New York City

NYC: cannabis busts rising again —despite new policy

Posted on June 4th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

New York CityBig Apple tokers exhaled a sigh of relief in November 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio instated a new policy barring arrest for possession of under 25 grams of cannabis. New York City had long been the pot bust capital of the USA, and after the new policy the smell of fragrant smoke was present on the city streets on a level not seen since before the get-tough Giuliani era. But a year and a half later—guess what? A new report just released by the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) indicates that cannabis arrests rose more than a third in the first three months of this year. The NYPD popped 4,225 people for pot possession between January and March, according to state data crunched by the advocacy group. That's a serious jump from the 2,960 arrested during the same period last year. When you add in arrests for small sales, the figures are respectively 5,311 and 3,973. What gives?

300 pounds by special delivery

Posted on March 11th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

New York cannabisThree men were busted after attempting to deliver a whopping 300 pounds of cannabis to a building in New York's Greenwich Village, police told CBS New York on Feb. 27. NYPD narcotics officers arrested Patrick Johnson, Matthew Parrigo and Christopher Bender after they were spotted carrying a large wooden crate into the building at 144 Bleeker Street. Cops later discovered another 150-pound crate loaded with weed after searching a delivery truck on scene.

No federal charges in Ramarley Graham case

Posted on March 8th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

New York City The Manhattan US Attorney's office announced March 8 that it will not prosecute the NYPD officer who killed unarmed teen Ramarley Graham—almost four years to the day after he was slain by undercover officers who had chased him into his own apartment in The Bronx. No gun was found—just a small a bag of cannabis, which he was apparently trying to flush down the john. "After conducting a thorough and independent investigation, the US Attorney's Office has determined that there is insufficient evidence to meet the high burden of proof required for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution" of police officer Richard Haste, said a statement from Preet Bharara, federal prosecutor for New York's Southern District. "Accordingly, this office's investigation into Mr. Graham's death has been closed."

Cannabis behind Staten Island traffic fatality? Um, no...

Posted on February 18th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

New York CityBut the latest in New York City's workaday traffic fatalities (there were 242 in 2015, according to the Mean Streets blog) is the case of middle-aged Stanley Marshall, who was riding his bike on Staten Island's Richmond Ave. when he was run down by a motorist who pulled out of a parking lot. The headline in the Daily News reads: "Man, 59, killed while riding bicycle by stoned driver on Staten Island." The motorist, Lisa Martini, admitted to police: "I was just pulling out from getting my food and I guess I hit something. I smoked a little bit of weed around 2:30."

High Times chairman Michael Kennedy dies

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Michael KennedyAttorney Michael Kennedy, the longtime guiding force behind High Times magazine, died of complications from an illness in New York Jan. 25 at the age of 78. He was the lawyer for High Times founder Tom Forçade, the notorious marijuana smuggler and political radical who started the magazine in 1974. "Tom and I became friends," Kennedy wrote in 2015. "We had five years of revolutionary pretense and fucking with the begrudgers. There were more grand juries, betrayals and sordid legal encounters. Tom brought street theater to everything he did. High Times was all theater... Tom had publishing experience, muckraking; he preferred shit-disturbing." After Forçade's death in 1978, High Times' parent company, Trans High Corp., operated as a trust until 2000 when the company was broken up into shares. Kennedy and his wife Eleanora and Forçade's family retained control of the company with Kennedy being named chairman of the board. He was also Trans High's legal counsel. During his extensive legal career, he defended the likes of acid guru Timothy Leary and Black Panther Huey Newton.

Kosher cannabis spells relief for Judeo-tokers

Posted on January 2nd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

leafPharmaceutical firm Vireo Health of Minneapolis announced Dec. 30 that its medical marijuana has been certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, the body that sets such standards for America's half-million Orthodox Jews. The OU's Kosher Certification program usually stamps its seal of approval on food products. But now Vireo Health, one of five companies licensed to market medical marijuana in New York state, has received the OU's imprimatur for herbal product—a first in the industry. The New York Daily News reports that the OU rabbinical association gave its certification after inspecting the company's facilities and finding that the cannabis is produced according to the laws of kashrut—for example, being entirely free of insects.

New York State push for cannabis justice

Posted on April 28th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

New YorkBack in March, Connecticut's Supreme Court, the state's highest, ruled that those convicted of past cannabis possession misdemeanors can have the charges erased from their records because the state decriminalized the herb in 2011. The  unanimous ruling came in the case of Nicholas Menditto, who will now have his 2009 possession conviction expunged from his record. (The Joint Blog, March 17; AP, March 16) Last week, reporter Jon Campbell wrote in New York's Village Voice that activists in the Empire State are hoping for a similar outcome. New York was one of the first states to decriminalize, way back in '77, and the cut-off point for an infraction rather than a misdemeanor is a full ounce (as opposed to a half-ounce under the Connecticut law). But New York pot arrests have ironically continued at the highest rate in the country—especially in the Big Apple, under the aggressive policing since the '90s. The loophole that cops used? Cannabis in public view remains illegal—and suspects are basically forced into pulling out their stashes when stopped by cops and ordered to empty their pockets.

Will Loretta Lynch wind down drug war?

Posted on April 26th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Loretta LynchPresident Obama's nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, was confirmed by the Senate after a long delay due to Capitol Hill party politicking on April 23. She becomes the first Black woman to head the US Justice Department, and she brings some credentials to the job that will hearten those concerned with social justice. As US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, she prosecuted the NYPD officers who sodomized Abner Louima in a New York police station bathroom with a broken broom handle in 1997. But at her confirmation hearing she appeared to tilt right, telling senators on Jan. 29: "[N]ot only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization. Nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general." CelebStoner blog ominously notes that she has won support from such intolerant hardliners as New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who called her "a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor."

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