CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Officials unite to fight marijuana initiative

Law enforcement officials statewide are uniting against a referendum question they fear will increase marijuana use among teenagers and generate more crime across the state.

The state's 11 district attorneys are unanimously opposing Question 2 and are being joined by police chiefs and some community groups, fearing it will undo years of effort to reduce drug use among teenagers. Governor Deval Patrick's administration also is opposed, according to a spokesman.

"Teenage marijuana use is down, and this is a good thing," said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. "This is a bad, bad message for our kids."

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September 18, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Real commander needed for the war on drugs

Drugs Will America's ill-starred "war on drugs" and its expanding prison culture make it into the presidential campaign?

Standard wisdom says "no way."

We may have the world's highest rate of incarceration — with only 5 percent of global population, 25 percent of prisoners worldwide. We may be throwing hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders, many barely of age, behind bars — one reason a stunning one out of every 100 Americans is now imprisoned. We may have created a huge "prison-industrial complex" of prison builders, contractors and swollen criminal justice bureaucracies.

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September 8, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Report: US drug use shows little change in 2007

WASHINGTON -- Cocaine and methamphetamine use among young adults declined significantly last year as supplies dried up, leading to higher prices and reduced purity, the government reports. Overall use of illicit drugs showed little change.

About one in five young adults last year acknowledged illicit drug use within the previous month, a rate similar to previous years. But cocaine use declined by one-quarter and methamphetamine use by one-third.

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September 4, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Preppy Killer" Sentenced to 19 Years on Drug Charges

Amd_robert_chambersPreppie killer Robert Chambers was sentenced today to 19 years in prison for drug-dealing - more time than he got for strangling Jennifer Levin in 1986.

The 42-year-old prep school grad agreed to the long stretch as part of a plea bargain that allowed him to avoid a life sentence.

The hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court was a brief, cut-and-dried affair.

His hands cuffed, a jean-clad Chambers showed little emotion except to smirk at girlfriend Shawn Kovell, who was sitting in the audience with his father.

Kovell's presence caused a stir in the courthouse and a threat by prosecutors to put her behind bars.

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September 2, 2008 in Criminal Law, Drugs, News, Sentencing Corrections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Afghan Opium Harvest Down?

Topics_opium_395Afghanistan’s opium harvest has dropped from last year’s record high, the United Nations announced Tuesday, contending that the tide of opium that engulfed Afghanistan in ever rising harvests since 2001 was finally showing signs of ebbing.

“The opium floodwaters in Afghanistan have started to recede,” Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, wrote in the foreword of the 2008 annual opium poppy survey, published Tuesday. “Afghan society has started to make progress in its fight against opium.”

Poppy cultivation has dropped by 19 percent since 2007, and had fallen beneath 2006 levels as well, the report said. The harvest was also down, although by a lesser margin because of greater yields, dropping by 6 percent to 7,700 tons.

More than half of Afghanistan’s provinces have now been declared poppy free — that is, 18 of 34 provinces grow no, or very little, poppy, up from 13 poppy-free provinces last year.

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August 26, 2008 in Drugs, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Crack Resentencing Controversy Comes Before 11th Circuit

Today, two of the most controversial issues in sentencing law -- the length of sentences for crack cocaine offenders and judges' ability to go outside the federal sentencing guidelines -- will intersect in arguments at a federal appeals court panel sitting in Atlanta.

The five cases from the Southern District of Florida, consolidated for oral argument at the 11th Circuit, have the potential to affect many other cases throughout Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The appellate chief at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta, Amy L. Weil, said she'd seen about a dozen motions by defendants in the Northern District of Georgia alone that raise the same issue.

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August 24, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 4, 2008

CA Court Upholds Medical Marijuana Program Against Supremacy Clause Challenge

A state appeals court upheld California's 12-year-old medical marijuana law Thursday, rejecting two counties' arguments that allowing patients to use the drug with their doctor's approval condones violations of federal narcotics laws.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego dismissed challenges by San Diego and San Bernardino counties, which objected both to the 1996 marijuana initiative and to recent legislation requiring counties to issue identification cards to users of medical pot.

The cards protect their holders from arrest by state or local police for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government can enforce its drug laws, which ban marijuana use and cultivation, against patients and their suppliers in California and the 11 other states that have legalized medical marijuana under their own laws.

But in Thursday's ruling, the appeals court said states remain free to decide whether to punish drug users under their own laws.

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August 4, 2008 in Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Conflicting marijuana laws take stage in trial

41251699 A highly anticipated trial involving conflicting marijuana laws got underway Friday in Los Angeles federal court with a prosecutor painting the owner of a Morro Bay medicinal marijuana store as a brazen drug trafficker who sold dope to teenagers and toted around a backpack stuffed with cash.

Defense attorneys struggled to provide context for their client's alleged crimes after being barred by the judge from mentioning the phrase "medical marijuana."

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July 28, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

State Supreme Court narrows probable-cause grounds in pot case

Law-enforcement officers who detect the odor of marijuana from a vehicle can't arrest all of the occupants, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In a unanimous ruling, the court determined the smell of pot isn't enough probable cause to warrant the arrest and search of everyone inside a car. While smell alone may be reason for a vehicle search, the court determined, it doesn't warrant handcuffing passengers without other supporting evidence.

Defense attorneys on Thursday called it a right-to-privacy victory. Law-enforcement officers say it won't greatly affect the way they make arrests.

The ruling stems from a traffic stop in April 2006 in Skagit County.

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July 20, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Not Winning the War on Drugs

According to the White House, this country is scoring big wins in the war on drugs, especially against the cocaine cartels. Officials celebrate that cocaine seizures are up — leading to higher prices on American streets. Cocaine use by teenagers is down, and, officials say, workplace tests suggest adult use is falling. John Walters, the White House drug czar, declared earlier this year that “courageous and effective” counternarcotics efforts in Colombia and Mexico “are disrupting the production and flow of cocaine.”

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July 2, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Border Drug Wars Plague Cities in Mexico and U.S.

Drug cartels have made Juarez the deadliest city in Mexico. But they also operate just across the border, in El Paso, Texas — one of the safest cities in the U.S. NPR's Jason Beaubien speaks with host Andrea Seabrook about efforts to stop the violence.

June 30, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mansfield drug case gone wrong: The inside story

In the shadows of boarded-up homes on a hazy October afternoon in 2005, two men pull into a gas station parking lot in a souped-up Buick Roadmaster with tinted windows.

They are there to buy $2,600 of crack cocaine.

Jerrell Bray is driving. The stocky man with unkempt hair is a killer. He spent 13 years in prison for his role in the death of a Cleveland drug dealer. Despite that, guys know him as Mr. Talk-a-lot: He never shuts up.

With Bray is his friend Todd, who is not Todd. He is Lee Lucas, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent working undercover. Bray is Lucas' informant.

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June 29, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cracking Open

Michael Short knows he was wrong to sell crack cocaine, but he questions whether he needed 15 years in prison to learn his lesson. Now some of the politicians who helped put him there are wondering, too.

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June 2, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 30, 2008


Despite a growing consensus among scholars that substance abuse treatment is effective in reducing offending, strict eligibility rules have limited the impact of current models of therapeutic jurisprudence on public safety. This research effort was aimed at providing policy makers some guidance on whether expanding this model to more drug-involved offenders is cost-beneficial.

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May 30, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Questioning new Marijuana Tax

From California's potential $16 billion budget shortfall has led state officials to an unusual source for tax revenue — medical marijuana storefronts. In a state where it's legal to buy prescription pot, those shops generate millions of dollars each year. But there's just one problem — buying and selling marijuana is still a federal crime.

Richard Lee, owner of a coffee shop and marijuana dispensary in Oakland, says he's proud of the more than $200,000 a year he pays in sales tax. His store sells marijuana buds in one-eighth ounce bags.

"We have one medium grade on our menu, that's $30 an eighth plus tax," Lee says. "And three high grades, that's $40 an eighth plus tax, so it comes to $44 with tax, sales tax included."

Medical marijuana advocates estimate that the aggregate annual sales tax revenue that's paid by the approximately 400 dispensaries in California is $100 million. Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, says the state actually makes it easy for pot venders to do business without revealing their product by issuing generic "sellers permits." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

April 8, 2008 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

State COurt Rules that People May Carry small Amount of Pot with Dr's Note

From A person who carries a small amount of marijuana with a doctor's note allowing medical use can't be convicted of dealing the drug just because police thought he was a dealer, a California state appeals court ruled Friday.

In overturning an Orange County man's conviction for possessing marijuana for sale, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana said the prosecutor needed more evidence of sales than the opinion of a sheriff's deputy who specialized in investigating narcotics dealers.

The defendant, Christopher Chakos, was arrested in December 2004 in Rancho Santa Margarita near the medical office where he worked as a phlebotomist, drawing blood for lab tests. Officers found seven grams of marijuana in his car, along with a doctor's note recommending pot for his pain and depression.

They found more marijuana, in varying amounts, in a search of his apartment, along with a digital scale and a closed-circuit camera system.

The marijuana totaled about 6 ounces, less than the 8 ounces that medical marijuana patients can possess under state law. But Chakos was convicted of possession for sale based on expert testimony by Deputy Christopher Cormier, who conducted the search and said he had concluded Chakos was a dealer. Chakos was placed on probation for three years.

Cormier based his conclusion on the exact amount of marijuana in the car, which he said was typical of dealers, and the presence of the scale and the camera system at the apartment, despite defense testimony that the camera system belonged to Chakos' half brother.

Cormier said he had taken part in more than 100 drug investigations, but acknowledged that none involved a medical marijuana patient with a doctor's note.

The appeals court relied on a 1971 state Supreme Court ruling overturning a possession-for-sale conviction of a man who was using Methedrine, a trade brand of a type of methamphetamine, with a doctor's prescription. The court in that case said the arresting officer, who concluded the man was a dealer, lacked experience in cases involving the medical use of otherwise illegal drugs.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

December 23, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

1000 Feet Drug Law Becomes More Stringent in Oregon

From 1,000-foot zone around Oregon schools to protect students from drug dealing appears to have gotten a little tighter. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week that prosecutors do not need to prove a dealer knew that a drug sale was within 1,000 feet of a school.

Williamette University CrimProf Laura Appleman said the ruling follows the principle established in other states that have established drug-free zones around schools.

"I think that's typical with drug crimes when you're looking ... at the social harm as opposed to the mental intent of the seller," Appleman said.

he case involved a man who was convicted in the sale of cocaine to an informant working with an undercover police officer at a high school in Portland.

The defendant had argued during his trial that the jury be instructed that a conviction required that he knew the sale occurred within 1,000 feet of school property. The trial judge rejected the argument, but it was upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The Oregon Supreme Court reversed the appeals court, saying that requiring knowledge of the distance from the school only would give drug dealers an incentive to claim they did not know how close they were to school grounds.

Chief Justice Paul De Muniz wrote the drug zone law was clearly intended "to give drug dealers a reason to locate the 1,000 foot school boundary and stay outside of it." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 14, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Farmers Ask Federal Judge to Declare Hemp Rope, Not Dope

From On Wednesday, Hauge and David C. Monson, a fellow aspiring hemp farmer, will ask a federal judge in Bismarck, N.D. to force the DEA to yield to a state law that would license them to become hemp growers.

"I'm looking forward to the court battle," said Hauge, a 49-year-old father of three. "I don't know why the DEA is so afraid of this."

The law is the law and it treats all varieties of Cannabis sativa L. the same, Bush administration lawyers argue in asking U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland to throw out the case. The DEA says a review of the farmers' applications is underway.

To clear up the popular confusion about the properties of what is sometimes called industrial hemp, the crop's prospective purveyors explain that hemp and smokable marijuana share a genus and a species but are about as similar as rope and dope. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 11, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Another Boston Cop Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking

From A third Boston police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to drug trafficking charges for protecting truckloads of cocaine during an FBI sting operation.

Roberto Pulido, 42, entered the plea following two days of damaging testimony at his federal trial.

Authorities said Pulido was the ringleader of a group of three officers who received thousands of dollars from men they believed were drug dealers, but were actually undercover FBI agents. The officers escorted two truckloads of cocaine into Boston in 2006. They were arrested in July 2006 in Miami, where they went to collect $35,000 for protecting a drug shipment a month earlier.

Prosecutors played recordings of conversations in which Pulido was heard discussing the drug protection, as well as other criminal activities he was allegedly involved in, including the sale of steroids and the buying and selling of fraudulent store gift cards. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

November 8, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Determining a Daily Dosage of Marijuana

From Patients using marijuana for ailments ranging from chronic back pain to cancer are allowed by Washington state law to possess a two-month supply of the drug. But medical marijuana doesn't come with a standard dose or even a standard method of taking the drug.

The 1998 law has never spelled out how much usable pot nor how many plants make up a 60-day supply.
Now the Legislature has demanded an answer to the question by July, and the state is holding hearings to ask experts and citizens for their opinions on how to determine a two-month supply.

"There is so much you will have to take into account," says Joanna McKee, founder of Seattle's Green Cross Patient Co-op. "What about people who eat it? How different is the amount they need from people who smoke it?"

McKee was one of many who spoke at a state health department public meeting this month in Seattle. More than 100 people attended, and about 45 people spoke. Another meeting in Spokane drew similar numbers. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

September 23, 2007 in Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)