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marijuana arrests

8/19/14 3:30pm

National Marijuana Arrests Have Tripled Since 1991

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While the national call to legalize marijuana—both medical and recreational—is higher than ever before (and includes more than half of American voters), you wouldn’t know it by looking at the issue from a law enforcement perspective. The number of marijuana arrests have more than doubled since 1991, and as a percentage of arrests, they have more than tripled.

As Christopher Ingraham pointed out in a recent Washington Post article, this makes for a somewhat confused climate as far as the status of marijuana. On one hand the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy is trending toward a more tolerant attitude in handling drug use. (On the ONRCP’s website you can read about its “collaborative, balanced and science-based approach.”) On the other hand, law enforcement seems to have favored a different, if not altogether opposite approach. Ingraham’s article explains how, although total arrests for any charges have gone down since 1991, the number of marijuana related arrests have somehow doubled—hence the percentage of marijuana arrests tripling.

This is counterintuitive for the news-following legalization enthusiast. These past 10 years have marked some serious victories for the industry, like California’s passing of proposition 215 in 1996, allowing the cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes; or the legalization of recreational use in Colorado and Washington 2012; or the House of Representative’s recent passing of the Heck Amendment, which (if passed by the Senate) will ban the Treasury from spending federal money to penalize banks for providing service to marijuana related businesses.

So why is it that the FBI reported 658,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2012? This made up 42% of all drug arrests and 5.4% of all arrests. In 1991 marijuana-related charges made up less than two percent of all arrests. But the arrests made in 2012 cost law enforcement roughly $3.6 billion, which, as Ingraham points out, excludes the financial and social cost to those who were arrested, and their communities. Aside the expenses inextricably tied to legal trouble—paying for a lawyer, bail or rehabilitation classes—the person arrested carries a highly contingent stain on his record, threatening his ability to get hired and fairly compete in the job market. And, as ACLU has reported, the people most commonly arrested for pot are the ones who can least afford it: low-income minorities.

According to Ingraham’s article, less than one out of every 100 arrests in Massachusetts is for marijuana possession. Drive west into New York and rates rise dramatically, where one out of every eight arrests is for marijuana possession. That is 12.7% of all arrests.

This massive discrepancy has nothing to do with New Yorkers being more likely to toke up. In fact the people of Massachusetts carry that crown, with 9.4% of them admitting to using marijuana (and 8.2% of New Yorkers admitting to using marijuana), according to the Washington Post. With such similar percentages of users, and such dramatically different arrest rates, it is hard to tell that the two states fall under the same federal umbrella.

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By Ryan Knapp/AlterNet

drug theater

8/19/14 1:00pm

Methtacular! Set to Launch New Season of About Face Theatre

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Stafford in Methtacular! Photo via

Methtacular!, a dark comedic look at meth addiction and the associated underworld scene experienced by meth addicts, is scheduled to launch the new season of the About Face Theater this month.

Written and performed by Steven Strafford and directed by Adam Fitzgerald, Methtacular! opens on Aug. 21 and will play through the end of September. The one-man show expresses with brutal honesty a dark story of the descent into methamphetamine addiction via the underground gay bathhouse scene of Chicago.

Steven Stafford delivers a harrowing autobiographical account of his three years as a crystal meth addict in Chicago. As a struggling Chicago actor, Strafford got hooked on the "There's nothing wrong with me" vibe he got from crystal. Stafford was intoxicated by being picked up by random strangers, who became his best friends and lovers while the drug lasted. Through comedy, song, and bare bones storytelling, Strafford takes audiences on “a journey through the chemical highs, devastating lows, and ultimate redemption from his drug addled, sex crazed life.”

AFT Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff commented about his excitement of finally bringing the one-man show to its real home. "After playing to sold-out crowds and rave reviews in New York, Cincinnati and Portland, this unique piece of theater is finally coming home to Chicago where it was born and bred," Volkoff said.

"Crystal meth addiction has been a serious national problem for years in the gay community, and especially here in the Midwest," he continued. "A talented artist and brilliant storyteller, Steven shines a light on addiction that is at once funny and thought provoking, turning his journey down the rabbit hole into a compelling and comedic evening.”

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By John Lavitt

recovering celebs

8/19/14 10:30am

Grimes Slams 'Asshole' Follower for Drug Quote on Wikipedia

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While she has been open about her drug use in the past, singer-songwriter Grimes now appears determined to not glorify her wild past.

Also known as Claire Boucher, Grimes took to Tumblr to slam an “asshole” follower who keeps posting quotes from an interview that she gave to CMJ in 2012, in which she admitted to using hard drugs while recording her album Visions.

Grimes told the reporter that she “blacked out the windows and did tons of amphetamines and stayed up for three weeks and didn’t eat anything.” She also described the experience as “equally enjoyable and tortuous but I feel like the fact that it was really hard was part of the reason that it was really good.”

Grimes has since had the quote removed from her Wikipedia page several times, but an anonymous follower keeps reinserting it.

“Whoever keeps putting the few quotes I said early in my career about drugs back into my Wikipedia page is an asshole,” she wrote. “I don’t want that to be part of my narrative, and if it has to be, I want people to know that I hate hard drugs. All they’ve ever done is kill my friends and cause me to be unproductive.”

Grimes also slammed the follower for being “incredibly irresponsible” and said they are “doing the world a disservice. I just watched another person I care deeply about basically turn into Gollum and my heart is broken. Losing people to drugs and alcohol is the worst because they destroy any good memories you have of them before, forcing you to deal with the empty space they leave behind.”

Fittingly, the quotes from her CMJ interview have since been taken down and have been replaced by a link to her recent statements on Tumblr. Grimes is currently at work on her fourth studio album.

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By McCarton Ackerman

celebrity spawn on drugs

8/19/14 8:30am

Jackie Chan's Son Busted for Marijuana Possession

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Photo via

Jackie Chan’s son has become the latest celebrity spawn in recent months to be arrested for drug possession.

Jaycee Chan, 31, was reportedly among several suspects who were arrested during a drug bust in Beijing, China. Reports from Chinese media claim that the son of the legendary actor tested positive for marijuana and confessed to using the drug to police. Investigators later found 100 grams of marijuana and charged him with using his home as a “shelter” for others to do drugs.

Jaycee faces up to three years in prison if convicted on all charges, but it is unlikely he will face jail time due to his lack of a prior criminal record and celebrity status. He has become a movie star in Hong Kong and China in recent years, starring in critically acclaimed films including the 2009 action flick Mulan: Rise of a Warrior.

His father has not publicly commented on his arrest, but has actively campaigned against drug use throughout much of his career. He was even appointed an anti-drug ambassador by China’s National Narcotics Control Commission in 2009.

“There are more and more young people becoming involved with drugs these days...This is very bad. Not only will you harm yourself by taking drugs, you will also harm your family as well,” he said in February 2013. "Because of this, our country is very serious about the fight against drugs at the moment…the responsibility that I carry on my shoulders feels very heavy.”

The sons of actor Robert Downey Jr. and tennis star John McEnroe have also been arrested this summer in separate drug possession incidents. Neither had a prior criminal record beforehand.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

8/19/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Aug. 19, 2014

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Thumbs up for coke. Shutterstock

By Shawn Dwyer

dumb move

8/18/14 7:30pm

Counselor Busted for Helping DUI Felon Get License

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As first reported by The Courier-Journal, a Kentucky alcohol counselor and owner of a counseling center has been arrested for falsifying documents to help a client convicted of DUI get a driver's license. Richard Shelton's actions nearly allowed a three-time convicted drunk driver to get his license reinstated months too soon, and without doing the necessary work to prove his rehabilitation.

Because of of his arrest, Shelton's certification as an alcohol abuse counselor has been revoked. Shelton ran Shelton Counseling in Fairdale, Ky., where he treated 36-year-old Dennis Saling, who pleaded guilty to a third drunk driving arrest on January 9. Saling was court-ordered to attend Shelton's facility, where he was to complete 52-weeks of treatment. Kentucky law mandates that defendants attend a year-long treatment program for a third DUI conviction.

But just five months after Saling enrolled, Shelton signed a completion form declaring that Saling had successfully finished the program in accordance with the law. Further documentation shows that Saling's signature, which appeared on the center's sign-in sheets, was misspelled.

Jefferson County District Court Judge David Holton said that he was “disturbed that an accredited alcohol treatment provider would submit a letter of completion (that was false)…I certainly believe that further steps should be taken to make sure this provider and others are not engaging in that activity."

"This is a perpetration of fraud on the court," Holton added. "The integrity of our judicial system is of utmost importance.”

Shelton's attorney claimed the program completion documents weren't faked, but just inaccurate on account of clerical mistakes made by Shelton Counseling employees.

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By John Lavitt

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