijuana and instead focused on prosecuting drug cartels and the transport of pot across state lines.

In March, a group of senators that included Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, asked Sessions to stick with existing policies. Some lawmakers also want to allow banks to work with the marijuana industry and to allow tax deductions for business expenses.

Lawmakers who support legalizing marijuana contend that it leads to greater regulation, curbs the black market and stops money laundering. They point to studies showing that the war on drugs, which began under President Richard M. Nixon, had disastrous impacts on national incarceration rates and racial divides.

In a statement, Booker said the Trump administration’s crackdown against marijuana “will not make our communities safer or reduce the use of illegal drugs.”

“Instead, they will worsen an already broken system,” he said, noting that marijuana-related arrests are disproportionately high for black Americans.

Consumers spent $5.9 billion on legal cannabis in the United States last year, according to the Arcview Group, which studies and invests in the industry. That figure is expected to reach $19 billion by 2021.

A Quinnipiac University poll in February concluded that 59 percent of US voters believe cannabis should be legal. Additionally, the poll found, 71 percent say the federal government should not prosecute marijuana use in states that have legalized it.

But marijuana businesses are bracing for a possible clampdown.

“People that were sort of on the fence — a family office, a high-net-worth individual thinking of privately financing a licensed opportunity — it has swayed them to go the other way and think: not just yet,” said Randy Maslow, a founder of iAnthus Capital Holdings.


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Trump administration wants to gut Net Neutrality

From Free Press Action Fund:

The Trump administration, the Chairman of the FCC and greedy corporations have banded together to kill the Net Neutrality protections passed by the FCC in 2015. But they’re about to find out what happens when you mess with our internet.

On July 12, people, organizations and companies will be participating in a day of action to save Net Neutrality. Will you join us?

Sign up to participate in the day of action and we’ll give you more details about the things you can do: from changing your profile picture to posting a blog — we have options for everybody!

This is going to be the biggest day in the fight for internet freedom — you won’t want to miss it.

Internet service providers, like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, are doing all they can to take away your right to an open internet — even while they admit that Title II Net Neutrality rules haven’t harmed online investment or innovation one bit. The truth is, they want to control what we do and say online, and charge us more for full speed internet access. July 12 is the day we fight back.

Join the internet-wide day of action to save Net Neutrality.

Thanks for all you do—

Lucia, Candace, Dutch and the rest of the Free Press team,

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Press release for Cannabis Consumers For Liberty

CC4L Launches Signature Campaign on Independence Day
Accuracy of signatures a focus

Spearfish, SD: Cannabis Consumers for Liberty formally launched its signature campaign on Tuesday, July 4th. Registered South Dakota voters who wish to sign the petition are encouraged to stop by 239 W. Jackson when the "FREE CANNABIS" sign is out front, or to email to make an appointment with John Dale, CC4L founder. Signature accuracy is a focus of the campaign, which employs a straightforward, scalable process to verify the validity of each signature on the petition. Volunteers are welcome. Please email

ABOUT CC4L: Cannabis Consumers for Liberty (CC4L) is a political action committee located in Spearfish, SD. At this time, CC4L has no direct sponsorship aside from the time devoted to draft and submit the initiative, dedicated to advancing the proposition that Cannabis was unjustly prohibited in the face of other fully legal far more harmful products.

A couple of disappointments

Barrack Obama

Kim Jong Un

What do Barrack Obama and Kim Jong Un have in common? They are both disappointments. Obama could have given us a Star Trek future where race was no longer a factor. That you could be anything you wanted without someone holding you down. He could have shown African-Americans a better,brighter future. What does he do? Take us back to the '50's and before with his race baiting and divisive tactics.

Kim was educated outside of North Korea. He knows the western world is nothing like the North Koreans are portraying it. He could have led his people into the 21st century. He could have been the Korean version of Mikhail Gorbachev instead he is the 2nd North Korean leader that is a a reminder of Josef Stalin. Just like his grandpa.

These two showed promise and as it turns out it is a promise broken.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The government wants to spy on you

From Freedom Press Action Fund:

The Trump administration may get even more power to spy on your personal communications — unless we speak out.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Arkansas) has introduced a bill that would permanently reauthorize an invasive surveillance program that violates your online privacy. Given this administration's hostility toward communities of color and activists, the reauthorization of this program would pose a particular threat to marginalized people in the United States.

Tell Congress that this is unacceptable: Do not reauthorize Section 702 spying.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act authorizes intelligence agencies (like the FBI and NSA) to scan in bulk phone calls, text messages and emails traveling across the internet. These agencies are supposed to target only people outside the United States, but they also sweep up massive amounts of Americans’ communications — without a warrant or any individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.

Section 702 is one of the surveillance programs Edward Snowden exposed. Now it's up to us to protect our online privacy from an administration that's notorious for abusing its power.

It’s common for the Section 702 dragnet to sweep up “family photographs, love letters, personal financial matters, discussions of physical and mental health, and political and religious exchanges” between Americans. While this sweeping authority was meant to protect us from the most serious threats to our national security, the FBI regularly uses it to sidestep Fourth Amendment protections and search Americans' personal information for matters entirely unrelated to foreign intelligence. Instead of letting this horrible surveillance dragnet expire, Cotton's bill would make it a permanent fixture of life in the United States.

Urge Congress to protect your online privacy and rein in mass government surveillance.

To sign petition