Task force fights back against drugs, gangs on tribal reservations

 

By Raeanna Marnati, KBJR 6

Red Cliff, Wisconsin ( NNCNOW.com)— It’s a rising problem on the Red Cliff Reservation. “We see a lot of marijuana, prescription medications are huge problem in our community, we’re starting to see heroin and methamphetamine come in, cocaine’s always been here,” said Red Cliff Police Chief Bill Mertig.

But tribal authorities are tackling the problem head first, thanks to the formation of the Native American Drug and Gang Initiative formed in 2007.

“We are able to focus on and share information on future gang trends, drug problems and then also to we can take these experts in the field and be able to work these investigations, knowing the community, knowing the players and be able to almost surgically identify and remove these threats,” said Bryan Kastelic, Native American Drug and Gang Initiative Task Force Commander.

The task force is made up of ten tribal police departments throughout Wisconsin.

It’s a collaboration between tribal, local, state and federal authorities to help with drug and gang identification on the reservation.

“It has the ability to shut the drug trade down be it for a few days or a few weeks but it still has the ability and it sends a signal that we will be back and that we are out there,” said Kastelic.

NADGI recently played a role in the arrest and apprehension of five people taking part in illegal drug activity on the Red Cliff Reservation.

Cash, guns, marijuana, and prescription pills were seized in the bust. But for the police, they have just scratched the surface

“We are not stopping at what we did, this is the start. We have a long way to get to the finish line,” said Mertig.

Officials with NADGI say a lack of support, manpower and funding among tribal police departments led to the formation.

Hash it out: A debate of popular facts and myths of marijuana use

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

marijuana businesses

Marijuana, the scourge of our time. The gateway to a criminal underworld. The black market miracle medicine. Whether you are part of the outcry pleading for the legalization of marijuana or part of the opposition and fear created from reefer madness, we’ve all heard the propaganda and conspiracy theories. As Tulalip is faced with the decision to legalize or not, the issue has become shrouded in a haze of claims about the benefits and dangers of marijuana consumption. Results from a recent online survey conducted by the Tulalip Communications Staff highlighted some popular facts, misconceptions, and fears about marijuana consumption, which will be examined here:

Marijuana is harmless to smoke. There are no downsides, either for medical or recreational use.

False – Marijuana has many adverse effects on the human body. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, heavy users of marijuana have long-term impairment of cognitive function, specifically with learning and the retention of new information. In testing, the American Academy of Neurology found that the rate of decreased productivity and cognitive impairment was directly related to the rate of increase in marijuana use.

Marijuana repairs the lungs, and actually is better for them.

False – The University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute reports that light use of marijuana, one to three times a month, caused no real harm or adverse effects on the pulmonary system. Heavy use, three to five times a week, caused a deterioration of lung tissue, and often contributed to users suffering a collapsed lung. In general, it is a lung irritant.

Marijuana repairs brain cells and promotes mental health.

True and false – This is a tricky aspect to understand, as it involves brain chemistry. The American Academy of Neurology explains that THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, inhibits the endocannabinoid system. The human endocrine system produces cannabinoid compounds in various organs. When THC is metabolized in the liver, the liver releases unusually high levels of endocannabinoids into the bloodstream. THC inhibits some of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which can help with mental disorders such as epilepsy and autism, yet the endocannabinoid compound levels are so high that the natural system becomes overstimulated. It is unclear exactly what the effects of overstimulation are.

It is certain, though, that marijuana users show signs of improvements in the nervous system, specifically growth and repair of nerve endings throughout the body, and nerve pathways in the brain.

Marijuana cures cancer.

True – Though not a cure, this claim is not entirely false. Reports from the American Cancer Association show that marijuana, in most cases, inhibits the growth of cancer cells, slowing down the aggressive nature of cancer. That same component works to prevent cells from binding together, which inhibits tumor growth.

Marijuana is not addictive.

False – While marijuana does not create chemical dependency, the way opiates and pharmaceutical drugs do, there is still a strong mental aspect to addiction. The overactive endocannabinoid system resulting from marijuana use creates a craving in the brain. Studies from the National Institute of Drug Abuse show subjects that have been clean of marijuana for more than a month still have long-term mental and behavioral effects, most notably an inability to feel satisfied with everyday life.

Marijuana is a great antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicine.

True and false – According to an article in Science News, marijuana, in low doses, is an effective antidepressant. However, heavy use, or prolonged use, can prove ineffective and even worsen depression, mostly in relation to the lack of satisfaction one experiences when they are not high.

As an anti-anxiety medication, low doses prove effective. Again, as use increases, anxiety can worsen. The National Institute of Drug Abuse, in addition to lack of satisfaction in everyday life, recorded a lack of coping ability with stress, leading to increased anxiety and irritability when not high.

Nobody has ever overdosed on marijuana.

True – There has never been a recorded overdose or death from marijuana consumption. The Australian Department of health conducted extensive tests on animals, looking at how much marijuana had to be consumed before a toxic level was reached. The result proved to be an unrealistic number. Though no humans were tested, for obvious ethical reasons, the hypothesized amount of marijuana needed to be consumed by the average human to reach a toxic level is approximately 8.5kg in one sitting. That’s 20lbs, or more than 300oz.

While there are no recorded deaths or overdoses from marijuana use, there are recorded deaths from the use of hash oil, though less than ten. Hash oil is processed marijuana, which extracts the THC from the marijuana leaves, and is on average five times more potent that marijuana. THC toxicity levels can be achieved in one sitting with the use of hash oil, especially by first time users. THC poisoning typically causes users to pass out. Most common resulting causes of death are apnea (the user stops breathing) or cardiac arrest.

Neither of these include statistics for accidents involving marijuana DUIs, or death related to impairment from marijuana use.

Marijuana is clean to use, there is no residue.

False – When you smoke marijuana, the residue from the THC seeps into fabrics, walls, and your skin. The Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics reports a rising number of cases of infant and toddler marijuana poisoning. Most often, the cases are a result of contact with surfaces where marijuana has been smoked. The children absorb the THC residue through their skin. Symptoms recorded are excessive vomiting, irritability, and lack of balance, especially upon standing. Because they are infants and toddlers and vomit and fall often, these symptoms often go unnoticed. They are more easily spotted, though, in young children, preteens, and kids in their early teens.

These points were the most prominent points brought up repeatedly in the survey. Some are true, some are not, and some are exceedingly ambiguous. The answers here are what science has to offer for the marijuana debate.

 

Andrew Gobin is a staff reporter with the Tulalip News See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Email: agobin@tulalipnews.com
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Power and water: Will feds allow it for pot?

Alan Schreiber walks through rows of organic cantaloupe on his farm in Franklin County, Washington. Schreiber has applied to grow marijuana in Washington but is concerned about federal water resources. BOB BRAWDY — TRI-CITY HERALD

Alan Schreiber walks through rows of organic cantaloupe on his farm in Franklin County, Washington. Schreiber has applied to grow marijuana in Washington but is concerned about federal water resources. BOB BRAWDY — TRI-CITY HERALD

 

By C.R. Roberts, The News Tribune

Nobody seems quite sure of the answer: Will the federal government withhold services to the state, given the conflict between legally grown marijuana in Washington and a national drug policy that finds marijuana illegal?

If the answer is no, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will allow federal water to be used to irrigate marijuana crops, and the Bonneville Power Administration will allow federal power to be used in the cultivation of marijuana, primarily indoors.

If the answer is yes, then they won’t, in line with federal law.

With something of a wink and a nod, the U.S. Justice Department has provided soft guidance that conditionally allows financial institutions to do business with the marijuana industry. In the same way, utilities and regulatory officials could allow the provision of water and power if Congress could pass legislation the recognizes the will of Washington voters.

Or not.

ENERGY USE

The manufacture of one joint – a marijuana cigarette – will produce 1.5 kilograms of CO2 emissions, equal to the emissions of a 44-mpg hybrid car driving 22 miles. The energy used is equal to that used to produce 18 pints of beer.

U.S. electricity use for cannabis production is the equivalent of 1.7 million average homes, or the production of seven average U.S. power plants.

Of the total wholesale price of U.S.-grown marijuana, 49 percent goes to energy.

“Current indoor cannabis production and distribution practices result in prodigious energy use, costs and unchecked greenhouse-gas pollution,” said Evan Mills of Energy Associates, a California energy consulting firm. The figures are his, offered in a recent study.

“While the implications of I-502 for the criminal justice system, land use, taxation and many other issues have been widely debated, the potentially significant changes in electricity and water use that are likely to follow I-502’s implementation have received almost no scrutiny,” wrote Eric Christensen, of the local firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell, in a blog post last month.

He goes on to say that because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, “legalization creates a new set of legal risks for utility service providers.”

Some utilities say they’re ready for the risks and implications. Maybe.

UTILITIES

More questions: Is Bonneville concerned about the draw on the electrical grid? Has the use of electricity by growers and processors been discussed? Have plans been developed? Will marijuana cultivation and sale have any effect on Northwest power?

“While we are beginning to look at what potential impacts might be, we are not prepared to discuss those issues at this time,” replied BPA spokesman Doug Johnson to an inquiry last week.

Will the utility continue to supply “federal” power to Washington utilities that serve the cannabis industry?

“We are currently exploring these issues. Again, it is too early to discuss the potential policy implications or details of those discussions,” Johnson wrote.

In reality, electricity is already being supplied to the industry.

The greatest effect so far has fallen on Pacific County, home to Raymond, Long Beach and the aptly named Tokeland.

There, an entrepreneur has applied to use 20 megawatts of electricity, which works out to 40 percent of the county’s entire electrical load.

“We have contacted Bonneville (Power Administration), and we are working with Bonneville to build a new substation,” said Jason Dunsmoor, chief of engineering and operations for the Pacific County PUD.

“They will have their own substation,” he said, estimating that the infrastructure cost for the facility and the transmission line will cost some $3 million.

“We’re just providing the service,” he said. “The concern of everybody who invests is that the federal government could change its mind.”

Including the Pacific County facility, by last week the state Liquor Control Board had approved license applications for marijuana processors in 17 counties.

CONSUMPTION AND GENERATION

“We are going to get together and do some inquiries. We haven’t had any specific inquiries. We’ll be taking a look at it and discussing it,” said Karen Miller, communications manager at the Benton County Public Utility District.

“We’re looking at it and trying to make sure we understand all the ramifications and impacts,” she said.

Deb Bone-Harris, Franklin County community and government relations manager, said her utility has “not heard a concern about federal power being an issue. We’d have to deal with that if the time an opportunity were to come up.”

“There has been no formal discussion or agenda item related to this issue at the board level,” said Neil Neroutsos, spokesman for the Snohomish County PUD.

“Puget Sound Energy has a duty and obligation to serve customers under Washington state law,” said Ray Lane, spokesman for Puget Sound Energy, which serves several counties in the state.

“We are confident we have the capacity and resources to provide energy to any new customers who need our service,” he said.

“There have been conversations about the topic,” said Chris Gleason, spokeswoman for Tacoma Public Utilities.

“The interesting thing for us, and for other utilities, the ones who buy power from Bonneville, is whether Bonneville can supply to customers who are supplying to a service that is illegal in most parts of the country,” Gleason continued. “Bonneville is having the discussion about it.”

The answer resides in the other Washington.

Said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, “I understand there are multiple conflicts between state and federal law as it pertains to marijuana. The only way to ensure that state law is recognized at the federal level is by passing the Respect for State Marijuana Laws Act. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation and will continue to advocate for the federal government to recognize and respect our state law.”

Jared Leopold, communications director for Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, responded late last week, “Senator Cantwell is looking at the potential impacts of implementing Washington’s marijuana law.”

State Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, has followed the marijuana issue in the state Legislature.

“The unintended consequences continue to rise,” he said last week. “My overall impression, once 502 passed, was ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to have quite a mess on our hands.’ ”

Nealey said he has asked a Bonneville government liaison specialist about the threat to deny power to the industry.

“She gave me a straight answer,” Nealey said. “We are aware of that problem and the legal department is working with that right now.”

THE GRID

“Part of the question we’re all asking – is this a big deal or not?” said Chuck Murray, senior energy policy specialist at the state Department of Commerce. “That’s because we have no idea how much energy is being used by illegal grows that are hidden from us.”

“My big concern is how much power is going to be required, but it’s very uncertain,” said Chris Robinson, power management manager at Tacoma Public Utilities.

“As a practical matter, we all know there are a lot of illegal grow operations. A lot of them are using Bonneville power already. Many of them are stealing power,” said Eric Christensen, an attorney at Gordon Thomas Honeywell and author of a recent blog post concerning cannabis cultivation and the law.

Some of that theft may go away once a legal network has been established.

Still, he noted the presence of “a number of potentially serious pitfalls for providers of services to marijuana growers, including utilities and irrigation districts.”

Evan Mills of Energy Associates estimated the industry consumes 20 terawatt hours per year nationally, including illegal grow operations.

For off-the-grid operations that consume power from private generators, Mills estimated that one marijuana plant requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel, or 140 gallons of gasoline used with smaller, less efficient generators.

Indoor cultivation in California, Mills wrote, accounts for 3 percent of all electricity use, or the electricity that could power 1 million average homes. Greenhouse gas emissions are equal to those from 1 million average cars.

Sources of energy use include an obvious list with lighting, heaters, humidifiers, de-humidifiers and such, but also include other, less obvious sources, including vehicles, CO2 generators, pumps, filters, fans, security stations and ozone generators.

“Current indoor cannabis production and distribution practices result in prodigious energy use, costs and unchecked greenhouse-gas pollution,” Mills wrote.

In its 2013 report “Environmental Risks and Opportunities in Cannabis Cultivation,” BOTEC, the firm hired by the state to assist in developing rules regarding the implementation of I-502, said “environmental considerations should not be a major component of marijuana policy, but are worth explicit attention and policy design.”

Meanwhile, federal agencies could flummox the whole thing by threatening banks or by denying water or electricity.

“It’s clear that the federal approach to the war on drugs is a complete failure,” said Christensen at Gordon Thomas Honeywell.

“The federal government,” he said, “should at least give us enough space to see if the Washington experiment will work.”

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/05/20/3651758/power-and-water-will-feds-allow.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Pot vs Fish: Can We Grow Salmon-Friendly Weed?

A national park ranger helps other law enforcement agencies eradicate a marijuana growing operation discovered in the park. | credit: David Snyder for the NPS

A national park ranger helps other law enforcement agencies eradicate a marijuana growing operation discovered in the park. | credit: David Snyder for the NPS

By Liam Moriarty, Jefferson Public Radio

As marijuana has become more mainstream, the business of cultivating the plant has boomed. That’s true nowhere more than in coastal northern California. There, the so-called Emerald Triangle of Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties is believed to be the largest cannabis-growing region in the US.

But as the hills have sprouted thousands of new grow operations, haphazard cultivation is threatening the recovery of endangered West Coast salmon and steelhead populations.

The Eel River runs through the heart of the Emerald Triangle, draining California’s third-largest watershed. And it’s a key battleground in the struggle to save once-abundant Northwest coastal salmon runs.

Over the decades, poorly-regulated fishing, grazing and logging have all taken their toll on the fish that spawn in the river. Drought and ocean conditions likely related to climate change are making life hard, as well.

But Scott Greacen, who heads the conservation group Friends of the Eel River, says there’s a newer and growing threat to the salmon.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the marijuana industry at this point is the biggest single business in terms of its impact on the river,” he says.

After California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996, the Emerald Triangle’s culture of small-scale, homestead pot cultivation that dates back to the 1960s found itself increasingly overwhelmed. Many local growers, plus thousands of newcomers, geared up to take advantage of the profits to be made in the so-called Green Rush.

That’s led to an explosion in the number and size of pot farms dotting the hills. And that’s meant more water being pulled from the streams, and more sediment, pesticides and fertilizers draining back in.

Greacen says what he’s seen reminds him of an earlier era, when poorly-regulated logging caused extensive sediment damage to salmon-bearing streams.

“The dirt in the creek doesn’t care if it came off a logging truck or a grower truck. It’s dirt in the creek and that’s bad for fish,” he says.

Scott Bauer works on salmon recovery for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says research has shown huge amounts of water are being diverted from streams and rivers across the region.

“It’s possible that in some watersheds, marijuana cultivation is consuming all the water available for fish,” he says.

But Kristin Nevedal, who heads the Emerald Growers Association, says as the rural region has become more suburbanized, the blame can’t be laid just on pot farmers.

“This is also water that’s going to livestock, it’s going to lawns, it’s going to veggie gardens, it’s going to showers,” she says.

Still, Nevedal concedes commercial marijuana cultivation is a big part of the problem. A contributing factor, she says, is that growing medical pot is allowed under state law, but there are no rules overseeing how it’s grown. Plus, growing is still a felony under federal law.

“So what we have with cannabis is this agricultural crop that’s produced for human consumption that’s likely the number one cash crop in the state that has zero regulations attached to it,” Nevedal says.

Fish and Wildlife’s Bauer agrees many of the environmental problems stem from that legal gray zone.

“The timber industry is heavily regulated. Farmers are regulated,” he says. “All these different industries that could have impacts are regulated. And this is the only one that isn’t.”

In an effort to fill that gap, Bauer says his office will issue permits to people who want to divert water for agricultural purposes, with no questions asked about their crop.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re growing avocados or oranges or grapes for that matter,” he says. “We don’t really care what it is. What I’m concerned about are impacts to salmon and steel head, coho in particular.”

So far, Bauer says this “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has coaxed only a handful of cannabis farmers to get permits to meet higher environmental standards.

Environmental consultant Hezekiah Allen says that shouldn’t be surprising.

“There’s just this tremendously complicated legal environment which makes it really hard for farmers who would like to come into compliance, who would like to use best practices on their farms to make progress,” he says.

The third-generation Humboldt County resident says the decades-long history of heavy-handed law enforcement efforts to eradicate pot from the Emerald Triangle has left a legacy of suspicion.

“The culture of prohibition has really damaged the farmers’ trust in the government and government agencies so there’s a lot of reconciliation work that needs to take place to rebuild trust in the minds of the people we’re that asking to comply,” he says.

Nonetheless, Allen says he’s confident most farmers want to do right by the land and the salmon. As part of a project with several community groups, including the Emerald Growers Association, he’s helped develop a manual of best practices for growers. It offers suggestions for using less water, for minimizing erosion and for keeping runoff out of streams.

A first run of 2,000 of the guides was distributed free around the region, and an expanded version is in the works. Allen is optimistic this kind of voluntary community effort will help.

“There’s probably no such thing as a perfect, zero impact farm,” he says. “But if we give people the information and the knowledge they need, they will make improvements.”

Allen says what’s really needed is a proper set of rules. But while the need to regulate this burgeoning industry is widely acknowledged, there’s little visible sign of movement in that direction in Sacramento.

For now, the future of northern California salmon runs seems to depend at least in part on the good intentions of cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle.

This was first reported for Jefferson Public Radio.

Yakamas want to ban pot on 12 million acres of ceded land

 

By Mike Faulk / Yakima Herald-Republic
mfaulk@yakimaherald.com

January 12, 2014

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Yakama Nation is considering an unprecedented move in its fight against legalized marijuana that could have implications for 10 Central Washington counties.

With a marijuana ban already in place on the Yakama reservation, tribal representatives now say they’ll fight the state to keep marijuana businesses from opening anywhere on ceded lands, which constitute one-fifth of the state’s land mass.

The tribe’s options include suing the state in federal court if no compromise can be reached, Yakama Nation Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin said.

“We’re merely exercising what the treaty allows us to do, and that is prevent marijuana grows (and sales) on those lands,” Smiskin said.

Under the Yakama Treaty of 1855 with the federal government, the Yakama Nation was to have exclusive use of the 1.2 million-acre reservation and maintain fishing, hunting and food-gathering rights on more than 12 million acres of ceded land. The tribe has successfully taken court action against federal and state entities as well as private interests in the past to defend those rights, but most of those cases have been directly tied to the tribe’s access to natural and cultural resources.

“To my knowledge, this would be the first time” the tribe has sought to prevent the implementation of a state law on all ceded land, said George Colby, an attorney for the Yakama Nation.

“The tribe’s stance is if you don’t fight, you don’t get to win,” Colby said.

The tribe expects to file more than 600 objections with the state and federal governments against license applicants located in the 12 million-acre area that includes land in 10 Central Washington counties, Colby said. About 300 of those complaints have already been filed, he added.

The ceded area spans from the Columbia River on the Oregon border to all of Chelan County in the north and from the eastern slopes of the Cascades across the Columbia River to as far west as parts of Whitman County. The area encompasses the cities of the Upper and Lower Yakima Valleys, Wenatchee, Ellensburg, Goldendale and Pasco, although not Richland or Kennewick.

Colby and Smiskin draw comparisons to the tribe’s long fight to keep alcohol off the reservation. They say the tribe has had an equally unpleasant history with marijuana use, and that the plant, which was effectively banned by the federal government through a series of campaigns and legislation in the 1930s, never played a traditional role in Yakama culture.

“Aside from the taxation of marijuana, I don’t see any benefits from it,” Smiskin said.

Moves by the tribal government a decade ago to enforce a 150-year-old alcohol ban on the reservation have been complicated by the fact that most of the property in the cities of Toppenish and Wapato are deeded land owned by nontribal members, including proprietors of bars and stores.

In that case, a 2001 opinion issued by U.S. Attorney Jim Shively in Spokane said that the Yakamas’ ban would probably not be enforceable in cities on the reservation.

In addition to the ban on marijuana businesses, it also remains illegal to possess marijuana for personal use on the Yakama reservation. Colby said the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law also entitles them to challenge it on ceded lands.

But the author of the 2012 voter-approved initiative that legalized marijuana, Alison Holcomb, said she doesn’t see a legal basis for the tribe’s opposition to marijuana businesses on ceded lands.

“I think they run into the issue of not having standing to, in essence, bring suit on behalf of the federal government,” said Holcomb, the criminal justice director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington chapter. “The federal government at this time has shown it has no intention of trying to stop the law.”

In August, the U.S. Justice Department sent a memo to Washington and Colorado saying it would not stop the implementation of laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The federal government’s use of prosecutorial discretion could be rescinded if the states fail to implement a robust system of enforcement to prevent interstate trafficking and access to minors, according to the memo.

In October the state Liquor Control Board established a rule that it would not issue a license to any business located on federal lands, such as a tribal reservation, a federal park or military installation. The rule does not address ceded lands, and on Friday a spokesman said the agency wasn’t ready to comment on that issue.

“The reality is we haven’t seen a lawsuit,” Liquor Control Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter said. “Until we do, it would be premature for us to comment.”

A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office was also unable to comment on the issue Friday.

In the coming weeks, the Attorney General’s Office will issue an opinion on whether cities and counties have a right to ban marijuana growing, processing and retail businesses from their jurisdictions. Because the opinion is a response to a Liquor Control Board inquiry specifically related to counties and municipalities, it is not expected to address tribal rights issues.

“Within the reserved area, it’s not even a contest as to whether marijuana is illegal,” Colby said. “Next is the ceded area.”

Holcomb said she supports the tribe’s right to ban marijuana businesses on the reservation. However, she said it’s unfortunate tribal leaders don’t recognize the disproportionate effects national marijuana prohibition has had on minorities in terms of criminal convictions.

Illegal marijuana grows by cartels on reservation lands and federal forest lands are also the result of prohibition, she said.

“U.S. marijuana prohibition is directly responsible for the fact that there are multinational criminal organizations setting up marijuana grows on reservation lands and ceded lands,” Holcomb said. “They pose a danger to members exercising their hunting, gathering and fishing rights in those lands.”

Smiskin said the tribe will continue to put license applicants, the state and federal governments on notice that marijuana businesses aren’t welcome on the ceded lands. He said no entities have approached the Yakama Nation to discuss their stance and potential legal challenge.

“If we can’t come to an agreement, then there is always that potential it’s going to get litigated,” Smiskin said.

Most Peninsula tribal reservations will ban marijuana as it legalizes in state

By Arwyn Rice, Peninsula Daily News

If you live on or visit a reservation on the North Olympic Peninsula, don’t bring marijuana.

At least four of the six tribes in Clallam and Jefferson counties will not recognize Washington state’s 2012 legalization of recreational marijuana.

The use and possession of pot will remain illegal on tribal lands controlled by the Makah, Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam and Quileute tribes, their representatives told the Peninsula Daily News.

The Hoh tribe in West Jefferson County has yet to make a decision.

Representatives of the Quinault did not respond to Peninsula Daily News requests for information on their policy toward marijuana.

Voters statewide legalized pot by approving Initiative 502 a year ago by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin.

The state is finishing procedures and regulations on marijuana in non-tribal areas.

Pot remains illegal on federal lands, including Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest.

“Like the state of Washington and the United States, the Makah tribe is a separate sovereign,” a letter from Makah tribal authorities to tribal members said.

“We have a treaty that confirms our sovereignty and self-determination.

“A big part of that sovereignty is that state laws do not apply to the tribe and its territory.

“As a state law, I-502 could not and does not legalize marijuana within the Makah Reservation.”

Both Makah and federal law lists marijuana as a controlled substance. Possessing, using, buying and selling it is a federal crime, and a tribal crime, said Meredith Parker, general manager of the Neah Bay-based Makah tribe.

“So, on the reservation, the answer is easy: Every little bit of pot is illegal,” the notice to tribal members said.

“We will continue to follow federal law. It is part of the tribal policy as well,” said Sam Hough, Lower Elwha Klallam assistant general counsel.

“It is already a dry reservation,” Hough added.

Likewise, marijuana will not be welcome at 7 Cedars Casino, Cedars at Dungeness and other properties held by the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe.

“We believe we are on reservation/trust land held by the United States on our behalf, and since marijuana is illegal by federal law, it is illegal on our lands,” said Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam tribal chairman.

The Quileute tribe, based in LaPush, also will observe federal marijuana laws, said Jackie Jacobs, Quileute spokeswoman.

The Hoh tribe is holding off a decision, said James Jaime, the tribe’s executive director.

“We don’t have a policy at this point in time,” Jaime said.

“We are waiting to see what the federal policy is in regard to the state law.”

The Washington State Liquor Control Board, charged with creating state’s marijuana regulations, added a rule that requiring notification of tribal governments if a vendor applies for a permit on tribal land.

The Yakima tribe, with the largest reservation in the state at 1.2 million acres, recently announced that marijuana sales and consumption would not be allowed on their lands.

Brian Smith, spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board said new state rules have no prohibitions against issuing permits on the Yakama reservation, but such permits would be impractical

“Why grant a license when the federal government is going to come in and take them down?” Smith asked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Marijuana zoning hearing set for Nov. 13

Source: The Herald

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council on Monday scheduled a Nov. 13 hearing on permanent zoning regulations related to the legal sale of production of marijuana in unincorporated areas.

The 10:30 a.m. hearing will address rules for medical and recreational facilities. The proceeding is scheduled to take place in council chambers, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.

Issues to be decided include what types of marijuana-related activities to allow rural residential R-5 zones. The council also will consider whether to allow any marijuana businesses on county-regulated land within the boundaries of the Tulalip Indian Reservation. Under federal laws in effect on tribal lands, marijuana remains illegal.

Washington voters in 2012 passed Initiative 502 legalizing recreational pot use. The state Liquor Control Board earlier this month established rules for recreational marijuana businesses.

Supreme Court Sides With Feds On Marijuana Prohibition

The highest court says there’s not enough evidence to warrant taking a second look at marijuana’s Schedule I status.

By Katie Rucke, Mint Press News

Despite a dramatic increase in public support for marijuana legalization in the U.S., the federal government doesn’t appear to be budging on decriminalization, legalization or “downscheduling” the substance anytime soon.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court had the opportunity to review and reverse a ruling from a lower court that upheld the federal government’s current classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, but the high court declined to do so.

The ruling in question was issued this past January by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which ruled that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was in the right when it rejected a petition to conduct a scientific review of marijuana’s safety and therapeutic efficacy.

The D.C. Court of Appeals said that the DEA was correct in its assertion that an insufficient number of clinical studies exist to “warrant a judicial review of cannabis’ federally prohibited status,” which the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with.

But as marijuana legalization advocate Russ Belville pointed out in an article for High Times, the court’s ruling is more about whether or not the DEA was following its own rules than whether or not marijuana should be rescheduled.

Currently marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning that the U.S. government does not recognize a valid use of marijuana at any time — even for medical purposes — and believes marijuana is highly addictive, has a high potential for abuse, and functions as a gateway drug. Other Schedule I substances include heroin and phencyclidine (PCP).

Moving marijuana to a lower classification such as Schedule V would mean that marijuana had known health benefits and was not likely to be abused as much as other drugs.

“The DEA requires we show real, FDA-approved research proving marijuana is medical, safe and non-addictive, and since the DEA won’t let that research happen, there is nothing forcing them to change the scheduling of cannabis,” Belville wrote.

“But what about the 19,000+ published studies on cannabis’ medical benefits? The federal government patents on the medical effects of cannabinoids?  The four surviving federal medical marijuana patients still receiving U.S. government-grown schwag? The 20 states with medical marijuana and the millions who are living testament to marijuana’s medical miracles?”

Each year the U.S. spends about $40 billion fighting the war on drugs, even though no one has ever died from consuming or smoking too much marijuana.

Since a large percentage of the DEA’s money comes from drug sting operations, specifically marijuana trafficking, many marijuana advocates have questioned whether the DEA opposes legalization simply because they don’t want to lose that income. According to a report from Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana patient advocacy group, each raid costs taxpayers around $17,000.

 

State vs. federal law

Since 1996, 20 states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and last year two states — Washington and Colorado — legalized recreational use of the drug, creating a direct conflict between state and federal law.

Though some lawmakers such as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have pushed for the passage of federal legislation that would allow states to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, citing a waste of taxpayer and law enforcement resources, most lawmakers have been rather passive toward the legalization issue.

The Obama administration has been quiet in its stance on marijuana legalization, even though during his 2008 bid for the White House Obama indicated he would not crack down on medical marijuana users.

But in an interview with Mint Press News, Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a marijuana legalization advocacy group, said the federal government has continued to raid large-scale marijuana retailers around the country, and as of November 2012, Obama had shut down more dispensaries that President George W. Bush did in his eight years in office.

However, in response to the passage of the legalization legislation in Colorado and Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last month that it had decided to defer its legal right to challenge the marijuana legalization laws and would not file a lawsuit against either state for failure to follow the laws under the federal Controlled Substances Act — at least for now.

As Mint Press News previously reported, the DOJ’s announcement made it clear that both states would be allowed to continue implementing state rules and regulations for recreational marijuana even though the substance will remain illegal under federal law. However the DOJ failed to mention anything about states that legalized medical marijuana or industrial hemp.

Though the DOJ’s new stance on marijuana wasn’t as progressive as many had hoped, states have continued to introduce legislation that legalizes medical marijuana, recreational marijuana and/or industrial hemp.

Why? Because legalization appears to be what the majority of Americans want.

A poll released earlier this year by Quinnipiac University found that as of December 2012, voters supported legalization of marijuana 51 to 44 percent. As Mother Jones reported, “Even in the relatively conservative states of Florida, Iowa and Kentucky, polls released in the past week have shown majority support for recently proposed medical marijuana laws.”

 

Legalization: only a matter of time?

In 2014, voters in Alaska are expected to vote on legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana, and by 2017, ten other states are expected to also have initiatives on the ballot that would legalize marijuana.

“Most Americans are tired of seeing their tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute adults for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” said Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia. “Voters and state legislators are ready for change, and the federal government appears to be ready, as well.

“Marijuana prohibition has been just as problematic and counterproductive as alcohol prohibition,” Kampia said. “We look forward to working with elected officials, community leaders, organizations, and other local and national allies to develop more effective and efficient marijuana policies.”

One of those ten states is California.

Though California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, voters in the state have yet to pass legislation legalizing recreational use of the substance. Many advocates said that because the state has borne the brunt of the federal government’s crackdown on marijuana, many voters in the state were likely reluctant to pass any legislation to further legalize the substance.

But on Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced they were working to put legalization back on the state’s ballot. Before any legislation appears on the ballot, however, the ACLU said it would be creating a new panel to study marijuana legalization in California in preparation for a 2016 ballot measure that would legalize the substance.

The panel is to be led by the state’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and will include academics, drug policy experts, law enforcement authorities, and officials from Colorado and Washington.

Newsom said he is in support of legalizing marijuana because “enough’s enough. I can’t sit back and support the status quo any longer.” He explained that even though he doesn’t smoke marijuana, he isn’t concerned about any political fallout that may occur for his decision to take a stand on the issue.

“To me, it’s like smoking anything else — I want a regulatory regime that doesn’t advertise to kids, that doesn’t allow public use and secondhand smoke,” he said.

According to the ACLU, while California’s 2010 legalization measure was defeated with 53.5 percent of voters voting against the measure, a new poll found that legalizing recreational marijuana received support from 65 percent of polled voters.

In addition to efforts to legalize recreational marijuana, a few states are also considering legislation that would legalize medical marijuana, including Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Colorado, Washington get OK from feds on marijuana

Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog

When voters in Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of marijuana possession for adults, it was a policy breakthrough, but there was a problem: the newly approved state laws conflicted with federal law.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, federal law bans marijuana use, so Colorado and Washington were left wondering whether the Justice Department would intervene and block the measures approved by state voters.

Today, as Ryan J. Reilly and Ryan Grim reported, Colorado and Washington got their answer.

The United States government took an historic step back from its long-running drug war on Thursday, when Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado that the Department of Justice would allow the states to create a regime that would regulate and implement the ballot initiatives that legalized the use of marijuana for adults.

A Justice Department official said that Holder told the governors in a joint phone call early Thursday afternoon that the department would take a “trust but verify approach” to the state laws.

That last part is important. The DOJ is effectively letting the states know that they can proceed on their current course, but if federal law enforcement has reason to believe in the future that Colorado and Washington are failing to be responsible, the feds can revisit the new policy.

In the meantime, though, that means these states — and any others that choose to follow their lead — can move forward on legalization.

After watching the “war on drugs” move in only one direction for the majority of my life, this strikes me as a pretty amazing development. Up until fairly recently, it would have been unimaginable.

The Huffington Post added that Deputy Attorney General James Cole also issued a three-and-a-half page memo to U.S. attorneys outlining eight priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws. These are the areas where prosecutions will continue:

* the distribution of marijuana to minors;

* revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;

* the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;

* state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;

* violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana

* drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;

* growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;

* preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

But note that this leaves a whole lot of recreational pot use that federal prosecutors will no longer feel the need to pursue.

Worried Parents Weigh Their Children’s Health Against Medical Marijuana Law

Many parents who once viewed marijuana as a hard-core drug now see it as a natural, healing plant.

By Katie Rucke, Mint Press

For two months straight — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — Jason David’s 5-year-old son Jayden screamed in agony. Unable to sleep, defecate or eat, Jayden was taking 22 anti-seizure pills a day, some of which had withdrawal syndromes that are reportedly worse than heroin. David was concerned the pills were literally killing his son.

At his wits’ end and unconvinced doctors were doing everything they could, David says he contemplated suicide because he couldn’t watch his son live in pain any longer. But the devout Christian says God intervened and suggested he try giving his son marijuana.

Jayden David. (Photo/Jason David/Facebook page: "Jason and Jayden's Journey")

Jayden David. (Photo/Jason David/Facebook page: “Jason and Jayden’s Journey”)

 

Jayden is one of an estimated 334,000 people around the world who have Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy that begins in infancy and left him unable to communicate with his father or his doctors.

Living about an hour from Oakland, Calif., David says Jayden’s doctor agreed they had nothing to lose and gave him a prescription for medical marijuana. David worked with a local medical marijuana dispensary to obtain an oil known as cannabidiol that his son would be able to swallow, not smoke.

Jayden’s medication contains such a low amount of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, that it’s nearly impossible for him to get high.

The first day Jayden tried cannabidiol was the first day he went seizure-free in 4 1/2 years. Since then, David has continued to give Jayden the medication daily. Though Jayden is not completely seizure-free, David says his son has dramatically fewer seizures and his life is “100 times better.”

David says his son finally has a chance to just be a kid.

“Before, Jayden couldn’t go into a swimming pool,” he said, explaining that his seizures were triggered by excitement, reflective objects, hot and cold temperatures. But not only can Jayden go swimming now, he can get in the car by himself, climb on the playground, go up on the slide, and chew his food.

“Up until he was 5 years old everything had to be pureed,” David said. Jayden is also able to walk “a hundred times better,” he said.

 

‘Miraculous marijuana’

Jayden was 4 months old when he had his first seizure and was rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital. The seizures continued for the next six months, and David grew suspicious they were somehow connected to the shots Jayden had recently received.

Jayden CBD meds. Photo courtesy Jason David Facebook page Jason and Jayden's Journey

Jayden shown taking CBD meds, a derivative of marijuana. (Photo /Jason David/Facebook page: “Jason and Jayden’s Journey”)

 

David says he told his pediatrician he didn’t want Jayden to be given any more shots, but his ex-wife gave the doctor permission. The couple is now divorced.

“She turned me into the bad guy,” he said. But as soon as the needle penetrated Jayden’s skin, he began having a seizure that lasted for 90 minutes and resulted in another ambulance ride.

Before taking cannabidiol, Jayden was taking 22 different anti-seizure medications. Even so, he had at least one seizure per day in addition to about 500 daily twitching seizures.

Jayden now has to take only two other medications. He takes far fewer ambulance rides, and the last one was taken because his body went into withdrawal shock after doctors weaned him off a drug too quickly.

David says many people have changed their opinion regarding marijuana since he shared his son’s story. He says those who once viewed marijuana as a hard-core drug now see it as a natural, healing plant.

 

Success with marijuana

Though pediatric medical marijuana patients are not as common as adult patients, marijuana appears to have significant healing benefits for kids, too. The drug’s healing properties are not just for kids with Dravet syndrome, either — marijuana is being used to treat all sorts of medical conditions from cancer to autism to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Even though marijuana is banned under federal law, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says a majority of scientific studies on the plant back up the miraculous claims made by the parents of pediatric medical marijuana patients.

It’s not just the U.S. that has found a medicinal value for marijuana. Although pot is banned in the Czech Republic — a nation with one of the highest usage rates of the drug — researchers in the European nation have examined the drug’s therapeutic uses since 1954. In fact, it was a Czech citizen, professor Jan Kabelik, who created the world’s first cannabis laboratory, and two other Czech researchers were the first to isolate cannabinoids in the plant.

But these doctors’ findings have not been enough to convince many American physicians to research the drug themselves or prescribe marijuana to their patients.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse the use of medical marijuana, the organization’s stance on the drug is reportedly the way it is because some doctors are concerned the use of marijuana may have “devastating consequences” later in life.

“We have doctors contacting parents from different universities doing studies about how the kids are doing,” David said, adding it doesn’t make sense that the U.S. is able to create bombs that kill a million people at once, but doctors can’t figure out a plant.

Legalization advocacy groups often point out that unlike many pharmaceuticals, marijuana is not toxic and has never been reported as the cause of a lethal overdose.

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, the president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a member of the American Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health, says doctors are reluctant to recommend medical marijuana to a child because it may come back to haunt them. If the child later develops a mental health condition or gets in a car crash, the doctors will be blamed and won’t have any way to defend themselves, he said.

But several pediatricians in the United States believe the drug has a healing power that is worth investigating.

Because the medical community remains relatively mum on marijuana’s healing properties, it’s parents like David who, by sharing their success stories, have convinced other parents like Rebecca Brown to try it. Brown is investigating whether medical marijuana could help her son, Cooper.

“As soon as I found out about [medical marijuana for Dravet syndrome] I called Jason David that day,” she said, adding that she cried while watching David share his story on the Discovery Channel program “Weed Wars.”

“I was really curious about it,” she said.

Cooper Brown with his dog Lou July 2013 -- Photo courtesy Rebecca Brown

Cooper Brown with his dog Lou, July 2013. (Photo /Rebecca Brown)

Officially diagnosed with Dravet syndrome about a year ago, 15-year-old Cooper had his first seizure when he was 5 months old. Brown says over the years Cooper has tried “just about every epilepsy drug at least once,” and at one point was on 27 different medications.

But as Cooper began going through puberty and dealing with fluctuating hormones, Brown says his medicines weren’t working and Cooper went from being “very controlled to out of control.”

Once Cooper’s doctors agreed to prescribe him marijuana, Brown was able to connect with a grower in Michigan who would be able to provide cannabidiol. Brown says Cooper has become his “happy old self” again since he began using medical marijuana about a year ago.

“Before this all started we were basically prisoners in our home,” she said, explaining that their home was generally free from triggers that would result in Cooper having a seizure. Brown says Cooper now not only has fewer seizures, but he is happier, sleeps better, and using cannabidiol “has given him opportunities that had been taken away.”

 

Pediatric medical marijuana laws

Though Jayden and Cooper qualify for the use of medical marijuana since they live in states that have legalized the substance, children in other states are unable to try the therapeutic drug even though they have the same medical condition.

Luella Johnson is one of those children. The 3 1/2-year-old began having seizures when she was 9 1/2 months old. After months of seizures, Luella was eventually diagnosed with Dravet syndrome.

Though Luella’s father, Jim Johnson, says she has a mild case of Dravet syndrome and does better than 90 to 95 percent of other children with the medical condition, he says her case is still pretty severe. Johnson says that on average, Luella has a seizure every five days.

“Luella has tried and failed several epilepsy medications and even changed her diet,” Johnson says, but nothing seems to work for kids with Dravet syndrome as well as marijuana.

“When it comes to my daughter, I’m pro-anything to help her,” he said.

“If you’ve seen my little princess go through one seizure,” you would support allowing her to try using marijuana for treatment, Johnson says.

Marijuana has been legalized for medicinal purposes in 19 states, with legislation pending in at least five other states. David says medical marijuana needs to be legal in all 50 states so other children can benefit from its use.

Luella Johnson. (Photo/Jim Johnson)

Luella Johnson. (Photo/Jim Johnson)

Minnesota, where Luella lives, is one state where medical marijuana legislation is still under debate. Unlike New Jersey, which made it difficult for children to obtain medical marijuana, the proposal circulating in Minnesota intentionally allows children to qualify for the program, said Heather Azzi, political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, a medical marijuana advocacy group.

“Children suffer from the same illnesses as adults,” she said, adding that they need to be protected, too.

David shared the tragic story of 2-year-old Nolan, a child with Dravet syndrome, whose mother was trying to uproot her family in North Carolina and move to California, where medical marijuana is legal. Sadly, “she never made it,” David said.

Brown agreed that more states need to legalize medical marijuana and added that as more and more states legalize the drug, the federal government will have to listen to the patients.

“Pretty soon we’re going to be a majority,” Brown said, adding that many families are moving “in droves” to states such as Colorado so they can apply for pediatric medical marijuana use.

She said she didn’t understand why marijuana was classified by federal officials as a Schedule I drug — meaning it’s thought to be highly addictive and lead users to try other drugs — or why the federal government wastes resources arresting people in states that have legalized marijuana.

“Heroin and Vicodin are much more dangerous,” she said, adding that marijuana “is such a great plant that can help so many people… Case after case after case it helps people.”

 

Child endangerment

After CNN shared Jayden’s story, David says a local reporter approached him about doing a story, as well. David agreed, hoping that sharing his story with more people would result in the education of the American public that marijuana is not the dangerous drug it is often made out to be. But instead of sharing Jayden’s story, the journalist reported David to Child Protective Services.

Jayden was never taken away from his father, since David was able to prove he had all of the necessary documentation for Jayden’s controversial medicine, but he says he wondered why Child Protective Services never made a visit to his home when his son had been taken by ambulance 45 times and was taking more than 20 different pharmaceutical drugs.

Documentation or not, the fear of having one’s child taken away causes some parents to question whether the drug is worth it. The Browns, for example, feared they would be charged under federal law for providing medical marijuana to their son. Despite all of the risks, Brown says she and her husband opted to go ahead and give their son cannabidiol with the hope it would work for Cooper.

Brown said she sometimes wonders what her son’s life would be like if he hadn’t been able to take cannabidiol, and what his life would be like if she had given it to him sooner.

“What would his life had been like if this was our first option instead of our last resort,” she said.

Another concern lawmakers, doctors and law enforcement have is the possibility that other young children could get into the medical marijuana supply. Brown has another son and says she has never been concerned about someone other than Cooper getting into the medical marijuana supply.

“In our family, we look at this as medicine,” she said. “We have lots of medicines around that are more addictive and more dangerous.”

Johnson agrees. With three other young children at home, he says cannabidiol would be one of the safer medications his children could possibly get into.