United States

Harborside Health Center in 'historic' deal with feds

Posted on May 3rd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Oakland Oakland's Harborside Health Center announced May 3 that it has reached a deal to end the long effort by federal prosecutors to shut it down. Under the "historic agreement," the Justice Department will agree dismiss its forfeiture case against Harborside. In return, the dispensary agrees not to pursue further legal action against the government. Harborside's San Jose location is also included in the deal. Attorney Henry Wykowski said: "We are gratified that the government has finally seen fit to lay down its arms against Harborside in this case. The will of the people is for medical cannabis dispensaries to operate free from federal threats of closure. We hope we are on the cusp of a policy change and that the Department of Justice will no longer target state-legal dispensaries for forfeiture."

Surveillance of activists latest Chicago police scandal

Posted on April 14th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ChicagoThis has been a very bad week for the Chicago Police Department. Among the headaches was a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on "unsettling" reports of Chicago police monitoring peaceful protest groups, and is calling for City Council hearings on the claims. The statement came in response to a Chicago Sun-Times report finding that the department opened seven investigations since 2009 to monitor activist groups. E-mails released by the city under purblic pressure after the 2014 fatal police shooting of African American teen Laquan McDonald revealed that cops kept close tabs on protesters. Undercover officers were sent to monitor meetings of Black Lives Matter and other groups. (AP, April 10)

Global executions surge —yet again

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

nooseFor a third year running, Amnesty International's annual report on the death penalty notes an alarming surge in the number of executions worldwide—now reaching the highest total since 1989. At least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of more than 50% over the previous year. Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were leading the field, responsible for 89% of the executions. Iran executed at least 977 in 2015—the vast majority for drug-related crimes—compared with 743 in 2014. Those put to death included at least four who were under 18 at the time of the crime—which Amnesty called a violation of international law. Pakistan continued what Amnesty called as a "state-sanctioned killing spree" that began when a moratorium on civilian executions was lifted in December 2014. Pakistan sent at least 326 to the gallows last year, the highest annual total Amnesty has recorded for that country. Executions in Saudi Arabia rose by 76%, with at least 158 people put to death, Amnesty said. Most were beheaded, with the bodies often displayed in public.

Merle Haggard, redneck icon who embraced cannabis, passes on

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Merle HaggardCountry music legend Merle Haggard died at his ranch near Northern California's Lake Shasta on April 6, his 79th birthday. Haggard had the hard-living authenticity that helped make him an icon for the working folks of rural America. Of Okie stock, he grew up in Bakersfield and came up as a musician in the Central Valley town's local honkytonk scene—before actually turning 21 in San Quentin State Prison after a burglary conviction in 1957, as immortalized in his famous hit "Mama Tried." Unlike what the lyric said, however, he wasn't "doing life without parole." He was paroled in 1960, returned to his music career, acheived success, and was granted a pardon in 1972 by California's then-governor (and fellow conservative icon) Ronald Reagan.

Supreme Court deals blow to Oakland medical program

Posted on March 22nd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

OaklandIn a blow to municipal power to regulate medical marijuana, the US Supreme Court on March 21 refused to hear Oakland's appeal of last year's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the city cannot help defend Harborside Health Center in federal court. The Justice Department has been trying to shut down the flagship dispensary on the Oakland waterfront—dubbed a "superstore" by US attorney Melinda Haag. The city of Oakland tried to intervene in the case, asserting that Harborside's closure would rob the cash-strapped municipality of millions in tax revenues.

Cannabis interceptions on Mexican border down —again

Posted on March 20th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , .

MexicoFor a second year running, the US Border Patrol reports drastically reduced cannabis seizures along the Mexican border—and even the mainstream media can't help making the connection to the growing trend toward legalization and tolerance in the United States. In reporting the findings, the Washington Post uses the headline, "Legal marijuana is finally doing what the drug war couldn't." Last year, border agents confiscated some 1.5 million pounds—down from a peak of nearly 4 million in 2009. Increased domestic production in California, Colorado and Washington have driven prices down, especially at the bulk level. "Two or three years ago, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of marijuana was worth $60 to $90," a Mexican cannabis farmer recently told NPR. "But now they're paying us $30 to $40 a kilo. It's a big difference. If the U.S. continues to legalize pot, they'll run us into the ground." 

Alabama prison riot: more to come?

Posted on March 16th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

AlabamaGov. Robert Bentley visited Holman prison in southwest Alabama March 15—in the wake of a bloody uprising at the facility. Inmates stabbed the warden and a guard when the trouble began four days earlier, then seized control of a dorm for several hours the day before the governor's visit. A Correctional Emergency Response Team was sent in to restore control. Both the warden and guard survived, but the facility remains on lockdown, with visitation rights suspended. Bentley pledged to address problems of overcrowding at the state's prisons during his visit, reported local WHNT.

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."

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