These Native American Tribes Legalized Weed, But That Didn’t Stop Them From Getting Raided By The Feds

CALIFORNIA:  In the foggy early morning hours of Wednesday, July 8, special agents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration and state and local law enforcement descended on the Pit River Tribe’s XL Ranch and the Alturas Indian Rancheria in northeastern California, seizing 12,000 marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed pot from the two large-scale growing facilities.

The Alturas Indian Rancheria and the XL Ranch are located on opposite sides of the town of Alturas, California. The tribes that operate them, Alturas and Pit River, are separate federally recognized tribes, but are descended from the same 11 bands of Achumawi- and Atsugewi-speaking peoples that called the region home long before the arrival of white settlers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet filed any charges against the tribes or individuals related to the raid. The office declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Pit River tribal leaders have declared the raid a violation of their sovereign rights. “We are very disappointed with the decision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as the lead federal agency, to descend on sovereign land with an army of nearly fifty law enforcement officers,” Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill Jr. said in a press release. “That the BIA would take such a disrespectful approach to an Indian tribe on its own land is a serious assault to the Tribe’s right to self-governance.”

Monster Pot Raid on Tribal Territory in Modoc County; Feds Allege Connection With Canadian Tobacco Giant

CALIFORNIA:  A federal search warrant executed on a tribal grow op in Modoc County this morning alleges that a tiny northern California tribe today has partnered up with an executive of a huge Canadian tobacco concern to produce marijuana on a massive scale.

Officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided two sites on tribal land this morning — one of them a former “event center” for the five-member Alturas Rancheria, next to the tribe’s casino, and another a huge growing facility approximately eight miles east of the town of Alturas and immediately off Interstate 395. A press release — reprinted below — reports that agents discovered at least 10,000 growing marijuana plants and 100 pounds of processed bud during this morning’s raid.

None of that would seem like an absolutely huge deal on the Humboldt scale, but before skipping down to the press release it pays to take a look at the details included in the search warrants served today. Those details are absolutely bonkers.

Wanted: A DEA top cop who doesn’t blow our money on pot | NJ.Com Editorial

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Good riddance to Michele Leonhart, chief of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, on her very timely retirement. Not because of the prostitute parties paid for by local drug cartels, though that was handled badly — the DEA agents who admitted to participating were suspended for only a few days, not fired.

Leonhart says she isn’t permitted to do anything more under civil service laws, not even recommend their firing. Is that ridiculous? Absolutely. But not necessarily her fault.

No, the real reason we’re glad to see this longtime DEA administration official go is her antiquated and unreasonable views on marijuana. We don’t need our nation’s top drug enforcement officer to be wasting any more taxpayer dollars on totally pointless pot prosecutions.

Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp

KENTUCKY: Last May, a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds left Italy destined for Kentucky as part of a pilot project made legal by the 2014 federal farm bill. Kentucky farmers had long hoped for a crop that could fill the void left by the decline of tobacco, and many thought that industrial hemp, which is used in a vast array of products, could be that crop.

The hemp seeds cleared customs in Chicago, but when the cargo landed at the UPS wing of Louisville International Airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized it, arguing that importing hemp seeds required an import permit, which could take six months to process. If farmers couldn’t get those seeds into the ground by June 1, the entire first year of the hemp pilot program would be dashed.

The DEA would have succeeded in blocking the seeds from reaching Kentucky farmers and university researchers but for the efforts of the state’s agricultural commissioner, who sued the agency and, most improbably, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell—then the Senate’s minority leader—worked furiously to free the seeds from the DEA’s clutches and continued the pro-hemp drumbeat throughout 2014, as he campaigned for reelection. This year, as Senate majority leader, he’s taken a further step by co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

Justice And Congress Are Begging Each Other To Reform Marijuana Laws. So Why Hasn’t Either Budged?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The crowning inconsistency of the federal drug control system has always been the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, which makes it among the Worst of the Worst drugs as far as the DEA is concerned — literally as bad as heroin, and worse than cocaine! Drug reform advocates have pushed the DEA to change its position for years, citing decades of research on the relative harmlessness of weed compared with other drugs — including alcohol — but the agency hasn’t budged, even as public opinion has rapidly evolved.

The Controlled Substances Act, which set up the drug schedules in the early 1970s, explicitly places drug scheduling authority in the hands of the attorney general, and even instructs him or her to “remove any drug or other substance from the schedules if he finds that the drug or other substance does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule.” Much to the chagrin and outright befuddlement of drug law reformers, however, outgoing attorney general Eric Holder has repeatedly stated that any changes to the scheduling status of marijuana should be made by Congress.

In an interview with the just-launched Marshall Project, a nonprofit news outfit covering criminal justice issues, he said, “I think the question of how these drugs get scheduled and how they are ultimately treated is something for Congress to work on.” This echoes remarks he made in a September interview with Katie Couric, when he said that federal marijuana decriminalization was something for Congress to decide.

As Firedoglake’s Jon Walker noted this week, it’s strange that Holder is trying to punt this issue to Congress while the Obama administration is testing the limits of executive authority elsewhere: “It is just mind boggling that while the Obama administration is looking at ways to stretch their legal authority to use executive actions to get around Congress on issues, like the environment and immigration, they would still refuse to move forward on the one issue where they are so explicitly given the power to act under current law,” Walker writes.

Judge Could Smash Marijuana Law

CALIFORNIA:  Three states, one district, and two cities will vote on various aspects of the nation’s drug laws on Tuesday but the most crucial marijuana decision being weighed in the coming days will be made by just one person. U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller could be about to start a legal revolution.

After a five-day hearing in California, she is considering the validity of the science surrounding pot’s classification as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.

In May, she became the first judge in decades to agree to hear evidence relating to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification of marijuana which puts it in the same category as heroin and meth. Over the next few weeks, Mueller will comb through hundreds of pages of witness testimony, scientific research, and public health policy to determine whether the Schedule I Substance classification of marijuana is unconstitutional.

Her ruling will only apply in the specific case she is hearing, but some argue that a first judicial ruling against the legality of the DEA’s current drug classifications would invite a flood of similar legal challenges all over the country.

 

Marijuana Considered for Looser Restrictions by U.S. FDA

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  U.S. regulators are studying whether restrictions on marijuana should be eased, a step toward decriminalizing the drug at the federal level.

The Food and Drug Administration is conducting an analysis at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s request on whether the U.S. should downgrade the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, said Douglas Throckmorton, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs at the FDA, at a congressional hearing.

Schedule 1 drugs carry the most restrictions of the five DEA classifications and are considered substances with no medical benefit that are highly addictive. Factors the FDA considers in making a recommendation include a drug’s abuse potential, its pharmacological effect and risk to public health, according to Throckmorton’s written testimony.

“This has big implications,” said Representative John Mica, a Florida Republican, who is leading the oversight hearing on pot research as part of an examination of changing societal attitudes about the drug.

 

New Report Blasts DEA For Spending 4 Decades Obstructing Marijuana Science

WASHINGTON: The Drug Enforcement Administration has been impeding and ignoring the science on marijuana and other drugs for more than four decades, according to a report released this week by the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug policy reform group, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a marijuana research organization.

“The DEA is a police and propaganda agency,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said Wednesday. “It makes no sense for it to be in charge of federal decisions involving scientific research and medical practice.”

The report alleges that the DEA has repeatedly failed to act in a timely fashion when faced with petitions to reschedule marijuana. The drug is currently classified as Schedule I, which the DEA reserves for the “most dangerous” drugs with “no currently accepted medical use.” Schedule I drugs, which include substances like heroin and LSD, cannot receive federal funding for research. On three separate occasions — in 1973, 1995 and again in 2002 — the DEA took years to make a final decision about a rescheduling petition, and in two of the cases the DEA was sued multiple times to force a decision.

The report criticizes the DEA for overruling its own officials charged with determining how illicit substances should be scheduled. It also criticizes the agency for creating a “regulatory Catch-22” by arguing there is not enough scientific evidence to support rescheduling marijuana while simultaneously impeding the research that would produce such evidence.

Why Republicans Are Slowly Embracing Marijuana

CALIFORNIA: After years of voting down almost every proposal championed by pot legalization advocates, the House made a surprising move this week, approving a measure that would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from busting state-licensed medical marijuana operations.

The action in the GOP-dominated House reflected a continued shift in thinking on the issue for lawmakers in that party. In the end, 49 Republicans supported the bill. It was more than a dozen more GOP votes in support than when the measure was first proposed in 2002. It was also co-sponsored by a Republican, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).

“Some people are suffering, and if a doctor feels he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering, it is immoral for this government to get in the way,” Rohrabacher said during the floor debate. “And that is what is happening.” The measure passed with just one vote to spare, 219-189.

Are Feds Trying To Run Down Clock On Kentucky Hemp Seeds?

KENTUCKY:  With just about two weeks until the end of planting season, Kentucky’s Agriculture Department agreed Friday to jump through a federal agency’s hoops so it can get hemp seeds that already are in the state.

State officials say they will file a four-page application for a one-page federal permit to obtain industrial hemp seeds that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officials have detained at a UPS facility at Louisville International Airport at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration. With the permit, the seeds would be released and Kentucky universities planning to conduct pilot projects under the new farm bill would be able proceed on their own land.

But a more complicated issue of whether farmers not affiliated with the universities will be allowed to grow hemp — whose fibers can be used in rope, clothing, foods and lotions — remained unresolved after a conference among the Kentucky officials and lawyers for the federal agencies that the state Agriculture Department is suing.

Federal District Judge John G. Heyburn II set another conference for Wednesday. State officials hope the seeds can be released by then and expect to have a proposal ready to solve the issue of third-party growers.