Posts Tagged ‘cocaine’

Federal Judge Scraps Florida’s Overzealous Drug Law

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By Phillip Smith

A federal judge Wednesday ruled that Florida’s drug law was unconstitutional, leaving thousands of criminal cases up in the air. US District Court Judge Mary Scriven of Orlando threw out the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control law on the grounds that it violates due process because it does not require prosecutors to prove a person knew he or she possessed illegal drugs.

In 2002, Florida legislators amended the state’s drug law, eliminating the requirement that prosecutors prove mens rea, or criminal intent, as part of obtaining a conviction. Florida was the only state in the nation to not require mens rea as part of a drug conviction.

“Not surprisingly, Florida stands alone in its express elimination of mens rea as an element of a drug offense,” Scriven wrote in her order. “Other states have rejected such a draconian and unreasonable construction of the law that would criminalize the ‘unknowing’ possession of a controlled substance.”

The ruling came in the case of Mackle Vincent Shelton, 33, who was convicted in 2005 of drug charges in Osceola County. Shelton, who is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence for cocaine delivery and other charges appealed his conviction on the grounds that the jury wasn’t required to prove intent in order to convict him.

Shelton, currently serving 18 years in prison for delivery of cocaine and other charges, filed a case in federal court on the grounds that a jury wasn’t required to consider intent when it decided his case.

In his instructions to the jury in Shelton’s case, the trial judge told jurors that “to prove the crime of delivery of cocaine, the state must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: that Mackle Vincent Shelton delivered a certain substance; and, that the substance was cocaine.” The state did not have to prove that he knew he was carrying or distributing cocaine or any controlled substance at all.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), which filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, pointed out that without the criminal intent requirement, “a Federal Express delivery person who unknowingly delivers a parcel containing a controlled substance, would be presumed a felon under Florida’s drug law.” Joining the NACDL in filing the brief, which was favorably cited by the court, were the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ACLU of Florida, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Calvert Institute for Policy Research, and 38 professors of law.

Florida defense attorneys applauded the ruling, saying the impact could be huge. Several told the St. Petersburg Times they intended to file motions seeking dismissal of pending drug cases, citing the judge’s order.

“It has one of the largest potential effects on criminal law in the past decade,” said St. Petersburg lawyer Jeff Brown. “We’re talking hundreds of thousands of drug cases.”

“In declaring the statute unconstitutional on its face, it appears that all drug prosecutions in the state are at risk,” said Tampa defense lawyer Eddie Suarez.

That’s tough, said Tampa attorney James Felman, who represented Shelton. Legislators should not have written an unconstitutional law removing mens rea, he said. “It takes the presumption of innocence and throws it in the garbage can,” Felman said. “I think the legislature must immediately fix the statute,” he said. “This is not a close call. No state has ever done this before. Legally, it’s beyond the pale.”

“This is a victory for the most fundamental notions of fairness and justice in our system – the idea that no one should suffer a conviction unless the state proves criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt,” said NACDL executive director Norman Reimer. “As I previously said about this case, the country has been drifting away from the moral anchor of a clearly defined mens rea requirement in its criminal laws. Laws like these would run it aground.”

Artilcle From StoptheDrugWar.org – Creative Commons Licensing

detecting marijuana in fingerprints

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in News
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, at 1:20 pm
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Photo: CBS Detroit

​A new technology that analyzes the sweat from your fingertips could revolutionize the drug-testing market, purportedly providing onsite results in minutes with a test so sensitive it can even detect marijuana intoxication.

The test, produced by the British company Intelligent Fingerprinting, uses gold nanoparticles and “special antibodies” to latch onto metabolites in the fingerprint, reports Stephen C. Webster at The Raw Story. It turns a specific color depending on which drug byproducts are detected.
While it can be configured to search for drugs like nicotine, methadone and cocaine, what may turn out to be its most important innovation is its purported ability to help determine if someone is actively intoxicated on cannabis.

Why is this so important? Because a number of states have either passed or are considering laws against driving under the influence of marijuana, even though accurate tests of intoxication haven’t been generally available.
Marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is fat soluble, so it stays in the body for weeks. I personally believe this is because your body loves cannabinoids and holds onto them as long as it can.
But the downside of this is that it means traditional drug testing using urine analysis or hair tests can detect whether a person has used marijuana for up to six weeks afterwards — but it doesn’t reveal if the person is high on pot at the time the test was taken.
The fingerprint test, on the other hand (the IntelliPrint™ cannabis assay), can purportedly detect minuscule amounts of drug metabolites in minutes, theoretically revealing whether that person is high or not. The development could lead to a breakthrough resulting in more accurate testing to determine whether a person is driving while high.
“Intelligent Fingerprinting has the potential to deliver the most exciting breakthrough in detecting illicit drug misuse for over a decade and it comes with identify of each individual included,” said Dr. Jerry Walker, CEO of Intelligent Fingerprinting.
The device was first announced last week, during the UCL International Crime Science Conference.

US Spends Billions Every Year Prosecuting Marijuana Violations While Economy Tanks

(NaturalNews) The US economy is rapidly unraveling, vital services are being cut, and millions of Americans are losing their jobs and struggling just to survive. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to spend billions of taxpayer dollars every year to fight its endless “War on Drugs,” which includes spending about $7.7 billion a year just on enforcing marijuana laws, and preventing sick and injured patients from accessing this natural, side effect-free treatment for their ailments.

Despite numerous recent cases of relaxed or reneged marijuana laws in various US states, the federal government’s attitude towards the plant remains the same. It considers marijuana to be a dangerous street drug along the lines of cocaine and heroin, despite the fact that it is safer than prescription drugs, and provides natural relief for pain and illness without devastating side effects.

“Without [marijuana], I would be living on morphine and other horrible drugs. I couldn’t do that to my family,” said 71-year-old Marcy Dolin of Rohnert Park, Calif., to The New York Times recently. Dolin, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, smokes marijuana regularly because it is the only remedy for his extreme pain and muscle spasms that works, and that does not cause other harm.

“I used to take a drug called Neurontin, and I just never stopped crying. I was in a fog, totally depressed. I told my doctor that I was going back to just marijuana; he said he would have me arrested if he could. What are they going to do? I’m 71 years old. Are they going to put me in jail? I’m not hurting anybody. It’s just here in my own house.”

And there are literally thousands, if not millions, of other patients like Dolin that would benefit from smoking or consuming marijuana rather than dangerous prescription drugs. Most of them will likely never experience relief without excruciating side effects, thanks to current government policy that favors the drug industry at the expense of what is best for the public. After all, marijuana used to be a legal substance used in medicine, long before the days of Big Pharma’s hijacking of the political structure that now opposes it.

Besides wasting massive amounts of money, the war on marijuana is also preventing significant economic development, according to a recent report in The Morningside Post. If legalized and effectively regulated and taxed, marijuana could generate billions of new dollars in revenue for local and state governments, and create an untold number of new jobs.

“[L]egalization of marijuana — the cessation of prosecutions and tax revenue — could put more than $13 billion into government coffers,” states the MP article.

“A look at Montana … shows how the state has been given a much needed bump from the legalization of medical marijuana. Since 2004, investors have put millions of dollars into the newly legalized medical marijuana sector, creating jobs for professional horticulturists, construction workers, and electricians put out of work by the Great Recession. This small marijuana industry created 1,400 jobs last year — this in a state with less than a million people.”

FBI Busts Miami Cop For Drugs He Stole From Dealer

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Photo: Mail Online

​A Miami police officer was arrested by the FBI on Thursday and charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana he had stolen from a drug dealer last year.

Roberto Asanza, 31, of Miami, a six-year veteran of the force, was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, reports Jay Weaver at the Miami Herald. Asanza, a Marine veteran and 1998 graduate of Coral Park High, was released on a personal surety bond after his first appearance in federal court on Thursday.
Asanza faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. His lawyer — an assistant federal public defender named Kashyap Patel — declined to comment.

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Graphic: Miami Police Department
​ Asanza and other Crime Suppression Unit members arrested a man identified as “L.R.” at an Allapattah, Florida window-tinting shop in early May of last year, and seized numerous bags of cocaine and marijuana, according to an FBI affidavit.
However, those drugs never found their way to the evidence room, reports Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times.
When FBI agents stopped Asanza’s police cruiser a few weeks later, they found 10 bags of cocaine and two of marijuana, which were part of the same drug stash taken from the Allapattah drug dealer, the affidavit said.
Miami police are assisting the FBI in the investigation, which also involves Asanza’s supervisor.
In January 2010, Asanza and another Miami police officer, identified as “R.I.” in the affidavit, recruited a confidential informant to work undercover. R.I. is Raul Iglesias, 38, a Miami police sergeant who was in charge of the Central District’s Crime Suppression Unit before he was suspended with pay following the FBI’s stop of Asanza’s vehicle, according to sources.
Sixteen-year veteran Iglesias has not been charged but is under investigation, sources said.
His lawyer, William Matthewman, claimed Iglesias is an “excellent police officer who has done absolutely nothing wrong. It is unfortunate that his name is being raised in this context.”
The confidential informant tipped off R.I. and Asanza about the dealer who sold drugs at the Allapattah tint shop. On May 5, 2010, Iglesias, Asanza and other CSU members arrested L.R. at the tint shop and seized the drugs.
Around three weeks later, FBI agents interrogated Asanza. He let them search his truck, where they found the drugs. Asanza admitted to the agents that the drugs were taken from the tint shop dealer after his arrest.
In October, Asanza admitted to FBI agents that both he and Iglesias “took custody of the drugs and money” from the tint shop dealer, according to the affidavit. Asanza also admitted that he “paid” the informant numerous times with “one or two bags” of cocaine seized from the dealer.
“Asanza admitted that he knew it was wrong to give drugs to the CI [confidential informant], but that he was trying to build a rapport with the CI,” the affidavit said.
After the dealer’s arrest, the confidential informant said that Iglesias paid him $40 for his services. The informant said he signed a receipt for it, which is department policy.
Asanza then said, “Hook [the CI] up some,” according to the affidavit.
Iglesias then handed the informant $80 — cash found at the tint shop — along with two bags of cocaine, according to the affidavit.

Police Seize 1,500 Grams of Marijuana Hidden In Cornbread (7 Photos)

Police seized 30 weapons, 20 bottles of liquor and 1,500 grams of marijuana hidden in cornbread from soccer fans. Colombian police set up a checkpoint on the eastern road in the rural zone of Suan.

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Synthetic Drugs Send Thousands to Hospital

Synthetic substances that mimic marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs are making users across the nation seriously ill. Synthetic substances that mimic marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs are making users across the nation seriously ill.

 

INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) – Until he tried a marijuana look-alike product called “K2,” David Rozga’s most dubious decision was getting a Green Bay Packers tattoo on his shoulder. Then the 18-year-old athlete and band standout got high on the fake pot last June and complained to a friend “that he felt like he was in hell,” his father said.Though he had never suffered from depression, the teenager went home, found a shotgun and killed himself — one of at least nine U.S. deaths in the last year that authorities suspect were caused by synthetic products designed to mimic marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs. An Associated Press analysis shows that the substances are increasingly causing users to fall seriously ill, with some suffering seizures and hallucinations.Available in many head shops for as little as $10, the synthetic drugs are often packaged as incense or bath salts, but they do nothing to perfume the air or soften water.
 
As more Americans experiment with them, the results are becoming evident at hospitals: a sharp spike in the number of users who show up with problems ranging from labored breathing and rapid heartbeats to extreme paranoia and delusions. The symptoms can persist for days.”These kids weren’t looking for anything bad to happen,” Mike Rozga said of his son’s death. “The truth is they didn’t know what they had gotten themselves into.”At the request of the AP, the American Association of Poison Control Centers analyzed nationwide figures on calls related to synthetic drugs. The findings showed an alarming increase in the number of people seeking medical attention.At least 2,700 people have fallen ill since January, compared with fewer than 3,200 cases in all of 2010. At that pace, medical emergencies related to synthetic drugs could go up nearly fivefold by the end of the year.”Many of the users describe extreme paranoia,” said Dr. Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center. “The recurring theme is monsters, demons and aliens. A lot of them had suicidal thoughts.”The recent surge in activity has not gone unnoticed by law enforcement and elected officials.The Drug Enforcement Administration recently used emergency powers to outlaw five chemicals found in synthetic pot, placing them in the same category as heroin and cocaine.
But manufacturers are quick to adapt, often cranking out new formulas that are only a single molecule apart from the illegal ones.On Wednesday, the Senate’s Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing in Washington to discuss curbing the growth of synthetics.”This is a whole new method of trafficking,” testified Joseph T. Ranznazzisi, deputy assistant administrator in the DEA‘s office of diversion control. “We’ve never experienced this before, when the product is just on the shelf.”Rozga implored lawmakers to act swiftly to prevent more deaths: “We are not doing enough, and we are not moving quickly enough.”Recreational drugs created in the laboratory have been around at least since the middle of the 20th century, when LSD was first studied. But these latest examples emerged only a few years ago, starting in Europe.The products were typically made in China, India and other Asian nations and soon arrived in Britain and Germany, according to DEA spokesman Rusty Payne.In the United States, fake marijuana was last year’s big seller, marketed under brands such as “K2” or “Spice.” This year, the trend is “bath salts” with names like “Purple Wave” and “Bliss.”Besides being cheap and easily obtained, they do not show up in common drug tests.Synthetic marijuana typically involves dried plant material sprayed with one of several chemical compounds, most of which were created by a Clemson University scientist for research purposes in the 1990s. The compounds were never tested on humans.It’s packaged to look like pot, and users typically smoke it, but experts say the high is more comparable to cocaine or LSD.The bath salts are crystalized chemicals that are snorted, swallowed or smoked. They contain two powerful stimulants: methylenedioxypyrovalerone (or MDPV) and mephedrone, which mimic cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine.
So far in 2011, poison control centers have received nearly 1,300 calls about synthetic pot, compared with 2,874 calls for all of last year, according to the poison control center data.Poison calls for bath salts rose at an even greater rate. The centers took 301 calls in all of 2010, but had more than 1,400 for the first three months of 2011. Most of the calls came from doctors and nurses reporting patients in emergency rooms.”The problem is really exploding here,” said Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, director of the West Virginia Poison Center. Her state had three cases of bath-salt poisoning in December.”We’ve had 131 cases since Jan. 1,” and one-third of those were within the past two weeks, she said late last month. A law banning bath salts and synthetic marijuana was signed Tuesday by acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.Physicians generally treat the overdoses with anti-anxiety medication such as Valium and Xanax, which ease the frenetic, drug-fueled activity in the brain and body.”They cut back on the hallucinations, slow the heart rate, lower the blood pressure. It can take large doses. It can take repeated doses,” Scharman said.In some patients, symptoms can last for days.”One described it as like being on cocaine, but 10 times worse,” said Anna Rouse Dulaney of the Carolinas Poison Center in CharlotteDEA agent Gary Boggs said users assume that the products are safe because they are available in stores, even though they are typically labeled “not for human consumption.””These products are in an unregulated, unlicensed industry,” Boggs said. “No one knows the strength of the ingredients. You don’t know what you’re taking.”
In addition to the DEA’s recently adopted ban, a federal law allows for prosecution of “analogue” drugs that mimic the effects of illegal substances.But authorities acknowledge the challenge of stopping the drugs’ spread. DEA experts are evaluating as many as 50 new synthetics.”The possibilities are endless,” Boggs said. “There’s probably hundreds of formulations out there.”At least 20 states have banned chemicals found in fake marijuana, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures compiled for the AP. Most others have legislation pending.At least nine states have banned substances found in bath salts, and 25 have laws in the works.Lawmakers know they’re fighting an uphill battle.”These chemists are pretty sophisticated and creative and are going to stay one step ahead of us, I’m afraid,” said Kentucky state Rep. John Tilley, a Democrat who sponsored his state’s ban on drug-infused bath salts.Some head shop owners see all the alarm as an overreaction.In Des Moines, near Drake University, the Day Dreams shop has found the synthetic marijuana “Spice” to be a proven money-maker. Along with incense, hippie clothing and drug paraphernalia, the store has sold thousands of packets of the crumbly, brownish-green leaves. Many of the packages are displayed behind the counter as a safeguard against shoplifting.Contrary to DEA claims that the product is most popular among teens and college-age customers, co-owner Kathy Fiedler said two-thirds of her buyers are middle-aged.”I even have grandmothers coming in,” said Fiedler, 56.If Iowa lawmakers adopt a ban, she said, they risk opening the door to shady backroom chemists crafting far more dangerous things.Reports of misuse are widespread.In Kentucky, authorities say a young woman driving on a highway after using bath salts became convinced her 2-year-old was a demon. She allegedly stopped the car and dropped the child on his head. He survived and was taken from his mother’s custody.A Hawaii man pleaded guilty to attacking his girlfriend and trying to throw her off an 11th-floor balcony while high on “Spice.”In January, a Fulton, Miss., man who hallucinated after taking bath salts used a hunting knife to slit his face and stomach.And in March, a 19-year-old man named Trevor Robinson-Davis died in suburban Minneapolis after overdosing at a party on a synthetic drug called 2C-E, a “cousin” to a banned rave-party drug. Ten others at the party became ill.Back in Indianola, David Rozga’s parents said their son had been active in his church and was preparing to start college in the fall. He loved the Green Bay Packers so much he had Brett Favre‘s No. 4 tattooed on his shoulder.”We said at the time, ‘If this was the worst thing he ever did, we did a pretty good job.’ Unfortunately, it wasn’t,” Mike Rozga said.Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, introduced a measure bearing the younger Rozga’s name that would permanently ban five chemicals used in synthetic marijuana products.Jan Rozga hopes the law will be her son’s legacy.”I did not stop being David’s mother when he died,” she said. “I still feel very protective over him, what happened to him, and I want to right that wrong for him.”
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