DENVER (AP) -- A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony.
A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.
The two recent deaths have stoked concerns about Colorado's recreational marijuana industry and the effects of the drug, especially since cookies, candy and other pot edibles can be exponentially more potent than smoking a joint.
"We're seeing hallucinations, they become sick to their stomachs, they throw up, they become dizzy and very anxious," said Al Bronstein, medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.
Incidents such as this do not, of course, establish that prohibition enforced by criminal law is necessarily the best policy. What they do establish is that the pro-pot crowd is engaging in a propaganda campaign. I call it "reverse reefer madness." Just as in the past proponents of prohibition ridiculously exaggerated the harmful effect of marijuana, proponents of legalization today falsely minimize or even deny the harmful effects. Distortion of the truth is wrong whichever way it goes. We need to move forward in this debate with our eyes wide open.
And why would anyone drive all that way for legal marijuana? Surely illegal marijuana is readily available in Wyoming.
Legal status does make a difference to some people, clearly. Legalization will increase consumption. Pretending it won't is yet another distortion.
Americans feel even more strongly that the biggest problem with the criminal justice system is that too many criminals are set free. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 68% of U.S. adults believe that the bigger problem with law enforcement and the legal system is that too many criminals are released, not that too many innocent people are arrested. Eighteen percent (18%) hold the opposite view and think the bigger problem is that too many innocent people are arrested. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
NE Murderer May Receive Death Penalty: A Nebraska man who went on a 10-day murder spree days after being released from prison has been convicted of four murders may receive a death sentence. Katie Knapp Schubert of Reuters reports that 27-year-old Nikko Jenkins began the killing spree less than two weeks after he was released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence for robbery. A three judge panel will determine if Jenkins is eligible for the death sentence. Nebraska has put just three people to death since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld capital punishment in 1976. The last execution was in 1997.
Heroin Use Increasing Across the U.S.: Law enforcement officials from around the country are beginning to voice concerns about the growing problem of heroin use which in many parts of the county is killing more people than violent crime and car crashes. Kevin Johnson of USA Today reports that a surge in the availability and purity of heroin has dramatically increased overdoses. In 2012, roughly half of New York City's 730 drug overdose fatalities were from heroin and other opiates. That was twice the number of NYC murder victims that year. A yet-to-be released National Drug Threat Assessment rated heroin as the second highest drug risk behind methamphetamine. "This kind of sneaked up on us,'' said Attorney General Eric Holder, who supports reduced sentences for drug dealers.
My understanding was that the governor had said she would sign it only if she were confident it would not prevent the execution of cop-killer Michael Addison. Given the immediate attack on existing sentences in Connecticut, despite a very clear prospective-only clause in the bill, nobody can honestly guarantee that.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire's Senate has voted to leave intact the state's centuries-old death penalty.
Lawmakers voted 12-12 Thursday on a death penalty repeal measure. The tie means capital punishment will stay on the books.
Last month, the House voted in favor of repeal, and Gov. Maggie Hassan (HASS'-ehn) had said she would sign the measure into law.
Hopefully the voters of New Hampshire, and other states, will elect more persons of sense in the coming election, the repeal threats will recede, and we can get back to the business of reforming the review process to make the penalty effective.
CO Police Suspect Accused Murderer was Hallucinating from Marijuana: Denver police are investigating to determine if a man accused of fatally shooting his wife Monday was hallucinating from edible marijuana. Paresh Dave of the Los Angeles Times reports that the man's wife called 911 Monday night and told the dispatcher that her husband was "talking about the end of the world" and hallucinating, and mentioned that he may have eaten some marijuana. During the 911 call, 47-year-old Richard Kirk retrieved a gun from a locked safe and shot his wife in the head while the couple's three children hid in a bedroom. Kirk was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, but has not yet been officially charged.
Casual marijuana use may come with some not-so-casual side effects.
For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes - and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.
The study's findings, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, are similar to those of past research linking chronic, long-term marijuana use with mental illness and changes in brain development.
"The president believes that one important purpose [of executive clemency] can be to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people have since recognized are no longer in the best interests of justice," Ruemmler said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday at New York University's law school. "This effort also reflects the reality that our overburdened federal prison population includes many low-level, nonviolent offenders without significant criminal histories." ***
[She also] said the Justice Department plans in the coming weeks to encourage worthy inmates to request commutations, with bar associations offering to help with applications. She said Obama's new budget proposal calls for seven more staffers to be added to the Office of Pardon Attorney to handle applications, saying that the two years the office has taken to resolve petitions in recent years has been "unacceptably long." She said Obama met with U.S. attorneys last month and asked them to personally review petitions to consider "whether granting clemency would be consistent with the values of justice and fairness that are the hallmark of the best traditions of the Department of Justice."
To me, this sounds like a mass commutation is in the works, and I gather I'm not the only one who senses this.
In Delaware, a bill to repeal the death penalty came up a vote short to get out of committee. Representative John Atkins has this letter in the Cape Gazette.
In New Hampshire, a repeal bill squeaked out of committee on a 3-2 vote and heads to the floor of the Senate. Supporters of the bill claim that it will apply prospectively only and not effect the death sentence of cop-killer Michael Addison, the state's lone death-sentenced inmate. If the bill does pass, I would bet every penny I have that the death penalty opponents will then join Addison's efforts to claim that the bill does require his sentence to be set aside. We already saw this in Connecticut.
Some years ago, the North Carolina legislature passed a stealth repeal by playing the race card and enacting legislation that enabled death row inmates to have their sentences overturned by producing statistics on race and the death penalty that don't actually prove anything. The Death Penalty Quota Act (misnamed the Racial Justice Act) was repealed when persons of sense regained control of the legislature, but cases decided in a lower court before repeal were argued yesterday in the North Carolina Supreme Court. Martha Waggoner has this story for AP.
Teen up for Release After Serving Four Months of Eight-Year Sentence: A Texas woman is outraged after the teenager who robbed her home will be eligible for release after spending only four months behind bars out of a possible eight-year sentence. Jason Whitely of KHOU Houston reports that 19-year-old Brandon Jordan, who was already on probation for theft at the time of his most recent arrest, will be eligible for release under 'shock probation', which allows for a judge to summon a convicted felon back to court up to six months after being sentenced. This type of probation is rarely used since very few convicts qualify, and was intended as a rehabilitation tool for young offenders.
Convicted Triple-Murderer Set to Die: A Texas man convicted of the stabbing murders of his ex-girlfriend, her three-year-old son and her mother is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening after spending nearly 12 years on death row. Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports that attorneys for Jose Villegas are seeking a last minute stay of execution from SCOTUS based on the claim that they have new evidence indicating that their client is mentally impaired. On Monday the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied that request. At the time of the killings, Villegas was out on bond for a sexual assault charge.
Boston and its surroundings braced for an emotional week that begins Tuesday...It will be a chance to mourn the dead and remember the bloodshed, but also...to marvel at the way events have brought this community together.
"We're going to turn it into a moment of unity and perseverance and [strength] as a city," said Alison Beliveau, 25, of South Boston, who finished a run Monday morning outside Marathon Sports, where the first bomb went off one year ago. "We made it through. We're going to make it."
Manning's appellate lawyers, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, told supporters Sunday in Washington that they expect to argue that the sentence unreasonable. It is the longest prison term ever given by a U.S. court for leaking government secrets to the media. They said they also expect to argue that Manning's speedy trial rights were violated, that the Espionage Act was misused and that high-ranking commanders improperly influenced [the] case.
Felons Able to Buy Guns Amid Background Check Backlog: More than 360 guns were sold in Maryland last year to people prohibited from owning them due to an overwhelming backlog in conducting gun ownership background checks. Erin Cox of The Baltimore Sun reports that all but four of the guns sold to those prohibited from owning them were recovered by undercover troopers, and police believe there was only one incident to date involving a gun being used by a prohibited buyer. Just last week, the Maryland State Police were able to clear the backlog of background checks that at one point, stood at 60,000 requests.
White Supremacist Arrested in Triple Homicide: A Missouri man with a history of racist and anti-Semitic activity has been arrested as the person responsible for three murders this weekend, two of which occurred at a Jewish community center and the other at a Jewish assisted living facility. Fox News reports that 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller has been involved with white supremacist groups for the majority of his life, and was the subject of a nationwide manhunt in 1987 after police say he violated the terms of his bond while appealing a conviction for operating a paramilitary camp. The Justice Department has announced plans to file hate crime charges against Miller, he is scheduled to be arraigned this week.
Border Patrol Overwhelmed by Migrants Seeking Asylum: Border Patrol agents working in the Rio Grande area of southern Texas have been overwhelmed with the recent increase in migrants illegally crossing the border seeking asylum and a permanent home in the U.S. Todd Heisler of the New York Times reports that thousands of migrants from Central America are flooding the borders day and night seeking asylum from their native countries, putting a strain on resources and causing a huge backlog in immigration courts. In the last six months alone, Border Patrol agents made more than 90,000 apprehensions, a 69 percent increase from last year.
Teen Charged as Adult in Brazen Killing: A 16-year-old Indiana criminal, whose record includes 29 violent crimes, will be charged as an adult after authorities say he shot and killed a 24-year-old newlywed and father-to-be during a morning walk. Alex Greig of the Daily Mail reports that Simeon Adams, who laughed and smiled during his murder arraignment, shot and killed the man during a robbery attempt last Tuesday. Police also believe Adams is responsible for a shooting that occurred just two days prior. Adams has been charged with felony murder and attempted robbery, his trial is scheduled to begin June 2.
Thank you, Reverend [Al] Sharpton - and thank you all for such a warm welcome. It's a pleasure to be back home in New York City. And it's a tremendous honor to join the National Action Network - once again - in helping to open your important Annual Convention....[W]e have modified the Department's charging policies so that defendants accused of certain nonviolent, low-level federal drug crimes will face sentences appropriate to their individual conduct, rather than stringent mandatory minimums, which will now be reserved for the most serious criminals. We are increasing our emphasis on innovative diversion programs like community service initiatives that can serve as alternatives to incarceration.
"I regret that, before we voted on the amendment, the Attorney General instructed Assistant United States Attorneys across the Nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment in sentencing proceedings going forward," Judge William Pryor, Jr. said at a public hearing in Washington. "That unprecedented instruction disrespected our statutory role, 'as an independent commission in the judicial branch,' to establish sentencing policies and practices under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984."
Outmanned and outgunned, local law enforcement officers are alarmed by the drug and human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering that Mexican drug cartels are conducting in the U.S. far from the border.
Somebody, please, wake me up. My nightmares didn't used to be this weird.The United States Sentencing Commission voted today at a public meeting to reduce the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenders...The Commission voted unanimously to amend the guidelines to lower the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table across drug types.
Murderer May Avoid Death Sentence due to Poor Health: A Missouri man convicted of one murder and suspected in two others may avoid a possible death sentence after a series of delays and his deteriorating health has stalled the case. Jim Salter of the Associated Press reports that 62-year-old Gregory Bowman was convicted of killing a teenager in 1977. In a separate case, he was convicted of murdering another teen and a 21-year-old woman the following year. On appeal, Bowman's convictions in the 1978 killings were overturned, but the Missouri Supreme Court upheld his conviction in the 1977 murder and ordered him to be re-sentenced. Delays has pushed his sentencing hearing back to April 2015. Bowman may not be able to attend after the judge was informed that he is suffering from a potentially fatal kidney ailment.
Mark Lewis Taylor, a professor of theology and culture at the Princeton Theological Seminary, identified [a major difference] between Abu-Jamal and King, saying the former radio journalist has worked more obviously than the assassinated civil rights leader within an "international framework of justice struggle."