blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Pennsylvania will allow cannabis to treat opioid addiction
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association has submitted a petition for treating opioid dependence with medical marijuana. The public hearing for public comments will be heard on April 27, 2018. Read more about it at http://komornlaw.com/petitions
Pa. approves sale of marijuana 'flower,' and will allow cannabis to treat opioid addiction
Updated: APRIL 16, 2018 — 5:58 PM EDT by Sam Wood, Staff Writer @samwoodiii | email@example.com
The price of medical marijuana could fall dramatically for some patients by mid-summer. And the drug will soon be used to treat opioid withdrawal in Pennsylvania, which will become the second state after New Jersey to allow it for that purpose.
At a news conference in Harrisburg, Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said she had approved the sale of cannabis flower, the traditional smokable or vaporizable form of the plant.
“It’s another tool,” Levine said. “The whole idea of this program is to provide another tool in the toolbox of physicians to treat these conditions.”
Since the launch of the state medical marijuana program in February, dispensaries in Pennsylvania have sold only pricey marijuana oils and extracts. Flower, also known as leaf or bud, needs no processing and is less expensive to produce.
“For some patients, the cost of their medical marijuana could drop by 50 percent with the addition of flower,” said Chris Visco, owner of TerraVida Holistic Centers, a chain of dispensaries with shops in Sellersville and Abington. “It offers the lowest price per milligram of THC, the active ingredient.”
Marijuana producer Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Yeltrah, said being able to sell plant material will streamline a large part of his production. “We just have to weigh it and put it in a container,” he said. “There’s no manual labor turning it into something else, whether it’s filling a capsule or filling a vape pen. Every time someone touches it, it makes it more expensive.”
Though smoking cannabis is prohibited by Pennsylvania law, the difference between lighting up and vaporization is literally a matter of degrees. Vaporizing requires less intense heat and a specialized electronic device so that the marijuana doesn’t combust, but the method delivers the same psychoactive and physical effects as smoking. (To discourage smoking, dispensaries are forbidden from vending pipes, bongs and rolling papers.)
Nearly all of the 29 states that have legalized marijuana in some form allow for the distribution of plant material. Minnesota and West Virginia are among the last weed-legal states with laws banning its sale.
Levine accepted more than a dozen recommendations made last week by the state’s medical marijuana advisory board. With her decision, doctors will still need to register but will be able to opt out of the published registry. Terminal illness, neurodegenerative diseases, and dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders are now qualifying conditions.
Allowing the use of cannabis to help wean people off of opioids may have the greatest impact on the state. New Jersey was the first to approve “addiction substitute therapy for opioid reduction” last month. By adding treatment for opioid withdrawal to the list of approved uses, Levine opened up the possibility for clinical research on the two drugs at state health systems.
“This is major news,” said physician Sue Sisley, founder of the Scottsdale Research Institute, where she researches medical marijuana’s effects on PTSD in veterans. “We have all these opioid task forces in so many states, and almost none of them even mention cannabis as a substitution for opioids as part of the treatment strategy.”
Sisley called Levine’s decision “courageous” but warned it could be politically “radioactive.”
“It’s a very conservative medical environment you have in Pennsylvania,” said Sisley, who serves on the steering committee of Jefferson’s Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp in Philadelphia. “But Dr. Levine recognizes she needs to solve the problem and start preventing all these deaths that are all so preventable.”
Advocates applauded the evolution of the state marijuana program.
“I am ecstatic today,” said State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery), who helped drive the legislation that became the state’s medical marijuana law. “Allowing the whole plant will dramatically expand the number of patients who benefit from medical cannabis and will go a long way toward guaranteeing that this huge new industry survives and prospers.”
Becky Dansky, legislative counsel of the Marijuana Policy Project, said that allowing the sale of flower represented more than a cheaper option for patients, many of whom are on disability.
“For many patients, it’s the best form to treat their symptoms,” Dansky said. “The key now is to get it on the shelves as soon as possible.”
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Best lawyer for possession of marijuana in Michigan! Victory!
Patients and Caregivers are discriminated upon in many facets of life, be it employment, housing, education, student loans, banking, travelling, medical care, prescription medical care, parental rights... and in this case, Emergency Medical Care!
My client is a Michigan Medical Marijuana patient who was having an emergency. An ambulance picked him up, and against his hospital preference, the ambulance took him to the U of M Ann Arbor Hospital.
While at the hospital, the patient, my client, in response to the standard medical care question of "list any other medications you are currently taking", was honest and replied that he uses a topical marijuana oil. He used the oil at the recommendation of his primary care physician to help with his cancer and chronic pain. He had the oil in his belongings when he was brought to the hospital.
The Registered Nurse at the hospital then called the Hospital Security Officer, who then confiscated the patients medical marijuana oil and called the police.
Why is the Physician - Patient privileged relationship being violated like this? My client told his nurses that he was a MMMA patient, those same nurses told the HSO and police officer he told them he was a MMMA patient as well.
So what gives? The police have the discretion to investigate or talk to people instead of making a case out of something. Why waste time on investigating a medical marijuana patient? The police officer sent the topical marijuana oil to the Michigan State Crime Lab for testing, coming back positive for THC. The police officer forwarded the lab report to the Washtenaw County Prosecutors Office for prosecution. The WCPO then filed charges against this MMMA patient. All for .5 oz of topical oil marihuana-infused product that the patient had in his bag.
Of course the prosecutors office did not blink an eye, nor did they use prosecutorial discretion. They issued the charges and sent the warrant to me so that I could have my client turn himself in. This is called a pre-arrest investigation at my office. If you ever have a police interaction but are not arrested, it means they are waiting on lab results. After they get the lab results back , they send out the warrant and arrest you wherever they can find you. Be it at your Home, work, school or driving on the road. When they arrest you at Home, they search your house. When they arrest you at work, you may have to explain to your boss what happened. When they arrest you at school you will be embarrassed. When they arrest you on the road, either you have to get someone to pick up your car or they will tow it. They will search your car as well. Then you have to post bond to get out of jail too. So hiring an attorney that will handle all of that, so you can turn yourself in, not speak to the police, and be arraigned and have usually a personal recognizance bond (meaning you don't have to pay anything, just have to show up at your next court date) is helpful in avoiding a bad situation.
This is happening in Ann Arbor of all places? The city that decriminalized Marijuana down to a $25 civil infraction fine? U of M is state property, since it gets state funding.
My Advice? If you are a Patient or Caregiver (or not a patient/caregiver) , never admit to anyone that you are possessing marijuana. Marijuana is currently still illegal and currently there are still people who WILL CALL THE POLICE ON YOU for having marijuana.
In this case the patient did not have his card at the time he was hospitalized, but registered with the state afterwards. We prepared a Section 8 defense to the crime of possession of marijuana and were ready to battle in court.
Instead of our Section 8 evidentiary hearing, instead of the prosecutor wanting to cross examine my client's physician, instead of testifying and all of the pain of a Section 8 defense, we went with a quick Section 4 dismissal. The prosecutor was SHOCKED that my client could not be prosecuted due to having his card now.
Judge agreed and the case is dismissed.
If you were charged with marijuana possession or manufacture, give me a call. I will fight to get the charges dismissed. 18006563557 http://www.komornlaw.com
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Time Magazine confirms, Marijuana prohibition originally was racism against immigrants
Nearly two years ago I traced the history of why Marijuana was banned in the United States.
Time magazine has researched the same origin of Marijuana prohibition and has come to the same conclusions. The plant Cannabis Sativa is only called Marijuana because it sounds spanish/Mexican. Cannabis prohibition laws were enacted to specifically criminalize otherwise lawfully abiding adult immigrants from Mexico, fleeing the violence of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
This racist policing has continued from 1910 to this very day , even after legalization has passed in a few states. Arrest rates are still disproportionate when you look at race statistics.
109 years of racist prohibition laws against a plant!
With legalization comes expungements also known as clearing your criminal record. No other crime gets this special treatment. Everyone already knows cannabis prohibition laws are nonsense. After legalization passes, legislatures, judges and prosecutors are fine with clearing your name and record of marijuana crimes.
Call my office today 800-656-3557 to get your record cleared of these racist marijuana crimes. It does not matter how long ago the crime occurred either. Whether you are 21 or 91, marijuana convictions can be undone in Michigan after legalization.
Se habla español.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Komorn Law recommends keeping medical marijuana card and protections.
After the legalization of marijuana in Michigan, some patients are thinking they could stop paying the state $100 for the special mmp card , and just use the recreational marijuana law to grow their medicine.
A patient with a registered card can use the ultimate defense and immunity to avoid a driving under the influence charge.
Only adults 21 or over are protected by the new legalization law, but no one yet knows how the new law will affect driving privileges.
Is the zero tolerance of THC in your blood law still in effect for adult use marijuana ?
The new law is similarly worded to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
Whereas the MMMA says
While the meaning of "under the influence" was not decided within the MMMA until 2012, with People v Koon, that was 4 years of police arresting patients for driving with marijuana in their blood.
The court in People v Koon came to the conclusion:
Ignoring that for a minute, the Michigan State Police have been tasked with sampling saliva during road side stops for a task force on marijuana driving. The task force was created in order to find a nanogram limit for THC in blood, even though 50 years of scientific research on the subject has consistently said marijuana does not affect driving.
So my advice is, if you are a patient, keep the patient card active until the courts either give up on all marijuana issues, or at least this driving issue , or it is decided by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Basically, until non-patients get a similar "People v Koon" ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court, it is advised that any patients keep their cards to protect them fully under the MMMA.
"Don't be the first person to test this in court."
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Prohibitionists fail to predict future, legalization is a win for freedom.
Prohibitionists would use the predicted _possible_ harmful societal effects of marijuana as an excuse to continue the racist war on drugs that put hundreds of thousands of people in jail in the USA each year.
Eventually, people realized that if you cried WOLF enough, and no WOLF ever showed up, that you were probably just a professional WOLF troll and that your predictions were false. As is the case here in reality.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Nevada traffic deaths drop 10 percent in first year of legal marijuana.
Nevada traffic deaths show 10 percent decrease since marijuana was legalized. Can this be directly attributed to marijuana? Probably not. Still, watching these numbers should tell us something useful, as marijuana is a substitute for alcohol and that alone should shrink alcohol related traffic crashes.
Read more about traffic statistics and marijuana driving research at my website
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Victory for an MMMA patient in a Federal Park with his medical marijuana.
The conflict between state medical marijuana laws and the Federal Controlled Substances Act has been playing itself out in courts across the country. In addition, Congress has passed an act to prohibit the Department of Justice from prosecuting patients and caregivers in medical marijuana states. The DEA and DOJ have taken the position that this appropriations act rider means nothing, and have argued as such in court on many occasions in courts nationwide.
Funny, they said we should "change the laws" if we wanted marijuana to be legal, so we legalized medical marijuana. Then they said marijuana was still illegal. So we got congress to protect medical marijuana states. Then the Department of Justice said these laws still didn't apply to them.
Our client hired us because he felt that his medical marijuana card protected him from this marijuana ticket that a park ranger gave him for possessing his medical marijuana in a national forest park in Michigan.
Kayaks? Canoes? The Department of Justice is blind.
We filed a motion to dismiss based on the the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment to the Appropriations Act (the appropriations act is how the legislature funds the government departments). The Department of Justice prosecutor fought us on all counts of our motion, forcing us to dig our way out of a bunch of different rabbit holes of other medical marijuana cases across the country.
Ultimately, after doing the proper research , filing motions, writing briefs and responses to opposition replies, we finally got the victory our client deserved. The magistrate agreed with all of our well thought out arguments and dismissed the ticket.
All this over "three marijuana joints".
At least our client was lucky! Noted poet, activist and Michigan native John Sinclair was given 10 years for 2 joints of marijuana in Ann Arbor of all places.
Such an injustice brought John Lennon and Yoko Onno to Michigan where he made a song for John Sinclair to protest and demand his freedom from unjust marijuana laws.
John Sinclair sat in jail for years before his appeal was finally heard by the Michigan Supreme Court which overturned the draconian marijuana laws. Marijuana was legal again, until the Michigan Legislature reinstated the marijuana laws a few months later.
Lessons for all patients and caregivers:
Never talk to the police (or park rangers)! Never answer questions! Ask if you are free to go, and then go if they say yes! Always ask for an attorney to be present during any questioning. Always call your lawyer before talking with the police! Never consent to a search! Without consent, the police officer would have no cause to search you. Never smoke in public! The park is a public place. Do not take marijuana with you on or in: Any School Grounds or school bus. Any Correctional facility, or any state or federal government buildings Any Federal Park or land, including border areas with Canada. Any Native American Reservation or Tribal Land. If you want the protections of the MMMA, you MUST stay in compliance with the MMMA. Plant limits, weight limits, etc. Being outside the boundaries of the MMMA could land you in jail.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Kent County uses medical marijuana money to buy illegal marijuana raid vehicle
The oversight and operational grant money, stolen out of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Fund was supposed to be for education and oversight of the medical marijuana program.
Instead, funds from the program have been used to buy any toy that the drug tasks forces want. Tasers and bullet proof vests? For sick patients ? None of this makes any sense.
In the FY2018 budget, Gov Rick Snyder proposed removing that $3 million grant.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Probational Industrial Complex, once you are part of the system you're there forever.
Courts are not about justice or helping, their main focus is solely to collect fees and fines.
Call any court at any time and the information provided on the automated phone system is exclusively about how to stream line payments. Any other concern or question of the court requires you to go through an endless and bottomless rabbit hole of phone tree tag. If , by some miracle you do get through to a live voice, it becomes immediately apparent that the person behind the phone is neither user friendly or ready with answers for the reason why you have called.
When did this practice become the norm? When did this unhelpful court attitude become acceptable? Who has empowered these civic employees to be rude and dismissive? What happened to the old adage that the customer is always right? Who told these people that they have an allegiance to anyone other than the people who have business with the court?
Think they treat lawyers or law firm employees any differently? HAH! I have to use the same phone numbers and go through the same hoops that any person does when interacting with the court. Except I have to use their voice mail systems. Imagine having to contact a court for a client only to get a voice mail and wait for the system to tell you to leave a message after the tone, only to hear “mailbox is full”. This only happens every day to me, in multiple courts with multiple judges, prosecutors, clerks and even police officers!
Courts, prosecutors and Judges all take lunch breaks, but so do all of the clerks, all at the same time. Don’t even bother trying to call anyone from 11:30-1pm. Likewise, Court is over at 4pm, everyone including the clerks leave. There is no automated answering service, just voice mail with full mailboxes after 4pm.
There is a small window of time when you are able to get a live person at a court. Between 9:00-11:00am and then 1:00pm-3:45pm.
The probation and drug testing industrial complex has taken over the courts.
I Represented Client/Medical Marihuana patient in a probation violation today in court. I was not her lawyer at the time she plead guilty and was sentenced to probation. The allegations of the probation violation were that my client had continued to test positive for THC, in violation of the court's order.
“Your client can't use medical marijuana while on probation. The Certifying physician is not in the probation departments list of approved doctors.”
Generally speaking the court is looking to the following main issues when setting bond;
is the accused a danger to the community is the accused a flight risk
With these legal principles in mind the judge or magistrate where there's an allegation of a domestic violence case, or an alcohol-related driving case, will conclude for purposes of setting bond they have an interest in protecting the community from a person who consuming alcohol. In that scenario despite being presumptively innocent, allegations of assault and battery or something worse, the court in the interest of protecting the community or because of the defendants “danger to the community” would set a bond with the condition of no contact with the alleged victim.
Each of these examples draw from allegations, or the facts set forth in the complaint that resulted in the issuance of the charges. Their intent associated with the elements of the crime or certainly socially with alcohol which is a substance that is not medicinal, and is exclusively perceived as being recreational and subject to abuse, within the court system.
In other words the use of alcohol is routinely perceived as the roots or reason or identifiable concern by the court, independent of whether it is needed, identified, or even alleged, is something almost every single court prohibits a person on bond from doing even in cases where alcohol may not be involved.
These were the facts...
Client was put on probation for an alcohol driving offense. Judge sentenced her to 2 years probation, 10 days in jail immediately, followed by 2 years probation. Outpatient treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous, fines and costs.
At the time of her sentencing and prior to commencing the 10 days she paid a $2300 fine.
The additional terms of probation were:
Report to the probation officer. Complete an intensified outpatient treatment program at Dawn Farms, Participate in alcoholics anonymous, Complete two years of probation.
It is important to note, that the court at the time of sentencing entered/ ordered the traditional terms of sentencing which include
Upon release from the jail after completing 10 days in jail, the client reported to the probation department as directed to by the court.
Upon appearing at the probation department and going through the intake process, my client interacted with her probation officer's assistant. At that time she presented to the assistant to her probation officer her medical marijuana card which was copied and entered into the file.
Over the next year ( the first year of her 2 year probation) she proceeded to complete the inpatient treatment program. She enrolled in AA and another Secular program similar to AA called SMART. In fact after enrolling in these 2 programs, she habitually attended 2 times a week for the next 2 years.
Additional terms of her probation included write in or non-reporting probation, which required her to call or write in to her probation officer monthly.
All of these requirements were completed as ordered by the Court.
At approximately the one year mark of her probation, my client got a call from her probation officer, directing her to take a drug test. Of course being a medical marihuana patient, she tested positive for THC. To my client, this was not a suprise because she had let the probation department know was in fact a medical marihuana patient. In her initial intake at the probation department she had made it clear of this status. Furthermore, she believed she had a right to engage in the medical ise of marihuana.
333.26424 Sec. 4. (a) A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act, provided that the qualifying patient possesses an amount of marihuana that does not exceed a combined total of 2.5 ounces of usable marihuana and usable marihuana equivalents, and, if the qualifying patient has not specified that a primary caregiver will be allowed under state law to cultivate marihuana for the qualifying patient, 12 marihuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. Any incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and unusable roots shall also be allowed under state law and shall not be included in this amount. The privilege from arrest under this subsection applies only if the qualifying patient presents both his or her registry identification card and a valid driver license or government-issued identification card that bears a photographic image of the qualifying patient.
My client’s probation officer however didn’t see things the same way...
Upon learning of the drug test results, the probation officer told my client that she was in violation of the terms of her probation.
Your client can’t use medical marijuana while on probation. The certifying physician is not in the probation departments list of approved doctors.
This is frankly disgusting. A probation department telling a person which physician they can or cannot go to for treatment? What kind of justice is that?
This was all done in the last two weeks of probation for my client. They wanted and waited to violate her right at the end of her probation.
Client hired me, I was able to argue the law, got her off the hook for the Violation of Probation VOP and she was able to finish her probation in the mean time, and has been alcohol free for two years and has really changed her whole life around. Although I can’t take credit for that, I am glad happy to see that her right to be a medical marijuana patient was recognized by the court.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Minnesota Dept of Health studies Medical Marijuana patients, large pain reduction is found
Minnesota is the only state that I've seen which actually studies it's patients in it's medical marijuana program. The Minnesota DOH released a report of all of its patients a year ago, and in March, released a report about patients with intractable pain who are enrolled in the medical marijuana program.
Minnesota studies and conducts trials and surveys while Michigan conducts criminal trials for patients and caregivers. This is all the fault of Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette who continue to allow patients and caregivers to be thrown into courts and jail for being part of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.
The new 2018 report of Intractable Pain Patients in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis program can be read here:
The first year report of Minnesota Medical Marijuana patients is here:
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Get cops out of mafia-style fencing racket
Checks and Balances are put in place to protect the human rights of every citizen of the United States of America. One of those rights is the right to due process, meaning that you have the right to be secure in your home and with your property unless a court says otherwise. And you have the right to have your day in court before a jury of your peers.
Asset Forfeiture has been tainted by police, prosecutors and courts where police just steal your stuff, leave, then go auction it off later. In some cases, not even a single criminal charge is filed. In other cases, prosecutors bring criminal charges, lose the criminal case, but continue with the forfeiture case. Other taint comes when police take all of the cash from you, but the amount they took is less than what it would cost to hire a lawyer to get it back. Why would anyone hire a $3000 lawyer to fight over a seized $2000 car ?
We need more civil asset forfeiture and this bill would help a little bit.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Medical Marijuana Review Panel approves 10 conditions
Parents and caregivers of children and persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have been fighting to try medical marijuana as an option after exhausting all other treatment options available. This fight has been going on for at least 5 years, when LARA denied the petition for autism in 2013. In 2013, the review panel voted 2 yes and 7 no votes.
The 2013 petition lacked any research or studies, so parents Dwight Z. and Dr Christian Bogner submitted a new autism petition with studies and help from researcher Joe Stone in 2014.
10/4/13 Final Determination of Department - Autism 8/27/15 Final Determination of Department - Autism LARA rejected the 2014 petition because they had made a "final decision" on autism in 2013. Michael Komorn, president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, filed a lawsuit against LARA to get them to hear the 2014 petition. After months of stalling from LARA they finally decided to hear the petition, and in May 2015, the review panel heard the petition and testimony. LARA tried a dirty trick by not sending the research and studies to the panel. This was brought to the attention of the panel that research was submitted, so the board came back a week later to give time to the panelists to review the research. The panel then voted 4 yes and 2 no votes to approve Autism as a qualifying condition.
In August 2015, the Director of LARA, Mike Zimmer, then rejected adding autism as a qualifying condition to the Medical Marihuana program against the wishes of the panel. In his rejection, Mr. Zimmer gave the reason that edibles may be illegal due to a confusing ruling from the Court of Appeals among other objections.
Parents and caregivers of people diagnosed with autism continued to fight, and worked together to submit another autism petition. Adding 20 new peer-reviewed research studies from the past 4 years. The new autism petition was submitted in February and was sent by LARA and heard by the review panel on 4-27-2018. Wonderful and brave parents Amie Carter and Jamie Cooper testified before the panel, laying their hearts and family stories out there for the world to gawk at.
At the following review panel meeting on 5-4-2018, the review panel approved of 10 conditions including Autism in a 6 yes and 1 no vote.
Voting no on a condition is voting to subject the rejected-condition patient to arrest for the medical use or possession of marihuana.
A suggestion was made by a panel member that the marijuana legalization ballot initiative would save any concerns for the denied patient conditions. This is not true. There are several differences between legalization and the medical marijuana program that would negatively affect a patient.
First, the recreational marijuana initiative will apply a large tax and other costs that would not apply to patients if they were part of the MMM program.
Second, patients are treated in the law differently regarding several issues.
· CPS / Parenting / Custody issues
· Immunities and Affirmative Defense
Patients should not be punished for their use of cannabis when it is medical and not for adult recreation.
Medical use and recreational use have significant distinctions, that were played out in the discussion of the panel and specifically the experience shared by Dr. Crocker who sees a variety patients with various diseases that are treated by cannabis. It makes no sense to deny the petition for these conditions when the evidence supports the therapeutic and palliative relief.
1. The panel are ignoring the reality of what a “no vote” is and means to patients.
2. The excuses used to deny or vote no have been:
· Not enough research
· Not enough clinical trials
Panel members have lamented on this topic for years, but this argument makes no sense. Why would they approve of some conditions but not others, as they have given this reason for rejecting conditions? No condition has been thoroughly researched to use with marijuana. Absolutely zero clinical trials for any condition have been performed with crude marijuana flowers. Even though marijuana smoking has been shown to absolutely stop epileptic seizures, reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients, open up airways in asthma patients, return appetite to AIDS patients, prevent nausea, reduce anxiety/stress and control pain signals.
There are few, small, less than 100 people research studies on a few small conditions. Those studies are conducted only with Marinol, Sativex or other pharmaceutical formulations, not crude marihuana flowers and extracts. The FDA refuses to study crude marijuana extracts and flowers, and prefers a mono chemical therapy. One plant chemical, THC. Recently the FDA has been testing CBD. Two plant chemicals total from over 400 known cannabinoids (plant chemicals) within the cannabis plant.
At this rate, the FDA will have tested each of the 400 cannabinoids separately within 16,000 years. Counting 40 years for THC-only studies, 40 years x 400 cannabinoids = 16,000 years.
Which is why, the American people have bypassed the FDA and have approved marijuana as a medicine on a state by state basis. Sick people cannot wait for the FDA to continue to hamper research and deny that marijuana is a medicine. All because the FDA refuses and prefers a single chemical standardized consistent drug.
These are terrible reasons because research on marijuana has been hampered. We mentioned this in our petition
· Dr. Crocker and other physicians have conflated marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke and then offered and relied upon this unproven fact that the two smokes are the same and have the same health effects.
Marijuana smoke is different than Tobacco smoke and has different effects on humans and animals.
See The large studies on lung function by Dr Tashkin and all of the other studies that show the only difference between a non-smoker and a marijuana-only smoker is that the marijuana-only smoker has a larger forced air lung capacity.
Effects of smoked marijuana in experimentally induced asthma.
Effects of cannabis on lung function: a population-based cohort study
· Legalization, if the review panel does not approve a condition, the sick patient can possess by adult recreational means.
The review panelist who made this comment is a physician and in her reason for denial of the petition is saying that a person should self-medicate! Unheard of advice from a physician.
· The panel mentioned several times that they wanted “severe” conditions, severe brain injury vs brain injury or severe autism vs autism.
Aren't people with less severe conditions allowed treatment? Are we equal or are severe conditions more important? Nothing about this reason makes any sense to deny a condition from this non-toxic safe medication.
The review panel is supposed to look at each individual petition, and only those petitions, to determine if the condition should be added to the MMMA. Frequently, the panel members have made comments or asked questions about other conditions while debating petitions.
"Why are we voting on "chronic pain" when "severe and chronic pain" is a qualifying condition?"
"Why are there petitions for Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?"
"Brain Injury is too vague, but Traumatic Brain Injury is a condition that may be more appropriate"
"Colitis is too broad, colitis can be infectious or non-infectious"
Panelist Dr Lewandowski said there was only one "good" study that showed "clinical improvement with dronabinol in this submission" of obsessive compulsive disorder and "this meet the expectation in support of peer-reviewed information".
All of the research we submitted in our petitions was peer-reviewed except for one paper on Autism, all of the studies showed palliative or therapeutic benefit and efficacy. The requirements by LARA are the following:
Provide a summary of the evidence that the use of marihuana will provide palliative or therapeutic benefit for that medical condition or a treatment of that medical condition. Rule 33(1)(a). Include articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals reporting the results of research on the effects of marihuana on the medical condition or treatment of the medical condition and supporting why the medical condition or treatment should be added to the list of debilitating medical conditions under section 3(b) of the MMMA, MCL 333.26423(b). Rule 33(1)(b).
Note that Lewandowski's remarks about clinical improvement is not a requirement within the MMMA, the LARA Administrative rules, nor the Petitions themselves. The whole point about medical marijuana programs is that we cannot get marijuana into clinical studies. Cannabis's schedule 1 status, FDA monotherapy rules, NIDA grant bias for harms not benefits, DEA hoop jumping, propaganda and political football including bribery, corruption and market forces (from private prison unions, alcohol, tobacco and Big Pharma industry not wanting competition) makes it incredibly difficult and near impossible to study marijuana for medical benefits.
· Non chronic non severe pain
· Organ Transplant
blackhorse reacted to dwkl for a blog entry, Brave mother Amie Carter shares her Child's autism and cannabis life story
Published on Apr 30, 2018 Michigan Mom Amie Carter details the physical and emotional abuse of her Autistic child. After trying all available therapies and prescription medications to no avail, her boy was transformed from a rampaging frightened punch-throwing self-injuring mess into a loving boy with medical marijuana.
blackhorse reacted to dwkl for a blog entry, Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board Meeting 4-19-2018
Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board Meeting 4-19-2018
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, LARA holds Meeting to Review Petitions to Add New Medical Marijuana Conditions.
As the president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, I testified before the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel earlier today in support of the 21 petitions submitted by our patient and caregiver educational non-profit organization as well as other researchers, patients and caregivers, physicians and parents who combined resources to work on the petitions.
There is another meeting for the panel to vote on these conditions NEXT WEEK Friday, May 4th ,2018 at the same location. I do not think there will be additional comments, but by being present you may sway the panel members.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Three new Michigan medical marijuana bills introduced on 4/19
When the legislature banned a patient and caregiver from extracting marijuana using butane inside of a residence, the reason given was for the safety of the public.
The changes to the MMMA proposed by Triston Cole do not rely on safety, or any logical reason at all. This kind of power grab is frightening. It is one thing to ban an activity, it is quite another to make extracting marijuana a 5 year felony.
Triston Cole wants extracting marijuana to carry a longer sentence of 5 years in prison when the manufacture of marijuana is only a 4 year sentence. What is next? Making a felony out of a medical marijuana patient baking their own brownies? Making it a felony for a medical marijuana patient to grow their own medicine?
This would ban iso extraction and ice/water extraction, not to mention CO2 and other forms of extractions. Talk with your representatives about these bills. Tell them to leave medical marijuana patients alone and give them the same respect as other patients.
This bill modifies the MMFLA to make it explicit that only a processor licensee or its agents can extract marijuana resin.
Adds a 5 year felony for extracting marijuana resin without a processor license.
Adds a 10 year felony for extracting marijuana resin if it causes severe injury.
Adds a 20 year felony for extracting marihuana resin if it causes death.
Modifies the MMMA Section 7 , 333.26427, removing all immunity if a patient or caregiver extracts plant resin by chemical extraction.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Victory over 3 cases in two cities.
Our clients in Wayne and Garden City were charged with four counts of controlled substance felonies, as well as the police seizing retirement bank accounts, vehicles and other unrelated property.
Count 1: Controlled Substances – Delivery / Manufacture of marijuana 5-45 kilograms
Count 2: Controlled Substances – Delivery / Manufacture of marijuana 5-45 kilograms
At the time of the charged offense, the clients were valid registered patients and caregivers with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program, and were in possession of their cards, and identification at all times during the incident. At the time of the execution of the search warrant, officers were aware the accused were medical marihuana patients and caregivers.
In the criminal case in Garden City we had to file many motions to maintain and preserve our client’s rights.
· Motion for immunity from prosecution, Section 4 MMMA defense.
· Motion for immunity from arrest, Section 4 MMMA Defense.
· Motion in Limine to preclude the Search Warrant as defective.
· Motion to dismiss charges, Section 4 paraphernalia MMMA defense.
· Motion in Limine to preclude evidence from an unconstitutional warrantless cell phone search.
· Motion to return untainted property based on lack of a probable cause.
Simultaneously, the county seizes assets via civil asset forfeiture laws at the same time as the criminal charges. If you do not challenge the civil asset forfeiture, the county or state will just take the property. Police and prosecutors are only required to give you a piece of paper when the police take the property, called a "Notice of intent to forfeit". For our clients to get their bank accounts back and other property, we had to file motions to compel the court to uphold our client’s constitutional rights to their property.
After putting in an appearance on the forfeiture case, the prosecutor failed to notice us of any actions. When we showed up to court, the forfeiture case was dismissed due to “Failure to Serve” in 2015. Wayne County Prosecutors then refiled the forfeiture case TWO years later. We fought again with a series of motions.
· Motion to dismiss due to statute of limitations, failure to refile case “promptly”.
· Motion to quash discovery.
· Motion to dismiss, Section 4 MMMA defense to any penalty (forfeiture).
· Motion / Memo to demand a show cause hearing for reason why property was not returned.
The clients were charged by the police who thought they were committing serious crimes. The police officers thought, based on their training and experience, our clients were manufacturing marijuana. In cross-examinations of the police officers involved in the raids, we asked a few standard questions.
Mr. Komorn : Have you read the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act?
Sgt. Police officer: The whole thing?
How are the enforcers of the law supposed to carry out the law, if they don’t know the law? How are the police officers supposed to decide who is in compliance with the law and who is not in compliance with the law? There are also 2,000 pages of case law on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, detailing out various immunities and procedures that are not being followed by the police.
The police were overzealous and caused ridiculous violations of our client’s constitutional rights. Our clients were charged with the following crimes in Garden City, due to the police using false and incompetent search warrants.
Controlled substance--- Manufacture of Marijuana, contrary to MCL; 333.7401(2)(d)(ii), a 7 year felony
Controlled substance--- Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana, contrary to MCL; 333.7401(2)(d)(ii), a 7 year felony
The criminal case against our client was dismissed in Garden City after filing two motions.
· Motion to suppress evidence due to lack of probable cause.
· Motion to return untainted property.
The judge in the case read the original search warrants and said it was ridiculously deficient!
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Marijuana Glossary and Dictionary for Beginners
It takes a long time to learn every single new word when you enter the marijuana world. Below is a quick attempt by the Detroit Free Press to educate it's readers.
blackhorse reacted to dwkl for a blog entry, Komorn Law Firm - Ch 7 News - Client Ron and Jon - Asset Forfeiture Interview
Komorn Law Firm - Ch 7 News - Client Ron and Jon - Asset Forfeiture Interview
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Senator Gillibrand slams Big Pharma on opioids and marijuana issues.
Senator Calls Out Big Pharma For Opposing Legal Marijuana
Tom Angell A prominent Democratic U.S. senator is slamming pharmaceutical companies for opposing marijuana legalization.
"To them it's competition for chronic pain, and that's outrageous because we don't have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. "It's not the same thing. It's not as highly addictive as opioids are."
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
"On the federal level, we really need to say it is a legal drug you can access if you need it," she said.
Gillibrand, in an appearance on Good Day New York on Friday morning, was responding to a question about whether marijuana is a "gateway drug" that leads people to try more dangerous substances.
"I don't see it as a gateway to opioids," she said. "What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country."
Legalization advocates have long speculated that "Big Pharma" is working behind the scenes to maintain cannabis prohibition. And in 2016, Insys Therapeutics, which makes products containing fentanyl and other opioids, as well as a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC, donated half a million dollars to help defeat a marijuana legalization measure that appeared on Arizona's ballot that year.
Numerous studies have shown that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid overdose rates.
Research published this month, for example, concluded that "legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms," suggesting that "some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether."
"Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Health Economics.
Last week, Gillibrand became the second cosponsor of far-reaching Senate legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold federal funding from states that have racially disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws.
“Millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies, especially in communities of color and low-income communities,” she said at the time. "Legalizing marijuana is a social justice issue and a moral issue that Congress needs to address."
Gillibrand is also a sponsor of far-reaching medical cannabis legislation and recently signed a letter calling for new protections for state marijuana laws to be inserted into federal spending legislation.
"I think medical marijuana could be treatment for a lot of folks," she said in the interview on Friday. "A lot of veterans have told us that this is the best treatment for them. I do not see it as a gateway drug."
Many political observers have speculated that Gillibrand will run for her party's presidential nomination in 2020. She and at least two other potential Democratic contenders have already endorsed marijuana legalization.
Tom Angell publishes Marijuana Moment news and founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Follow Tom on Twitter for breaking news and subscribe to his daily newsletter.
NIDA says there is no gateway theory of marijuana.
blackhorse reacted to dwkl for a blog entry, Defense Attorney Michael Komorn testifies about HB4158.
Defense Attorney Michael Komorn testifies on Asset Forfeiture Reform.
If you are unfamiliar with what HB4158 is check it out here. This Michigan House Bill is in regards to forfeiture laws and updating the procedures of how law enforcement can use the laws and how the legal system has been abusing the current laws.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video evidence that has allowed the public to test officers’ credibility.
Kimberly Thomas was arrested on gun charges in the Bronx that were later dropped. “For 396 days I have been fighting for my life, my freedom and my sanity,” she said. CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times ‘Testilying’ by Police:
A Stubborn Problem
Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video
evidence that has allowed the public to test officers’ credibility.
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEINMARCH 18, 2018
Officer Nector Martinez took the witness stand in a Bronx courtroom on Oct. 10, 2017, and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. There had been a shooting, Officer Martinez testified, and he wanted to search a nearby apartment for evidence. A woman stood in the doorway, carrying a laundry bag. Officer Martinez said she set the bag down “in the middle of the doorway” — directly in his path. “I picked it up to move it out of the way so we could get in.”
A series of stories examining the entrenched culture of 'testilying' in the New York Police Department.
The laundry bag felt heavy. When he put it down, he said, he heard a “clunk, a thud.”
What might be inside?
Officer Martinez tapped the bag with his foot and felt something hard, he testified. He opened the bag, leading to the discovery of a Ruger 9-millimeter handgun and the arrest of the woman.
But a hallway surveillance camera captured the true story: There’s no laundry bag or gun in sight as Officer Martinez and other investigators question the woman in the doorway and then stride into the apartment. Inside, they did find a gun, but little to link it to the woman, Kimberly Thomas. Still, had the camera not captured the hallway scene, Officer Martinez’s testimony might well have sent her to prison.
Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo When Ms. Thomas’s lawyer sought to play the video in court, prosecutors in the Bronx dropped the case. Then the court sealed the case file, hiding from view a problem so old and persistent that the criminal justice system sometimes responds with little more than a shrug: false testimony by the police.
“Behind closed doors, we call it testilying,” a New York City police officer, Pedro Serrano, said in a recent interview, echoing a word that officers coined at least 25 years ago. “You take the truth and stretch it out a little bit.”
An investigation by The New York Times has found that on more than 25 occasions since January 2015, judges or prosecutors determined that a key aspect of a New York City police officer’s testimony was probably untrue. The Times identified these cases — many of which are sealed — through interviews with lawyers, police officers and current and former judges.
[ALSO READ: He Excelled as a Detective, Until Prosecutors Stopped Believing Him]
In these cases, officers have lied about the whereabouts of guns, putting them in suspects’ hands or waistbands when they were actually hidden out of sight. They have barged into apartments and conducted searches, only to testify otherwise later. Under oath, they have given firsthand accounts of crimes or arrests that they did not in fact witness. They have falsely claimed to have watched drug deals happen, only to later recant or be shown to have lied.
No detail, seemingly, is too minor to embellish. “Clenched fists” is how one Brooklyn officer described the hands of a man he claimed had angrily approached him and started screaming and yelling — an encounter that prosecutors later determined never occurred. Another officer, during a Bronx trial, accused a driver of recklessly crossing the double-yellow line — on a stretch of road that had no double-yellow line.
In many instances, the motive for lying was readily apparent: to skirt constitutional restrictions against unreasonable searches and stops. In other cases, the falsehoods appear aimed at convicting people — who may or may not have committed a crime — with trumped-up evidence.
In still others, the motive is not easy to discern. In October 2016, for example, a plainclothes Brooklyn officer gave a grand jury a first-person account of a gun arrest. Putting herself in the center of the action, the officer, Dornezia Agard, testified that as she approached a man to confront him for littering, he suddenly crouched behind a van, pulled from his waistband a dark object — later identified as a gun — and threw it on the ground.
“P.O. Agard testified that she heard a hard metal object hit the ground,” according to a letter the Brooklyn district attorney’s office wrote summarizing her testimony.
But prosecutors lost faith in her account in July 2017, after learning from other officers that she was not among the first officers on the scene. Officer Agard had arrived later as backup, according to the letter, which noted that the gun charges against the man were later dismissed. The prosecutors did not address why Officer Agard claimed to be a witness, or why the other officers present seem to have allowed her to process the arrest.
Police lying raises the likelihood that the innocent end up in jail — and that as juries and judges come to regard the police as less credible, or as cases are dismissed when the lies are discovered, the guilty will go free. Police falsehoods also impede judges’ efforts to enforce constitutional limits on police searches and seizures.
“We have 36,000 officers with law enforcement power, and there are a small handful of these cases every year,” said J. Peter Donald, a spokesman for the Police Department, the nation’s largest municipal force. “That doesn’t make any of these cases any less troubling. Our goal is always, always zero. One is too many, but we have taken significant steps to combat this issue.”
Shrouded, but Persistent
The 25 cases identified by The Times are almost certainly only a fraction of those in which officers have come under suspicion for lying in the past three years. That’s because a vast majority of cases end in plea deals before an officer is ever required to take the witness stand in open court, meaning the possibility that an officer lied is seldom aired in public. And in the rare cases when an officer does testify in court — and a judge finds the testimony suspicious, leading to the dismissal of the case — the proceedings are often sealed afterward.
Still, the cases identified by The Times reveal an entrenched perjury problem several decades in the making that shows little sign of fading.
So far in 2018, a Queens detective has been convicted of lying in a drug case and a Brooklyn detective has been arrested amid accusations that he fabricated the results of a photo lineup. These cases returned the phenomenon of police lying to the public eye, leaving police officials to defend the integrity of honest officers.
Kevin Richardson, the Police Department’s top internal prosecutor, said he believed so-called testilying was nearing its end. “I think it’s a problem that’s very much largely on its way out,” he said.
Indeed, it’s tempting to think about police lying as a bygone of past eras: a form of misconduct that ran unchecked as soaring street violence left the police overwhelmed during the 1980s and early 1990s and that re-emerged as police embraced stop-and-frisk tactics and covered up constitutional violations with lies.
But false testimony by the police persists even as crime has drastically receded across the city and as the Police Department has renounced the excesses of the stop-and-frisk years.
Some policing experts anticipate that the ubiquity of cameras — whether on cellphones, affixed to buildings or worn by officers — will greatly reduce police lying. For the moment, however, video seems more capable of exposing lies than vanquishing them.
Memory and Manipulation
In two recent cases, The Times found, officers appear to have given false accounts about witness identifications. These cases are particularly troubling because erroneous identifications by witnesses have been a leading cause of wrongful convictions.
After a 2016 mugging near a Brooklyn subway station, the police arrested a group of four people, one of whom was found to be in possession of the victim’s wallet. In preparing the case, prosecutors sought to pin down a few basic facts. Had the police brought the victim, who was punched and had his wallet taken, to positively identify the four suspects after they were taken into custody? If so, what had the victim said?
Getting a straight answer from the arresting officer, Chedanan Naurang, proved nearly impossible. It had been Officer Naurang’s quick thinking that had made the arrest possible: Having lost the suspects at one subway station, he followed a hunch and drove one stop down the line, where he caught up with the four men after they got off the train.
But certain details Officer Naurang gave prosecutors kept shifting over the next year, according to a February 2017 letter that prosecutors wrote in which they summarized his fluid story.
Officer Naurang said at one point that the identification had occurred inside a police station when the victim passed by the holding cells, saw the men and confirmed their involvement in the crime.
[ALSO READ: Two NYPD Officers Are Charged With Lying About Suspect]
A few weeks later, he backtracked. No, the victim had actually never gotten to see the suspects at the police station, Officer Naurang explained. Instead, the victim had gotten a chance to view them on the street, shortly after their arrest. That’s when the victim got out of the police vehicle in which he had been waiting, Officer Naurang said, and pointed to one of the four men, identifying him as an attacker.
This version of events, however, was at odds with the recollection of the police officer who had driven the victim to the scene of the arrest. That officer, Christopher McDonald, told prosecutors that the victim had remained in the back seat while viewing the four suspects. And Officer McDonald said that the victim couldn’t say whether they were his assailants. He thought he recognized their clothing, but wasn’t sure.
Because of Officer Naurang’s changing story, prosecutors dropped the case against the men as part of a deal in which all four pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a second mugging they were accused of the same night.
Continue reading the main story Photo Detective Michael Foder, right, walked out of Federal District Court in Brooklyn accompanied by his lawyer, James Moschella, after his February arraignment on perjury charges. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times Another case in which the police gave false information about a witness identification came after a carjacking in Brooklyn in 2015. In that case, the police began to focus on two suspects based on an anonymous tip and a fingerprint. A detective, Michael Foder, testified that he had then prepared two photo lineups — one for each suspect.
Each consisted of the suspect’s photograph printed on a sheet of paper, alongside the photos of “fillers” — people of vaguely similar appearance with no connection to the crime. The hope was that the victim, a livery cabdriver, might recognize the suspect’s photo and pick him out — an outcome that prosecutors regard as a strong indicator of a suspect’s guilt.
That’s what happened, Detective Foder testified, when the victim came to the precinct to view the photo lineup for one suspect in November 2015 and returned in February 2016 to view one for the second suspect.
But the photo lineups that Detective Foder had prepared — and were submitted as evidence in federal court — were fabrications. It was a federal prosecutor who first realized that many of the photos used in the lineups were not yet available at the time Detective Foder claimed to have shown them to the victim. The reason? The photos of some of the fillers had yet to be taken.
The lineup that was said to be from November 2015 included filler photographs that were not taken until December. And the one he claimed to have administered in February featured photos that were taken in March.
Last month, Detective Foder was indicted on federal perjury charges. The indictment accuses him of lying to “conceal the fact that he had falsified documentation” related to the photo lineups. Detective Foder’s lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on the detective’s behalf.
Photo A prosecutor discovered that many of the photos in the array Detective Foder said he had shown the victim Feb. 14, 2016, were not even taken until after that date. Justifying a Search
Detective Foder’s actions appear to be aimed at tilting the scales toward guilt.
But more often, The Times found, false statements by the police seem intended to hide illegal searches and seizures, such as questionable car stops or entries into apartments that result in officers finding guns or drugs. If the truth were to emerge that the case began with an illegal police search, the evidence would quite likely be thrown out and the case dismissed.
The story that Christopher Thomas, a plainclothes police officer, told a grand jury in December 2014 sounded plausible enough. As he approached a parked car with a flashlight in hand, he said, he saw a man in the driver’s seat pull a firearm out of his waistband and stick it between the car’s center console and the front seat. The driver was indicted on gun-possession charges.
But by July 2015, as video of the encounter was about to emerge, Officer Thomas started backtracking. In conversations with the assistant district attorney on the case, Officer Thomas acknowledged that he had not seen the driver pull the gun from his waistband. In fact, he said, he had never seen the driver with his hand on the gun.
“He stated to the A.D.A. that he did not know why he had testified to those facts before the grand jury,” according to an email prosecutors later sent to a defense lawyer. This email, as well as several similar letters that prosecutors sent in other cases, were provided to The Times by Cynthia Conti-Cook, a Legal Aid Society lawyer who has been compiling a database of police misconduct allegations.
The video undermined Officer Thomas’s original claim of having seen the gun at the outset. It shows Officer Thomas and his partner approach the car and shine their flashlights inside. Their demeanor on the video suggests that they had seen nothing so far to cause alarm. One of the two officers — either Officer Thomas or his partner — is so unconcerned that he bends down for about seven seconds, and appears to tie his shoe.
Video emerged that undermined Officer Christopher Thomas’s original claim of having immediately spotted a gun in the car. Brooklyn prosecutors dismissed the gun case and, according to the prosecutors’ email, informed the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau about the problems with Officer Thomas’s account. An internal police disciplinary process led to Officer Thomas losing 30 vacation days and being placed on dismissal probation for a year, according to a person familiar with the case.
He is now a sergeant in a narcotics unit.
Officer Thomas is not the only officer to have tried to withdraw earlier testimony as soon as video of an encounter emerged, or was about to.
“I misspoke when I was in grand jury,” Sean Kinane, an officer with the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx, testified in federal court in 2016. That was all the explanation he gave, or was asked to give, for why he was recanting his earlier testimony about witnessing what appeared to be narcotics transactions in the moments before he stopped a heroin dealer in the street.
That claim, if true, would have given the police justification to stop the man, who was discovered to be carrying 153 glassine envelopes of heroin and eight bags of crack cocaine. But after the drug dealer managed to get a video recording of the encounter, Officer Kinane’s story changed. He had misspoken.
Reached by telephone for comment, Detective Kinane — he was promoted in 2017 — hung up.
‘No Fear of Being Caught’
Many police officials and experts express optimism that the prevalence of cameras will reduce police lying. As officers begin to accept that digital evidence of an encounter will emerge, lying will be perceived as too risky — or so the thinking goes.
“Basically it’s harder for a cop to lie today,” the Police Department’s top legal official, Lawrence Byrne, said last year at a New York City Bar Association event, noting that there were millions of cellphones on the streets of New York, each with a camera. “There is virtually no enforcement encounter where there isn’t immediate video of what the officers are doing.”
As more police encounters are recorded — whether on the cellphones of bystanders or the body-worn cameras of officers — false police testimony is being exposed in cases where the officer’s word might once have carried the day. That is true for run-of-the-mill drug cases as well as for police shootings so notorious that they are seared into the national consciousness.
Yet interviews with officers suggest the prevalence of cameras alone won’t end police lying. That’s because even with cameras present, some officers still figure — with good reason — that a lie is unlikely to be exposed. Because plea deals are a typical outcome, it’s rare for a case to develop to the point where the defendant can question an officer’s version of events at a hearing.
[ALSO READ: New York Detective Charged With Faking Lineup Results]
“There’s no fear of being caught,” said one Brooklyn officer who has been on the force for roughly a decade. “You’re not going to go to trial and nobody is going to be cross-examined.”
The percentage of cases that progress to the point where an officer is cross-examined is tiny. In 2016, for instance, there were slightly more than 185 guilty pleas, dismissals or other non-trial outcomes for each criminal case in New York City that went to trial and reached a verdict. There were 1,460 trial verdicts in criminal cases that year, while 270,304 criminal cases were resolved without a trial.
To be sure, officers are sometimes called to testify before trial at so-called suppression hearings in which the legality of police conduct is evaluated. But those are rare. In Manhattan, about 2.4 percent of felony criminal cases have a suppression hearing, according to data from the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The rate for non-felony cases is slightly more than one-tenth of 1 percent.
Continue reading the main story Photo Officer Pedro Serrano said he doesn’t engage in “testilying,” but he said it remains a problem in the New York City Police Department. “You take the truth and stretch it out a little bit.” CreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times A Crucial Court Decision
Several officers, all working in the Bronx and Brooklyn, candidly described in interviews how the practice of lying runs like a fault line through precincts. “You’re either a ‘lie guy’ or you’re not,” said the Brooklyn officer. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he described how he avoided certain officers and units in his precinct based on his discomfort with the arrests they made.
Earlier in his career, he said, a supervisor and a detective had each encouraged him to lie about the circumstances of drug arrests. Another time, he said, he had worked with an officer who, after discovering drugs while searching a suspect without cause, turned to the other officers present with a question — “How did we find this?” — and sought their help devising a false story.
Countless police officers have struggled with that question — “How did we find this?” — ever since 1961, when the Supreme Court ruled, in Mapp v. Ohio, that state judges must throw out evidence from illegal searches and seizures. Before this ruling, New York City officers could stop someone they thought might be dealing or using drugs, search their pockets and clothing, describe the encounter truthfully, and not worry that a court would throw out the drugs that they had discovered, even though the stop and search had been, strictly speaking, illegal. That changed with the Mapp decision, which greatly expanded the reach of the Fourth Amendment.
Immediately after the Mapp case, police officers saw many narcotics cases be dismissed. Then they made what one judge called “the great discovery.” If they testified that the suspect had dropped a bag of drugs on the ground as the police approached, courts would generally deem those arrests legal.
Within a year of the Mapp decision, courts in New York City were seeing a marked increase in what became known as “dropsy” testimony — in some units “dropsy” cases increased more than 70 percent, according to one 1968 study.
There was little reason to think drug users had grown more skittish. Rather, the influx of these cases was understood to be a sign that police officers were lying in a substantial number of cases. Ever since, courts in New York have been plagued with officers lying about how they came to discover that a suspect was carrying drugs or guns.
By 1994, a commission appointed to investigate police corruption noted that lying to make cases stick was common enough for “testilying” to become a well-known portmanteau.
The report by the Mollen Commission noted a few established patterns of falsehoods. Officers who illegally searched a car might later say they discovered contraband in “plain view.” Or an officer who found a gun or drugs in someone’s clothing during an illegal search might falsely claim to have seen “a bulge in the person’s pocket.”
Just like the dropsy testimony a few decades earlier, these stories of “plain view” and “suspicious bulges” became scripts that many police officers stuck to. They were rarely challenged, not even as officers in New York City began repeating them tens and then hundreds of thousands of times as police stops of mainly black and Latino men skyrocketed during the years Michael R. Bloomberg was mayor.
In recent years, the number of times police stopped and frisked pedestrians has declined precipitously. But certain plainclothes units, such as the so-called anti-crime teams, still engage in an aggressive style of policing that relies heavily on stop-and-frisk tactics. These teams make a disproportionate number of gun arrests, but they are also responsible for a substantial number of dubious stops of pedestrians and drivers, police officers and legal experts said in interviews.
Several uniformed patrol officers said they have long suspected that the track record of plainclothes anti-crime teams for making weapons and drug arrests was bolstered by illegal searches and a tolerance for lying about them.
These officers described a familiar scene: a group of black men ordered out of a vehicle for little reason and made to sit on the curb or lean against the bumper, as officers search the vehicle for guns and drugs.
“Certain car stops, certain cops will say there is odor of marijuana. And when I get to the scene, I immediately don’t smell anything,” said Officer Serrano, one of the few officers interviewed who was willing to speak on the record. “I can’t tell you what you smelled, but it’s obvious to me there is no smell of marijuana.”
Mr. Serrano’s testimony about a secret station-house recording he made was crucial evidence in a landmark stop-and-frisk trial in 2013. He and nearly a dozen other current and former officers are suing the Police Department over what they describe as arrest quotas.
Photo Edwin Raymond, a New York City police sergeant, said plainclothes officers working with so-called anti-crime teams bend the truth “to fit the narrative.” CreditChristopher Anderson/Magnum Photos “It’s the anti-crime teams, the plainclothes officers, everyone knows they will violate the law, get what they want and then write it to fit the narrative,” said Edwin Raymond, a police sergeant who is also a plaintiff in the arrest-quota case. “The narratives will be embellished to fit the parameters of probable cause, if need be.”
‘A Surreal Journey’
To be sure, there are other motives for lying, other than to cover up illegal searches.
Some police officers have said they faced pressure from commanders to write more tickets or make more arrests. A decade ago, narcotics detectives were found to have falsely accused people of dealing drugs in order to meet arrest quotas.
And there is pressure to solve — or at least close — cases. That may have motivated Officer Martinez’s gun-in-the-laundry-bag-in-the-doorway story.
What appears to have actually happened is that Officer Martinez and other officers searched inside the apartment for evidence from a nearby shooting. They had good reason to focus on that apartment. The victim, after being shot, had rushed there, along with others. Crime-scene photos taken by the department’s Evidence Collection Team suggest that a gun was found inside the apartment, in or near a laundry bag on the floor.
But whose gun was it? That was not clear. A number of people had been in the apartment in the preceding hours. And Ms. Thomas, who lived more than a mile away and arrived about an hour after the shooting, was one of the few people there when Officer Martinez showed up.
There is little, if any, evidence tying Ms. Thomas to the gun other than Officer Martinez’s false testimony that placed her in the doorway with the laundry bag in her arms. Prosecutors acknowledged that DNA testing indicates that Ms. Thomas did not handle the gun. Moreover, court papers that prosecutors filed after the case fell apart noted that the police appear to have focused on Ms. Thomas while ignoring other potential suspects. Several other people had entered the apartment shortly before Ms. Thomas — “none of whom are questioned by the police,” the prosecutors’ papers noted.
As for Officer Martinez’s false story of the laundry bag in the doorway, the prosecution’s legal papers noted only that “there are clear inconsistencies” between Officer Martinez’s “recollection of events and the video.”
“At no time in this video is there a laundry bag in the defendant’s hands,” the prosecution’s legal papers noted. “Neither is there a bag in the doorway of the apartment, and at no time is the arresting officer observed moving a bag before entering the apartment.”
91COMMENTS By the time prosecutors officially dropped the case in November 2017, Ms. Thomas had already appeared in court 16 times, according to a tally of appearances kept by one of her lawyers, Alexandra Conlon, of the Bronx Defenders. On the last appearance, Ms. Thomas, 39, asked to address the court. “For 396 days I have been fighting for my life, my freedom and my sanity,” she said. “This has been such a surreal journey that I don’t wish on anyone.”
Officer Martinez remains in good standing at the 41st Precinct. Shortly after the case was dismissed, he was promoted to detective and given his gold shield. When a reporter tried to interview him in January about his testimony in the case, he declined to comment, saying, “That’s not something I can speak about directly with you.”
Continue reading the main story Photo Ms. Thomas outside the Bronx apartment building where she was arrested on gun charges that were dismissed after a video contradicted the police officer’s account.
There is a 2013 article on the same subject.
Why Police Lie Under Oath
By MICHELLE ALEXANDERFEB. 2, 2013
THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”
But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.
That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”
The New York City Police Department is not exempt from this critique. In 2011, hundreds of drug cases were dismissed after several police officers were accused of mishandling evidence. That year, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn condemned a widespread culture of lying and corruption in the department’s drug enforcement units. “I thought I was not naïve,” he said when announcing a guilty verdict involving a police detective who had planted crack cocaine on a pair of suspects. “But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”
Remarkably, New York City officers have been found to engage in patterns of deceit in cases involving charges as minor as trespass. In September it was reported that the Bronx district attorney’s office was so alarmed by police lying that it decided to stop prosecuting people who were stopped and arrested for trespassing at public housing projects, unless prosecutors first interviewed the arresting officer to ensure the arrest was actually warranted. Jeannette Rucker, the chief of arraignments for the Bronx district attorney, explained in a letter that it had become apparent that the police were arresting people even when there was convincing evidence that they were innocent. To justify the arrests, Ms. Rucker claimed, police officers provided false written statements, and in depositions, the arresting officers gave false testimony.
Continue reading the main story Mr. Keane, in his Chronicle article, offered two major reasons the police lie so much. First, because they can. Police officers “know that in a swearing match between a drug defendant and a police officer, the judge always rules in favor of the officer.” At worst, the case will be dismissed, but the officer is free to continue business as usual. Second, criminal defendants are typically poor and uneducated, often belong to a racial minority, and often have a criminal record. “Police know that no one cares about these people,” Mr. Keane explained.
Photo CreditWesley Allsbrook All true, but there is more to the story than that.
Police departments have been rewarded in recent years for the sheer numbers of stops, searches and arrests. In the war on drugs, federal grant programs like the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program have encouraged state and local law enforcement agencies to boost drug arrests in order to compete for millions of dollars in funding. Agencies receive cash rewards for arresting high numbers of people for drug offenses, no matter how minor the offenses or how weak the evidence. Law enforcement has increasingly become a numbers game. And as it has, police officers’ tendency to regard procedural rules as optional and to lie and distort the facts has grown as well. Numerous scandals involving police officers lying or planting drugs — in Tulia, Tex. and Oakland, Calif., for example — have been linked to federally funded drug task forces eager to keep the cash rolling in.
THE pressure to boost arrest numbers is not limited to drug law enforcement. Even where no clear financial incentives exist, the “get tough” movement has warped police culture to such a degree that police chiefs and individual officers feel pressured to meet stop-and-frisk or arrest quotas in order to prove their “productivity.”
For the record, the New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, denies that his department has arrest quotas. Such denials are mandatory, given that quotas are illegal under state law. But as the Urban Justice Center’s Police Reform Organizing Project has documented, numerous officers have contradicted Mr. Kelly. In 2010, a New York City police officer named Adil Polanco told a local ABC News reporter that “our primary job is not to help anybody, our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them.” He continued: “At the end of the night you have to come back with something. You have to write somebody, you have to arrest somebody, even if the crime is not committed, the number’s there. So our choice is to come up with the number.”
Exposing police lying is difficult largely because it is rare for the police to admit their own lies or to acknowledge the lies of other officers. This reluctance derives partly from the code of silence that governs police practice and from the ways in which the system of mass incarceration is structured to reward dishonesty. But it’s also because police officers are human.
Research shows that ordinary human beings lie a lot — multiple times a day — even when there’s no clear benefit to lying. Generally, humans lie about relatively minor things like “I lost your phone number; that’s why I didn’t call” or “No, really, you don’t look fat.” But humans can also be persuaded to lie about far more important matters, especially if the lie will enhance or protect their reputation or standing in a group.
The natural tendency to lie makes quota systems and financial incentives that reward the police for the sheer numbers of people stopped, frisked or arrested especially dangerous. One lie can destroy a life, resulting in the loss of employment, a prison term and relegation to permanent second-class status. The fact that our legal system has become so tolerant of police lying indicates how corrupted our criminal justice system has become by declarations of war, “get tough” mantras, and a seemingly insatiable appetite for locking up and locking out the poorest and darkest among us.
And, no, I’m not crazy for thinking so.
blackhorse reacted to dwkl for a blog entry, Mom tries medical marijuana for child with epilepsy
Published on Mar 1, 2018
Muskegon Mother finds non-toxic and safe Cannabidiol CBD from medical marijuana is a better treatment for epilepsy than liquid Valium.
In phase 1 of the study, 3 mg/kg daily of cannabidiol (CBD) was given for 30 days to 8 health human volunteers. Another 8 volunteers received the same number of identical capsules containing glucose as placebo in a double-blind setting. Neurological and physical examinations, blood and urine analysis, ECG and EEG were performed at weekly intervals. In phase 2 of the study, 15 patients suffering from secondary generalized epilepsy with temporal focus were randomly divided into two groups. Each patient received, in a double-blind procedure, 200-300 mg daily of CBD or placebo. The drugs were administered for along as 4 1/2 months. Clinical and laboratory examinations, EEG and ECG were performed at 15- or 30-day intervals. Throughout the experiment the patients continued to take the antiepileptic drugs prescribed before the experiment, although these drugs no longer controlled the signs of the disease. All patients and volunteers tolerated CBD very well and no signs of toxicity or serious side effects were detected on examination. 4 of the 8 CBD subjects remained almost free of convulsive crises throughout the experiment and 3 other patients demonstrated partial improvement in their clinical condition. CBD was ineffective in 1 patient. The clinical condition of 7 placebo patients remained unchanged whereas the condition of 1 patient clearly improved. The potential use of CBD as an antiepileptic drug and its possible potentiating effect on other antiepileptic drugs are discussed.
blackhorse reacted to Michael Komorn for a blog entry, Michigan Medical Marijuana Expert Defense Attorney Michael Komorn gets grilled by House Committee while supporting asset forfeiture reform.
Michael Komorn is dedicated to defending his clients from both criminal charges and civil asset forfeiture. During a committee meeting on House Bill 4158, a bill to reform asset forfeiture, House Committee member Triston Cole tried to find any possible way to attack Komorn's client testimony. With Michael's 9 years of dedicated experience to medical marijuana , he was ready to get deep into analyzing each question. Finally turning the questions around on Mr. Cole and defending his clients, once again, but this time in the public eye of a committee meeting. Watch below as Michael knows every nook and cranny detail of the Michigan Medical Marijuana program, and uses that knowledge to support the bill.
But Lucido's bill may be in trouble. Police and prosecutor unions including PAAM are fighting tooth and nail to keep those assets and any auctions they run to sell off peoples property. Police have been relying on asset forfeiture which has encouraged them to abuse the system. The majority of forfeitures were for $1000, who would hire a $3500 lawyer to fight to get $1000 back? Most people walk away from their own property forfeitures because the economics of it.
Lucido Wants To Finish The Job On Reform of Civil Asset Forfeiture
Rep. Peter LUCIDO (R-Shelby Twp.) says he wants to finish the job of reforming civil asset forfeiture in Michigan and has introduced HB 4158 to prohibit its use by police unless a person has been convicted of a crime. He told the House Judiciary Committee today that improvements made last year require police to report how much property they seize and end residents needing to post bond to get their property back. However, he wants more (See "No Bond Needed To Get Seized Property Back Under Passed Bill," 3/22/16). "Last year, Michigan law enforcement agencies seized over $15 million and change, along with 2,037 vehicles. They seized 806 weapons, 276 financial securities, and 15,160 other pieces of personal property," Lucido told the committee. Before that, agencies weren't required to report seizures, so it is not known how much property police confiscated, he said. Police use civil asset forfeiture as a way to battle drug trafficking. The process allows police to seize property believed to have been used in the course of committing a crime, like the vehicle that drugs are transported in or cash from drug deals. Lucido said no one should profit from criminal activity, but he contends the process is being used in some cases excessively, and in some cases to supplement police department budgets. "No one was charged with a crime in 523 cases of those 5,290 cases," Lucido said about last year's statistics. "Ten percent of the crimes, that they claim were crimes, but (people were) never charged, never convicted, and lost their property without even being charged as a criminal. Another 196 people were charged but never convicted." Committee Chair Jim RUNESTAD (R-White Lake) held an extended session of the committee meeting, but didn't call a vote on the bills. He said he would take more testimony on the proposal in the coming week. Today's testimony was all from individuals in support of ending the practice. He expects law enforcement agencies will testify next week in defense of the use of civil asset forfeiture. He said the committee has to hear from both sides. Attorney Michael KOMORN brought several of his clients before the committee to tell of their experiences with civil asset forfeiture. Amanda JOSLIN, a medical marijuana user, said police raided her home in 2015, seizing her home, car, a game system and her son's paychecks from his job. She said they even took a steam mop. Eventually, charges were dismissed against her, but she got none of the property back. Joslin contended that while civil asset forfeiture may have been intended to combat drug dealing, police have concluded "they can take money from the low-hanging fruit, which is the medical marijuana community." Ted NELSON, who is retired from the Michigan State Police, spoke in favor of eliminating civil asset forfeiture. He said it was intended to battle drug smuggling and to confiscate the cash generated by drug sales. Now it is being used excessively. "If they needed a couch for their office, they would take a couch. In my opinion, that is not was civil asset forfeiture was intended to do," Nelson told the committee. Former State Trooper: Cops, Prosecutors Misuse Problematic Asset Forfeiture Law
‘Civil asset forfeiture erodes the public trust in law enforcement’
By EVAN CARTER | Feb. 8, 2018 | Follow Evan Carter on Twitter Editor's Note: This article was updated to note that when civil asset forfeiture first began to be used in Michigan, narcotics enforcement would obtain the proceeds of criminal activity. The Michigan State Police detective who helped train the state police in how to conduct civil asset forfeiture says the police are misusing it.
Former Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Ted Nelson, who developed a curriculum on civil asset forfeiture for the department and taught it for more than a decade, made those comments to the state House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6.
The committee hearing was the first of many which are scheduled to be heard on House Bill 4158 over the next couple weeks. After that, the committee may vote on whether to send the bill to the full state House of Representatives.
The bill would require police officers and other law enforcement officials to convict someone in a criminal court before they could take ownership of cash and other assets they seize, for property valued at $50,000 or less.
“Law enforcement is an extremely important vocation in our society and it is as important today as yesterday,” Nelson told the committee. “I believe that the policy and procedures of civil asset forfeiture erodes the public trust in law enforcement.”
Nelson told Michigan Capitol Confidential that during his 26 years with the department, he saw law enforcement officials receive by forfeit items, such as furniture, that they believed could be used in department offices or sold for a profit. Nelson, who supports HB 4158, said this type of behavior wasn’t the reason civil asset forfeiture was introduced.
Nelson said he first received training on civil asset forfeiture in the late 1980s when the practice was considered part of the war on drugs. At the time, civil forfeiture was used mainly for major drug crimes, in which narcotics enforcement would obtain the proceeds of criminal activity.
Nelson developed a curriculum to teach the state police’s drug teams. He was the expert state police troopers called when they seized money and they weren’t sure it could be tied to a drug crime.
“We’re the foot soldiers of the Constitution and sometimes we forget that,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he doesn’t believe enacting HB 4158 would change how police officers do their job, but he believes it would change how prosecutors do their job.
Shelby Township Republican Rep. Peter Lucido is the primary sponsor of the legislation. At the hearing, he said law enforcement officials can use mechanisms other than civil asset forfeiture to ensure that those believed to have participated in criminal activity cannot make a profit from ill-gotten gains or get rid of illicit substances.
“We lost the war on drugs, and civil asset forfeiture has penalized the poor,” Lucido said to the committee. “Officers were sworn to protect, and not take.”
Attorney Michael Komorn, who is president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, attorney John Shea and national civil asset forfeiture expert Lee McGrath also testified in support of the bill.
Not everyone who appeared before the committee supported the bill, however.
Waterford Police Chief Scott Underwood said that while he wouldn’t directly offer an opinion on the legislation being discussed, he believes civil asset forfeiture is a useful tool for law enforcement.
“I would say that for the most part, that civil asset forfeiture comes from good police work,” Underwood said to the committee. “The numbers with asset forfeiture don’t lead, they follow.”
Lucido said in an interview that while he doesn’t want to imply police officers are corrupt, he believes that civil asset forfeiture is too easily abused.
“If even one cop abuses it, it’s too much,” Lucido said to Michigan Capitol Confidential. “I had cops who took kid’s piggy banks and dart boards and I’m done with it.”
Currently, law enforcement officials do not need to convict, prosecute, or even charge a person of a crime before they can get ownership of seized property through civil asset forfeiture procedures.
In 2016, one out of every 10 Michigan residents whose property was taken by law enforcement using civil asset forfeiture was never charged with a crime. According to a Michigan State Police report, more than 700 people were either not charged with a crime, or charged with a crime but not convicted. Since 2000, the state has taken possession of forfeited property worth $20-$25 million annually.
The legislation may be part of a larger package aimed at reforming the state’s civil asset forfeiture law. If the measure passes and is signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan will join the 14 states (along with the District of Columbia) that already require a conviction for law enforcement to take possession of seized property.
State lawmakers eye forfeiture reform
Local officials support 'common sense' legislation
BY KYLE KAMINSKI firstname.lastname@example.org TRAVERSE CITY — A bill aimed at protecting property rights of the accused is amassing support from local officials as it gains steam among state lawmakers.
House Bill 4158 — introduced this month by Republican state Rep. Peter Lucido — would safeguard residents from court-ordered property seizures unless they’ve been convicted of a crime. Lucido contended its passage would affect hundreds annually.
“We have people that get their property taken by police who are not detached, neutral magistrates or judges,” Lucido said. “That’s violation of property rights 101. … It’s called due process under the Fourth amendment and the 14th amendment.”
Lucido noted law enforcement — specifically through task forces like the Traverse Narcotics Team — have been overly empowered by laws that allows police to confiscate property from those suspected to be involved with drugs.
Michigan’s law enforcement agencies collected more than $244 million in gross forfeiture proceeds between 2001 and 2013, averaging about $19 million per year, according to a report from the Institute for Justice. And none required a conviction.
Police agencies, in turn, are authorized by law to offload those assets and keep a portion of the proceeds to buy equipment and “enhance all law enforcement activities.” Records show TNT seized at least $400,000 during the past six years.
The bill would prohibit forfeitures unless a suspect is found guilty of a crime in court, amending a section of an existing state law. It would take effect next year if passed into law, and would only apply to seizures under $50,000.
“$50,000 is a little bit much to have in your pocket,” Lucido explained.
Local and state officials — including those who soon could be stripped of their authority to confiscate property — have praised the spirit of the bill. Others, while recognizing need for further reform, were hesitant to endorse the changes.
“It would be easier for us and more fair to those who are having their property forfeited to have a criminal conviction,” said Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nate Alger. “Our system is based on being innocent until proven guilty.”
Attorney General Bill Schuette this week said conviction before seizure is a “good principle” to maintain. County Prosecutor Bob Cooney noted most local forfeiture cases include a criminal conviction but said current laws force them to continue.
“I wish the state would better fund narcotics teams and not incentivize them in anyway to go after forfeiture dollars,” Cooney said. “At the same time, those laws were set up to take away profits from those selling illegal drugs. That’s the idea.”
Lucido’s bill eliminates the requirement people negotiate for the return of their possessions but some officials — like Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault — are concerned it could unfairly entwine property seizures with plea bargains.
His office tries to avoid forfeiture altogether. The bill could connect those cases with criminal matters and force him into the business regardless, he suggested.
“I’m a little concerned that by tying them to a criminal conviction, it’s going to bring me people who try to barter their way out of things,” Perreault said. “I could also see the argument then that we’re only prosecuting people to take their stuff.”
Advocacy groups for years have lobbied against statutes that allow civil forfeiture cases to proceed. Some contended they disproportionally impact lower income residents because of often costly legal battles attached to reclaiming property.
Others have said seizures lead to “policing for profit” because police, in most cases, can keep the proceeds for their own department. Michigan State Police officials have contended the concept helps save taxpayer dollars and deprives criminals of cash.
State Rep. Larry Inman said he supports Lucido’s bill and noted police shouldn’t be able to keep property without a conviction. Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel said “common sense” dictates police first need to prove someone guilty of a crime.
“I know forfeiture is a huge asset, especially for drug enforcement teams. There’s never enough money to fund those things,” Schendel said. “But I like to err on the side of the people and the Constitution.”
A legislative analysis contended the bill would have an indeterminate fiscal impact for law enforcement. It noted its passage likely would result in declined forfeiture-related revenues and impact federal revenue sharing for Michigan State Police.
The bill — introduced last week in the House — was recently referred to the Committee on Judiciary. Lucido said lawmakers soon will hear testimony as it pushes forward in the legislature. Visit record-eagle.com for continued coverage.