Tags Posts tagged with "Police"

Police

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Marijuana is a precious vice for law enforcement in America—yet it is only so long as cannabis remains illegal, which is exactly what most law-enforcement lobbies and pro-police lawmakers want.

Under prohibition, cannabis is an incomparable catch-all excuse. The mere whiff of cannabis is sufficient probable cause for a traffic stop or, where the police-state tactic is still accepted, start a stop-and-frisk routine.

And that all will be over and done with as soon as cannabis is legalized.

According to a report from the Stanford Open Policing Project, which analyzed more than 100 million traffic stops across 31 states, motorists of all races are as much as three times less likely to be stopped and searched where, thanks to legalization, marijuana is no longer available as an excuse.

“After marijuana use was legalized, Colorado and Washington saw dramatic drops in search rates,” the report’s authors wrote. “That’s because many searches are drug-related. Take away marijuana as a crime and searches go down.”

As the Washington Post’s Wonkblog reported, the data includes “traffic searches initiated for any reason, but excludes searches following an arrest.” Meaning, it’s a good indication of what cops do when there’s not necessarily a clear indication of a crime being committed—and it’s proof positive that marijuana, the world’s most common illicit drug (where it’s still illegal, at least), is also deeply ingrained in police tactics.

This means marijuana legalization—a common-sense move we wholeheartedly advocate, for obvious reasons—has serious implications for communities of color who disproportionately suffer violent encounters with law enforcement.

Fewer stops mean fewer potential problems with police.

In the wake of the acquittal of the officer filmed fatally shooting Philando Castile, a Minnesota motorist whose death less than 30 seconds into a traffic stop was recorded on Facebook Live, the importance of this cannot be overstated.

The data does have some limitations, as the Marshall Project pointed out: It analyzes only data from state police agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, whose main roles are enforcing the law on highways, and not local police agencies who would be responsible for law enforcement in cities like Denver and Seattle, where most of both states’ black population is concentrated.

And as the data reveals, although stops-and-searches of black and Latino drivers dropped significantly after marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington in 2012, obvious and outrageous racial biases remain.

In Colorado, black and Latino drivers are still almost three times as likely as to be stopped and searched as whites. In Washington, black and white motorists briefly achieved parity in 2014.

Everywhere else the researchers “had data and recreational marijuana is still illegal, search rates remain high.”

And while the data is a potent argument for marijuana legalization as a crucial element of sweeping criminal-justice reform—all of which is at serious risk in the Trump era under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department—the Marshall Project also suggests that legalization is not as an effective deterrent with local police.

They tell the tale of 33-year old Ryan Brown, an Iraq war veteran pulled over by police a block from his home in 2015. Brown, who was never charged with a crime, won a $212,000 settlement after he was pulled from his car without being given a clear reason.

Later, the police, who to this day claim they acted properly, said that Brown was stopped because he lived in a high-crime area—a common excuse easily deployed in any urban area.

At the same time, as Brown’s situation demonstrates, stops with no probable cause can result in ramifications, including monetary settlements, for police. And as the data shows, removing marijuana from criminal statutes would affect a profound change in police tactics and attitudes—meaning, in case it wasn’t already obvious, that cannabis legalization is a civil rights and social-justice issue that touches people who would never consider smoking a joint.

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Drug policy experts often say that the health risks of marijuana use are relatively minor compared to the steep costs of marijuana enforcement: expensive policing, disrupted lives, violence, and even death.

Law enforcement agencies, however, have often been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana legalization. One reason is that the drug, with its pungent, long-lasting aroma, is relatively easy to detect in the course of a traffic stop or other routine interaction. It’s an ideal pretext for initiating a search that otherwise wouldn’t be justified — even if that search only turns up evidence of marijuana use and nothing more.

New information on traffic stops in Colorado and Washington underscore this point: After the states legalized pot, traffic searches declined sharply across the board. That’s according to the Open Policing Project at Stanford University, which has been analyzing public data of over 100 million traffic stops and searches since 2015.

“After marijuana use was legalized, Colorado and Washington saw dramatic drops in search rates,” the study’s authors explain. “That’s because many searches are drug-related. Take away marijuana as a crime and searches go down.”

In Colorado and Washington, traffic searches of black, Hispanic and white drivers fell significantly after legalization, according to the Open Policing Project’s analysis. That pattern didn’t hold for states where marijuana use remained illegal.

The Project’s data encompasses traffic searches initiated for any reason but excludes searches following an arrest. This makes the data a good barometer of searches initiated at an officer’s discretion. The numbers changed dramatically after legalization, as we see in the above chart, suggesting, as the researches do, that suspected marijuana use is often a factor in these searches.

legalization didn’t eliminate racial disparities in the searches. Black and Hispanic motorists are still searched at considerably higher rates than white motorists. But following legalization, they are searched less often than they were before.

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Lawmakers in California have taken a page from laws establishing sanctuary cities for immigrants to create a bill aimed at protecting marijuana from a federal restriction. Similar to laws defending undocumented immigrants, the recently introduced Assembly Bill 1578 would bar cooperation by police in the state with federal authorities seeking to bust marijuana growers and sellers operating legally under California law.

The proposed legislation would prohibit state and local agencies from using local money, facilities, or personnel to assist a federal agency to “investigate, detain, report, or arrest” any person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical marijuana activity that is authorized by law in the State of California, and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

Authorities in California would also be restricted from responding to requests by federal authorities for the personal information of anyone issued state licenses for a marijuana operation. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), the lead sponsor of the bill, said the measure would protect “one of the greatest businesses” in California amid fears of a crackdown by the Trump administration.

Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of California NORML said, “This is the equivalent of noncooperation on deportation and environmental laws, part of the larger California resistance to federal intrusion.” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association stated, “It really is quite offensive. Legislators want to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”

The first state to make medical marijuana legal was California, and last year it passed a referendum making recreational marijuana legal as well. Currently, medical marijuana use is legal in 28 states and the nation’s capital. Recreational use is legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. States are now girding for a fight with the feds. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has warned of “greater enforcement” on recreational marijuana use. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

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Already a worldwide leader on marijuana-related research with a government-approved, government-funded national research center under construction, and “Millions of shekels” invested into businesses working on marijuana products-Israel’s government has allowed medical marijuana as a tonic for intractable illnesses since 1992.

Now, as legalization spreads like wildfire across America, Israel believes marijuana can be a money-making export product. Israel has plans to begin shipping medical marijuana to other countries within a few years, however, in the short term, the country’s cannabis program is a victim of its own success. As things stand now, Israel is going to run out of weed.

Israel police are warning of impending supply shortages for the country’s thousands of medical marijuana patients within the next few months. As the Jerusalem Post reports, the reason behind the coming dry spell is that there aren’t enough workers to till the soil at the country’s eight marijuana farms. Israel plans to lift restrictions to allow an unlimited number of facilities where weed is grown and processed.

Under this limitation, Israel’s eight cannabis producers are trying to add 100 new workers to fulfill demand. In order to work in weed in Israel, you need a permit from the police, and cops have yet to provide the paperwork. Israeli police are also responsible for a delay in expanding marijuana access in the country, the Post reports.

There are three new patient trials to test whether cannabis can be given to people suffering from maladies like “Dementia, migraines, and psoriasis.” While the latter affliction, plenty serious for anyone living through it, would be cause for mockery among America’s weed-haters; compounds in marijuana have shown great promise in aiding ex-athletes and others suffering from brain trauma.

In order to participate in a marijuana study in Israel, each individual patient needs approval from police and the cops haven’t signed off on that, either. At least in Israel, this isn’t because police are obstructionist or hostile. They just don’t have the people necessary to process the paperwork, they claim.

Israeli Police say they’re going to create a special unit dedicated to approving marijuana patients and workers, solely to speed things along. Once they do, “We will do everything we can to minimize the waiting time,” police vowed, according to the Post. In the meantime, Israel’s 25,000 marijuana patients may be well-advised to stock up and store some weed away for the dry months.

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Even though currently there is no way to effectively determine marijuana impairment, a California lawmaker is attempting to pass a law in the upcoming legislative session which would give the state’s highway patrol permission to test every motorist they think is driving high. Tom Lackey, a veteran with the California Highway Patrol, introduced a piece of legislation (Assembly Bill 6) in the beginning of this week, in hopes of giving police officers the right to utilize roadside testing devices on drivers they think are under the influence of pot. The proposal was created to fight the rise in marijuana consumers that Lackey assumes will be driving in the streets now that California voters have made marijuana completely legal.
“California cannot wait any longer to take meaningful action against drugged driving now that voters have passed Proposition 64,” Lackey stated in an emailed statement to HIGH TIMES. “Using new technology to identify and get stoned drivers off the road is something we need to embrace.”
Much like administering a breathalyzer for alcohol, Assembly Bill 6 would give cops permission to swab the saliva from individuals they consider stoned. This would be bad for the state’s medical marijuana patients and recreational users considering these roadside testing methods are not effective in determining actual impairment. The bottom line is that this proposal gives the police an open door to harass the average cannabis consumer.
“The bill does not prescribe a ‘per se’ legal limit as California has done for blood alcohol content measured by alcohol breathalyzers nor does it change the rules for obtaining a drugged driving conviction,” reads a legislative summary. “Law enforcement will still be required to prove a driver was impaired based off of field sobriety tests, blood or urine tests and other additional evidence. A positive oral fluid test will simply confirm to the officer that a drug is present in the driver’s system.”
It is very unfortunate that officials such as Ken Corney; president of the California Police Chiefs Association, do not appear to be concerned that this law could cause a significant rise in the amount of arrest as well as loss of driving privileges for innocent people because of an unjust DUI conviction. The idea that a saliva sample; which can only determine whether or not an individual has used marijuana within the past month, is enough to pursue charges is absurd.
“The ballot initiative passed this year to legalize marijuana will result in more marijuana consumers on our state’s highways and roads,” Corney stated. “It is imperative that we invest in a broad spectrum of technologies and research to best identify marijuana-impaired drivers. Our federal partners have demonstrated the efficacy of oral fluid testing, and we look forward to utilizing the technology at a state level.”
During the last several years, marijuana experts have been attempting to sway state officials all over the nation that a better tool for gauging cannabis impairment is required in order to properly police the issue in a manner similar to alcohol. As of this time no one has had the ability to bring an effective test to market, although there have been many groups claiming to be on the verge of a breakthrough in breath test technology. A similar bill was introduced last year in the California General Assembly but failed to pass. We can only hope the same happens in 2017.

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In order to attract more applicants into the police force; police departments are dropping their standards for accepting recruits. They are lowering educational requirements as well as forgiving some prior drug use. In an age where police officers are under intense public scrutiny; where they face the possibility of being killed on the job; have high physical demands and low pay, there has been a decreased interest in joining the force.

“We have a national crisis,” stated Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer and current lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “For the first time in my life, I would say I could never recommend the job. Who’s going to put on a camera, go into urban America where people are going to critique every move you make? You’re going to be demonized.”

The requirements for becoming an officer are determined by each state; there are no national standards. In the past; the prior use of drugs or any criminal activity (however minor) has been sufficient to deny individuals from becoming officers. Not to mention the physical fitness standards required in order to graduate from the academy as well as post-grad background checks that can include a credit-history review.

The hiring of women has been affected by the physical requirements. Other minorities have been affected by educational standards and credit histories. Considering police departments are trying to diversify the force; many are questioning whether the age-old military-style standards are feasible means for attracting officers who are capable of relating to the communities and easing tensions.

A report released last month by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission praised police departments who have changed testing requirements proven to disproportionately disqualify minority candidates.

The report states that individuals from minority communities are more likely to have contact with the criminal justice system as well as lower credit scores; therefore, they are more likely to fail criminal background and credit checks. As per the report, minorities may also have difficulty with written test that do not screen individuals correctly for the skills required to be an officer.

A survey conducted in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that approximately 12 percent of the nation’s officers were black and 12 percent were Hispanic. Although these percentages were greater than they were 30 years ago; according to the department, minorities are still underrepresented in many communities.

Most police departments do not hire individuals who admit to having used cannabis during the previous three year period. However; the Baltimore commissioner (where riots took place following the death of a black male during transportation in a police vehicle), is attempting to change these rules calling it “the number one disqualifier for police applicants.”

“I don’t want to hire altar boys to be police officers, necessarily,” Davis told The Baltimore Sun. “I want people of good character, of good moral character, but I want people who have lived a life just like everybody else – a life not unlike the lives of the people who they are going to be interacting with every day.”

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Researchers at Stanford University have developed a “Potalyzer”-a device that can detect human THC levels, so cops can determine if a motorist is too impaired to drive. The hand-held device uses sophisticated biosensors to detect THC molecules in saliva.

Police officers will supposedly be able to collect a spit sample with a cotton swab and read the results on a smartphone or laptop in just three minutes. Using magnetic nanotechnology, a process developed to screen for cancer, the device can detect concentrations of THC in the range of 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter of saliva.

The Satnford press release on the breakthrough, attributed chiefly to lead researcher Shan Wang, states: “While there’s still no consensus on how much THC in a driver’s system is too much, previous studies have suggested a cutoff between 2 and 25 ng/mL, well within the capability of Wang’s device.” A critical report on the development from Mashable notes that Paul Armentano, deputy director for cannabis advocacy group NORML, has expressed skepticism about the very concept of a “Potalyzer.” “We don’t have a consensus as to what levels of THC are consistently correlated with behavioral impairment,” Armentano said.

Colorado has set THC limits for drivers-five nanograms in blood content according to the state Transportation Department. Other states that have legalized have still no set limits. As Mashable notes, some have assailed the Colorado standard as arbitrary.

“Typically, if you have five nanograms in a regular smoker, you probably won’t see any behavioral effects,” Columbia University psychologist Carl Hart told the Atlantic.

“Whereas, with five nanograms in someone who’s never smoked, you might see a lot of effects.” Furthermore, the question of “Marijuana-impaired driving” is widely misunderstood.

A recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that high drivers are much safer than those who drive drunk. The Washington Post summarized the study thusly: “After adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, drivers who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to crash than who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.” It may be politically taboo, but it is science.

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Just about two years ago, in July, the St. Clair County Drug Task Force (DTF) infiltrated both the home as well as the business of Annette and Dale Shattuck, a pair who ran a medical marijuana dispensary in Kimball, Michigan. According to the Washington Post, Shattucks were at their dispensary, DNA Wellness Center, when DTF agents came in and incarcerated them. At the same time, their four young children were at home under as their grandmother watched them.

“DTF busted in the door that morning, a no-knock, battering ram entry,” a briefing filed by the Shattuck’s lawyer states. “During the dynamic entry, armed DTF officers wearing ski masks separated the children from their grandmother at gunpoint, shouting at her to get the dog under control or they would shoot it. The deputies kept the children lined up on the couch at gunpoint, refusing even to remove their masks to help calm the kids, including two three-year-old toddlers.”

A policeman for the task force reported that these claims were being taken out of hand. More specifically, he stated that this was all a “misrepresentation,” and that there was “no way in hell” police would aim their weapons at children. However, he did give truth that it is usual for police to pull their guns in such raids. There is no other story that shows the confusion existing in the medical cannabis’s market and its legalities than that of the Shattucks. This is so because the two went as far as they could to make sure that they were following state laws.

The Shattucks received the necessary permits and licenses from a local planning commission. In fact, Bill Orr, the chairman of the commission, thanked the Shattucks for “following the ordinance and taking the necessary steps to open the business within Kimball Township in the manner required.”

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There are already nationwide issues when it comes to the use and possession of drugs in the United States. However, there’s a much bigger problem facing the citizens of the united states; and it only costs $2. In 1973, Richard Nixon led California investors to patent a disposable comparison detector kit. The kit costs two dollars, are small and cheap, and offer quick results, but come with tons of inefficiencies. The kit contains a single tube of cobalt thiocyanate, which turns blue if exposed to cocaine. The problem with that, however, is that since the kit was developed in the 70’s it didn’t prepare itself for modern medicines. As a result, the cobalt also turns blue when exposed to methadone, acne medication, household cleaners, and 80 other compounds.

Another issue with the kit is that offers are not educated on how it works and are therefore misinterpreting the colors on the test, and therefore misreading the results. The National Bureau of Standards said that the kits “should not be used as sole evidence for the identification of a narcotic or drug of abuse.” Chemists have stopped relying on these tests. The Department of Justice said that the kits “should not be used for evidential purposes.” The Government is in this kit; they remain inadmissible in a trial for nearly every jurisdiction. But most drug cases are decided outside the courtroom. This means that individuals make deals outside in order to lessen their sentence, without ever going to trial.

Every year, over 100,000 people in the U.S. plead guilty to drug possession charges that rely on these filed kits as evidence. However, 33 percent of cocaine arrests are due to false positives from these field tests. In Florida, 21 percent of evidence police identified as methamphetamine was not actually meth. The environment also plays a factor in the test’s inaccuracies. If the weather is cold, it slows down the process; if its hot outside, it speeds up the process. If an officer is in poor lighting, it could cloud the offers judgment, leaving them unable to distinguish the differences between colors. However, the New York Times investigated three of the largest test manufacturers and found that none printed warnings on the kits.

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Canada has been very progressive when it comes to legalizing marijuana. They have legalized it medically, and the current leading platform is extremely open to legalizing recreational marijuana next year. It is expected that cannabis is going to be completely legalized in the state within the next few years, if not sooner, but medical cannabis use is becoming very popular among an unlikely audience: Police officers

Canada’s police force is increasingly accepting and using medical marijuana. For about a year now, the amount of active and former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who were reimbursed for their cannabis prescriptions have gone up by more than a hundred percent. Government documents from a Montreal news outlet states that Forty-seven police officers had their prescriptions covered by the insurance for people who have suffered injuries while on the job. The total cost for medical marijuana ended up being about $272,000.

During 2014, twenty officers were reimbursed under the plan for just $64,000. In 2013, the total cost of medical marijuana was just $8,000. There has been significant growth thanks to Canada’s progressive stance on the issue. 5,200 out of 28,461 members of the police force are under medical marijuana. Although marijuana is going to be legalized recreationally soon, people still say that law enforcements using marijuana are not a good thing. The controversy of the subject hit its peak when an officer was filmed smoking medical marijuana to raise awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among officers was forced to retire.

“I’m trying to draw attention to the fact that the RCMP fails to have a program in place for proper PTSD screening for their members and proper information for their families,” Cpl. Ron Francis, who served with the force for more than 20 years and suffered from PTSD, said in an interview.

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