Texas cops mistake actual weed for marijuana, spend hours doing yard work

It’s a good thing this was in a park and not someone’s yard; they probably would have gone to jail for a while until the cops realized their mistake.

From Raw Story:

Like the old song goes, one of these things is not like the other…

However, remind a police officer in Corpus Christi, Texas of those famed Cookie Monster lyrics and they’re likely to give you an annoyed look.

That’s because a recently discovered cache of plants, initially pegged by officials speaking to local news as “one of the largest marijuana plant seizures in the police department’s history,” turned out to be a relatively common prairie flower of little significance.

Texas officers ultimately spent hours laboring to tag and remove up to 400 plants from a city park, discovering only after a battery of tests that they had been sweating over mere Horse Mint, a member of the mint family — effectively turning their ambitious drug bust into mere yard work.

The plants, which bear very few aesthetic similarities to cannabis, were reported by an unnamed youth who came across them while riding a bike in the park around 8 p.m. on Thursday. Upon visual inspection, police apparently agreed that the inoffensive plants had to go.

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Ultimately, officers were reduced to conducting chemical tests to learn their “weed” was really just that: an actual weed.

marijuana Texas cops mistake actual weed for marijuana, spend hours doing yard work“That shows exactly the caliber of police work that is done in Corpus christi, Tx,” commenter Derick Sillers opined in a local NBC affiliate’s comments section.

“The resident of corpus and nueces county should seriously be concerned with how their tax dollars are spent,” he continued. “[This] is the same police department that serves, protects and investigates you…. does it really take that long to find out you don’t have marijuana.”

“Officers did not explain how their big ‘drug haul’ will be disposed of, now that they’ve spent untold hours and plenty of taxpayer money clearing weeds of the the city park,” writer Steve Elliott summarized for News Junkie Post.

The tale is, at very least, a compelling argument for accurate, non-fear-based drug education in public schools, which advocacy groups say is sorely lacking.

This video is from NBC affiliate KRIS News 6, published May 21, 2010.

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Los Angeles DA: ‘About 100%’ of medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal

At about the same time that California is considering completely legalizing pot, this guy is going after the dispensaries.

From Raw Story:

In spite of a law on California books for over a decade which allows the sale of medical cannabis to properly licensed patients, the district attorney in Los Angeles County is preparing an all-out legal assault against the “vast majority” of dispensaries.

“Hundreds of dispensaries operate under a 1996 voter initiative that allowed medical marijuana use, and a state law that allows for collective growing of marijuana,” NBC Los Angeles reported. “But based on a state Supreme Court decision last year, [LA County District Attorney Steve] Cooley has concluded that over-the-counter sales are illegal. Most if not all of the dispensaries in the state operate on that basis.”

“The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory,” Cooley said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “The time is right to deal with this problem.”

That “problem” — over the counter sales of marijuana to licensed patients — accounted for some $18 million in tax revenue for the state last year, reported The Christian Science-Monitor, during a time when California is facing the greatest budgetary challenges in its history.

However, those with prescriptions for marijuana account for roughly 10 percent of the state’s marijuana users, according to a California NORML report (PDF link) prepared for the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance.

“In a radio interview on KABC-AM (790), Cooley reiterated his plan to close down many of the 800 to 900 medical marijuana shops believed to be operating in the city of Los Angeles,” noted the Contra-Costa Times.

“We will give them fair notice and, hopefully, they will see the light and voluntarily close down,” Cooley reportedly said. “We are going to uphold the laws of California.”

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a group which advocates the nation-wide legalization of cannabis for adults, strongly disagrees.

“Last year, the state’s attorney general issued a legal opinion that clearly stated that ‘a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful under California law,'” MPP noted in Opposing Views. “Maybe Cooley didn’t get the memo.”

They continued: “If Cooley is somehow successful in eliminating L.A.’s medical marijuana facilities, the effect would be disastrous for patients forced to find their medicine in the underground market and would be a boon to the violent drug cartels that often supply that market. Voters in Los Angeles — who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana — are probably scratching their heads trying to figure out why their district attorney wants to enrich criminal drug dealers at the expense of patients.”

“Cooley and other officials say that in addition to selling to minors and others who do not use the drug for medical purposes, some of the dispensaries sell marijuana laced heavily with insecticides that endanger users even as they help finance Mexican drug cartels,” Contra-Costa added.

There are three voter-sponsored initiatives circulating California at the moment which seek to put complete legalization and taxation of marijuana on the state-wide ballot in 2010, according to the Orange County Register.

“If one of these initiatives passes, California would become the first state to legalize marijuana and impose a tax on it, a move proponents say could help get the state out of an unprecedented budget crisis,” the paper reported.

DA Cooley’s first targeted dispensary is “Organica,” in Culver City, according to Mercury News.

“We have our strategy and we think we are on good legal ground,” Cooley said, the LA Times noted.

Marijuana is California’s most valuable cash crop, responsible for over $14 billion in annual sales, according to Time magazine. If legalized and taxed, it could produce $1.3 billion or more in revenues for the state, California tax collectors have estimated.

Arms expert warns new mind drugs eyed by military

From Reuters:

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) – A leading expert on chemical and biological arms control called Wednesday for urgent efforts to stop new mind-altering drugs developed for medical purposes from being adopted by the military for use in warfare.

In an article in the U.S. journal Nature, British academic Malcolm Dando said civilian researchers in many countries seemed largely unaware of the danger and urged quick action to adapt a key arms pact to head it off.

“In the past 20 years, modern warfare has changed from predominantly large-scale clashes of armies to messy civil strife,” wrote Dando, citing the Bosnian conflict of the mid-1990s and current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read the rest:

http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSTRE57I4VL20090819

UK may ban designer ’synthetic cannabis’

From Raw Story:

A legal blend of herbs sold as incense under the name “Spice” may soon be illegal in the United Kingdom, as it reportedly contains a designer variety of synthetic cannabinoids which creates an effect some users say is similar to a marijuana high.

The former head of the UK Forensic Science Service’s drugs intelligence unit, Les King, told a conference yesterday that just months ago, “it was found that a smoking mixture known as Spice was not the innocuous material it purported to be. The claimed constituents, namely various herbs, were a Trojan horse,” reported The Guardian.

The so-called Trojan horse — a blend of baybean, blue lotus, dwarf skullcap, Indian warrior, lions tail, maconha brava, marshmallow, pink lotus, red clover, rose, Siberian motherwort, vanilla and honey — actually delivers a dose of JWH-018, a synthetic cannabinoid with a stronger psychoactive effect than THC, the active compound in marijuana.

Read the rest:

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/08/12/designer-synthetic-cannabinoid-drug-may-be-banned-in-uk/

White House Affirms Deal on Drug Cost

From The New York Times:

Published: August 5, 2009

WASHINGTON — Pressed by industry lobbyists, White House officials on Wednesday assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion.

Drug industry lobbyists reacted with alarm this week to a House health care overhaul measure that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices and demand additional rebates from drug manufacturers.

In response, the industry successfully demanded that the White House explicitly acknowledge for the first time that it had committed to protect drug makers from bearing further costs in the overhaul. The Obama administration had never spelled out the details of the agreement.

Read the rest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/health/policy/06insure.html