Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Don't take Pictures of Your Marijuana Crop With A Cell Phone!

Imagine, if you will. You worked hard all summer long toting water to your cannabis plants. Traveling way into the woods, you know, OPP (other peoples property.)  One day you look at one of your plants, and you decide to take a picture of it. A little time goes by. Hell, you probably done smoked it by now, and you decide to share the picture online.

Next year comes, everything seems cool, you're getting ready to harvest your plants, and Bam! Out of nowhere you got a SWAT team surrounding you with guns in your face!

How did they figure out where to find your cannabis plants and bust you? You might be pondering. Well, that picture of that sweet cannabis plant you took a picture of a year before, it had a location code written into the picture, and all the police had to do is read it and find out where your crop was using global positioning.

This scenario can happen. So, be warned, and be careful what pictures you take with a smartphone. When you're heading to the crop, just don't take your phone with you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why Do Prosecutors Try To "Weed Out" Potential Jurors Aware Of Jury Nullification?

I never heard of someone utilizing a Jury Nullification Defense until I started writing to Ed Forchion aka The New Jersey Weedman a few years ago. I have been following his case and was very proud to see him follow through on his endeavor to actually try and persuade at least one jury member that the law was wrong, not him.  Not only did he follow through, but he got an intent to distribute charge dismissed by unanimous decision.  

Photograph of NJ Weedman courtesy of James Babb.

 He also defended himself! Nowadays, lawyers are looking at cannabis arrests as easy money. Most folks just plea out. Attorneys don't have to do anything but show up in court, have you sign a piece of paper for a plea deal, and pick up their check at the end of the day. So right off, if you're busted this is what the lawyer is pretty much expecting to do.

Most people who have something to gain from cannabis prohibition are the one's that are most likely opposed to legalization.  I suspect most attorneys would not like to see cannabis cases disappearing from the courts.  I put most attorneys in the same category of other people who profit from cannabis being illegal such as Private Prisons, Correctional Officer Unions,  Police Departments depending on financial assistance for Federal Subsidy's for cannabis arrests quotas, to the Pharmaceutical Industry.

They're so many variables out there now that make the case to defend yourself more possible than ever before. Maybe if someone went into a court armed with this knowledge, they might seriously consider opting out of a plea deal and considering Jury Nullification.

- First, changing public opinion on cannabis has increased exponentially over the past few years. To the point now where 18 states plus Washington DC have legalized medicinal use of cannabis. 2 States Washington and Colorado have completely legalized it.  Odds are at least one person on a jury can be cannabis friendly. Now if they are aware of jury nullificatiojn, you could most likely go home a free person.

-  More and more people are less interested in our government spending money to enforce cannabis laws.  It has gotten to the point where it is more expensive to incarcerate someone for a year than a year in college!

After 40 years, $1 trillion, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals

- People are becoming more and more aware how racially based the arrests for cannabis is and was.  In 48 states, the arrest rate between blacks and whites is disproportionately higher for blacks. In Iowa for example, the population of blacks in their state is 3%, yet they make up 79% of the arrests for cannabis.

United States Marijuana Possession Arrest Rates by State and Race (2006)

-This is a big one: Government Credibility enforcing cannabis prohibition. If you were to Google "Is the government lying about marijuana?" The first thing that pops up and many more after are many documented referrals stating that this is the case.

A good example of this was recently when the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomburg said that Medicinal Cannabis was "The greatest hoaxes of all time"

Mayor Bloomberg Medical Cannabis "One of gratest hoxes of all time"

While he was saying this, the New England Journal of Medicine is releasing a survey from doctors saying that 76% would prescribe cannabis to their patients if they were allowed.

New England Journal of Medicine survey 76% of doctors would prescribe cannabis"

Considering New York City is known worldwide for it's racial profiling stop and frisk policy. Spiking cannabis arrests by making people put personal cannabis in public view for a more egregious penalty.  I would believe doctors over politicians and law enforcement any day regarding the medicinal benefits of cannabis... It truly is a healthcare issue, not a criminal issue.

 NYPD Narcotics Detective Admits Cops Regularly Plant Drugs On Perps

- DEA being dishonest and refusing to admit that cannabis is less dangerous than heroin or that it has no medicinal use is another example. Considering the government has a patent on medicinal cannabis, it really shows just how schizophrenic our government is on this policy.

 U.S. Government Licenses Patent for Medical Marijuana

Last year Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado questioned the head of the DEA, Michelle Leonhart. She repeatedly refused to give the congressman an clear honest answer. The congressman was trying to have a straight open debate and all he got was the run around.

 The governments lack of credibility enforcing cannabis prohibition is out there for everyone to see, but unfortunately when a defendant goes to trial they'll most likely be unable to effectively attack the government's credibility, and prosecutors are hoping a potential juror is uneducated to these facts.  In a nutshell a perfect juror for the prosecution is an ignorant juror... For a defense lawyer that's the last thing they would want.

All these things are out there for one to discover for a potential juror. If they can realize how unjust this law is, maybe we can finally change cannabis laws once and for all.

- Junk Science

All over the country there have been multitudes of cases where drug testing labs have tainted evidence to support  the prosecution. Most folks do not realize that the drug testing procedures used to determine if a substance is cannabis is supposed to be a subjective test not a definitive one, yet although it is admissible as evidence in court, it commonly gives false positives for cannabis with a multitude of other substances.

A miscarriage of justice on marijuana US police are using a flawed scientific test in drugs busts that gives 'false positives' to strongarm citizens into plea bargaining

A few years ago, I was on a Grand Jury for several months. I helped several people have cannabis cases dismissed, from possession to intent to distribute.  To the chagrin of visibly irate police officers, because they could not sway my vote to have them prosecuted.  I kind of rocked the boat when they realized they had a cannabis friendly juror and they were not able to do anything about it.

Part of being on that Grand Jury was they give you a tour of the jail, and the sheriff gives the tour. I still remember how he had a gleeful tone in his voice and a twinkle in his eye when he invited us to his next big asset forfeiture auction. He was telling us about all the cars he had acquired and hoped that the folks would stop on by and support their sheriffs department.

So I believe the reason why prosecutors don't want a juror to know about jury nullification are  because they know that if people were to be aware of this that they would lose. The big bad tiger called government does not like losing.  They will intentionally screen out potential jurors who they think will impose jury nullification, or are aware of it.  If you contest a cannabis charge, they feel impelled to stack the deck against you to use the jurors to support their weak law.

When it comes down to it, if that's what they have to do to win, then we are truly winning. More and more folks need to be educated about jury nullification to the point where prosecutors will have no choice but to accept them on jury pools..

In the meantime if you're selected for jury duty and you support cannabis legalization , Do your duty, be professional, and keep your mouth shut until it is time to deliberate. You don't have to explain to the other jurors why you think a person is not guilty. You just have to say to yourself  "The law is wrong, not them"

If you want to become more educated on Jury Nullification, this is a good place to start.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Drug Testing: A Flawed Forensic Science Causing Wrongful Convictions

Written by: John Kelly

The VIP unspoken part of this article (see below) is that forensic science from its inception up until and continuing now has been systemically flawed, including of course all drug testing, resulting in untold numbers of wrongful convictions. My point is poignantly illustrated by the quoting of the new president of the American Academy of Sciences, Barry Logan, who has been implicated in extensive  fraud in 2010 by massive evidence and the opinions of no fewer than 7 judges, inter alia. And He the new president!

U.S. to commit scientists and new commission to fix forensic science

Attached is a recent decision in Ohio rejecting drug test result evidence as well governmental expert testimony.
The decision is scientifically and legally rock solid and applies equally to marijuana testing and is something
I've been saying for five years.

Excluded of drug analog evidence, Ohio

Attached also are excerpts from my forthcoming book: Beat Marijuana Charges Without Plea Bargaining.

DEA Claims Scientific Impossibility

Lindsay's Correspondence

MA Police Marijuana Protocols

Killer Bud Update: Just today after posting this article for John Kelly I found this article:

Speed Bump On The Rocket Docket

Speed Bump on the Rocket Docket

False-positive field tests derail drug prosecutions

By Jordan Smith, Fri., Feb. 22, 2013

Rosemary Lehmberg
Rosemary Lehmberg
Photo by John Anderson
For the time being at least, Travis Coun­ty's "rocket docket" has been grounded.
The docket was designed in 2002 to ease jail overcrowding by expediting lower-level drug possession cases – which account for roughly a third of the criminal case docket – by allowing defendants to waive indictment and plead guilty based in part on the results of police-administered field testing of suspected drugs.

And so it went, and well, for more than a decade, with very few cases overturned or dismissed based on false-positive field drug tests. At least that's how it was until Jan­u­ary, said District Attorney Rosemary Lehm­berg, when prosecutors realized that since August 2012 there had been an unprecedented string of 12 false-positive field tests in rocket-docket cases. Since then, she's conferred with the courts and with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo before ultimately deciding to slow the docket and not accept any pleas until after a final drug test has been reported back from the APD's lab. And because the lab is short-staffed and backlogged, that means the docket's speediness will, for now, be reduced to a crawl.

In fact, the APD lab hasn't been keeping up with the county's criminal justice system, as that system's reliance on scientific evidence – including chemical drug analysis – has grown. The rocket docket used to move as swiftly as its name implies – in 2009, cases on that docket took an average of just 11 days to close. But as the general backlog at the crime lab has increased, so too has the amount of time taken to return to prosecutors the final lab reports in these otherwise expedited cases. Lehmberg said the average turnaround time for a final lab report had been roughly 14 days; by last summer, that had stretched to nearly two months. (City Council last week voted to give APD an additional $180,000 this year to hire three forensic chemists to help reduce the lab's general backlog; see "Budget Games.")

Despite that growing lag time, that delay isn't ultimately what has slowed the rocket docket. Rather, it's the number of false-positive field tests for drugs that prompted Lehm­berg to put on the brakes. Essentially, the field tests help move the docket; for example, if cops find what they believe is a small baggie of cocaine on a person they've stopped, they'll employ a field test – essentially a chemical reaction test – to check their assumptions. If the substance reacts positively, they'll pop the person for possession of cocaine and send the baggie off to the lab for a final, conclusive test. In the meantime, however, the defendant, now slated for the rocket docket, is given an opportunity to plead guilty before indictment and before that final test is performed – a process that reduces jail time and helps unclog the criminal dockets. But in 12 recent cases, the final lab results have come back with a finding of no "controlled substances detected," even though a field test came back positive.

Exactly why the tests have come back false-positive isn't clear. Lehmberg says she's been told that it's a recent problem, not just in Travis County, but "everywhere." She and Acevedo said the issue in part is that the field tests aren't precise enough to detect what sort of "–caine" suffixed drug they're detecting. Indeed, it may not be cocaine that the person has been sold, but may be an adulterated drug with an anesthetic base, like lidocaine or benzocaine – both dangerous drugs (possession of either is a Class A misdemeanor, Lehmberg said), but neither as tightly controlled as cocaine, classified as a narcotic.

Whether the field tests are truly false, or whether they're simply not precise enough, is something that Lehmberg is currently trying to determine. She said she's requested the lab notes for each of the 12 cases that have come to her attention, to see if there was actually no drug detected by APD chemists or if there is some other drug there, but not cocaine. If the latter, those cases might need to be reconsidered for misdemeanor prosecution, she said. For now, however, she's not "willing to let people plead [guilty] without a lab report," she said. "Right this minute, until we figure this out, we're not pleading any more cases."

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