Ohio Law Enforcement Is Suing Afroman for Use of Security Footage Online

In September 2022, Afroman’s home residence in Ohio was raided by local law enforcement. While Afroman wasn’t home, his private security camera system recorded them searching his property as they rifled through his clothes and other belongings looking for drugs or other illegal paraphernalia. Afroman posted videos of these law enforcement officers on his social media channels, with commentary making fun of them as they searched his house. He even made two music videos using the footage entitled “Lemon Pound Cake” and “Will You Help Me Repair My Door.”

Now, seven Adams County Sheriff’s Department officers are suing him because of his use of the footage without their consent. According to the lawsuit, exposing people’s faces without consent is a misdemeanor under the Ohio Revised Code. The officers are also suing because their faces were publicly visible, which caused “emotional distress, embarrassment, ridicule, loss of reputation and humiliation.”

The plaintiffs claim that they’re entitled to Afroman’s proceeds gained from the songs, as well as music videos and live event tickets, in addition to his brand, which offers beer, cannabis, T-shirts, among other things. In addition to this, they’re asking that Afroman remove all videos and photos that feature them online.

Afroman posted a response to the lawsuit on all of his social media channels. “Essentially a racist judge signed a fictitious false warrant, lying on the warrant, accusing me of kidnapping and drug trafficking,” Afroman wrote. “The warrant put the Adams county sheriff in a position to attempt to kill me. After the Adams County Sheriff. Burglarized vandalized and destroyed my property. They became thieves and stole my money. After they stole my money they became criminals. After they became criminals they lost their right of privacy.”

Afroman’s attorney, Anna Castellini, also issued a statement about their next move. “We are waiting for public records requests from Adam’s county we still have not received,” Castellini said. “We are planning to counter sue for the unlawful raid, money being stolen, and for the undeniable damage this had on my clients family, career and property.”

Law enforcement obtained a warrant to search Afroman’s home in August 2022 with probable cause that they would find drugs and drug paraphernalia. The only items that were allegedly seized were a vape pen, a few roaches, and thousands of dollars in cash. Ultimately they did not find any evidence of drugs or paraphernalia and no charges were filed. 

The law enforcement officers claim they’ve become the subject of ridicule by Afroman fans, which has made it “more dangerous” for them to continue working, and have received death threats “by anonymous members of the public who have seen some of Defendant’s above-described postings.” The lawsuit claims that “Defendants’ actions were willful, wanton, malicious, and done with conscious or reckless disregard for the rights of the Plaintiffs.”

In Afroman’s most recent post on TikTok on March 24, he points out how Adams County is home to meth labs, but they chose to raid his home instead.

In December 2022, Afroman announced that he’s running for president in 2024. “My Fellow Americans, there comes a time in the course of human events when change must be affected,” Afroman wrote on Instagram. “That time is now. Americans are suffering, and the status quo is no longer acceptable. Inflation is out of control. The economy is in shambles. The housing market is staggering. Politicians are corrupt. Bad apples are allowed to remain in law enforcement, amongst our noble and brave officers.”

The self-described “Cannabis Commander in Chief” and “Pot Head of State” claims that he would tackle cannabis reform and criminal justice reform, among other top priority issues.

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Police are Getting People High as Part of ‘Stoned Driving’ Training

Driving while stoned.

It has become one of the more vexing challenges for law enforcement in the era of legalization, with cops across the country struggling to square their jurisdiction’s new cannabis laws with their mandate to keep the roads safe. 

The Washington Post detailed how a police department in Maryland, where voters approved a measure legalizing recreational pot last year, are preparing for a potential spike in impaired drivers on their roads.

According to the Washington Post, the Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department holds a gathering two to three times per year.

“Montgomery County brings in marijuana smokers — literally goes to pick them up in police cars — and walks them to the tent outside its training academy so they can get stoned. Bags of Cheetos, bottles of water and plenty of pizza are on the house,” the report said. “Participants are then used as test subjects for officers trying to determine whether someone is too high to drive. That’s not easy. Unlike people who drive drunk, and whose impairment can be quantified by breathalyzers and blood-alcohol tests, it’s more difficult to discern with pot.”

The exercise, according to the Post, is “increasingly being held at police agencies nationwide.”

As states and cities have lined up to reform their existing cannabis laws and end the prohibition on pot, law enforcement in those jurisdictions have often had to play catch-up. 

In Virginia, which became the first state in the southern United States to legalize recreational cannabis in 2021, officials began exploring options last year to crack down on stoned driving. 

“Virginia officials said the ‘oral fluid tests’ under consideration to detect marijuana intoxication are similar to a ‘preliminary breath test’ — a roadside test for alcohol. The test results, while not admissible in court, can help determine when the cannabis was consumed, and can be combined with other factors to get probable cause for extensive blood testing,” the Virginian-Pilot reported in December.

The newspaper also said that officials were considering “changing state law to allow roadside screening devices in which officers and deputies can have a driver swab his or her cheek in order to gather saliva to test for marijuana and other drugs.”

In New York, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2021, officials were said to be “scrambling” last fall as they raced to develop a mechanism to determine whether or not someone is too stoned to drive.

“Identifying drivers impaired by cannabis use is of critical importance…..However, unlike alcohol, there are currently no evidence-based methods to detect cannabis-impaired driving,” read a memo from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

The stoned driving simulations in Montgomery County, Maryland might be the most novel effort yet. 

The Washington Post’s story provided an account of a “recent session, held on a Thursday night in January, [that] lasted nearly four hours.”

“Participants engaged in a 30-minute ‘consumption session,’ followed by impairment evaluations inside the building, and repeated the cycle. During the second consumption session, officers asked if any volunteers wanted to add alcohol to the mix.

‘Who wants a Bud Light?’ asked Lt. John O’Brien, leaning over a cooler. Then he grabbed a large bottle of booze: ‘Captain Morgan?’…None of the subjects drive home. They return via the cops who brought them. All hold medical-use cards and are reimbursed for the product they ingest.”

The Post said that “Montgomery has been a leader in the cannabis labs program, also called green labs, which experts say appears to be operating in nearly 10 states.”

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Chinese Police Enlist Drug-Sniffing Squirrels

Forget the hounds. Police in China are releasing the squirrels. 

Law enforcement in the city of Chongqing reportedly announced that it is training a team of drug-sniffing squirrels to help locate illicit substances and contraband. 

Insider reports that the police dog brigade in the city, located in southwestern China, “now has a team of six red squirrels to help them sniff out drugs in the nooks and crannies of warehouses and storage units.”

According to Insider, “Chongqing police told the state-linked media outlet The Paper that these squirrels are small and agile, and able to search through tiny spaces in warehouses and storage units that dogs cannot reach,” and that the “squirrels have been trained to use their claws to scratch boxes in order to alert their handlers if they detect drugs, the police said.”

“Squirrels have a very good sense of smell. However, it’s less mature for us to train rodents for drug search in the past in terms of the technology,” said Yin Jin, a handler with the police dog brigade of the Hechuan Public Security Bureau in Chongqing, as quoted by the Chinese state-affiliated English newspaper Global Times.

“Our self-developed training system can be applied to the training of various animals,” Yin added.

The newspaper noted that in contrast to drug dogs, “squirrels are small and agile, which makes them good at searching high places for drugs.”

According to Insider, “China’s drug-sniffing squirrels may well be the first of their kind,” although “animals and insects other than dogs have also been used to detect dangerous substances like explosives.”

“In 2002, the Pentagon backed a project to use bees to detect bombs. Meanwhile, Cambodia has deployed trained rats to help bomb-disposal squads trawl minefields for buried explosives,” Insider reported. “It is unclear if the Chongqing police intends to expand its force of drug-sniffing squirrels. It is also unclear how often the squirrel squad will be deployed.”

China is known for its strict and punitive anti-drug laws. 

According to the publication Health and Human Rights Journal, “drug use [in China] is an administrative and not criminal offense; however, individuals detained by public security authorities are subject to coercive or compulsory ‘treatment.’”

The journal explains: “This approach has been subject to widespread condemnation, including repeated calls over the past decade by United Nations (UN) agencies, UN human rights experts, and human rights organizations for the country to close compulsory drug detention centers and increase voluntary, community-based alternatives. Nonetheless, between 2012 and 2018, the number of people in compulsory drug detention centers in China remained virtually unchanged, and the number enrolled in compulsory community-based treatment rose sharply.”

“In addition to these approaches, the government enters all people detained by public security authorities for drug use in China into a system called the Drug User Internet Dynamic Control and Early Warning System, or Dynamic Control System (DCS),” the journal continues. “This is a reporting and monitoring system launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 2006. Individuals are entered into the system regardless of whether they are dependent on drugs or subject to criminal or administrative detention; some individuals who may be stopped by public security but not formally detained may also be enrolled in the DCS”

The Dynamic Control System “acts as an extension of China’s drug control efforts by monitoring the movement of people in the system and alerting police when individuals, for example, use their identity documents when registering at a hotel, conducting business at a government office or bank, registering a mobile phone, applying for tertiary education, or traveling,” according to the journal.

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GOP Lawmaker in Indiana Pushes Legalization Proposals

A Republican lawmaker in Indiana is putting his weight behind a pair of bills that would bring legal marijuana to the Hoosier State.

GOP state Sen. Jon Ford “recently signed on to support two bills this legislative session related to cannabis and its possible future use in the state,” according to local news station WTWO/WAWV, with the legislator saying “he wants to begin to have these discussions … due to the area he represents being on the border with Illinois, where recreational marijuana is legal.”

Ford indicated that he was driven to support the measures after conversations with members of law enforcement, who said that the discrepancy between Indiana and other bordering states has led to confusion.

“It’s hard for law enforcement to understand where we are on the issue, so I really wanted to support the bill so we can have that discussion,” Ford told WTWO/WAWV.

Ford authored the two bills with a pair of Democratic lawmakers.

Senate Bill 336 would establish “a procedure for the lawful production and sale of cannabis in Indiana.”

Senate Bill 377, meanwhile, would establish the following: 

“Permits the use of cannabis by: (1) a person at least 21 years of age; and (2) a person with a serious medical condition as determined by the person’s physician. Establishes the adult use cannabis excise tax, and requires a retailer to transfer the tax to the department of state revenue for deposit in the state general fund. Exempts veterans from payment of the sales tax on medical or adult use cannabis. Establishes a cannabis program to permit the cultivation, processing, testing, transportation, and sale of cannabis by holders of a valid permit. Establishes the Indiana Cannabis Commission (ICC) as a state agency to oversee, implement, and enforce the program, and establishes the ICC advisory committee to review the effectiveness of the program. Requires that permit holders take steps to prevent diversion of cannabis to unauthorized persons. Requires that cannabis and cannabis products be properly labeled, placed in child resistant packaging, and tested by an independent testing laboratory before being made available for purchase. Prohibits packaging cannabis in a manner that is appealing to children. Authorizes research on cannabis in accordance with rules set forth by the ICC. Establishes a procedure for the expungement of a cannabis related conviction if the act constituting the conviction becomes legal. Makes conforming amendments.”

It is probably a long-shot for either bill to become law this year, however. 

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has said previously that he isn’t keen on the state legalizing marijuana before the federal government. 

“The law that needs to change is the federal law,” Holcomb said in 2021. “It is illegal right now for recreational use, for medicinal use. There are states that have ignored that law. I will not ignore any law whether I agree with it or disagree with it or disagree with it so that’s the law that needs to change.”

But last year, after President Joe Biden announced that he would issue pardons to all individuals with federal cannabis convictions, Holcomb said that Indiana would not be following the White House’s lead.

“The president should work with Congress, not around them, to discuss changes to the law federally, especially if he is requesting governors to overturn the work local prosecutors have done by simply enforcing the law,” Holcomb said at the time. “Until these federal law changes occur, I can’t in good conscience consider issuing blanket pardons for all such offenders.”

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Go Ahead and Pack Heat, But Not a Bowl

As I sit here typing out this story from the safety of a bulletproof office—at least I hope to hell that it is—someone, maybe even someone you know will be killed by gun violence. On average, around 106 Americans die each day from a chance meeting with a bullet. Some of the casualties are shot dead by gutless goons while others, sadly enough, turn the firepower on themselves. Despite the vast toll of bodies and bloodshed, however, the American piece construct, one that seemingly embraces the most imbecilic tenets of deep-woods hillbilly philosophy, is to shoot first and never ask questions. No matter how many innocent people succumb to murder and suicide in this pistol-packing nation, the red, white and blue fabric of the governmental hood, all tattered and torn from decades of knock-down drag-out politics against its own, continues blinding a nation with a hefty dose of God-fearing optimism.

After all, many of the victims of gun attacks actually survive—around 95 of the 316 shot a day are merely injured—and of the 74 each day who stick the barrel in their mouths in pursuit of ending it all, 10 of them just end up disfigured. The recipe for relief when guns go wrong in this country is to simply mourn, pray and repeat. And what the politicians refuse to sort out with respect to all of this boom-boom killplay, they give the rest up to God and hope for the best. But that’s never enough. 

“The shots keep getting closer to home,” Rachel, a 33-year-old graphic designer who lives on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, told High Times. “More criminals than anyone else seem to have guns. It’s scary, you never know any more if you’re going to get killed just sitting on the porch.” 

Nevertheless, the so-called greatest nation in the world keeps its finger firmly on the trigger. It has to. Why, if the forefathers of the good ole US of A thought it necessary way back when to give every citizen the right to pack heat, then by God, the politicians, both the corrupt and non-confrontational, should never stop fighting to ensure that every citizen is clenching a firearm in their fists as soon as they pop out of the womb. Unfortunately, our gun-wielding society has officially lost its damn mind. What was intended as a right to self-protection (or perhaps more controversially, create a standing army, not give everyone the right to carry weapons just because) has since mutated into the dimwitted armament of domestic terrorists. We’ve now got weak-minded, undisciplined, pimple-faced, pseudo-anarchists angry at the world shooting up schools at a rate that crossed the line of acceptability a long damn time ago. The unarmed has become the minority. 

It’s to the point where you can’t even get into an old-fashioned screaming match on the street without fear that someone might get their feelings hurt bad enough to whip out a gun and start shooting. To say it’s the wild west out there would be a gross understatement. It’s more like Thunderdome. The depravity surrounding gun violence continues to spiral further into profound depths of extreme dipshittery—experiencing an increase of 20% since 2019— yet more states are passing laws making it easier, not harder for civilians to carry a gun. Over half the nation now allows adults as young as 18-years-old to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. 

Yep, without

Alabama is the latest state to make gun ownership as easy as catching a cold. It’s just one of many jurisdictions across the country where it is now perfectly acceptable to pack heat—although some restrictions apply—but don’t you dare pack a bowl. Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Texas and Utah (as well as others) have, over the years, relaxed their respective gun laws to allow people 18-years-old and up, those barely old enough to wipe their own ass, to forgo the licensing process once required to procure a firearm. Yet, strangely enough, these states don’t want their citizens, not even those presumably old enough to understand the basics of bathroom hygiene, to have the same kind of freedom when it comes to weed. No sir, anyone in these places who gets caught in possession of a little grass, rest assured the courts will be eagerly waiting to make their life a living hell. In Alabama, for example, getting caught with any amount of marijuana can result in a year in jail and fines up to $6,000. Even if a pot offender gets a slap on the wrist, that doesn’t mean he or she will escape jail and get off with a polite warning. 

Those who get wrapped up in a pot charge, even low-level smears, where the prosecution pushes for probation rather than incarceration can still end up being forced to attend drug and alcohol classes, do community service and surrender their driver’s license privileges as part of their probationary terms. It’s how the man grinds drug offenders to a pulp through the gears of the system. These people may have seemingly caught a break in the eyes of outsiders, but they must still adhere to all sorts of nagging stipulations, including pass random drug tests during their probation period or else run the risk of being sent to jail to fulfill their sentence. Cages are the alternative for those without the money to pay steep restitution to the state for breaking their drug laws. Hey pal, pay up or get locked up. Your choice. 

Those parts of the country where guns are widely accepted—even praised, third only to God and country—yet pot use is still considered a threat to the well-being of the public is about as backasswards as it gets. Even if some of the negative consequences of pot (legal or otherwise) that’s been reported over the years ended up being true, a stoned society is presumably still a heck of a lot less risky than one that is armed for no reason.

Are we to believe that just because some gray-headed slave owners from 1787 penned a document one night over a few stiff drinks stating that the people should all have the right to keep and bear arms, deadly weapons earn a free pass from here to eternity?

George Washington and the rest of the Constitution crew didn’t foresee that the gun industry would eventually modify the musket used in the American Revolution, turning it into a fearsome killing machine capable of firing 300 rounds of “die, you bastard, die” per minute. Just like they didn’t anticipate that cannabis growers would eventually produce weed strong enough to make people call 911. Not even the lawmakers responsible for banning weed in 1937 could have made that prediction. To be fair, we’ve made some rather impressive technological advancements over the years, some of which, had the founding fathers been made privy to prior to signing, may have inspired them to make a giant paper airplane of the Constitution, soak it in kerosene and fly it straight into a candle. Or perhaps they would have simply decreed, “The people have the right to do whatever the hell they want; they’re going to fuck it up anyway.” 

Fast forward more than two-hundred years and the lawmakers of these tumultuous times have witnessed the death and destruction, the ridiculousness of holding on to pistol heritage, and yet the only heavy hand they continue to hold firm is on cannabis prohibition. Let’s be clear: Marijuana consumption doesn’t kill, and if there is a rising death toll anywhere because of it, the black market perpetuated through discrepancies between state and federal drug laws is ultimately to blame.

Many gun advocates argue that law-abiding citizens aren’t inclined to commit crime, so arming them, even without a permit, is absolutely no danger to society. Fair enough. It could also be argued that those philosophies equally apply to the average cannabis consumer. Give them the right to buy and possess marijuana just like alcohol, and most won’t cause any dust ups with the law. “I’ve never been in trouble for anything other than weed,” Dimitri, a 24-year-old from Greenville, Indiana tells us. “I’d be considered a model citizen if it wasn’t for these dumb pot laws.”

Meanwhile, law enforcement continues to piss and moan about the dangers of legal marijuana. Some of the latest reports, much like the previous reports we’ve all read over the years, have connected legal weed to everything from increased violence to human trafficking. The boys in blue also like to voice concerns about the distribution of firearms related to illicit marijuana trafficking, much of what continues to thrive within the gray areas of legalization. However, as much as they would like to convince the average citizen that weed is the culprit in the undoing of America, an affinity for a plant, legal or otherwise, is not what’s driving the nation’s lust for guns. No sir, we’ve been obsessed with gat machismo a long time. There are presently around 393 million weapons in the hands of civilian Americans, with three in ten adults claiming gun ownership. All of this equates to roughly 121 guns per 100 residents. Gun control laws have continued to weaken across the nation, and now more young men barely out of diapers are freely permitted to keep firepower on their belts to supplement the testosterone leading them to fight or fuck anything that moves. This is, without question, a dangerous step toward mayhem.

“They should probably raise the age on that,” Chris, a 48-year-old gun owner from Lexington, Kentucky, told High Times. “I’ve seen younger guys get into some trouble that probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for them having a gun. I worked with one years ago, he was like 21, who showed his pistol during a road rage incident, and they came down on him hard. Guys are just too hot-headed at that age. But they’re [the government] never going to change that. How can they say you can’t own a gun until you’re 25 and still ship them off to war at 18?”

Listen, I don’t like guns. I’ve never owned one and never felt that I needed to arm myself, even if it was, as the gun rights people often claim, just for personal protection. And I come from the rural Midwest, too, the redneck capital of the world. Everyone has guns. It was even perfectly acceptable, at least in our obscure part of the country, to pull into school with a firearm in your vehicle if it was fitted with a gun rack. A lot of high school students in the late 80s, albeit typically the same ones who belonged to FFA, showed up with hunting rifles in tow, but none of them ever dreamed of bringing one into the classroom and opening fire on the other students. Not even when fist fights broke out in the parking lot after class—and that happened more times than I can count—did the gun owners reach for a boom stick to get the upper hand on their opponent. They just took the ass beating. Win or lose, everyone back then lived to fight another day.

Coming from this culture, I’ve never been the kind of guy to impede on someone’s right to do anything. Not even own a firearm. If guns were your thing, so be it. I didn’t want people trying to take away the things that I enjoyed, so giving them the same courtesy was my way of maintaining balance. Fair was fair. But that was before. Now, fewer gun restrictions have put more firearms in the streets and into the hands of the wrong people, and not everyone is as hesitant to reach for them as they were back in the day. At the same time, the federal government, still awfully hesitant to do much more about the nation’s gun problem than offer cheap condolences, remains hellbent on keeping nationwide cannabis prohibition intact, even while states move in the opposite direction. If we, as Americans, must live in a nation where we’re always at risk of staring down the business end of a gun, we should never need to concern ourselves with the legal repercussions of possessing a plant that’s legal for adults in over half the nation. Times have changed, like it or not, and the government should respond accordingly. 

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Study Reveals California Law Enforcement More Likely To Arrest Black Teens

An annual report published on Jan. 1 by the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) made many observations about California’s law enforcement officers. This is the sixth report since RIPA was formed in 2016, which collects data about general policing and ways to eliminate unlawful practices.

“Over the past four years, the data collected under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act has provided empirical evidence showing disparities in policing throughout California,” the report states. “This year’s data demonstrates the same trends in disparities for all aspects of law enforcement stops, from the reason for stop to actions taken during stop to results of stop.”

The report spans stop data that occurred between January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, and analyzes information from 58 law enforcement agencies and the negative impacts of citizen interactions with police, with a focus on youth.

In the 2021 timeframe, more than 3.1 million stops were reported. In terms of “perceived” race or ethnicity, police agencies states that 42.2% were Hispanic/Latine(x), 30% white, 15% Black, 5.3% Asian, 4.8% Middle Eastern/South Asian, 1% multiracial, 0.5% Pacific Islander, and 0.3% Native American. Additionally, 72.1% were cisgendered male and 27.5% cisgendered female, making up 99.7% of all stops.

Reasons for a law enforcement “stop” include either a traffic violation (86.6%), or a reasonable suspicion of being engaged in criminal activity (10.5%). Black individuals had the highest percentage of stops in regard to “reasonable suspicion” at 16.2%, but also the lowest proportion of stops for traffic violations (80.5%).

The RIPA Board found that Black and Hispanic/Latine(x) individuals were more likely to have force used against them compared to White individuals. Black teens between the ages of 10-14 and 15-17 experienced the highest rate of being searched by police (20.1%), detained (17.9%), and handcuffed (15.4%), and “removed from a vehicle by order” (7.6%).

Black adolescents were detained curbside or in a patrol car 36.2%-44.5% of the time, searched 39.9%-42.4% of the time, handcuffed 33.5-36.5% of the time. Ultimately, this data shows that teens who are perceived to be Black were searched six times the rate of White adolescents, and those perceived to be Hispanic/Latine(x) were searched four times more.

The interactions that teens have with law enforcement, including repeat interactions, impact those individuals’ mental health. “Research shows that the types of contact and frequency of involuntary contacts with law enforcement may have a harmful impact on the individual stopped, triggering stress responses, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and other related negative mental health impacts,” the report states. “This research suggests that racial and identity profiling goes beyond the criminal legal system and policing; it is also a critical public health issue.”

“Based on the research, the Board believes that public health officials and policymakers should treat racial and identity profiling and adverse policing as significant public health issues. It is imperative to recognize that police interactions can negatively affect the mental and physical health of individuals who are Black, Hispanic/Latine(x), Indigenous, and people of color. Doing so could help significantly reduce the high stress, community fragmentation, and poor health outcomes among community members who experience targeting of their neighborhoods and aggressive policing practices. Given this, adequate resources should be invested to understand and address the health implications of racial and identity profiling.”

This report covers a variety of information relative to the discussion of how law enforcement abuses the system through pretextual stops or searches, an act where an officer stops an individual for a minor violation in order to closer “investigate a hunch regarding a different crime that by itself would not amount to reasonable suspicion or probable cause.”

While the report does not specifically delve into details in regards to cannabis, The Washington Post published a story in October 2022 about the racial disparities in law enforcement in Virginia. Although the state legalized adult-use cannabis in July 2021, the article put a spotlight on how Virginia police are still more likely to arrest Black people more than White people for cannabis-related offenses.

An analysis of cannabis arrests by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in 2020 showed that 94% of all cannabis-related arrests impacted people of color. Overall, cannabis arrests by the NYPD in 2022 have been reduced, but arrests were still higher for those perceived as Black or Hispanic.

In April 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published an extensive report showing the disparity of arrests for Black individuals, showing that arrests are still widespread and racial disparities are still common throughout the country, both in states with legal or decriminalized cannabis.

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Kentucky Governor Calls on Legislature To Push Medical Pot in 2023

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently held a press briefing detailing many of his successful actions from the past year. Among these accomplishments for his administration, Beshear discussed his move to help patients who want to use medical cannabis. “After the General Assembly failed to take action once again, I issued an executive order to allow certain Kentuckians, like veterans suffering from PTSD and those suffering from chronic and terminal conditions like cancer, to access medical cannabis. That order takes effect soon, Jan. 1, 2023,” he said.

After concluding the briefing, Beshear took questions from the press. Al Cross, a professor at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media who also writes for the Northern Kentucky Tribune, asked about the lack of convenience for those seeking to obtain medical cannabis.

“The executive order isn’t going to make it convenient for anyone on the medical marijuana front. What it will ensure is that they’re not a criminal,” Beshear said. “And that’s the limitations that I have in executive power and the limitations that other states have set if we don’t have our own full program. And it’s why it’s so important that the legislature go ahead and pass medical marijuana.”

Beshear shared that his administration is working on putting together regulations for Delta-8 products, which was recently ruled legal by a Northern Kentucky circuit judge. He also explained that the legislature needs to do its part to assist patients throughout the state by passing an official medical cannabis program.

“I want our people to be able to get it close to home, I don’t want them to have to drive to Illinois. That takes an act of the legislature,” Beshear said. “I am the first to admit the executive order is imperfect because the legislature should have done this a long time ago, but it’s also fluent. And just by reissuing an additional executive order, we can shore up anything that we have the ability to, as we have those discussions with other states.

Beshear mentioned that soon there will be a “palm card” issued to law enforcement next week to educate them about what the executive order accomplishes. “Also the palm card for law enforcement will be out there by Jan. 4. First, it is very simple,” Beshear briefly explained. “But just talking to the Mothers for Medical Marijuana the other day, [the] executive order is a step they find exciting and provides some comfort that they won’t be prosecuted, but it’s not the answer. But I do hope it provides pressure.”

According to WHAS11, Beshear described the palm card as a checklist for law enforcement to work through, including showing a receipt that states where a product was purchased.

Recently, advocates from Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis and Kentucky NORML spent time in the Kentucky capitol building hanging more than 350 images of patients with chronic conditions who benefitted from access to medical cannabis. Beshear visited the exhibit on Dec. 28 to meet with those advocates. “Many Kentuckians with chronic pain are suffering and searching for relief. Today I visited with Moms for Cannabis, advocates who are looking for health solutions that don’t sacrifice quality of life—something medical cannabis can deliver,” Beshear wrote on Twitter

Julie Cantwell from Kentucky Moms for Medical Cannabis is hoping that the legislature takes action in 2023. “Year after year, we’re overlooked, and this year we’re hoping that the legislature is going to pass a medical cannabis bill,” Cantwell told WYMT. “So, a lot of these people you see on the wall can’t make it to Frankfort, so we’re bringing the people to Frankfort.”

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New Jersey AG Issues Fresh Guidance on Drug Testing for Law Enforcement

The attorney general of New Jersey last week issued a new directive on drug testing requirements for law enforcement agencies, a necessary update following the launch of the state’s legal cannabis market earlier this year. 

Matthew Platkin, who was confirmed as the state’s AG last month, said that following the opening of the regulated marijuana industry in April, “many law enforcement agencies delayed the random drug testing of officers under the AG Drug Testing Policy to allow time for additional guidance and clarity.”

Under the directive that Platkin issued last Tuesday, law enforcement agencies “must conduct at least two random drug tests during the period from April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.”

In each of those two tests, the agencies must test “at least 10 percent of the total number of sworn officers within the agency, and every officer must have an equal chance of selection during each test.”

Those same testing requirements are in place for the period from January 1, 2022 until March 31, 2023, with Platkin’s directive noting that the “two random tests … conducted during the ‘calendar year’ of 2022 shall be extended and interpreted to include the period January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023,” and that the “two random tests … conducted during the ‘calendar year’ of 2023 shall be amended and interpreted to include the period April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.”

The directive continued: “If a law enforcement agency has conducted two random drug tests during calendar year 2022, and then conducts a test during the period, January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, that third test may count toward the 2023 requirement of two tests. To summarize, law enforcement agencies must conduct a total of at least four random drug tests between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.”

Platkin said that in March 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the state AG’s office “sought to ease the administrative burden on New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies by suspending or delaying certain statewide reporting, training, and certification deadlines.”

Voters in the Garden State approved a ballot measure in 2020 that legalized adult-use cannabis. In April, New Jersey launched the regulated retail marijuana market. 

With the new changes in effect, state regulators have been forced to tweak certain rules and practices, including workplace drug testing. 

Last month, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which oversees the state’s legal marijuana program, announced updated guidance for drug testing, saying effectively that employers still have the right to test their workers.

“The purpose of this guidance is to clarify and explain the NJ-CRC’s understanding of the existing legal requirements under the governing law,” the commission said in the announcement at the time. “This guidance does not impose any additional requirements that are not included in the law and does not establish additional rights for any person or entity. Please note, however, that adverse employment actions may impact employees’ protected rights under various laws including, but not limited to, state and federal anti-discrimination laws. When incorporating this guidance, employers should ensure compliance with all state and federal employment laws.”

The commission said that “employees cannot be acted against solely due to the presence of cannabis in their body, but employers have the right to drug test on reasonable suspicion of impairment.”

Jeff Brown, the executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said in the announcement that it was important to show that striking “a balance between workplace safety and work performance and adult employees’ right to privacy and to consume cannabis during their off hours is possible.”

The post New Jersey AG Issues Fresh Guidance on Drug Testing for Law Enforcement appeared first on High Times.

Louisiana Bill to Allow State Employees to Use Medical Cannabis Receives Unanimous Vote

House Bill 988 was passed through the Louisiana House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on May 19. If the bill becomes law, it would create protections for state employees who seek to use medical cannabis. While it would prevent employees from being fired, and prevent discrimination against those who seek to apply, it does not apply to public safety employees such as firefighters or law enforcement.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mandie Landry, strongly believes that her bill is a healthier choice for Louisianians. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to take opioids for their long-term PTSD and pain management because of the high possibility of addiction to opioids,” Landry said, according to the Louisiana Illuminator. “This has proved to be a better option than them.”

The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy estimated that there are 43,000 medical cannabis consumers in the state, and currently only nine pharmacies to serve them.

At the committee meeting, Louisiana Department of Administration Communications Director Jacques Berry noted that his own department already has regulations in place to prevent discrimination for medical cannabis consumption. In support, he shared his thoughts on unifying regulations across the board with an example about a workplace harassment bill that is operating similarly. “Every agency had a sexual harassment policy, but they were all over the place, and Dr. [and Rep. Barbara] Carpenter wanted stricter, more consistent standards,” Berry said. “She wrote a very good law, and it is working very well.”

Similarly, Rep. Ed Larvadain spoke about looking ahead. “We’re going to have to change how we deal with medical marijuana. But this is a first step.” He also requested that he be invited to work with Landry about finding a solution that would protect firefighters and law enforcement officers as well. “A lot of those men and women have chronic pains because over the years they’ve had to climb through windows and police officers have been abused,” Larvadain said.

Many advocates who spoke publicly in support of the bill at the meeting. Tony Landry, a council member of the Veterans Action Council, commented that neither law enforcement or firefighters are allowed to consume CBD, since “it can accumulate in your body over time and cause a positive test. I’m in favor of this bill, and I just think we need to leave no employee behind.”

Last summer, Louisiana decriminalized cannabis with Act 247, which imposed a fine of $100 (or a court summons) for possession of 14 grams or less. At the time, Peter Robins-Brown, policy & advocacy director at Louisiana Progress provided a statement about the news. “Marijuana decriminalization will truly make a difference in the lives of the people of our state,” Robins-Brown said. “It’s an important first step in modernizing marijuana policy in Louisiana, and it’s another milestone in the ongoing effort to address our incarceration crisis, which has trapped so many people in a cycle of poverty and prison. Now it’s time to make sure that everyone knows their rights under this new law, and that law enforcement officers understand how to properly implement it.”

However, earlier this year House Bill 700 was introduced to imprison minors who possessed small amounts of cannabis. On March 23, the Louisiana Progress Tweeted a response to the bill’s approach in keeping minors away from cannabis. “In #lalege Admin. of Crim. Justice, the cmte is hearing HB700 by @LarryBagleyLA, which would actually criminalize juveniles for possessing less than 14 grams of marijuana more harshly than adults, incl. potential jail time. Very very very very very very very bad idea. #lagov”. Currently, it is still waiting for discussion in the House.

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Driving High is Illegal: But What is Driving High?

In April 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and a coterie of other state lawmakers and public-safety officials launched a firm yet nebulous public-safety campaign warning people that they shouldn’t be driving high. The initiative pulled off the neat trick of informing citizens that certain behavior is prohibited, without telling citizens exactly what that behavior is.

Called “Cannabis Conversations,” the campaign will be emphasized in an upcoming series of billboards, commercial sports and other public service announcements (PSAs) to complement similar warnings against drunk driving. But what, exactly, is “driving high?” Unlike drunk driving, that’s not something Hochul—nor anyone else in states where cannabis is legal—has been able to satisfactorily define.

Nevertheless, Hochul is the latest public official to highlight a curious situation that’s proven one of the more complex and nagging problems to arise during the marijuana legalization era.

Burden of Proof, Body of Doubt

In one sense, driving while high is not unlike pornography: You know it when you see it—if “you” are a law-enforcement official who’s a drug-recognition expert, determining whether to write a ticket or make an arrest for a misdemeanor offense.

Under New York state law, drunk driving and driving high are outlawed under the same criminal statute. But unlike the first wave of states to legalize cannabis, there’s no strict “legal limit” for cannabis impairment in New York. This is because other states such as Colorado have ditched limits like the initial standard of five nanograms of cannabis metabolite per milliliter of blood—because, unlike alcohol, cannabis metabolites are detectable in the human body long after the effects have worn off. For that reason, New York state law has no “per se” standard for impairment.

So, while this standard may be workable while out on the road, where a law enforcement officer can use various metrics, i.e., erratic driving, to make a stop and other metrics to determine impairment—slurred speech, red eyes, the scent of cannabis—it’s unclear what will happen in court, where defense attorneys were winning too many “stoned driving” cases.

In an e-mail, Jason Gough, a spokesman for New York’s governor, reiterated what Hochul and other officials have said: It’s illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis, to consume cannabis while driving or to have your friends burn a blunt in the back when you’re driving them around.

“We’re undertaking a public education campaign to help make sure New Yorkers know that if they drive high or impaired, they could be charged or hurt others,” said Gough, who added that the state would devote “cannabis revenue funds” towards the police: to train more drug-recognition experts to suss out the above, and to develop “emerging tools” such as cannabis breathalyzers “that could be used to accurately detect whether a driver is impaired by cannabis.”

OK, but what’s impairment? Gough referred Cannabis Now back to his original statement—which acknowledged, indirectly at least, that there’s no cut-and-dry standard, and it will be up to individual law-enforcement officers to decide. But will their word be enough to stand up in court? And what can a responsible, safety-minded citizen do?

What is Driving While High?

For one, people should be honest with themselves. If you feel too stoned to drive—if you feel impaired—you probably are. But what if you’ve had your wake-and-bake, and followed that up with coffee and a relaxing morning—and you feel fine?

According to recent research, cannabis users can expect their driving abilities to return to normal about three-and-a-half hours after getting stoned—or, in a laboratory setting, using cannabis to achieve the satisfactory effect. There’s a brief period where users feel a false sense of security, at about the ninety-minute mark, and then abilities return at around the three-hour mark before baseline returns at hour four.

That doesn’t do much good for someone who microdoses—that is, never used cannabis “to satisfaction” like the lab-test subjects. Nor does it give you a clear and satisfactory answer to the initial problem.

Legal experts say that the determining factor may be a driver’s ability prior to the stop. That is, if they were driving like a high person, and then the drug-recognition expert determines they looked like a high person, then a judge and/or a jury may be more likely to decide that yes, they were, in fact, driving high.

“I think drug-recognition experts, in addition to other things, such as glassy or red eyes and slurred speech, are going to have to say, ‘We saw them swerving, or making illegal lane changes,’” said David C. Holland, a New York City-based criminal defense attorney and executive director of Empire State NORML.

That may change, of course, if the driver was involved in an accident. In that case, tacking on an impaired driving charge may become axiomatic—or at least an easier sell in court. Which highlights a convenient truth: If you don’t want to get busted for driving high, don’t do it. In the meantime, getting busted for driving high while you’re not, will remain a very unsatisfying and quite real possibility.

The post Driving High is Illegal: But What is Driving High? appeared first on Cannabis Now.