Posts Tagged ‘drug’

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.

Crackdown on medical marijuana ahead?

Why drug reformers are worried about a new pot policy issued by the Obama administration

CRACKDOWN-Drug-policy reformers are worried about a new Obama administration memo instructing federal prosecutors on how to deal with the growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Justice Department memo, sent to U.S. attorneys around the nation, addresses a central problem with the growing number of states that have legalized medical marijuana: The drug remains illegal under federal law, whether used for medical purposes or not. The new guidance memo reiterates the illegality of medical marijuana and appears to encourage prosecutors to go after some marijuana dispensaries, particularly the large operations.

President Obama suggested during the campaign in 2007-08 that his Justice Department would not prioritize going after medical marijuana. To find out more about the new medical marijuana memo, and for an update on the broader drug war, I spoke to Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which lobbies for alternatives to the drug war.

Can you give an overview of the legal status of medical marijuana around the country?

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana either through the ballot initiative process or a state legislative process. The federal law remains that it is all illegal. Strictly speaking, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance. The DEA just issued an announcement Friday confirming that it still regards marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance with no legitimate medical uses and no margin of safety in its use — which is sort of an absurdity on its face. Marijuana remains entirely illegal under federal law.

And “Schedule 1” means what?

Well, back in 1970, when Congress unified all the drug laws in the Controlled Substances Act, they divided drugs into a variety of schedules. Schedule 1 refers to drugs that supposedly have no legitimate medical use and have no margin of safety in their use. So heroin, LSD, and marijuana are in that category. Schedule 2 are drugs that have some substantial risk but also have some legitimate medical uses. So for example cocaine, opiates and stimulant drugs are in that category.

So medical marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the federal government. But what has the actual enforcement policy of the Obama administration been up till this week?

During the presidential campaign in 2008, Obama made a number of commitments, one of which was that federal law enforcement would not prioritize prosecution of medical marijuana facilities operating legally under state law. Then in summer 2009, the Justice Department issued a memo called the Ogden memo, which basically affirmed much of Obama’s promise. It affirmed the idea that marijuana is illegal under federal law, but then said that federal prosecutors should not prioritize the prosecution of medical marijuana facilities operating legally under state law. Drug policy reform advovates felt quite optimistic about that 2009 memo, even though it was a qualified statement. What followed was a proliferation of dispensaries in places like Colorado, and California, and Montana. There were growing concerns that this was going too far. I think the Justice Department was hearing from local federal prosecutors and others who did not like these developments.

So what does the new memo sent out to U.S. attorneys say?

It’s called the Cole memo. It reiterates that all marijuana is illegal under federal law. They say that clearly federal resources should not be used to go after patients and their caregivers. They also say that any very large-scale operations — multimillion-dollar operations — will be prosecuted even if they are operating legally under state law. So that represents a modest change in policy. What they are not clear on is what will happen with the midlevel dispensaries. They’re not multimillion-dollar operations, they’re operating legally under state law, and they seem to be serving a population that has medical marijuana recommendations from their physicians. With those operations we’re in a kind of wait-and-see mode as to what prosecutors will do state by state.

The language of the Cole memo is quite aggressive in saying to everybody, “You better watch out, because any one of you could be prosecuted.” On the other hand there are some other messages being sent saying, “Watch what we do, not what we say.” So the real test cases will be whether or not the feds decide to go after medical marijuana dispensaries that are operating legally under state law and are being responsibly regulated by state authorities. If they do that, then we’ll know they really seriously backtracked on the president’s commitment.

So from the beginning of the administration to the present, have they actually gone after dispensaries?

There was a proliferation of dispensaries in states like Colorado and California. So there have in fact been more raids under the Obama administration than there were under the Bush administration. It’s hard to say whether that’s a reflection of the proliferation of dispensaries or whether that’s a real change in policy. What’s also not clear is whether the feds are only targeting those facilities that are not clearly operating legally under state law. So the feds have really created a growing sense of confusion in the medical marijuana community about where the line is between what will be permitted and what won’t.

Stepping back from medical marijuana, has there been much of a shift from the Bush to Obama administrations with “drug war” policy more broadly?

I was pleasantly surprised by the first 18 months of the administration. Obama made three explicit promises during the campaign. He said the feds would not go after medical marijuana facilities operating legally under state law, and he appeared to make good on that. He said the crack-powder laws needed to be rolled back, and they got a major reform of that law last year. Third, he said he would support federal funding for needle exchange, and they did support the efforts in Congress on that. Since that time, it looks more and more like the drug czar’s office has been captured by the drug warriors and the anti-drug fanatics who dominated policy-making in the Clinton and Bush administrations. The rhetoric coming out of the drug czar’s office is almost indistinguishable from the rhetoric of past administrations. The personnel they’ve been hiring, and the people they talk to, are overwhelmingly those who have been associated with the failed drug war policies of the past. And meanwhile the Justice Department seems to be getting more and more engaged in enforcement of marijuana laws in ways that really make no sense as a matter of [the] responsible [use] of resources.

California Rejects Plan To Reduce Cannabis Cultivation Penalties

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Graphic: disinfo.com

​The California Assembly on Friday rejected Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s bill, AB 1017, to reduce marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony to a “wobbler,” which would have allowed discretion on charging a misdemeanor. The vote was 24 yes to 36 no.

The bill had been supported by the district attorney of Mendocino County, but was opposed by the state D.A.’s association.
“The state Legislature has once again demonstrated its incompetence when it comes to dealing with prison crowding,” said disappointed California NORML Director Dale Gieringer.
“With California under court order to reduce its prison population, it is irresponsible to maintain present penalties for nonviolent drug offenses,” Gieringer said. “It makes no sense to keep marijuana growing a felony, when assault, battery, and petty theft are all misdemeanors.

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Photo: California NORML
Dale Gieringer, California NORML: “Legislators have once again caved in to the state’s law enforcement establishment”
“Legislators have once again caved in to the state’s law enforcement establishment, which has a vested professional interest in maximizing drug crime,” Gieringer said.
Numerous liberal Democrats failed to vote, with some of them actually opposing AB 1017, among them Sandre Swanson of Oakland, Jerry Hill of San Mateo, and Mike Feuer of Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Chris Norby of Orange County was the only Republican “yes” vote in the entire Assembly.

The Top 5 Worst States To Get Busted With Pot

The 5 Worst States to Get Busted With Pot

Even a minor pot bust can be life-altering for people unlucky enough to be arrested in one of these five states.

Police prosecute over 800,000 Americans annually for violating state marijuana laws. The penalties for those busted and convicted vary greatly, ranging from the imposition of small fines to license revocation to potential incarceration. But for the citizens arrested in these five states, the ramifications of even a minor pot bust are likely to be exceptionally severe.

1. Oklahoma. Lawmakers in the Sooner State made headlines this spring when legislators voted 119 to 20 in favor of House Bill 1798, which enhances the state sentencing guidelines for hash manufacturing to a minimum of two years in jail and a maximum penalty of life in prison. (Mary Fallin, the state’s first-ever female governor, signed the measure into law in April; it takes effect on November 1, 2011.) But longtime Oklahoma observers were hardly surprised at lawmakers’ latest “life for pot” plan. After all, state law already allows judges to hand out life sentences for those convicted of cannabis cultivation or for the sale of a single dime-bag.

Patricia Marilyn Spottedcow, 25, learned the truth about Oklahoma’s excessive pot penalties the hard way in February when a judge sentenced the mother of four to 12 years in prison for her role in the sale of $39 worth of herb to an undercover informant. Spottedcow’s sentence sparked national media attention – and public outrage – but neither result has led the judge in the case to reconsider the terms of her confinement.

Similarly harsh sentences for pot are par for the course in the Sooner State. Paraplegic Jimmy Montgomery was sentenced to life in prison – later reduced to 10 years – after being caught with two ounces of medical pot in his wheelchair. After considerable public outcry, Montgomery was eventually granted early release on medical parole – though he later lost a leg from an ulcerated bed sore he developed while in prison. Rheumatoid arthritis patient Will Foster – convicted of marijuana cultivation in 1997 – received a similarly draconian 93-year sentence, later reduced to 20 years on appeal. Foster was eventually paroled and moved to California, where he quickly registered as a legal medi-pot patient. However, in 2009 he was extradited back to Oklahoma to serve additional time behind bars.

Overall, some 13,000 Oklahomans are busted for pot annually. Only 12 other states arrest a greater percentage of their population for weed, and arguably no state sentences those convicted more harshly.

2. Texas. On an annual basis, no state arrests and criminally prosecutes more of its citizens for pot than does Texas. Marijuana arrests comprise over half of all annual arrests in the Lone Star State. It is easy to see why. In 2009, more than 97 percent of all Texas marijuana arrests — over 77,000 people — were for possession only. Those convicted face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, even upon a first conviction.

Despite Texas’ dubious distinction as the #1 pot prosecuting state in America, police and lawmakers have little interest in exploring alternatives. In 2007, Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation (HB 2391) into law granting police the option of issuing a summons in lieu of an arrest in minor marijuana possession cases. Yet aside from police in Austin, long considered to be the state’s lone bastion of liberalism, law enforcement have continued to fervently make arrests in even the most trivial of pot cases.

In 2011, Houston Democrat Harold Dutton introduced House Bill 458, which sought to reduce penalties for the adult possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $500 and no criminal record. Within weeks, over 2,500 Texans contacted their House members in support of the measure. Nonetheless, House lawmakers refused to even consider bringing the measure to a vote.

3. Florida. According to a 2009 state-by-state analysis by researcher and former NORML Director Jon Gettman, no other state routinely punishes minor marijuana more severely than does the Sunshine State. Under Florida law, marijuana possession of 20 grams or less (about two-thirds of an ounce) is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Marijuana possession over 20 grams, as well as the cultivation of even a single pot plant, are defined by law as felony offenses – punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In recent years, state lawmakers have revisited the state’s marijuana penalties – in each case electing to enhanceFlorida’s already toughest-in-the-nation criminal punishments.

Ironically, despite the Sunshine State’s long history as one of the nation’s stiffest pot prosecutors, law enforcement have steadfastly refused to report their annual marijuana arrest data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Illinois is the only other state that elects to withhold this information from federal statisticians.

4. Louisiana. On May 6 the Associated Press reported on the case of Cornell Hood II, who received a life sentence for possessing two pounds of pot. Hood received the maximum sentence under Louisiana’s habitual drug offender law because he had three prior marijuana convictions, although none of them were significant enough to result in even a single day of jail time.

Multi-decade sentences for repeat pot offenders are hardly a rare occurrence. Under Louisiana law, a second pot possession conviction is classified as a felony offense, punishable by up to five years in prison. Three-time offenders face up to 20 years in prison. According to a 2008 expose published in the New Orleans City Business online, district attorneys are not hesitant to “target small-time marijuana users, sometimes caught with less than a gram of pot, and threaten them with lengthy prison sentences.”

Each year, cops make nearly 19,000 pot busts in the Bayou State – some 91 percent for simple possession – and according to Gettman, only three other states routinely punish minor offenders so severely.

5. Arizona. Forty years ago virtually every state in the nation defined marijuana possession as a felony offense. Today, only one state, Arizona, treats first-time pot possession in such an archaic and punitive manner.

Under Arizona law, even minor marijuana possession offenses may be prosecuted as felony crimes, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $150,000 fine. According to Jon Gettman’s 2009 analysis only Florida consistently treats minor marijuana possession cases more severely.

Annually, some 22,000 Arizonans are busted for pot and 92 percent of those arrested are charged with possession only. Citing the rising costs of these prosecutions at a time of shrinking state budgets, first-term GOP House lawmaker John Fillmore (Apache Junction) recently introduced legislation, HB 2228, to reduce pot possession to a non-criminal petty offense, punishable by no more than a $100 fine. So how did his supposedly “small government, no nanny state” colleagues respond to his proposal? With “a lot of smiles and laughs,” Fillmore told the Phoenix New Times. Predictably, HB 2228 failed to even receive a legislative hearing from his fellow lawmakers.


Did You Know This About Marijuana?

 

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