DOJ Exodus Continues

Deputy Attorney General James Cole Resigns

The exodus at the Department of Justice continued this week as Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced he’s leaving. Cole is second in command, following Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation last month. In remarks made to LA Times, Cole said he’s proud of his efforts to take a softer approach toward enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

His directive issued a year ago, known as The Cole memo, told U.S. District Attorneys to relax enforcement of federal marijuana laws where they are contradicted by state laws. In the interview with The Times, Cole echoed directives made in the Cole Memo, remarking that California needed to do a better job of stopping marijuana cultivation on federal lands, and that the implementation of a strong state marijuana regulatory system is needed to avoid federal enforcement activity.

Holder announced last month that he would leave as soon as a successor is confirmed, though the Obama administration has so far not announced a replacement. At least half a dozen other top positions at the Justice Department, including the No. 3 job, associate attorney general, are currently filled with acting appointees.

Lake County MMJ Plaintiffs Win Preliminary Injunction to Stop Warrant-less Raids

On Tuesday a Federal Judge ruled in favor of medical marijuana plaintiffs in Northern California’s Lake County. Citing the 4th Amendment, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson granted a preliminary injunction to the medical marijuana patients. The injunction indicates that Lake County authorities must obtain a search warrant before conducting nuisance abatement actions, aka marijuana raids, in enforcement of Lake County’s Medical Marijuana Measure N.

The plaintiffs in the case claim that in recent months the Lake County Sheriff’s Office ignored patients’ refusal to search their property and in some cases pried open locked gates to gain access. The plaintiff group included 60-year-old patient Mona Allen who was growing six mature plants, 66-year-old patient Paul Ray Harris who was growing nine plants, and 70-year-old patient Nina Faye Sikes who, together with her elderly husband, was growing 14 immature plants.

The judges ruling reads “The Court is utterly unpersuaded by Defendants’ claim at oral argument that Lake County should not be required to get a warrant for these abatement actions because it has not fully developed the institutional process required to do so. In this case, the balance of equities tips sharply in Plaintiffs’ favor. First, denying the preliminary injunction would leave numerous medical marijuana patients in Lake County vulnerable to future warrant-less seizures of their medicine, which could lead to significant pain and suffering. While it is true that these patients could secure medical marijuana elsewhere should they need it immediately, California law explicitly allows for cultivation, so that patients are not required to do so.”

Regarding the preliminary injunction, lead attorney Joe Elford said in a phone interview Friday, “I think it demonstrates to Lake County officials that they’re not above the law and they can’t just do whatever they would like.They’re subject to the constitution, just like everybody else.”

According to Elford, the lawsuit against Lake County officials won’t go to trial for at least another eight months, following an extensive discovery period.

Firemen Rescue Cannabis from Burning Drying Room in Humboldt

This Wednesday, firefighters responded to a fire in a cannabis drying room and saved the cannabis from a burning building in Redway, California. According to Kym Kemp on Lost Coast Outpost, the responding Calfire Battalion chief said that the hanging marijuana was removed because it was in their way.

He added that if there are enough firefighters on the scene, crews will typically salvage items of importance to the resident. Two California doctor’s medical marijuana recommendations were reportedly posted on a tree near the burning room, and firefighters removed the drying cannabis branches and piled them and left them on a tarp spread out on the ground outside the building.

One popular comment on Lost Coast Outpost that received over 200 likes applauds the firemen for their actions, noting that it sends a message to the cannabis-growing community that they should never hesitate to call the fire department in an emergency.

Study: CA Cannabis Decriminalization has No Negative Impacts on Teens

A new, extensive report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice examines the impacts of the decriminalization of marijuana in California at the start of 2011. The report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice finds “marijuana decriminalization in California has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout. In fact, California teenagers showed improvements in all risk areas after reform.”

Pro-legalization groups help rapper Afroman release new, positive version of ‘Because I Got High’

And political campaigning is in full swing nationwide as millions of voters will be weighing in on various marijuana laws throughout the country. The latest poll (Oct. 8-11 survey taken for Oregon Public Broadcasting) in Oregon shows 52 percent of voters support the measure, while 41 p ercent say they oppose it.

According to this poll, the measure would pass even if all the voters polling undecided were to vote against the measure. Meanwhile, the latest Florida polling for medical marijuana Amendment 2 shows it to be a long-shot with 48 percent of expected voters in favor – As a constitutional amendment, it requires 60 percent “yes” votes.

Pro-legalization groups continue to find creative ways to tout positive messages about cannabis. NORML and Weedmaps helped California rapper Afroman release a new version of his 2001 smash hit Because I got High. The new version describes positive things happening to the singer, rather than the litany of loss described in the original version. You can watch the new video here: Afroman Revised: Good Things Happened “Because I Got High.”

Ancient Siberian Princess May Have Used Cannabis to Manage Pain from Cancer

Russian Scientists believe that an ancient Siberian princess suffered from acute breast cancer and used cannabis to ease her pain from the disease.

Known as the Ice Maiden, the elaborately tattoo’d mummy dating over 2,500 years old, was originally discovered in 1993. She was found buried with six richly saddled horses and two warriors, indicating she was of ancient nobility. She has tattoos stretching the length of her arms depicting mythical animals such as an antlered deer with the beak of a vulture. The elaborate pouch hung on her body was found to contain cannabis.

Scientists recently performed MRI scans on the mummy, and discovered that she suffered from breast cancer for several years. They believe she used cannabis on a daily basis to manage her pain. April Holloway writes on, “The first recorded use of cannabis as a medicine dates back to 2,737 BC, used by Emperor Shen Neng of China…Modern-day scientists have increasingly been turning their attention to cannabis due to its potential to inhibit or destroy cancer cells, and at the very least, manage the pain and symptoms that come with the illness. But then, ancient people seem to have known that already.”

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