According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the rate of illegal drug use increased last year to 9 percent – highest level in nearly a decade. Of all the illegal drugs, marijuana use increased sharply as well as a surge in ecstasy and methamphetamine abuse.
Some of the causes may be the eroding attitude about the perception of harm from illegal drugs as well as the growing number of states approving medicinal marijuana. With the attitude that marijuana can be used for medical purposes, young people seem to see it as an okay drug to use. However, marijuana is still an illegal drug. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s annual report shows that marijuana use rose by 8 percent and remained the most commonly used drug. The good news is that cocaine abuse continues to decline, with use of the drug down 32 percent from its peak in 2006.
About 21.8 million Americans, or 8.7 percent of the population age 12 and older, reported using illegal drugs in 2009. This shocking statistic that shows 12 year olds use of illegal drugs is the highest level since the survey began in 2002. The previous high was just over 20 million in 2006.
Other results show a 37 percent increase in ecstasy use and a 60 percent jump in the number of methamphetamine users. In the early 2000s, there was a widespread public safety campaign to warn young people about the dangers of ecstasy as a party drug, but that effort declined as use dropped off.
Even though meth use had been dropping after a passage of a 2006 federal law that put cold tablets containing pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters, law enforcement officials have seen a rise in “smurfing,” or traveling from store to store to purchase the medicines, which can be used to produce homemade meth in kitchen labs. In addition, more people are getting their meth from drug runners from Mexico.
Education is the key to stopping illegal drug use. In addition, more TV ads showing the effects of meth on teenagers need to be aired. Just “saying no” to drugs as well as showing the consequences of illegal use needs to be graphically shown to our young people today.
Call it a true “Rocky Mountain High”. The Boulder County Sherriff’s office in Colorado has found several marijuana grow sites on U.S. Forest Service land.
The grow sites cover about 5 acres and was found by a hiker. These sites contain around 7,500 plants worth about $1 million. The original grow site had about 3,000 marijuana plants that included a well-organized and sophisticated irrigation system. The plants are between three and six feet tall. The sites are in close proximity and have the same irrigation system which leads the police to believe that the area is maintained by the same people.
When police arrived at the scene they saw a suspect fleeing the scene. He is described as Hispanic, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 150 pounds. Authorities do not know if the man is armed, but say he could be dangerous.
When the police searched the area they found camping equipment at the scene. The police think that there are more people involved in the growing operation. However, they didn’t find any evidence that would have indicated the people involved were armed.
Authorities say this discovery of about 7,500 plants is the largest on public lands since August 2009, when more than 14,000 plants were found in the Pike National Forest. A spokesperson for the DEA says Colorado is seeing less marijuana confiscated from public lands than other states because Colorado has legalized growing medical marijuana. However, in nearby Utah has confiscated more than 100,000 plants so far this year.
The Colorado National Guard will be providing two helicopters to airlift the marijuana to a loading area, where it will be taken by truck to a site to be destroyed.
The U.S. Congress is planning to reduce sentencing differences between crack and powder cocaine convictions. For the last 24 years higher sentences were given for possession of crack when compared to powder cocaine convictions.
Under the current law possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine results in a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence. The same five-year prison sentence applies to a person convicted of trafficking 500 grams of powder cocaine. The new legislation would apply the five-year term for possession of 28 grams or an ounce of crack. This is about the average amount a dealer carries for sale.
As a result a person convicted of crack cocaine possession will get the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine.
The reason for changing the conviction law is the result of the disparity between sentencing for blacks and whites who possess the same amount of the drug whether in powder form or in crack form. Blacks make up 30 percent of crack users and account for more than 80 percent of those convicted of federal crack offenses. The legislation will reduce the ratio to about 18-1.
The Senate and House have passed the legislation it now goes to the President for signature.
Many states have approved selling “medical marijuana” but have the legislators really thought out the consequences? When the new “medical marijuana” law goes into effect in Colorado in July, police, attorneys and lawmakers are finding out that there are dozens of problems that could hinder regulation and enforcement.
According to law enforcement, investigating compliance and correct dosages for distribution are unknown right now. In addition, it is difficult to locate potentially dangerous growing operations. Plus, the fact the marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law raises questions for banks who accept money from marijuana businesses.
Sorting out all of these problems may take years for both lawmakers and courts.
Many states have legalized growing and distributing medical marijuana but now are facing consequences that they have not counted on. Take for example in Colorado, entrepreneurs are finding that all they need are seeds, soil and a few supplies to make money in growing marijuana and selling it to legal medical marijuana dispensaries. People in nice suburban homes are jumping on the bandwagon to make money during these hard economic times.
However, there are risks in this lucrative pot growing operations. Because they are growing the marijuana in their homes, children are often at risk in these homes. According to the Denver North Metro Task Force, it’s not unusual to see hundreds of pot plants being grown in homes. Conditions in these homes where children live are exposed to chemicals necessary to grow marijuana indoors. These chemicals can trigger mold and even high carbon monoxide levels. Would you like to live and raise your children in a greenhouse day after day? That is what essentially is happening during marijuana growing operations.
Health providers have found young children sick from ingesting marijuana as well as respiratory problems in children. Some parents are even sharing smoking pot with their young children in their home.
A marijuana grow house can also require up to 10 times the electricity of a regular house making these homes a time bomb. There are fire hazards and trip hazards. In a grow house water is running through and over electrical outlets. Many growers get their power from their electrical boxes by tapping into their neighbor’s electrical boxes.
Finally, the consequence of growing marijuana in a home leads to more crime in the neighborhood. Not only are parents growing marijuana but also other drugs have been found in the home.
As long as there is a demand for marijuana whether legal or illegal, growing marijuana is an easy money-making machine. In Colorado, the legislature is trying to regulate the medical marijuana industry. A bill to be signed by the governor requires dispensaries to grow the majority of their own marijuana. However, some opponents of the bill feel that this will only fuel the black market for homegrown marijuana that will endanger children in the home.
In San Francisco, California, medical marijuana users are taking their cases to court and getting their felony charges dismissed. Unfortunately, many police and prosecutors are finding out that there is a “gray area” between their state law and federal law.
The California Supreme Court is tossing out many felony marijuana cases as well as many other marijuana possessions. The gray area is the question, “What is the maximum amount of cannabis a medical marijuana patient can possess?”
So far, the high court has struck down a 7-year-old state law that imposed an 8-ounce limit on the amount of pot medical users of marijuana could possess. The court said patients are entitled to a “reasonable” amount of the drug to treat their ailments. Law enforcement officials say the ruling has made the murky legal landscape of marijuana policy in California even more challenging to enforce.
In 1996, California voters legalized medical marijuana. However, just like in many other states local laws may legalize marijuana but federal law view marijuana as illegal. To make matters worse, this November, state voters will have a ballot measure to vote on that legalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. Once again, what is meant by “small amounts”?
The New York Daily News recently reported that a former lingerie model, Angie Valencia, is wanted for running an international drug ring that used other models as mules to bring cocaine from Buenos Aires to Britain. This international arrest warrant is for her masterminding an all-female operation.
Angie Valencia is known as the “Queen of Coffee” in her native Colombia country. The arrest warrant claims that in 2000, she hired only models that appeared “nice, but not flashy” to run her cocaine drug ring. The drug ring moved drugs from Argentina to Cancun, Mexico and then on to England. Everyday her cocaine carrying models boarded a flight from Buenos Aires as part of the operation.
In December, agents arrested one of her drug courier with 55 kilos of cocaine in her luggage and exposed the drug ring. The suspect quickly implicated three other people. Agents tried to arrest Angie Valencia at a posh Buenos Aires hotel; however, she was gone and is still at large.
Do you really know your neighbors?
According to a recent article several people living in suburbia of Denver, Colorado have been growing pot in their basements. Many of these people claim that their marijuana growing operations are for medical purposes. Unfortunately, it is illegal under Colorado state law as well as Federal law.
One such case was a homeowner living in a very nice part of town (a $637,000 home) who operates a large medical marijuana growing facility. He says that he started growing marijuana for his scoliosis problem. Scoliosis is a curving of the spine. The spine curves away from the middle or sideways. This can be very painful and this homeowner claims that his marijuana use helps him to get out of bed and move around each day.
As a result, he decided to start growing marijuana in his 2,000 sq. ft. basement. He obtained a medical marijuana license to sell his pot. He claims that this operation is worth $500,000 and he is looking forward to higher profits this year. Of course, he is also smoking some of his profits away as well.
When you step into his house, the powerful smell of marijuana fills every room. There is no smell on the outside because he has installed a maze of ducts to filter the odor before air is released back outside. His electric bill for two months was over $3,600. But this doesn’t seem to bother him. He believes that he is living the dream!
This is not an unusual case. Law enforcement found over twenty-one homes throughout the Denver metro area growing marijuana in and around their homes.
If you are a criminal on probation in Colorado in some cases, you can legally use medical marijuana. Of the 22 judicial districts in Colorado, only four allow criminals on probation with medical marijuana cards to smoke all the pot they want. In the other judicial districts, it is up to the judge to determine the use of medical marijuana.
According to District Attorney Scott Storey, he believes it would break federal law to allow people on probation to smoke medical marijuana while still serving their sentences. DA Storey recently said, “Probation is a privilege. Frankly, you commit a felony; your presumptive sentence is the Department of Corrections. But we have other alternatives to the Department of Corrections, one of which is probation. But it is a privilege, not a right. If you’re going to take advantage of that privilege, you have to follow the rules.”
One man who was convicted of three counts of sexual assault on a child in 2005 is currently on probation in Arapahoe County. The judge in this district is allowing this man to smoke marijuana for his old injures while on probation, over the protests of District Attorney Carol Chambers. The District Attorney opined that she felt it was not a good idea to allow a convicted sex offender to get high. People on probation have admitted to violating the law. There are different public safety concerns and different laws that apply to them then apply to the rest of the community.
A District Attorney in the 3rd Judicial District disagrees with the ruling that allows all probationers with medical marijuana cards to smoke pot. He said that a significant number of them on probation are drug abusers and the judicial system is trying to get them sober. Their abuse is contributing to their behavior and we are trying to modify their behavior so they’re not intoxicated all the time. The fact that they have medical marijuana cards allows them to sidestep the objective to lead sober lives.
This controversy throughout the state of Colorado needs to be resolved by lawmakers who can pass a law to either allow or deny criminals on probation from smoking medical marijuana.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle , IGrow is a 15,000 square foot warehouse close to the Oakland airport. This warehouse, believed to be the largest in the state, is a one-stop shop for medicinal marijuana cultivation.
On-site is a doctor to get you a cannabis card and of course sell you the necessary equipment for indoor, hydroponic cultivations such as pumps, nutrients, tubing to lights and fans. Also on-site is a technician to show you how to build your own “weed farm” in your home and maintain it weekly.
This marijuana supply store is hoping that a statewide ballot measure in November will be approved to allow recreational marijuana. The supporter of this measure is hoping to lay the groundwork to train people for working in the cannabis industry. Cities from Los Angeles to Berkeley are still working on the permits and regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. Last summer Oakland voters approved to have the city tax and regulate cannabis businesses. Thus far, only four licensed dispensaries have been approved.
Some people believe that it isn’t fair to medical patients to spend $120 a week for a quarter-ounce of marijuana while growing your own may cost $1,000 to set up an eight plant system and growing it yourself. The cost per year would drop dramatically and of course, you could sell any leftovers to a dispensary at a cost of three pounds for $12,000.
Leave it to the people of California to be on the cutting-edge. Will marijuana be accepted in the near future either for medical purposes or for recreational purposes? Only the people of California can tell us for sure.