As of June, 2016, some 25 states and Washington D.C. have officially legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with a further three states awaiting the results of ballot measures or pending law changes. Although medical marijuana laws are now the norm, their nature varies greatly from state to state, which has important implications as far as the health and welfare of citizens are concerned – especially those battling illnesses whose symptoms are eased by marijuana, including epilepsy and illness producing chronic pain. In some states, people are allowed to cultivate marijuana for medical use (limits on the number of permitted plants vary from state to state); among these states, some only permit people to grow marijuana if they do not have a state dispensary or for financial reasons. In other states, the term ‘medical marijuana’ simply refers to marijuana extract (not the plant or leaves).
Amidst these subtle differences with big implications, meanwhile, the use of marijuana for recreational in the United States has steadily increased over the past few years, owing in no small part to the decreased perception of the drug being harmful. A large-scale survey of over half a million adults, undertaken between 2002 and 2014 and published last month in The Lancet, has found that marijuana use continues to increase and that the drug has become increasingly more potent in the last decade. The authors of the study note that these new developments mean that improved education and prevention messages regarding the nature of and risk factors involved in using marijuana, must be aimed for.
The authors also noted that increased use of marijuana did not lead to greater abuse or dependence among adults in America. Thus far, the impact of state law changes need to be assessed, and continued monitoring of use and possible disorders, would be required.
The study showed that from 2002 to 2014, marijuana use increased from 10.4 per cent to 13.3 per cent; so, too, did the percentage of adults who first began using marijuana in the previous year, rise significantly (from 0.7 per cent to 1.1 per cent within the same time frame). More people are also using the drug on a daily basis – the percentage of those who take marijuana five days a week on average has risen from 1.9 per cent to 3.5 per cent. People also do not perceive that smoking marijuana is risky (33.3 per cent deemed the practice potentially harmful in 2014, compared to 50.4 per cent in 2002). The authors claim that changes in the perception of marijuana’s safety, began to change in 2007. The paradigm shift can partly be attributed to the legalization of medical marijuana in many states, and to its legalization for non-medical purposes, in several jurisdictions.
The fact that increased use has not led to greater abuse/addiction, reflects that possibility that those who have started using marijuana, or doing so less frequently. Those who have been found to be at a greater risk for addiction include males, the youth, those with lower levels of education, those who do not work full-time, persons with depression and those who consume tobacco or other substances. Among adolescents, risk factors for the consumption of drugs include having a low grade point average, early alcohol used, low self-confidence, psychopathology, and having a poor relationship with their parents. Those whose personality tended to be sensation seeking, also had a higher likelihood of dabbling in marijuana and other drugs.
The authors stated, however, that the full effects of legalization needed to be studied over time, via large-scale surveys such as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and Monitoring the Future (which focuses on drug use among the youth). Comparisons should be made between sample populations in states that have legalized marijuana for both recreation and medical use, and those which have not.
The authors also noted that their survey, although large and extended in time, did not take into account specific members of the population (including the homeless, those who had been imprisoned, and those living in shelters). Therefore, the actual rate of those who use and abuse the drug, could actually be much higher. The study also failed to look into the link between serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, and the likelihood of marijuana use.
source: Philip Weiss
The leader of a Palestinian youth group who was invited to a social media training session organized by the State Department “to create a sustainable community that fosters innovation and social progress” was arrested by Israeli authorities today as he attempted to travel from Gaza to the West Bank.
Ala’a Miqbel, 30, director of a Palestinian NGO in Gaza called the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership And Rights Activation (Pyalara), which has broad international support, had been invited to a three-day social media “TechCamp,” organized by US State Department and PalTel, the Palestinian telephone company.
Miqbel was told to to to Erez checkpoint early this morning to get authorization from the Israelis to travel to the session at a Ramallah hotel. Instead he was arrested there and taken to Majdal prison in Israel, according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding.
The TechCamp is surely part of Kerry’s initiative for “economic peace.” Here is part of the invitation to Miqbel that bore State Department letterhead:
By participating in TechCamp Ramallah 2, we will connect your organization with technology leaders to increase your capacity and outreach potential in the 21st century. We offer you the opportunity to interact with top international and local technologists to learn how digital tools can boost your buisness and help your organization make an advantageous leap…. It will also help build lasting relationships with other civil society organizations and technologists to create a sustainable community that fosters innovation and social progress.
We invite you to be a part of this exceptional experience!
But the arrest shows the structural flaw in the economic approach– for all Palestinians lack freedom of movement under occupation.
The Institute for Middle East Understanding provided me the following report from a Pyalara official:
Yesterday, Ala’a was informed by the organizers of the workshop that he should go for an interview with the Israeli side at Eretz checkpoint for the purpose of receiving a permit to travel to the West Bank. At 7:30 am, today, the 26th of August, Ala’a called me and informed me that he was on his way to Eretz checkpoint for the interview. He told me that he will have to turn off his mobile and that as soon as he is out he will call me to update me on the interview. Ala’a was so happy and hopeful that after more than 7 years since he last got a permit and visited the West Bank, he would at last manage to leave Gaza Strip. At around 6:30 pm and after hours of trying to contact Ala’a, his father, Subhi Miqbil called me to inform me that he received a phone call from a private number and that the person on the other line informed him that his son Ala’a was arrested and transferred to Majdal prison. Since we received the information, PYALARA contacted the Red Crescent and different Human Rights organization to pursue the issue.
Ala’a has been working as the director of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA) office in Gaza for the last 4 years. Ala’a is a very well-known youth and social activist who is known for his professionality, dedication and activism on the level of youth rights, leadership and youth mobilization. Ala’a is 30 years old, married and a father of three children the latest of whom is only one month and a half old.
The TechCamp invitation follows:
Dear TechCamp Participant,
Paltel Group and the United States Department of State cordially invite you to join us for TechCamp Ramallah 2, August 27th – 29th, 2013 at the Ceasar Hotel in Ramallah. This will be an innovative and important event focused on issues of NGO leaders empowerment in the areas of education, mobility, technology, and entrepreneurship.
By participating in TechCamp Ramallah 2, we will connect your organization with technology leaders to increase your capacity and outreach potential in the 21st century. We offer you the opportunity to interact with top international and local technologists to learn how digital tools can boost your buisness and help your organization make an advantageous leap. The two main sessions of TechCamp will take place on the 28th and 29th of August, however, there will be an opening ceremony on the 27th. The ceremony will be held at the Jawwal auditorium and will be promptly followed by a reception.
TechCamp Ramallah 2 will be an interactive, three-day event that will bring together civil society leaders, NGO representatives, and technology experts to find technological solutions to your biggest obstacles. It will also allow you to collaborate and share best practices and challenges with like-minded civil society practitioners.
Participating in TechCamp Ramallah 2 will allow you to expand your knowledge about mobile applications and leverage your knowledge of social media and technology tools to make a positive impact on your local community. It will also help build lasting relationships with other civil society organizations and technologists to create a sustainable community that fosters innovation and social progress.
We invite you to be a part of this exceptional experience!
Please let us know of your interest and availability as soon as possible. Once we have confirmed your attendance, we will send additional information about logistics. Your participation will be free of charge.
We hope that you can join us, and we look forward to your feedback in the weeks ahead. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience to:
Yara Dweik,[details deleted]
Neivean Latif, [details deleted]
TechCamp Ramallah 2 Team
By SUSAN HAIGH — Associated Press
SUFFIELD, Conn. — When Nicholas Aponte recalls the night in 1995 that sent him to prison, he describes an immature 17-year-old who told himself he was tough but in reality lacked the nerve to say no to a cousin he admired for being a troublemaker.
Sitting with a group of boys on a porch, playing cards and drinking, the cousin said he needed to “do a robbery” and asked if Aponte wanted to tag along.
“I said, ‘OK, we’ll do the robbery or whatever,'” Aponte said. “It was spur of the moment.”
The plan failed. A 28-year-old sandwich shop assistant manager was killed during the robbery. Aponte was later arrested, as was his cousin, younger brother and a friend. Even though Aponte didn’t fire the gun, prosecutors considered him the ringleader. He was treated by the courts as an adult and sentenced to 38 years without parole. That means he will be 55 when he’s freed.
“All this time was hard to perceive, for somebody so young,” Aponte said in a prison interview this week. Now 35, with more than half his life spent in Connecticut prisons, Aponte dreams of finishing his bachelor’s degree, becoming a nurse and spending time with his family, including a son who was an infant when he was imprisoned.
Aponte is among an estimated 2,100 so-called juvenile lifers across the country — inmates sentenced to lengthy prison terms without parole — who hope for a reprieve in the wake of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Miller v. Alabama. The decision determined such sentences are cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional. The court ruled, 5-4, that the proportionality of the sentence must take into account “the mitigating qualities of youth,” such as immaturity and the failure of young people to understand the ramifications of their actions.
In part to head off an avalanche of expected appeals, at least 10 states have changed laws to comply with the ruling. In June, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill eliminating mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile killers, who are also ineligible for the death penalty. The new law requires juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to serve at least 25 years in prison while still allowing judges the discretion to impose a sentence of life without parole. Juvenile offenders convicted of first-degree murder are also allowed to petition for a sentence modification after serving 30 years.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill in February specifying that juveniles convicted of murder would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in prison. Last fall, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation giving judges options other than life in prison when sentencing juveniles in murder cases. Other states with new juvenile sentencing laws include Arkansas, California, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah, according to data collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures this summer.
In Connecticut, where Aponte is among about 200 inmates who could be affected by the high court’s ruling, a proposal that would have allowed parole hearings for teen offenders who’ve served at least 12 years or 60 percent of their sentence died this year. There are plans to resurrect the bill next year.
But the prospect of possibly shortening sentences has been met with mixed reaction from relatives of crime victims.
“If you can’t believe a judge’s final decision in a courtroom, who can you believe?” asked John Cluny, whose wife and teenage son were shot to death in 1993 by his son’s 15-year-old friend, Michael Bernier. Bernier was sentenced to 60 years for the murders. Cluny calls him “a cold-blooded killer.”
Despite good behavior in prison and years of reflection and maturity, Cluny questions giving such killers another chance at freedom.
“You’re in prison for what you did, not for what you’ve become,” he said.
At a recent hearing on Connecticut’s bill, John J. Horan, whose son was killed in the robbery that Aponte was convicted in, sat silently, listening to Aponte’s mother speak about how her son has become a man any mother would be proud of. He has matured, sought to improve himself by reading and earned his associate’s degree and certification as a nurse’s aide to work in the prison infirmary. He’s also a hospice volunteer who tends to dying inmates, she said, adding that Aponte has tried to raise his own son from prison, sending money and playing a positive role in the boy’s life.
After listening to her, Horan said Aponte’s cousin, gunman Jason Casiano, who was 16 years old at the time of the robbery, doesn’t deserve a parole hearing, but he was more willing to buy such an argument for Aponte.
“They should loosen up on the nonviolent offenders,” said Horan, 82. “It was just a terribly bad move by Aponte.”
But Horan is skeptical about some of the reasoning behind the Supreme Court ruling, in which Justice Elena Kagan wrote that mandatory life without parole for a juvenile “precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences.”
Teens still know right from wrong, Horan contends, when it involves “something so fundamental as killing and not killing.”
But Aponte says he can relate to Kagan’s argument. When he recalls his youth leading up to the robbery, Aponte describes beatings he suffered and a world where guns were commonplace. Yearning for a male role model, he admired his cousin, who had just moved to Connecticut.
“When I think about it now, I was definitely a follower in a lot of areas,” he said. “I should have had more courage to stand up, and I didn’t.”
Aponte acknowledges he was in denial about the crime at first, focusing more on trying to survive in prison. But three years after the robbery, Aponte said he read letters from his victim’s family, including one from Horan, who wrote about the grief of losing a son and how he hoped Aponte would make something of his life. Aponte said that changed him.
He still has the appearance of a fresh-faced kid, but Aponte speaks with the wisdom of a prison elder who has spent time thinking about why he wound up incarcerated and how to make the best of it.
“I never thought I’d be able to see life the way I see it now,” he said. “I don’t even recognize that other person.”
Associated Press Writer Randall Chase in Dover, Del. contributed to this report.
Associated Press Writer Susan Haigh can be followed on Twitter @SusanHaighAP
Author: Ben Franklin
Note: Amount of Andrew’s rights violated: 2 (No Search Warrant, No Speedy trial)
A young autistic man named Andrew Rose, around age 17 when he was arrested by the police at his High School, was suspected of possessing child pornography, and has still not been given his day in court since he was arrested on December 5th, 2011. One year and sixth months have passed since he was jailed and which terrified him, he finally was released on bail due to financial assistance from his family. One of his bail conditions was that he would not be allowed to go back to school and in the end, he was told to just go get his GED, and never graduated with the other students. He is still awaiting his day in court but will it ever come? Likely not which is why this article is written to shine light on the dirty tactics of corrupt federal prosecutors on minors and young adults whom are caught up in the child porn undercover stings.
“First in May Andrew was going to appear in court, then July, and now August, the prosecutor keeps pushing the date back!” – Quote from Reporter
How was he accused of this crime you all probably wonder?
When Limewire was around, a little over a year before the arrest, Andrew was downloading music files which are easy to get, you can find any title, album, and artist tracks. The only thing that Limewire did not show in it’s search database was a album art image search to search for mp3 files that have a certain tag image. This was where Andrew got into hot water. As what was explained in an earlier article I had typed, all mp3 files have a identification system used by all computer software music players, mp3 players, and even tablets. This identification system is known as mp3 tags which any software program such as Mp3tag can edit mp3 files to manipulate the tags of each mp3 file. The tag album image can be as big as the user wishes, it can be 500x, 600x, even 800x. Any image can be added to the mp3 tag, and that includes child pornography and naked teen photos.
What happened was a particular user was distributing music on Limewire with these lewd naked or half naked teen photos. When Andrew downloaded music thern played it on his music player, likely Windows Media Player, he saw a big album image of young teenage girls in the buff then exited out of it then tried re-downloading the file to see if it would go away but sadly the file that was shared has a album image of naked teenage girls, so he went to another place for the song. In the end he deleted the music file and never looked for it again, the only problem was that the very minute he played that music file and the album image displayed, it was locally cached in his computer as a hidden or system file as Windows Media Player caches the album art image of a particular music file or music files. Because Andrew didn’t think to go in the folder options and check the allow hidden files to show, he never knew that dirty image planted inside the mp3 file was also cached onto his computer which was later used to indict him by a Federal grand jury. Of course his intent is obvious, he is not a child pornographer and has no interest in that kind of material, he is not a pervert, but the police didn’t care.
So one day the police came to his families house, without a search warrant, separated him from his own mother in his room asking him questions, interrogating him without a search warrant and without allowing his mother to be present and without being offered an advocate even though he was clearly autistic. Police detectives can easily tell from his behavior that he has some difficulty in social behavior and could determine he was autistic since the Missouri P.O.S.T Autism Training allows police training on how they deal with a autistic person while following and exercising their duties, and a 2009 AELE Monthly Law Journal report talked about the concerns of how police interact with a autistic person and what training they need. Despite all that the police never gave him an advocate and then in the end the family was told by the police “they may or may not be back” but was proven a lie in December of 2011. Apparently in all child porn investigations, police lie and tell the suspects that had their computer equipment seized, regardless of circumstances and evidence, that they may not be charged or that they may not get in trouble but is a lie to keep people believing that everything is going to be okay.
One day federal agents showed up to arrest and book Andrew while he was a senior at his High School in Missouri, “and dragged him out with his hands cuffed behind his back and humiliated him in front of his peers. ”
“He arrived at the booking center for the first time in his life to have his mug shot taken, be finger printed, and placed in a cell not knowing what is going on and trying so hard to hold back his tears.”
“Upon his release Andrew requested if he could return to school, his attorney set up a meeting with the judge to discuss this. The judge saw no reason not to allow him back in school, but DA Robert Parks did and went around the judge by sending a letter to the principal of the school explaining what Andrew was being charged with and how he did not believe he should return. Andrew’s hopes for finishing high school are now over. His principal told him he may take a GED course, but was no longer allowed to be a student in the school. At the age of twenty, Andrew’s nightmare is still going on. He and his family have been trying to prove his innocence for quite some time now, but DA Parks keeps dragging his feet. Draining the money from the family and also trying to drop their morale. Andrew is not the only one in his battle. Since a website was set up on his behalf, hundreds of others have come forward with the same nightmare, the youngest being thirteen.”
Quotes from the Facebook page
It turns out he needs $50,000 for bail to get him out of jail and as a condition of his release, that he cannot be around anyone 18 or younger. Again thanks to his family he has been released.
Things only went from bad to worse, over 5-6 times now his court hearing for the criminal prosecution of child pornography, has continually been moved up and rescheduled to another date causing a headache for not just his legal counsel but also for his family. Around May 22 of this year, Andrew and his lawyer was notified that the pretrial and trial date has been moved up to around July, then I have received word that the trial has been rescheduled again to August 8.
“Andrew’s sixth Amendment right in the Bill of Rights has been blatantly violated. What kind of federal prosecutor continues rescheduling the court date back again and again?…On this day it is officially 1.5 years that this autistic young man was denied his basic Constitutional right to a speedy trial since he had his booking and mugshot taken. His fourth amendment right had been violated during the search and seizure, his internet activities completely should prove that he has no intent to look at child pornography yet he cannot even get his pretrial as of yet after 1.5 years and his classmates assuming he is some dirty perverted child porn watcher. This is a complete joke, a complete failure of our justice system in the United States. If his family had not set the bond to pay the bail fee, this poor young autistic man would be sitting in a federal prison holding cell for years, putting even what Adam Kokesh went through to shame, and still awaiting his day in court that may never come unless he pleads guilty. Andrew’s right to face his accusers and fight to exonerate himself to have the criminal charges thrown out has been shattered by a corrupt federal prosecutor. I am ashamed what America our country has become. Our founding fathers would turn in their graves seeing that people are denied the right to a speedy trial simply for being accused of child pornography and because of the excellent chances he will win the case for all his rights being violated and for his behavior clearly having no criminal intent. Our justice system is a failure when a prosecutor can continue to reschedule the trial date whenever he feels like it if he feels the criminal case will not go in his favor. This is abuse of judicial and prosecutor power. The ACLU and EFF needs to be all over this like flies on you-know-what. How shameful it ain’t just terrorism anymore that we are denied the right to a trial until we beg the prosecutor to waive our rights to a trial and become a felon to rot in a prison cell,” comment from former USWGO Founder Brian Hill on his views regarding the matter since he has studied law and politics to a certain extent.
1.5 years of his life have gone by and he is still under bail restrictions, under police scrutiny, and is being denied his basic speedy trial rights clause the United States Constitution.
Whom is the prosecutor that is doing all of this, why Robert E. Parks of course. He is a Franklin County, Missouri, prosecuting attorney which is usually only a state prosecutor. Apparently he doesn’t understand what real justice is nor does he even follow his own oath of office when sworn in since he was suppose to give this autistic youth a speedy trial and allow him to face his accusers with a right to a jury of his peers. Apparently according to D.A. Parks, that right can only come when he wants the defendants in his cases to appear in court as he sees fit when he sees fit.
In fact when searching up Andrew Rose and the child porn case on Google News, no news outlets have reported on the case nor the fact that his Constitutional rights were being violated. I guess the media doesn’t care what injustices are happening to people unless there is background pressure to shut the mainstream media up so they don’t cover this judicial travesty.
It has also been discovered that when a few reporters were looking into Andrew’s case and how it ties into the ICE Operation Flicker scandal and misconduct, the reporters were threatened and told not to report on Andrew’s case. When calling one of the local branches of the Associated Press in Missouri, one of the news editorial staff told me that “there are so many child porn cases now, that we cannot cover them all.” Also told me that if there was something significant about it then they look into covering it. So child porn cases by Operation Flicker has got so out of control, innocent minors and young adults lives all being ruined and the question is are they really child pornographers or were they set up? I don’t know.
It appears there needs to be a change in Federal law for prohibiting state and federal prosecutors from being able to reschedule a court trial for a defendant indefinitely. There needs to be a limit like let’s say around 1 or 2 times a prosecutor may reschedule the court date as long as he has a valid reason and if he reschedules it again, the court can deny the request and mandate that the government prosecutor appear before that date. The case law precedent for violation iof the speedy trial clause in lower federal courts has a minimum of having the trial delayed beyond 6 months. In Supreme Court law, 6 months is the Supreme Court precedent for a trial being delayed by the prosecutor that can sanction a sixth amendment Constitution violation. The only remedy a defendant can make is call for the dismissal of the criminal case and indictment meaning that the defendant can never be charged for the same claimed offense again since his rights have been violated.
The more of this article is to expose that now if you are accused of child pornography and have a plausible defense like Andrew Rose, if the prosecutor finds out you have a good chance at winning the case, then you may never get a trial and may have to wait for years and years even beyond the federal and state statute of limitations before you will get a trial or just cave in to the prosecutor and sign a paper declaring guilt and waiving rights to a trial.