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TX focus on pot enforcement expanded since turn of century
The number of marijuana arrests in Texas increased by 38.5% over the first decade of the 21st century, according to a new report (pdf) by the national ACLU. By contrast, the 2010 state population was just 21% higher than in the 2000 census, meaning pot enforcement expanded significantly more than can be accounted for by population growth. (In some jurisdictions, like Austin, the volume of marijuana charges has grown at even greater rates.)
Texas law enforcement made 20,681 more marijuana arrests in 2010 than in 2001, according to the report, or 74,286 arrests total. Black folks made up about 26% of Texas pot arrests; by comparison, they make up 12% of the state population.
In New York and Texas, the two states with the most marijuana arrests in 2010, 97% were for possession, said the report.
All that said, the Lone Star State is less focused on marijuana enforcement than some jurisdictions. Texas ranked 15th in the rate of its citizens arrested for marijuana at 295 per 100,000, though that still comes in above the national average (256). Pot arrests were highest in D.C. (846), New York (535) and oddly, Nebraska (417).
See the full report (pdf) for much more detail, these are just the Texas-specific highlights.
Via: Grits For Breakfast
Last month I wrote about Rich Paul, a pro-marijuana activist in Keene, New Hampshire, who was facing 81 years in prison for selling marijuana. Rich had refused plea-bargain deals (including one that would have let him walk away with no jail time) because he wanted to stand up for his principles—weed is basically harmless and you should be allowed to smoke it and sell it to your friends. “Somebody had to stand up and say that this is wrong, and I thought I might well be that guy,” Rich emailed me. “I took the risk and now we’ll find out whether I bet my life well.”
Two days after he wrote that, the jury found Rich guilty, sending him to prison for a long, long time for a nonviolent crime.*
That’s not so strange, because Rich essentially admitted that he sold a whole bunch of weed to an FBI informant. His defense didn’t rely on convincing anyone he wasn’t breaking the law—he wanted to convince the jury that the law itself was wrong. In other words, he was leaning on the principle of jury nullification, which is the idea that juries can vote to acquit people who have clearly broken the law if they think that the law shouldn’t exist in the first place.
“I wasn’t shocked,” Rich admitted to me in a video recorded from jail. “Jury nullification is a long shot.” Even so, he’s planning on appealing to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on the grounds that the judge misled the jury on what nullification is.
Last year, New Hampshire adopted a law that allows defense attorneys to speak directly to juries and tell them that they have the right to judge the application of the law, not just the facts; that is, they can decide the law shouldn’t be applied in particular cases.
A former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, with cannabis he hopes to eventually import legally from Mexico, and said he was kicking off his business by acquiring medical pot dispensaries in three U.S. states.
Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, said he envisions his Seattle-based enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis - much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee, he said.
Shively, 45, whose six years at Microsoft ended in 2009, said he was soliciting investors for $10 million in start-up money.
The use, sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal in the United States under federal law. Two U.S. states have, however, legalized recreational marijuana use and are among 18 states that allow it for medical use.
“It’s a giant market in search of a brand,” Shively said of the marijuana industry. “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.”
A 2005 United Nations report estimated the global marijuana trade to be valued at $142 billion.here
Washington state and Colorado became the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana when voters approved legalization in November.
Shively laid out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.
Joining him was former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Shively acquaintance who has been an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana. Fox said he was there to show his support for Shively’s company but has no financial stake in it.
“What a difference it makes to have Jamen here sitting at my side instead of Chapo Guzman,” said Fox, referring to the fact he would rather see Shively selling marijuana legally than the Mexican drug kingpin selling it illegally. “This is the story that has begun to be written here.”
Shively told Reuters he hoped Fox would serve an advisory role in his enterprise, dubbed Diego Pellicer after Shively’s hemp-producing great grandfather.
The sale of cannabis or marijuana remains illegal in much of the world although countries mainly in Europe and the Americas have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of it. A larger number of countries have decriminalized or legalized cannabis for medical use.