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Archive for June, 2014

Strongest Medical Evidence Yet of the Harm from Marijuana Legalization

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The evidence continues to mount of the dangerous health risks of today’s potent forms of marijuana, especially to segments of the population such as juveniles and young adults. But the medical evidence seems to be having little effect in view of a combination of denial, lack of political will, and ignorance on the part of state legislators and the public in general, as well as the well organized and financed forces of legalization.

Last week The New England Journal of Medicine, probably the most respected medical journal in the United States, reported in an article entitled, “Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use,” by four physicians and researchers that there is a substantial level of scientific confidence that the drug can result in addiction, memory and cognitive function damage, impairment of motor function, and long lasting negative changes in brain function. Their conclusion was that increased availability from legalization will significantly increase the negative health consequences to the population.

As shown in other studies, short term use makes it difficult to learn and retain information. Driving skills are impaired. Risky behavior and even paranoia and psychosis can result. Long term use can alter brain development, encourages dropping out of school, a lower IQ during adolescence, reduced satisfaction and achievement, chronic bronchitis, and an increased risk of schizophrenia.

Although the study advises that there can be other factors involved in these devastating results, the link between marijuana and social factors such as lower income, more public assistance, unemployment, criminal behavior, and a lower life satisfaction has been established by several studies. People who used the drug before driving were from 2 to 7 times as likely to be responsible for an accident than those who had not used alcohol or marijuana.

The increase in the average potency of THC content continues to increase, from 3% in the 1980s to 12% in 2012. As the cultivation continues to become more sophisticated in states like Colorado and California, one could expect this figure to increase significantly and, correspondingly, to increase the extent of the adverse effects on increasing numbers of people in the population. Increased emergency room visits (100 % increase from 2004 to 2011) and reports to poison control centers (three times the number in legalization states) forcefully demonstrate that this phenomenon is well under way.

Importantly, this steep increase in the THC content also calls into question the validity of all of those studies done in previous decades. The assurances of those early studies, on which pro-legalization forces rely so heavily to assuage the reluctance of state legislators, are worth little in the face of these statistics and the recent medical studies.

The article reports that there is evidence that marijuana or other cannabinoids may benefit symptoms associated with certain clinical conditions such as glaucoma, nausea, inflammatory diseases, MS, and epilepsy. However, more research is necessary to confirm these findings, as well as to determine the most effective form of administration.

Since medical marijuana prescriptions issued to adults are a major source of recreational use by juveniles, states must develop an effective method of regulation, as well as education about the dangers of both inadvertent and commercial distribution for non-medical use. Anyone who reviews medical marijuana advertisements or talks to law enforcement officers about the level of therapeutics of many of such clinics, can only question whether the drug legalization is actually accomplishing a fraction of the benefits touted by its advocates.

Recently, I walked around Venice and Santa Monica beaches in southern California. The number and appearances of the “medical” marijuana clinics in the narrow streets leading to the beaches were strikingly non-medical to everyone I was with. The medical purpose of such businesses seemed like a joke. A local federal agent confirmed that the great majority of the large amounts dispensed were universally known to be used recreationally and were so ubiquitous as to be unenforceable. The genie was out of the bottle.

Twenty-two states have legalized marijuana use in some form or another. One can only hope that other states will pause in this trend and consider the mounting medical evidence of significant health and well being problems in so many different categories. Perhaps studies in the 22 states will demonstrate that the cost of these policies is so great as to demand reconsideration.

 

Parker: Strongest Medical Evidence Yet of the Harm from Marijuana Legalization

Ross Parker

 
Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The evidence continues to mount of the dangerous health risks of today’s potent forms of marijuana, especially to segments of the population such as juveniles and young adults. But the medical evidence seems to be having little effect in view of a combination of denial, lack of political will, and ignorance on the part of state legislators and the public in general, as well as the well organized and financed forces of legalization.

Last week The New England Journal of Medicine, probably the most respected medical journal in the United States, reported in an article entitled, “Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use,” by four physicians and researchers that there is a substantial level of scientific confidence that the drug can result in addiction, memory and cognitive function damage, impairment of motor function, and long lasting negative changes in brain function. Their conclusion was that increased availability from legalization will significantly increase the negative health consequences to the population.

As shown in other studies, short term use makes it difficult to learn and retain information. Driving skills are impaired. Risky behavior and even paranoia and psychosis can result. Long term use can alter brain development, encourages dropping out of school, a lower IQ during adolescence, reduced satisfaction and achievement, chronic bronchitis, and an increased risk of schizophrenia.

Although the study advises that there can be other factors involved in these devastating results, the link between marijuana and social factors such as lower income, more public assistance, unemployment, criminal behavior, and a lower life satisfaction has been established by several studies. People who used the drug before driving were from 2 to 7 times as likely to be responsible for an accident than those who had not used alcohol or marijuana.

The increase in the average potency of THC content continues to increase, from 3% in the 1980s to 12% in 2012. As the cultivation continues to become more sophisticated in states like Colorado and California, one could expect this figure to increase significantly and, correspondingly, to increase the extent of the adverse effects on increasing numbers of people in the population. Increased emergency room visits (100 % increase from 2004 to 2011) and reports to poison control centers (three times the number in legalization states) forcefully demonstrate that this phenomenon is well under way.

Importantly, this steep increase in the THC content also calls into question the validity of all of those studies done in previous decades. The assurances of those early studies, on which pro-legalization forces rely so heavily to assuage the reluctance of state legislators, are worth little in the face of these statistics and the recent medical studies.

The article reports that there is evidence that marijuana or other cannabinoids may benefit symptoms associated with certain clinical conditions such as glaucoma, nausea, inflammatory diseases, MS, and epilepsy. However, more research is necessary to confirm these findings, as well as to determine the most effective form of administration.

Since medical marijuana prescriptions issued to adults are a major source of recreational use by juveniles, states must develop an effective method of regulation, as well as education about the dangers of both inadvertent and commercial distribution for non-medical use. Anyone who reviews medical marijuana advertisements or talks to law enforcement officers about the level of therapeutics of many of such clinics, can only question whether the drug legalization is actually accomplishing a fraction of the benefits touted by its advocates.

Recently, I walked around Venice and Santa Monica beaches in southern California. The number and appearances of the “medical” marijuana clinics in the narrow streets leading to the beaches were strikingly non-medical to everyone I was with. The medical purpose of such businesses seemed like a joke. A local federal agent confirmed that the great majority of the large amounts dispensed were universally known to be used recreationally and were so ubiquitous as to be unenforceable. The genie was out of the bottle.

Twenty-two states have legalized marijuana use in some form or another. One can only hope that other states will pause in this trend and consider the mounting medical evidence of significant health and well being problems in so many different categories. Perhaps studies in the 22 states will demonstrate that the cost of these policies is so great as to demand reconsideration.

 

Weekend Series on Crime: The Mob

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_xPXQm5LFU&list=PLY8K2HAbnbqSeimqBZwIGL-tyBAxpiCxP&feature=share

Pennsylvania Attorney General Launches Innovative Program Around the State to Battle Heroin Tied to Mexican Cartels

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane

By Jeffrey Anderson

An emerging crime initiative by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane is deploying mobile street crimes units to small cities and towns in her state to tackle an escalating heroin problem tied to Mexican drug cartels.

The strategy, quietly launched last year with the help of a $2.5 million state appropriation, is based on street-level busts by agents with the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations who are embedded for months in a single location, where they build from the ground up a database that allows them to go after larger, more organized criminal elements that have taken over struggling, post-industrial municipalities along the I-80 and I-81 trucking corridors, conveniently located to major drug hubs such as New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

After a 5-month deployment in Hazleton, PA, that concluded in February, the Mobile Street Crimes Unit, which received cooperation from the DEA and the FBI, netted 35,000 bags of heroin, 120 arrests, 97 criminal cases and confiscation of guns, vehicles, cash, and jewelry – in a town of 33,000 which has just 38 police officers.

Before decamping for a new location to work with another set of local law enforcers, the unit, identified on their vests only as “POLICE,” leaves behind the criminal database it has built along with its more sophisticated drug enforcement strategies for the locals to employ.

Congressman Lou Barletta,  a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 11th District — and former mayor of Hazleton —  who is on the House Homeland Security Committee and the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, predicts that Pennsylvania could be the vanguard for a new way of thinking about the use of state resources to confront what is ultimately a national — if not international — problem.

“For anyone in Congress who has been a mayor, they understand very well how these things are tied to drug cartels,” Barletta says. “They know damn well that it’s an endless battle, and that if you take a drug dealer off the street there’s three more waiting to take his place. It’s like drinking water through a firehose.

“The biggest challenge now is to give the local chief of police the resources he needs to keep going, because these cities are cash-strapped,” Barletta continues. “That’s where the feds can play a role. I think we can do a better job there. The unit is going to get attention. And when other states see what is happening they’ll want to replicate it.”

State Senator John Yudichak, a Democrat who represents Carbon County and parts of Luzerne County, says that in 2013, just 60 percent of the 99 cities in the area with a population less than 5,000 had a full-time police force. Today just 6 percent of those same cities do.

“It’s perfectly suited for a drug distribution network, with such a limited presence of law enforcement,” says Yudichak, who championed the initiative in the State Capital with support from Rep. Barletta and others. “We wanted to take the ‘D’ and the ‘R’ of politics out of it and we needed state and federal assistance. We needed to break down silos and get the community engaged. People were in a bed of denial.”

The force behind the initiative is Attorney General Kane, a former street level prosecutor in Lackawanna County, who came into office promising a fresh approach to beating back the ravages of heroin that had overcome towns such as Hazleton.

With 2,500 municipalities splashed across a mostly rural state of 12.7 million people, Kane describes Pennsylvania as a “good place for drug cartels to do business.”

Early on, however, she saw a lack of coordination between local and federal agencies that had created a vacuum for those cartels to exploit.

“No one played well together,” she says. “It was like a T-ball game, where everyone jumps on the ball and parents are cheering with delight. Those days are over. We’re cultivating an environment that puts ego aside. It’s not about credit for a bust. We can’t go on simply chasing dealers off the street then stop.”

While neither a typical drug task force nor simply a community-based approach, the unit nonetheless is a grassroots idea that Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea says cuts against the grain of “what everyone else is doing.”

DeAndrea says that in the past, the DEA and FBI have utilized his officers as members of a task force that generates proceeds from seizures to fund future investigations, all while his city is drowning under a wave of heroin being fed by cartels and powerful street gangs.

“We have 39 gangs and 38 officers,” he says. “We’re broke, and overmatched. It’s like a high school team going up against an NFL team.”

DeAndrea insists that he wasn’t “seeing the ball move” with the FBI and DEA – until Kane and the Mobile Street Crimes Unit came into the picture.

The feds have expressed support for the idea and have collaborated with the unit, but any partnership is still a work in progress. A Washington-based spokesman for the DEA says, “We don’t have the resources to focus on small-time local yokels that produce limited impact. Our resources are limited too. We have to be careful when evaluating a potential investigation to get a bang for the buck.”

The full story is posted on Lawdragon.com. Click here to read.

 About the author: Jeffrey Anderson is a veteran feature writer and award-winning investigative reporter from Washington, D.C. He previously has worked at the Los Angeles Daily Journal, L.A. Weekly, Baltimore City Paper and The Washington Times. He can be reached at byjeffreyanderson@gmail.com.

Former Chicago Worker Sues City, Says She Was Fired by Alderman for Cooperating with FBI

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former 12th Ward employee is suing the city and her former boss, Alderman George Cardenas, after she said she was fired for answering questions from the FBI about “illegal hiring practices and other illegal operations,” The Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The whistleblower lawsuit claims she was illegally terminated after cooperating with federal authorities on an investigation.

Cardenas fired back, saying he is not the subject of an FBI probe.

“This is nothing more than a smear tactic,” he said of the lawsuit. “ I am not, nor have I ever been, part of any federal investigation, ever.”

Alderman’s office was under investigation by the city’s Inspector General following complaints that Cardenas was using city resources, including employees, to handle election-related activities.

FBI Agents in Chicago Give Seriously Ill Boy a Memory He’ll Never Forget

photo from SammysSuperheroes.com

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Special Agent Michael Rees was so saddened by a newspaper article in April about a seriously ill boy that he sprang to action.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the boy, Sammy Nahorny, was undergoing a unique high-dose radiation therapy for neuroblastoma, a deadly pediatric cancer that required the Nebraska child to be alone in a hospital room for nearly a week because he was so radioactive.

“My wife insisted I read the story … it touched her because of the isolation, because our son had a short stay at Comer and because Sammy wanted to be in the FBI,” Rees said.

Sure enough, the FBI planned a day for the boy and his family at the training facility in North Chicago. They viewed an FBI helicopter and a SWAT team demonstration. They also explored a gun vault and dined on pizza.

By day’s end, Sammy received a special junior agent credentials.

“This touched a number of us,” Rees said, “and people fell all over themselves to help. We’re moms and dads, too … and this was something we could do, to share some of the blessings we have.”

Baltimore Prosecutor: FBI Agents Won’t Be Charged in Fatal Owing Mills Shooting

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents won’t be charged after opening fire on a suspected gang member in Baltimore, according to a report on the fatal shooting, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The decision was made by the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office, which decided that the agents were acting in self-defense.

Agents fired 19 rounds, striking Jameel Kareem Ofurum Harrison, 34, six times.

The report states that Harrison “put the vehicle in reverse, accelerated past two witness vehicles, then struck a third witness vehicle. At that point the driver made a movement that placed three agents in fear of death or injury, causing them to discharge their weapons.”

Harrison died at the scene.

Texas Dispatches State Agents to Mexico Border to Help Growing Crisis Over Immigrant Children

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

To address the growing humanitarian crisis along the Texas-Mexico border, Texas officials are dispatching more state law enforcement officials to the southern border as immigrant children are forced to stay in cramped, squalid conditions, the USA Today reports.

Gov. Rick Perry said the plan is to deploy more Department of Public Safety agents to assist overwhelmed federal Border Patrol agents.

“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” the

Republican governor said in a statement. “Until the federal government recognizes the danger it’s putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe.”

Since October, border patrol officials have apprehended more than 47,000 children – nearly twice the number captured this time last year.