Jun 122015

Surveillance video shows a raid conducted by Santa Ana police officers at an unlicensed marijuana dispensary last month. The edited video shows officers telling everyone to get on the ground. It also shows officers removing surveillance equipment, but the lawyer for the dispensary says hidden cameras caught much more, including officers eating marijuana edibles and joking about kicking an amputee. “Did you punch that one-legged old Benita?” one officer says. “I was about to kick her in her fucking nub,” a female officer replies. Marla James volunteers at the Sky High Collective. She’s legally blind and says several medical issues keep her confined to a wheelchair. She now plans to sue the city for the actions of the female officer in the video. James’ lawyer, Matthew Pappas, alleges the video shows officers playing darts and eating what he believes is marijuana edibles from the store.

House Republicans advanced a budget plan Thursday that would prevent legal sales of marijuana in the District until at least 2017. Advocates for legalization, however, called it a victory. What the Republican budget does not do yet is roll back Initiative 71, the voter-approved measure from November that legalized pot for recreational use in the nation’s capital. Since early this year, D.C. residents have been allowed to possess, grow and, in the privacy of their own homes, smoke marijuana. Last week, the House approved a bipartisan measure to protect state medical-marijuana programs. For only the second time, it instructed the federal Drug Enforcement Administration not to target state dispensaries or medical-marijuana manufacturing or distribution facilities. The House also told the DEA to leave alone states that allow sales of cannabinoids or CBD oils derived from cannabis plants. House lawmakers also moved to protect production of hemp for industrial purposes.

From January to May of this year, 15 people have died from using synthetic cannabinoids, a threefold increase from that period in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report issued Thursday. The number of calls to poison centers about the substances has also skyrocketed in the past year, confirming the federal government’s view that this is a growing public health threat that needs to be stamped out. From January to May, poison centers in the United States reported 3,572 calls related to synthetic cannabinoid use, according to the CDC. That’s 229 percent more than the number for that period last year. A 2012 government survey found that 1 in 9 high school seniors in the U.S. had used synthetic cannabinoids, the second-most commonly used illegal drug for that age group, behind marijuana. More than 17,000 synthetic cannabinoid-related reports were filed to the DEA’s National Forensic Laboratory Information System in 2013, compared with just 469 in 2010.

In New York City, misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests were dramatically lower between January and March 2015 than in the same period of 2014—2,960 compared to 7,110, respectively—but stark racial disparities persist among those arrested. During the first quarter of 2015, African-Americans were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession 1,494 times: That’s 50.47 percent of the total. Hispanics were arrested 1,130 times, or 38.18 percent, and together these two groups accounted for 88.65 percent of the total. Meanwhile, whites totaled 228 of these arrests (7.70 percent) and 79 (2.67 percent) of the arrestees listed as Asian/Indian, according to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. New York Police Department officers made 26,385 misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests in 2014. That was down from 28,954 in 2013. Both years, African-Americans and Hispanics comprised some 86 percent of these arrests.

Delaware’s first medical marijuana dispensary will open on June 26, more than four years after lawmakers and Gov. Jack Markell first legalized pot for medicinal use. Patients attending the events, and the dispensary’s opening, must be registered medical marijuana cardholders with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and preregister for the orientations. Some 340 Delawareans carry cards that allow them to use marijuana to treat a variety of conditions, and purchase marijuana at the dispensary when it opens later this month. Lawmakers in Dover on Thursday took another step, opening Delaware’s medical marijuana program to minors suffering seizures, severe pain or intractable nausea, among other conditions.