Massachusetts Issues Draft Marijuana Regulations
BOSTON (Reuter, 1/28/97) Preparing for possible changes in federal laws, the Massachusetts Public Healt Council decided to hold public hearings next month on the medicinal use of marijuana.
Under a 1991 state law, the Department of Public Health has the authority to establish a therapeutic research program on marijuana's use in treating glaucoma, asthma and nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Tuesday it appeared the department also had the political will.
"There seems to be general support for us to do this. It is a laudable purpose," Public Health Commissioner David Mulligan said. "There's no evidence that street use of marijuana is related to the medicinal uses."
The federal government has declined to supply Massachusetts, or any of the 35 states that have similar statutes, access to the crop, according to Michael Cutler, a lawyer for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "But they don't apply and therefore allow AIDS patients or those suffering from MS (multiple sclerosis) access. They just don't go far enough."
Mulligan said he was writing to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala asking either that some of the Mississippi crop be sent to Massachusettes or that the state be allowed to grow its own.
Civil Libertarians Worried by Police Raids on New York Head
Andrew Jacobs, New York Times
NEW YORK The way Mike Kim remembers it, his wife and 4-year-old daughter were visiting his tiny shop, Wild Thing, on the Avenue of the Americas in Greenwich Village on March 19 (1996) when a dozen police officers stormed in, their guns drawn.
After handcuffing two employees, smashing down doors and stripping the shelves bare of stuffed animals, T-shirts and candles, the police hauled away $12,000 worth of smoking implements they deemed contraband.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's campaign against violators of the quality of life originally took aim at roving squeegee men and those who imbibe alcohol in public. It is expanding to include the Village's head shops, 22 stores that stock ornate pipes, waist-high water bongs, and an array of accouterments that the police say are used to smoke marijuana and hashish.
Operation Triad, as Manhattan South's narcotics unit has named the sweeps, has focused on 13 head shops in the Village, yielding 20 arrests and more than 100 garbage bags of merchandise. Although the Manhattan district attorney has not pressed charges against those arrested in such sweeps over the last year, the city has begun eviction proceedings against at least nine stores.
"These businesses provide the tools that fuel illegal drug use," Robert H. Silbering, the Police Department's special narcotics prosecutor, said. "If you can knock them out, you really have an impact on street-level drug trade. Bodega and deli owners who sell items used for the consumption of crack and cacaine -- plastic envelopes, glass vials, and scales -- have been sucessfully prosecuted.
But the current war against licensed smoke shops has civil libertarians worried that the city may be going too far. "Cracking down on head shops resonates well politically," said Norman Siegel of the New York Civil Liberties Union, "but it is my understanding that the police don't have a legal leg to stand on. How do these instruments differ from the pipes that are being sold at upscale smoke shops on Fifth Avenue?"
Kentucky Court Rules Marijuana Law Unconstitutional
BEATTYVILLE, KY (Reuter, 1/23/97) A judge ruled Thursday that an anti-marijuana law under which actor Woody Harrelson was charged is vague and overly broad, giving the star a victory in his challenge to the statute.
Harrelson's lawyer, Beryl McCoy, said he was "delighted" at the decision, adding: "This is the first step to being able to grow hemp in the Commonwealth of Kentucky."
The actor, famous on television as the bartender in "Cheers" and for his roles in "Natural Born Killers" and other Hollywood films, said he planted the seeds to challenge the law and allow Kentucky farmers to grow hemp legally. He said hemp was Kentucky's leading cash crop 50 years ago and could be again, particularly for farmers wanting to abandon tobacco.
Harrelson owns a California firm, Hempstead Co. which sells hemp-based products. The company had about $1.5 million in sales last year but U.S. laws required it to buy the raw material from China and elsewhere.
Police Corruption Abounds in Chicago
CHICAGO, IL (UPI, 12/20/96) Seven Chicago police officers and a civilian have been charged in a 21-count indictment with allegedly operating a protection racket for drug dealers and robbing other traffickers.
U.S. Attorney Jim Burns and Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez Friday announced the indictments at police headquarters calling the scandal a case of "cops as robbers."
The officers are accused of robbing and extorting more than $65,900 fron drug dealers and of protecting criminal drug traffickers from rival dealers. Five officers were charged with carrying a firearm to commit a drug offense or violent crime.
The officers allegedly accepted payments from an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer ranging from $500 to $25,000 from December 1995 to December 1996.
DEA Accuses CIA of Wire Tapping
SAN FRANCISCO (AP, 9/12/96) The CIA and other spy agencies have systematically tapped the phones of overseas Drug Enforcement Administration offices, according to a class action lawsuit filed in Washington Thursday on behalf of DEA agents.
The lawsuit, which also names the National Security Agency and the State Department, seeks a court order barring those agencies from any further wiretapping.
"These agencies have a pattern and practice of eavesdropping on DEA agents' and employees' conversations while they are serving the government overseas," lawyer Brian Leighton said. The only DEA agent named as a plaintiff in the suit is Richard Horn of the agency's New Orleans bureau.
Drug Agent Faces Arrest in Case of Peeping Tom
San Jose Mercury News, (10/4/96) The head of the San Jose office of the Drug Enforcement Administration was charged Thurday with engaging in some sordid surveillance. San Jose police obtained a warrent for the arrest of Michael Mayrick as a peeping Tom. The warrant says he peered into the windows of two women -- one of them a Mountain View police officer -- who live in his South San Jose Apartment complex.
The officer allegedly saw Meyrick staring into her window Sept. 26 and ran out of her ground-level apartment to find him the only person nearby. She yelled at him to stop, and then he bolted, according to police reports. She and two others chased him down and struggled with him. A DEA spokesman said that after the criminal case is resolved Meyrick could face internal discipline. He declined to answer further questions.
Make Drugs Legal, European Union Commissioner Says
BRUSSELS (Reuter, 12/5/96) Drugs should be legalized, European Commissioner Emma Bonino said Thursday, because years of prohibition simply had not worked. "Thanks to prohibitionist policies drugs are now goods whose production, trade and consumption are illegal as well as out of control. And yet they are probably the only goods which one can buy anytime and anywhere," she told an anti-prohibition rally.
The Italian Commissioner stressed that she was personally against drug use and did not take them herself, but their use was a matter of personal choice and she had not found any evidence over the past 20 years that prohibition worked. "Several decades now and those are the results," she said, pointing to rises in production, availability and use of illegal drugs and linked violence and exposure to AIDS.