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1/09/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: January 9, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

clear majority

1/08/14 7:30pm

Americans Think Marijuana Less Harmful Than Tobacco and Alcohol, Poll Says

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According to a new poll conducted by CNN/ORC International, a clear majority now thinks that marijuana should be legal. The survey found that 55 percent of Americans think pot should be legal, while 44 percent believe it should remain illegal. Only one percent had no opinion.

The poll also found that people felt alcohol and tobacco were far more dangerous for people to use than marijuana, with a whopping 73 percent saying booze was more harmful and 64 percent saying tobacco was more dangerous. "The logical conclusion: Many Americans believe that if more dangerous substances like alcohol and tobacco are legal, marijuana should be, too," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

On the flipside of the poll, Americans still show a deep aversion to harder drugs like cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth. Only four percent supported legalizing cocaine and heroin, while just three percent said meth should be made legal. "Once again, opinions on marijuana seem to represent a halfway point between generally accepted substances like alcohol and widely reviled substances like cocaine and heroin," Holland said.

The poll was conducted January 3-5, 2014 with 1,010 adults contacted by phone nationwide.

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By Shawn Dwyer

another fatal dui

1/08/14 5:30pm

Police Say '2 Drunk 2 Care' Driver Had BAC of .15 in Fatal Crash

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Florida Highway Patrol have recently filed a search warrant in connection to a fatal crash in November 2013 involving 20-year-old Kaila Mendoza, who crashed head-on into a car carrying childhood friends, Kaitlyn Ferrante, 19, and Marisa Catronio, 21, both from Coral Springs, FL.

In the warrant, police stated that Mendoza’s blood alcohol level was .15 one hour after the crash, almost twice the legal limit in Florida. Christine Ferrante, Kaitlyn’s mother, always suspected Mendoza was drunk at the time of the crash, especially in light of her tweeting “2 drunk 2 care” just hours before the accident. “I’m very angry,” Ferrante said. “Now I can actually voice my opinion and say how angry I am to the fact that she actually got behind that wheel drunk. I want her to know the pain that I am suffering.”

Mendoza garnered wide attention for her numerous Twitter posts, where she described herself as a Pot Princess and tweeted about her hard-partying lifestyle, often saying things like “I break all my bongs cuz I have butter fingers” and “I have a test at 8am, why am I drunk right now.” Marisa’s father, Gary Catronio, said it was clear that Mendoza had made a series of poor choices on the night his daughter was killed. “It was her choice to get in the car and start it,” he said. “It was her choice to drive it. It was her choice to drive without a valid driver’s license. The choices were all hers. They were the wrong choices.”

Mendoza suffered two broken legs and serious brain injuries in the crash. Though police are still investigating, they confirmed that DUI manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter charges are likely.

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By Shawn Dwyer

overzealous cops

1/08/14 3:30pm

Outrage Over Arrest of Special Needs Student for Selling $3 Vicodin Pill

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Last month, Southern California narcotics officers arrested 25 high school students for drug dealing and possession after a 21 Jump Street-like operation where they posed as teenagers looking to score. But buried beneath the headline was the arrest of a 15-year-old special needs student whose parents believe that was entrapped by the police.

Most of the students arrested in the Dec. 12th raid were immediately released to their parents. But Monique Gallo, mother to the special needs student whose first name has been withheld, saw her son sentenced by a judge to juvenile hall through the holidays because he was already on probation for fighting in middle school last year. “He’s pretty shaken up. This is the first time he’s ever been in juvenile hall,” Gallo said. She stated in an interview with the Press-Enterprise that her son suffers from learning disabilities and reads at a third-grade level.

Gallo went on to describe what she felt were questionable tactics used by police, specifically with her son, whom she said was relentlessly pressured by the undercover officer to sell him a $3 pain pill even though her son had never sold drugs in the past. “It just isn’t right what they did to some of these kids,” Gallo said. “They just ruined most of these kids’ futures.”

A similar incident occurred at Temecula High School in 2012, when a teenager with autism was alleged to have been pressured to sell an uncover officer marijuana. His parents sued the school district to have their son reinstated after his expulsion, claiming that the school knowingly allowed their son to be targeted despite his learning disabilities.

Such concerns were what ultimately led to the demise of a similar drug-bust program in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2005.

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By Shawn Dwyer

legal pot in ny

1/08/14 1:00pm

New York State Next for Medical Marijuana?

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New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced plans to make medical marijuana available to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other serious illnesses.

According to a report in the New York Times, the executive action will allow 20 hospitals in the state to legally prescribe cannabis to qualified patients who meet standards set by the New York Department of Health. The plan has greater limits that those in several of the 20 states that currently allow the use of marijuana, including California, where it can be prescribed for backaches or anxiety, or Colorado, where the January 1, 2014 passage of Amendment 64 to the state constitution legalized recreational marijuana use. According to a 2013 report by the New York City Comptroller’s office, more than 100,000 New York City residents with chronic and severe pain, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and other conditions could benefit from Cuomo’s action.

While Governor Cuomo’s plan does not currently provide information on when or how medical marijuana will be made available to patients, his decision has drawn the attention of advocates for both legalized marijuana use and legal reform. Cuomo has previously shared a skeptical view of medical marijuana with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who described its efficacy as “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.” However, Cuomo’s newfound stance is one of several recent campaigns to reach a broader demographic of his political base, including same-sex marriage in 2011 and tougher gun-control laws in the wake of the Newton, CT shootings. While detractors have decried the governor’s decision as an attempt to shore up voters in an election year, his position is in line with popular opinion at both the state and national level, which calls for reform of New York’s notoriously tough marijuana laws and overwhelmingly supports the legalization of medical marijuana.

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By Paul Gaita

china's war on drugs

1/08/14 10:30am

Chinese Meth 'Fortress' Raided By 3,000 Police Members

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Chinese officials successfully raided a “fortress” of meth production that comprised much of an entire village Guangdong province. More than 3,000 police officers raided Boshe village last weekend, arresting 182 drug ring members, and destroying 77 meth labs. Out of the 1,700 households in the village, more than 20 percent of them either produced or sold drugs for a living.

Fourteen party officials and local officials were among those arrested for allowing the drug rings to operate. Even the party chief of Boshe village, Cai Dongjia, was arrested for actively protecting the drug rings after moving on from manufacturing meth himself. The drug production had became so rampant in the village that a sign at the local garbage collection site read: “discarding of meth lab garbage is forbidden.”

Guo Shaobo, deputy chief of the Guangdong Public Security Bureau, said that drug manufacturing in Boshe was “organized by families, managed as an industry and protected by the locals.” Police had attempted to take action against the village before, but Dongjia used his influence as a member of the people’s congress of Shantou municipality to free arrested suspects.

But now that all drugs have been removed from the fortress, Boshe residents are struggling to figure out how to move forward. The village has become so polluted with meth chemicals that the groundwater is currently unsuitable for farming.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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