Signature Drive News

Hello all,

It’s been a busy month for everyone locally in the movement as we’ve been trying to gather signatures and train new canvassers. Things are beginning to really get ironed out and we have over 100 volunteers trained and collecting signatures out there so far! If you’re in the Columbia area and would like to be trained, we are holding a training session beginning at 6:00 p.m this Monday, December 12 in Middlebush 132 on Mizzou’s campus. For those who aren’t familiar with campus, Middlebush is on the corner of 9th and University. Please encourage your friends to come out and volunteer with Show-Me Cannabis Regulation! We’ll need all the signature gathering help we can get! Also, if you know of any business that would be willing to be a permanent signing location here in Columbia, encourage them to have their staff attend the training this monday or email us and we can schedule a training for them at another date.

If you’re in the Jeff City area, don’t worry about making it up to Columbia on Monday because we’ll be coming to you Wednesday! SMCR will be hosting a training starting at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 14 in McClung Park in Jefferson City. After the training we will launch a signature gathering drive at that location until 6 p.m., so if you simply want to sign the initiative without volunteering to canvas for signatures yourself, show up around 4:00.

Lastly, I had the wonderful opportunity to write a guest editorial for the Maneater this week about our signature drive and our efforts to regulate cannabis like alcohol. You can read that column in full on the Maneater’s website.

Hope to see you all next week!

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The #Occupy Movement: What Could it Mean for Drug Reform?

Unless you’ve been literally hiding out under a rock with no outside social contact for the last month, you’re sure to by now have heard at least something about the #OccupyWallStreet protest and the subsequent #Occupy gatherings that have been cropping up in cities around the nation and world. So now that the media and political elites have shown they are finally ready to acknowledge the protests, we get to hear everyone’s new opinions on “What these protests mean for [fill in anything here].” The unique thing about these protests as opposed to some other recent grassroots political movements is that they have such a wide potential and an extremely diverse base. Where the media were able to immediately paint a picture of the Tea Party as a bunch of wacko white right-wing Christian racists who couldn’t spell and didn’t understand simple political terms like ‘socialism,’ ‘communism’ or ‘Czar,’ the #Occupy protesters seem to be made up of people from all over the racial, religious and even political spectrums, and even mainstream media outlets like the New York Times are having a tough time putting the movement in a box.

This to me seems to be the strongest and most vital aspect of the #Occupy movement. Because all of our societal structures are in immediate need of broad, sweeping reform, We the People simply do not have enough time left to focus on just two or three hot-button issues. We want change, REAL change, in broad and sweeping ways, and we want it YESTERDAY. We want an end to the War on Drugs. We want an end to burning fossil fuels that are destroying our environment, destroying our economies, and allowing our resources to be hoarded by a greedy few. We want an end to a Federal Banking racket that gambles away OUR money to make themselves richer. We want an end to this system that encourages people to ascend to richness and wealth while relying on keeping the poor in an endless cycle of imprisonment and debt. We want these things and a long laundry list of more, and most of it boils down to trimming the government back to what we started from in the first place: our constitution.

So back to my original question: what does this mean for us, the drug reform community? It means we have a huge, active base that is paying attention. We have a group of people who are willing to wear many hats, carry batons for many causes, and change the world for good for the sake of our very futures. There are people all over the country who are finally not only paying attention, but they’re volunteering. They’re protesting. They’re reading a lot. They’re tweeting, taking pictures and videos of police encounters and sharing articles with their friends, family and loved ones. They’re voting; they’re getting their peers registered to vote. They’re writing letters to the editor and making signs and voting in polls and making damn sure that their voice rings out loud and clear at all of the precious few opportunities they get to air it.

What does the #Occupy movement mean? It means, my friends, that we are no longer alone, and we would do well to find the others.

Drones fighting the drug war?!?

U.S. military drones are policing international skies… to find pot.

I wish that was a typo.

Apparently, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the U.S. started secretly using “unarmed drones” about a month ago to combat the drug war in Mexico. It’s no surprise that extra enforcement was chosen as the solution; Mexican presidents have a long history of crackdown-enforcement solutions that do nothing but puff up the death toll. So now we have flying robots spying on people (only spying, we’re assured) in foreign countries. No wonder they kept it secret. It’s sort of illegal, since Mexican laws restrict foreign military intervention. Not to mention all the national sovereignty issues implicated (as if Uncle Sam gives a fuck about your weak little country’s supposed ‘sovereignty!’). Relax! We’re the good guys here, situation’s under control now. Our control.

But make no mistake; this is just the beginning. It won’t take too long for the government to sneak some weapons aboard these drones, especially with the buddy-buddy relationship that appears to be forming between drug warriors of the U.S. and Mexico. With a drug-war justification, an already desensitized public will have little air left in their lungs to yell about the injustice of it. When will our government realize that even if we weren’t broke and in record-setting nail-biting mountains of debt, we’d never have enough money to eradicate the cannabis plant from the globe? It’s too hearty a plant, and it’s kept alive by an even heartier and ever-growing culture. Press on, keep reading and for the love of pot keep your eyes trained on Mexico.

Missouri NORML State Conference

In case you missed it, this past weekend was the Spring State Conference for all NORML Chapters in the state of Missouri. We had folks representing Kansas City, St. Louis, Joplin, Columbia and even Chillicothe! We had an excellent lineup of speakers that included MU Law Professor David Mitchell, a Patients Panel moderated by Cannabis Patients’ Network founder Mark Pedersen, talks from ACLU lobbyists John Coffman and Josh Campbell, a history of cannabis prohibition presentation by NORML’s Outreach Coordinator and host of the NORML Show LIVE “Radical” Russ Belville, and historical cannabis artifacts shown to us by Michael Krawitz, Executive Director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access. It was a very informative conference and we are excited for the future of our movement! Scroll down for the conference recap by KC NORML, as well as links to local media coverage of the event!

KC NORML Blog article

Columbia Missourian: ‘MU hosts NORML state conference to discuss marijuana’

Columbia Missourian: ‘MU professor advocates for marijuana law examination at NORML conference’

GAME TIME!

Hello internetz!

Welcome to the new MU NORML blog! We aim to be a source of news and info on the drug war on all scales, from national headlines to local activism here on Mizzou’s campus or around the City of Columbia. If you’re a student who’d like to contribute to the blog, send an email to freethedrugs@gmail.com from the email address associated with your WordPress account and we can add you as a contributor! (Note: you must be a student of the University of Missouri to be a contributor.)

If you would like more info on MU NORML, join our Facebook group here. You can also follow our twitter account @MUNORML or visit us in person at our offices in the Center for Student Involvement in the new Student Center. We are hanging out every weekday from 3-5 p.m. and we always love visitors!

Oakland County Sheriff's Office robs dispensary at gunpoint

Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine's offices and partner businesses were raided Wednesday by the Oakland County Sheriff's Department.

 

Yes, I’m afraid you did read that headline correctly. Yesterday eight Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputies served a search warrant on the offices of Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, Big Daddy’s Compassion Club and Big Daddy’s Hydro shop in Oak Park, MI. No arrests were made. However, the gun-toting cowboys did take something with them when they left: $20,000 in cash. This cash was seized from receipts, registers and even the wallets of the employees on site. Let me repeat that last one: THE COPS TOOK THE MONEY FROM EVERYONE’S WALLETS. This is a plain old-fashioned stick-up. Witnesses say that one of the officers was even wearing a mask! So what happens to this money? If no one was arrested, why do they get to take cash?

The answer of course is civil asset forfeiture. If you’ve never heard the term before, here’s a catch-up post from earlier, but basically if the government suspects your property was involved in a crime or your money came from a crime, they can seize it. The burden of proof then lies on your shoulders because property doesn’t have the same rights as a person. Nevermind that it’s ridiculous to charge property with a crime. So we end up with cases like “The United States v. 1999 Ford Taurus” and such silliness.

Now about the money. In all states it’s different depending on state laws where the money goes, but almost everywhere cops can use a federal loophole to keep most of the spoils. In our case from Michigan yesterday, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office gets to keep 80% of the assets seized and the other 20% will go to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. Consider it a “robbery legitimization fee.”

So basically Oakland County’s government has taken to wild west tactics to fund their law enforcement branch. Their $20,000 haul means $16,000 for the Sheriff and $4,000 for the prosecutor. Not bad for a Wednesday.

Citizens Police Review Board almost reviews Lowest Priority ordinance

Looking at the agenda for tonight’s Citizens Police Review Board meeting, I knew that this issue was not going to be addressed in any relevant way. Under “Panel Discussion Marijuana Ordinance Issues” [sic] we see the invited guests: City Prosecutor Stephen Richey, Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Haigh, and Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton. You can imagine what their opinion boiled down to: They thought the ordinance was being enforced just fine. “We aren’t getting search warrants to pursue misdemeanor marijuana cases.” Well I have two problems with that response.

First of all, our problem with the ordinance isn’t that police shouldn’t be pursuing misdemeanor marijuana charges. It’s that they shouldn’t be going out of their way to chase down ANY marijuana case, from 12 grams to 12 pounds. The ballot language passed by 61% of voters in Columbia in 2004 read: “The limited resources of law enforcement should be directed primarily toward crimes of violence or property loss.  The enforcement of laws against marijuana shall be the lowest law enforcement priority.The current ordinance reads almost exactly the same (Sec. 16-255.2., subsection f; you’ll have to scroll way down): “The limited resources of law enforcement should be directed primarily toward crimes of violence or property loss. The enforcement of laws against marijuana shall be among the lower priorities of law enforcement.” No part of the subsection mentions misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. When the ordinance passed, 61% of Columbia voters were saying they wanted enforcement of ALL marijuana crimes to be THE LOWEST law enforcement priority. Which means no search warrants for pot, no overtime pay for SWAT officers to try to find pot, and no pot-only cases while there are still plenty of unsolved serious crimes in the area.

Second point: The simple fact remains that CPD HAS obtained search warrants and executed SWAT raids on offenders who were later charged with simple misdemeanor possession. Anyone remember the Kinloch Court incident? Misdemeanor possession. Of course, they were going for more pot than what they found, but the fact that faulty intelligence can and does happen means maybe we should rethink pursuing marijuana cases with these violent tactics.

Well, after the two prosecutors and Chief Burton had their say, Dan Viets requested that the board continue discussion on the lower priority ordinance at their next monthly meeting when more students are in town to weigh in with their opinions. This was quickly shot down, and the board moved on. The discussion of how to better enforce the lowest priority ordinance was over without even having happened.

At the end of the CPRB meetings they allow time for general public comment. I stood and expressed my disappointment that the board for not even allowing a variety of opinions to be heard. “If you think that you can get a full range of opinions by inviting two prosecutors and the Police Chief here tonight, then you have no understanding of this issue,” I told them. I urged that they take the issue up again in the future when a fair discussion might be had. After I had spoken, Chairwoman Ellen LoCurto-Martinez seemed to understand my point and realize they had not looked at the picture quite as fully. In a compromise, she moved to table time at next month’s meeting to discuss whether it is wise police policy to serve search warrants in connection with non-violent crimes.

Here’s where you all come in. The next CPRB meeting is on February 9 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall. Come and let the Citizens Police Review Board know your opinion: Should police be serving search warrants, which are inherently violent, to investigate crimes where no violence was committed and no property was damaged or stolen? If you’re interested in speaking to the Board please drop me an email at freethedrugs@gmail.com by February 1 so I can guarantee you some time to address the board at that meeting. I hope to see many students and citizens there!