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Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011-07-31 "Two strikes have large impact on prison population; Expensive to incarcerate state's repeat offenders" by Marisa Lagos from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
California's "three strikes" law is best known for locking up career criminals for life, but the vast majority of offenders serving prison time under the sentencing mandate were actually charged under the less-noticed second-strike provision.
These 32,390 inmates are serving sentences that were doubled as a strike-two penalty, and they account for nearly 20 percent of the state's prison population. Yet most efforts to reform the law have focused exclusively on the third-strike provision, which carries with it a mandatory 25 years-to-life sentence.
As prison costs in California continue to grow, and the state faces a Supreme Court order to reduce its inmate population by more than 30,000 over the next two years, the tens of thousands of second-strikers appear to pose a bigger challenge to state officials attempting to rein in prison costs than the 8,700 people serving time for a third strike.
"We're missing the significance of the second strike," said UC Berkeley's Barry Krisberg, director of research and policy at the school's Institute on Law and Social Policy. "It is having an enormous impact on our prison population, and many second-strikers are serving more time than third-strikers, but when people talk about the policy of reforming three strikes, nobody wants to touch the second strike."

'Arbitrary' sentencing -
Under the three strikes law, approved by the Legislature and voters in 1994, anyone who was convicted of a serious or violent felony in the past can be charged with a strike if they commit a new felony. Someone charged with a second strike under the law will face double the prison time, regardless of whether the new offense is serious or violent; those charged with a third strike automatically are eligible for a 25 years-to-life sentence.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the law means that someone convicted of petty theft or burglary who had a prior felony could face four to six years in prison instead of two to three years; and someone convicted of armed robbery would spend at least a decade behind bars instead of five years - or perhaps longer if prosecutors added on sentencing enhancements for using a gun.
"The problem with strike sentences is that it's not based on an individual determination of protecting the public and ensuring that the personal characteristics of the accused are taken into consideration," he said. "The rationale for second-strike cases really is arbitrary because you're not making a determination as to whether this person needs to be locked up. It's a mathematical equation that you're up against."
Most past reform efforts have focused on limiting when someone can be convicted of a third strike. Krisberg, however, said the tens of thousands of inmates serving sentences for second strikes demonstrate that piecemeal reform of three strikes will not solve the state's larger prison problem: "stiff, determinate sentencing."
"The fact that second-strikers make up such a huge part of the prison population should tell people that that's where we should focus our energy," he said.

Reasons behind costs -
Critics of the law, seen as the harshest in the nation, often focus their complaints on the most egregious cases, such as people serving life sentences for shoplifting, drug possession and other nonviolent offenses. But the costs of the second strike are significant as well.
For one, offenders sentenced in the future under three strikes won't be eligible to be diverted to local jails - even if their most recent crime is nonviolent - under Gov. Jerry Brown's realignment plan, which calls for keeping more low-level inmates in the community. Those sentenced under the law also stay in prison longer, because they are only eligible to earn a fraction of the "good-time" credits that other inmates may accrue.
"That's (one) big difference with strike cases - even if it's a nonserious felony, they have to do 85 percent of their sentence," Adachi said.
Additionally, anyone sentenced under "three strikes" is likely more expensive to house, because under state prison policies, their long sentence automatically classifies them as a higher-security inmate, even if their latest offense was not violent.
Jeanne Woodford, a former Corrections Department chief who spent most of her career as a correctional officer, then warden at San Quentin Prison, said the "three strikes" law has unquestionably helped drive the state's prison crowding and spending problems, in part because higher-security inmates must be housed in cells, rather than dormitory-style situations. She said those sentenced under the second strike provision are a bigger issue for state officials than those in prison for a third strike.
"Some of these guys are literally serving 60, 70 years - more time than three-strikers," she said. "The bottom line is that we really do need to look at our sentences. They are just so all over the place that people could commit a very serious crime and get less time than a second-striker who did something far less serious. To be a deterrent, the sentencing system has to be consistent."
Krisberg agreed, pointing to a report he authored in 2008, which concluded that the biggest driver of California's growing prison population isn't the number of criminals behind bars, but the amount of time they spend there. He calls "three strikes" the coup de grace of the determinate sentencing movement, which began in the 1970s and grew over the years to include not just tougher penalties but also fewer opportunities for early release if inmates behave well.

How much is enough?
Longer sentences are especially troublesome when it comes to second-strikers, he said, because they are often eligible for sentencing enhancements on top of an automatically doubled sentence.
"If you get enhancements then a double penalty, you could end up serving 40 years, and it's not subject to (appeal) - they have to serve all their time," he said. "It comes back to the issue: What's enough time? Sometime along the way we've changed the assumption about what's proportionate, what's fair, what people deserve."
Second-strikers also have the potential to drive up prison costs in future years because they tend to come to prison in their 30s and 40s and often have decades-long sentences - setting the stage for growing medical costs as they age. A 2010 report by state auditor Elaine Howle concluded that on average, people sentenced under the law receive a sentence nine years longer than they would have without three strikes, at a cost of $19.2 billion to taxpayers. Nearly half of that additional cost, $7.5 billion, is spent on people whose most recent strike is for a nonviolent felony.
The report also found that a small, severely ill portion of the prison population accounts for 25 percent of the approximately $2 billion the state spends on inmate health care every year.
Aging inmates tend to cost more, said Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver in charge of medical care in state prisons. And, she said, those who are severely ill often have to be treated at hospitals outside prison walls - at an even higher cost to taxpayers.
"Our largest driver of costs is outside contract medical care, at $390 million a year," she said. "Those inmates are the ones that are ... here long-term and are going to age and likely die in prison. The majority of medical costs come after age 60."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How Racists in Norse Amerikkka view us Californians...

2011-07-30 editorial cartoon by Lisa Benson:

Friday, July 29, 2011

2011-07-29 "Huge pot bust in Northern Calif national forest" by "Associated Press"
UKIAH, Calif. (AP) — Law enforcement officials said Friday they struck a major blow against illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands in the heart of Northern California pot country.
The two-week operation to purge the Mendocino National Forest of illicit pot gardens uprooted 460,000 pot plants and led to more than 100 arrests, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said.
About 1,500 pounds of processed marijuana, 27 guns and 11 vehicles were also seized.
The 900,000-acre forest — larger than Rhode Island — spans six counties in a region of mountains and forests known as the Emerald Triangle for its high concentration of pot farms. Agents raided more than 50 gardens teeming with trash, irrigation pipes and chemicals that damage forestland and waterways, authorities said.
"The Mendocino National Forest is under attack by drug traffickers," Haag said.
The operation was part of an annual summer effort to eradicate marijuana from public lands across the state. Six sheriff's departments, the state anti-narcotics bureau and at least a half-dozen federal agencies took part in the effort in the forest.
Spearheading the raids was Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, who in his years on the job has had to balance county medical marijuana ordinances with state law and the complete federal ban on the drug. Allman said none of the gardens busted showed any sign of being used to grow medical marijuana.
Each summer for the past several years, authorities report seizing millions of pot plants from local, state and national parks, forests and other wilderness areas. Public lands are often favored by clandestine growers for their remote locations and rugged terrain.
In previous years, officials have blamed Mexican drug cartels for some of the state's largest growing operations. Haag declined Friday to comment on where those arrested in the current operation were from but said 25 are already facing federal charges.
The decision to focus on Mendocino National Forest this year stemmed from citizen complaints a year ago about an increasing number of confrontations with armed guards protecting pot grows, Allman said.
Forest Service officials and county leaders have also long complained about the environmental consequences of illegal marijuana farms on forest ecology.
California National Guard troops, Forest Service workers and volunteers have removed 46,000 pounds of trash, 120 propane tanks, 116,000 feet of pipe, 13 manmade dams, 57 pounds of pesticide and tons of fertilizer from raided grow sites in the forest, Haag said.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2011-07-28 " ballot initiative shows flaw in system; On California's Initiative Process" by Orson Aguilar and Michelle Romero from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
Orson Aguilar is executive director and Michelle Romero is redistricting fellow of the Greenlining Institute.
---, the giant Internet retailer, has decided to put an initiative on California's ballot to try to evade having to pay the same sales taxes that other retailers pay. As the system stands, Amazon's chance of getting its self-interested proposal on the ballot is essentially 100 percent.
Something is very wrong with this picture.
Amazon, the Internet giant that began as a bookseller and branched out into other retail, has local merchants up against a wall in part because until now it has been able to avoid collecting sales tax on purchases. That gives it an 8 percent or more price advantage over local stores. So the Legislature, faced with an ongoing budget catastrophe that has forced cuts to schools, universities, parks, care for the elderly and other vital government functions, sensibly acted to close this loophole. Now Amazon plans to buy its way onto the ballot to repeal this reasonable action.
This is just the latest example of how our ballot initiative system - designed by reformers a century ago to reduce corporate influence on state government by giving ordinary citizens the ability to make laws - has been turned upside down.
In the past year or so, we have seen oil companies try to strangle our clean energy law, insurance companies seek to evade state rate regulations, a major utility company try to block local governments from establishing public power systems, and a variety of corporate interests push to make it harder to raise taxes or fees on big companies. That said, Californians rightly value their ability to go to the ballot with their own ideas for new laws. The process can have great benefits, but it's time to figure out how to put citizens, not special interests, back in charge of "citizen democracy."
Right now, the system is hopelessly skewed toward moneyed interests. Because of the vast number of signatures required and the short time in which they must be gathered, most initiatives qualify largely or entirely through the use of paid signature gatherers. If you have a couple of million bucks to pay petitioners, you can get a proposal onto California's ballot. It's as simple as that.
This isn't what Gov. Hiram Johnson and his fellow reformers intended when they created the initiative system. That's why the Greenlining Institute and other organizations have begun to return the system to the ideal of citizen democracy.
Our polling and research suggest several potential reforms. Voters consistently want more reliable information on who supports and opposes initiatives. There is also interest in a formal process for reviewing and revising proposed initiatives, through either an independent citizens' commission or perhaps the state Supreme Court. And we need to find ways to make the system accessible to true grassroots initiatives, perhaps by lowering the signature count required.
We don't have all the answers yet, but we're convinced the system can be fixed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011-07-21 "California's college system in decline, study finds; The state no longer is a leader in such areas as affordability, preparation of high school graduates and college-going rates, according to researchers at Cal State Sacramento" by Carla Rivera from "Los Angeles Times" newspaper
California's higher education system is in decline, with fewer students able to afford college, falling college participation rates and dwindling state support, according to a study released Wednesday.
The report suggests that the state, once celebrated nationally for its three-tiered system of public colleges, has lost status as a leader in such areas as affordability, preparation of high school graduates, college-going rates and investment in higher education. The analysis was by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Cal State Sacramento.
"This report demonstrates the consequences of resting on reputations and policies of yesteryear," the study concludes. "California is nowhere near the leader on the measures of higher education performance that the nation's governors and educational leaders have been tracking for over a decade. We are average, at best, and trending downward."
Among the findings:
• California ranks last among states in funding per college student from state appropriations and tuition and fees.
• Tuition and fee increases exceed the national average rate of increase.
• The college-going rate of high school graduates rose from 53% to 58% between 2003 and 2007 but dropped back to 53% in 2009.
• California ranks 41st in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded for every 100 high school graduates six years after graduation.

Called "Consequences of Neglect," the study concludes that the state has failed to develop policies or a vision that will allow it to compete nationally and internationally in producing an educated population.
Most alarming, it finds a trend of each working-age generation becoming less educated than the preceding, with potentially devastating consequences.
"We need to recognize that there are public benefits to higher education," said coauthor Colleen Moore, a research specialist at the Institute. 'If we don't, the effects will be fewer high-tech companies wanting to come to California, lower incomes and lower tax revenues. Those things dramatically affect society as a whole."
Document:: Read the full report []
2011-07-21 "Prisoners In Solitary Confinement On 21st Day Of Hunger Strike; Department of Corrections Is LYING About the Strike & Prisoners' Medical Conditions!" from "Redwood Curtain CopWatch"
PDF of this press release: []
"The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has been lying to the public, lying to the media, and lying to prisoners," says Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch. Now, the CDCR has issued a bogus press release claiming that the prisoner hunger strike in the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU is over. The media has an ethical responsibility to investigate the truth when the CDCR attempts to make such a false claim. The prisoner hunger strike against the torture of the SHU began on July 1, 2011 and is still going strong despite serious medical problems experienced by the prisoners. The CDCR has proven that it cannot be trusted or relied upon for genuine information.
The CDCR has refused to act in good faith, instead deliberately making false and misleading statements, and hiding information- in attempts to downplay the strength of the prisoners' nonviolent hunger strike, end the strike without meeting the prisoners' demands, deceive legal advocates, and suppress support for striking prisoners which has spread internationally.
CDCR has consistently tried to break the strike in these ways:
* enticed prisoners into not fasting before the strike began by releasing a “4th of July Menu,” including food that prisoners have never seen before in prison
* continuously down-playing participation and support in regards to numbers.
* told prisoners at Calipatria that the strike was over and the demands met more than a week ago, when this was not true
* refusing to disclose accurate, if any, information about the striking prisoners' medical status and other details on the strike from press, media, advocates, family members and prisoners
* violating medical protocol, including not distributing prescribed medication
* told the Federal Receiver’s office all prisoners were refusing medical care, and that the Federal Receiver’s office therefore does not need to follow protocol and weigh prisoners or do medical examinations until later
* denouncing family members, friends, prisoners, and lawyers speaking out about the urgent medical crisis as prisoners experience symptoms of severe dehydration due to no food for weeks and torturous conditions
* said the strike is led by vicious gang members to justify torture and discourage wide-range support
* hanging up and/or disconnecting when supporters call-in urging the CDCR to negotiate
* claiming the CDCR cannot implement the changes asked for in the demands, when they are basic standards even in other Supermax prisons
* throwing hunger striking prisoners not yet in the SHU and Ad-Seg units into solitary confinement as punishment for supporting the strike
* transferring hunger strikers to other prisons– the Receiver’s Office has said that hunger strikers have been transferred from Pelican Bay to Corcoran, and Corcoran to Pelican Bay
* continuing to deny mail, the primary source of much needed human contact

The CDCR is now denying lawyers and other members of the strikers' outside mediation group access into Pelican Bay State Prison. The CDCR is thus, not only blocking communications important for prisoners' human rights demands to be met by the CDCR, but is denying prisoners in isolation, many of whom are in dire medical condition, contact with their legal support.
The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition provides more information as to the CDCR's attempts so far to “break the strike and dwindle support for it”
Prisoners on hunger strike in Pelican Bay are determined to strike until their five core demands, demands which include an end to the torture of long-term solitary confinement, are met by the CDCR.

Friday, July 15, 2011

2011-07-15 "UC tuition hits $12,192 - a 9.6 percent increase" by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
SAN FRANCISCO -- University of California regents voted Thursday to raise tuition by 9.6 percent - on top of an 8 percent increase already approved for this fall - over the objections of students who said they'll drown in debt.
At the same meeting in San Francisco, the regents also gave large pay raises to three executives, including two who are paid from state funds.
This fall, undergraduate tuition for California residents will rise to $12,192, more than 18 percent higher than last year's $10,302 - a level that prompted violent student protests. With a mandatory campus fee that averages $1,026, a year at UC now costs $13,218 before room and board.
That's more than twice what it cost in 2005.
Graduate tuition will also rise by 9.6 percent.
Regents said they had little choice since the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown passed a budget that cut UC's allocation by $650 million.
"I'll have to drop a lot of my academic goals to graduate in four years and not graduate with a lot of debt," said Andrew Albright, a UC Berkeley junior who joined dozens of students in urging the regents to stop their "knee-jerk fee hikes."
It's summer, though, and protesters were limited to about 15 people in Disney costumes - Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse and others. They were angry that Regent Monica Lozano sits on the board of the Walt Disney Co., which they say accepts tax breaks. Students said the taxes avoided by the company could have offset tuition increases.
"UC took no stance with the Legislature against this corporate giveaway," Giselle Armendariz, in a Snow White gown, told the regents. She said she can't afford to go to UC.
Some dissent
The regents voted 14-4 to raise tuition. Opposing it were Eddie Island and George Marcus, student Regent Alfredo Mireles and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who urged fellow regents to vote no and send a message to Republican lawmakers who had refused to raise taxes to balance the budget.
"We don't have the luxury of sending a message," objected Regent Norman Pattiz.
The tuition increase erases a quarter of UC's $1 billion shortfall, and the regents said the alternative was to cut more and damage quality.
The budget gap is also being addressed with belt-tightening across UC's 10 campuses, higher donations and more out-of-state students, said Nathan Brostrom, UC's head of business operations. Nonresidents will pay three times the in-state price.
This fall for the first time, UC gets more cash from tuition than from taxpayers. Just $2.37 billion of its $22 billion budget now comes from tax dollars - 11 percent, compared with 12 percent from students.

Ignoring the plan -
Both regents and students blamed lawmakers for ignoring California's Master Plan for Higher Education, which is supposed to ensure that no student is denied an education because of finances.
Former UC Regent Bill Bagley, appointed by Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, contacted The Chronicle to condemn the tuition increase.
"By abdication, the Legislature has enacted a parent tax," Bagley said. "It's a massive, progressive parent tax."
UC will waive the $1,890 tuition increase for one year for students who qualify for financial aid and whose families earn between $80,000 and $120,000 a year.
But most middle-class students don't qualify for aid, and are the hardest hit by UC's rising cost.
One-third of the increase paid by those students will be set aside to cover tuition for other students whose families earn up to $80,000 - about 55 percent of undergraduates. UC forgives tuition for low-income students if there is a portion not covered by state and federal grants.
Higher tuition from UC's 25,000 graduate students will raise about $28 million, UC Provost Larry Pitts said. Half will go to financial aid.
Less competitive
Marye Anne Fox, chancellor of UC San Diego, said rising fees for graduate students make UC less competitive.
"We're starting to lose students," she told the regents.
Other chancellors reported cutting academic programs, losing faculty and raising class size.
The regents also gave raises to three executives.
Patrick Lenz, a UC system vice president, will earn a base salary of $300,000 from taxpayer funds, a $27,500 increase.
Santiago Muñoz, an associate vice president, got a 24.1 percent raise, from $201,400 to $250,000. Taxpayers pay 40 percent of his salary.
Mark Laret, who runs the UCSF Medical Center, will get a base salary of $935,000, a $195,300 raise, and a retention bonus of $1 million over four years. It's paid from medical center revenue.
Students said they were disappointed by the regents' decisions.
"I don't feel the regents are showing solidarity with the students," said Alex Jreisat, an anthropology student at UC Santa Barbara. "It's a shame. This is supposed to be a public university."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Federal Police Agencies are renegade and are preparing to murder Citizens of the State of California to enforce anti-Constitutional prohibition laws:

Constitution for the United States of America, 10th Amendment
[Recognition of State Sovereignty]

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.

California State Proposition 215
[Medical Marijuana Program Act of 1996]:
This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution.
This initiative measure adds a section to the Health and Safety Code; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.
SECTION 1. Section 11362.5 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:
11362.5. (a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
(b)(1) The people of the State of California hereby find and declare that the purposes of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 are as follows:
(A) To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.
(B) To ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.
(C) To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede legislation prohibiting persons from engaging in conduct that endangers others, nor to condone the diversion of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no physician in this state shall be punished, or denied any right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes.
(d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient's primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician.
(e) For the purposes of this section, ''primary caregiver" means the individual designated by the person exempted under this section who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.
SEC. 2. If any provision of this measure or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the measure that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this measure are severable.

California State Senate Bill 420 [Medical Marijuana Program Act]
Provisions of SB 420

* Recognizes the right of patients and caregivers to associate collectively or cooperatively to cultivate medical marijuana.
* Disallows marijuana smoking in no smoking zones, within 1,000 feet (300 m) of a school or youth center (except in private residences), on school buses, in a motor vehicle that is being operated, or while operating a boat.
* Protects patients and caregivers from arrest for transportation and other miscellaneous charges not covered in 215.
* Allows probationers, parolees, and prisoners to apply for permission to use medical marijuana; however, such permission may be refused at the discretion of the authorities.

2011-07-02 "California medical marijuana growers face pressure" by Bob Egelko from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
A new Obama administration memo approves federal prosecution of anyone in the business of growing or supplying marijuana for medical patients even if they are complying with state law, a contradiction, advocacy groups say, of President Obama's pledge to let states set their own policies.
The memo, issued Wednesday by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, insisted that the Justice Department hadn't abandoned the policy it announced in a set of guidelines in October 2009.
Those guidelines discouraged federal prosecutors from charging people who were following laws in California and other states that allow the medical use of marijuana, despite the federal government's absolute ban on the drug.
Obama had promised as a presidential candidate, and reaffirmed soon after taking office, that his administration would take a hands-off approach to medical marijuana and let states chart their own course.
In his memo to local U.S. attorneys, Cole said the October 2009 policy was intended to spare seriously ill patients and their caregivers from prosecution. At the same time, he said, there has been "an increase in the scope of commercial cultivation, sale, distribution and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes."
"Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law," Cole said. Enforcement of that federal law, he added, "remains a core priority."

Raids on suppliers -
Medical marijuana advocates have accused the administration of violating its stated policies with frequent raids on suppliers in the 16 states with such laws, and more recently with warnings to officials in at least 10 states that they could face prosecution if they authorized dispensaries to sell pot to patients.
They said Friday that Cole's memo comes close to repudiating Obama's long-standing promise.
Steph Scherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, which describes itself as the nation's largest medical marijuana advocacy group, said the administration is claiming to respect the rights of patients to use marijuana while "denying them the means to use it legally."
"It is disingenuous of the Obama administration to say it is not attacking patients while obstructing the implementation of local and state medical marijuana laws," Scherer said in a statement.
Because federal prosecutions would disrupt state-approved channels for supplying marijuana to patients, "the only entity benefiting from President Obama's stance on this is organized crime," said Tom Angell, spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates drug decriminalization.
California's voter-approved 1996 law allowed patients to grow their own marijuana or obtain it from caregivers but did not expressly authorize other sources of supply. Pot dispensaries operate under local regulation but have faced periodic raids from federal authorities, who describe them as profiteering drug dealers.

Oakland's bold move -
Anticipating voter approval last year of a state ballot measure legalizing personal use of marijuana - which was defeated in part because of Obama administration threats of federal prosecution - the Oakland City Council drafted an ordinance to legalize large indoor pot farms.
Council members retained the proposal after the election as a potential supply source for medical patients, but put it on hold in February after U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag told them it would violate both state and federal law.
The administration's warnings to officials in other states have also had an impact, said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access.
He cited threats of federal prosecution that led Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire to veto a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries, and prompted Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee to shelve plans to license dispensaries under a 2009 state law.
But Hermes said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a law in May that legalized both medical marijuana and state-regulated distribution centers, and Vermont's governor, Peter Shumlin, brushed off warnings by federal prosecutors in June and approved four dispensaries for marijuana patients.
"We need local and state officials to stand up and not buckle to intimidation," Hermes said.

2011-07-09 "U.S. Government Declares Marijuana Has No Medical Value" by Beth Buczynski

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency recently decreed that marijuana has no accepted medical use and should remain classified alongside heroin and cocaine as a dangerous and addictive drug.
The DEA’s decree was issued almost 10 years after supporters of medical marijuana filed a petition with the agency to have marijuana removed from schedule I of the CSA and rescheduled as cannabis in schedule III, IV or V.
Despite a mounting body of research that demonstrates marijuana’s effectiveness in treating certain diseases, like glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, and the side effects of chemotherapy, the DEA ruled “that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision.” (Read the rest of the ruling here. [])”
For a review of over a decade of scientific literature exploring the clinical applications of medical marijuana, click here [].
As of May 2011, 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In those states, crime rates have not only failed to rise, as so many critics of legalization predicted, they have actually decreased; even in densely populated areas like Los Angeles and San Diego [].
From an Americans for Safe Access statement []:
[begin excerpt]
The denial also comes the same week as the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) is holding its 21st annual symposium in St. Charles, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. The symposium is sponsored in part by an array of pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and ElSohly Laboratories, Inc., the federal government’s only licensed source of research-grade cannabis (marijuana) used in therapeutic studies. Currently, several pharmaceutical companies are asking the government to reschedule organically produced THC, the primary compound found in the marijuana plant, so they can sell a generic version of Marinol, which is now made synthetically.
“The government cannot have it both ways, marijuana is either a medicine or it’s not,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “If the government is going to sponsor a conference on medical marijuana, it should show the same deference to the millions of patients across America who simply want access to it.” ASA and its grassroots patient base has been urging President Obama since he took office to develop a comprehensive federal policy that would address medical marijuana as a public health issue.
[end excerpt]
As Care2′s Amelia T. reports [], in a letter sent earlier this week to federal prosecutors, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole wrote that the Obama administration [], which generally takes a hands-off approach to prosecuting medical marijuana operations, “never intended to shield such activities from federal enforcement action and prosecution, even where those activities purport to comply with state law.”
This blatant reversal has many afraid that Federal harassment of medical marijuana dispensary owners and patients will resume with new vigor, despite the fact that they are in violation of no state laws.
Despite this sudden and contradictory development, supporters of medical marijuana are optimistic.
“We have foiled the government’s strategy of delay, and we can now go head-to-head on the merits, that marijuana really does have therapeutic value,” Joe Elford told the L.A. Times. Elford is the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access and the lead counsel on the recently filed lawsuit.
The Times notes that this is the third time that petitions to reclassify pot have failed to be approved. The first, filed in 1972, took 17 years for a ruling. The second was filed in 1995 and denied six years later. Both decisions were appealed, but the courts sided with the federal government.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011-07 "California's marijuana eradication program evokes secrecy, military" by Tim Crews, Publisher, The Sacramento Valley Mirror
Tim Crews is the publisher of the biweekly newspaper The Sacramento Valley Mirror in Willows, California. For more information about his paper or subscription information email him at
Willows, California — Close your eyes, you nosy reporters and citizens. The helicopters and hundreds of officers spread out over the North State don’t exist, according to a score of public information officers.
The massive six-county paramilitary commercial marijuana eradication effort called “Operation Full Court Press,” which was publicly announced in Ukiah in December, is believed by confidential sources to involve more than 450 officers, many military helicopters, untold numbers of police vehicles, military command and control wiring, and scores of support personnel.
Meanwhile, as the huge, highly secret operation got underway, Glenn County hunters and outdoorsmen report being stopped without cause while merely driving their pickups through the forest. This is according to 60ish Anglos who asked that their names be withheld for fear of retaliation.
“They turned on the red light and demanded to know what we were doing in the forest,” said one man, nearly elderly, a deer hunter up with friends, scouting.
The Mirror contacted agency after agency, including the U.S. Forest Service, Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Game and the California Department of Justice, which is ostensibly in control. Only of public information officers contacted returned phone messages: John Heil of the Vallejo office of the U.S. Forest Service Southwest Region headquarters, who took our list of questions but referred us to California Department of Justice Special Agent Michelle Gregory, who is the sole spokesperson for Operation Full Court press. Neither of the two National Guard spokeswomen on the ground would speak to us.
Special Agent Michelle Gregory said all information was “embargoed,” and would not say by what individuals, only all the agencies. She would not release the number of helicopters, costs or any other information. Even the existence, location and signers of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) — a mandatory document for an interagency project such as this — remained secret.
The tight news control – and most of the press has been complaisant or blind — extended even to the name of the mission, “Operation Full Court Press.” Mission commanders apparently believed that by not speaking of the operation, the Mexican drug cartels who run the big grows would not know they are coming, which is like ignoring a tsunami of law enforcement in the area.
Last Friday the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office issued a bland and misleading press release. On Thursday, staff there pretended to know nothing of the multi-million dollar operation, which was in fact hatched in Mendocino County. According to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ minutes, Glenn County Supervisors signed on to “fully support” Operation Full Court Press last summer.
Cost of officers alone for the three-week, six-county mission is estimated to be at least $3 million in a rural, poverty-stricken area.
Late Friday morning, this press release, devoid of solid information and long on feel-good ecology statements was issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office:
[begin excerpt]
The purpose of this multi-agency, focused operation comprising federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is to identify and eradicate illegal marijuana cultivation sites on public lands in and near the Mendocino National Forest, and to conduct reclamation activities on the environmentally affected areas…
Large scale illegal marijuana cultivation leads to deforestation, damages wildlife habitats, and induces hazardous chemical pollution. The use of herbicides, pesticides and rodenticides can cause extensive and long term damage to ecosystems and impact public drinking water for hundreds of miles.
[end excerpt]
The name of the operation was withheld.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2011-07-02 "California exempts tribes from fishing restriction" by SUDHIN THANAWALA from "Associated Press" newswire
SAN FRANCISCO -- State wildlife regulators have given tentative approval to a plan to restrict fishing off parts of Northern California that they say allows Native Americans to continue their centuries-old fishing practices.
But a tribal representative says the plan falls short of what the tribes were seeking.
In a 4-1 vote Wednesday, the state Fish and Game Commission selected its preferred alternative for marine protection areas from the Oregon border south to Point Arena in Mendocino County. The plan exempts tribes from restrictions on harvesting marine life in certain areas on the North Coast.
"I think we've crafted a way to make it a win-win," said Ken Wiseman, executive director of the Marine Life Protection Act initiative.
But some tribal officials disagree.
"It's a small step," said Alicia McQuillen with the Yurok Tribe's attorney's office. "We're still looking for something that's a lot more wide ranging."
The tribes would still be restricted from gathering marine life in some areas. They would also need to have a state fishing license and tribal identification and present evidence that they have historically gathered marine life in areas that fall under the exemption.
Two tribal groups, including the Northern California Tribal Chairmen's Association, had sought access to additional areas along the North Coast that have been slated for protection.
They also wanted to manage those areas themselves through an agreement with the state, McQuillen said.
"We still hold that the tribes have the ability to manage their own citizens, and the state doesn't really need to," she said.
The 1999 Marine Life Protection Act called on the state to redesign the system of marine protected areas along its entire 1,100-mile coastline. It found that existing protections had been created piecemeal and without scientific evidence to support them.
The state's coastline was divided into regions that would be re-evaluated for protection. Regulations for the Central Coast and North Central Coast are already in effect, greatly expanding the area where fishing is prohibited or otherwise restricted.
While opposition in other parts of the state has mostly been from commercial fishermen concerned about their livelihoods, tribes were the effort's main critics on the North Coast. At stake for them, they said, were thousands of years of harvesting marine life sustainably for food or decoration for ceremonial regalia.
The plan for the North Coast approved Wednesday will now go through a detailed environmental review over the next several months before returning to the commission for another vote.
"We will always be willing to have more discussion (with the tribes), but this is a compromise that most people didn't think was possible," said John Laird, secretary of the state's Natural Resources Agency. "I think this moves the process ahead."