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  • ShereeKrider 8:36 pm on February 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , DTF, , Nevada, Nixon administration, obama, Operation Chronic Problem, , , prisons for profit, ,   

    From Organizing America to Operation Chronic Problem, How Cannabis Prohibition Ruins Lives 


     

     

    My Bust

     

    Katree Darriel Saunders is a 30 year old mother, cannabis activist, and an active member of her community. Katree was living in Las Vegas, NV when she was arrested during a DEA sting called Operation Chronic Problem on the charges of: Conspiracy to distribute marijuana and hashish. For 10 grams of hashish and 3.5 grams of marijuana Katree has had her life as she knew it ended. This dedicated mother lost her family and job for trying to help. Trying to help what turned out to be a lying, conniving, scheming, weasel of a DEA Agent posing as a medical cannabis patient desperate for relief. This is Katree Darriel Saunders story. Her loss, her pain, and what many consider a major injustice as well as a violation of her constitutional rights.

    Katree has been addicted off and on to prescription pain pills since the age of 15. In 2007, seeking pain relief from multiple car accidents, Katree Saunders became a medical cannabis patient. Knowing the harmful side effects of pharmaceuticals, plus their lack of effectiveness, Saunders chose medical cannabis. Not only did cannabis end Saunders pain, she was able to stop using prescription drugs all together. As a hardworking mother, Saunders put herself through college and became a positive and active member of her community.

    Nevada’s laws prohibited the sale of cannabis in 2007, which forced Saunders to seek it through the black market, known for unsavory individuals who traffic anything from people to weapons to stolen merchandise. Once when Saunders sought cannabis from the black market she was sexually assaulted. This devastating incident convinced Saunders she had to do something. There had to be a way for her to legally and safely obtain her medication.

    She contacted the state of Nevada and spoke with Jennifer Barlett, who referred her to Michael McAuliffe of Nevada’s Compassionate Care (NCC). It was there Saunders found her place. She began working with NCC and was helping others away from the black market.

    Things were going well for Saunders in February of 2010. She volunteered for a political event called Organizing America where President Barack Obama spoke about healthcare reform. Saunders was chosen to be on stage. She sat in the front row behind the president as he gave his speech. Upon the close, Katree was able to shake hands with the President. While doing so, Saunders said ‘We needed to talk about medical patient’s rights.’ Then, according to Saunders, Obama looked at her and said ‘I’m not prosecuting.’

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    Feeling confident and empowered after this Saunders then became active in helping patients obtain their medical cannabis cards from the Nevada state program. Unfortunately, while Saunders was working for NCC, she was set up by undercover DEA agents. They were conducting what was known as Operation Chronic Problem. A federal DEA agent posed as a sick patient asking for help obtaining medical cannabis.

    Saunders, being a compassionate person, facilitated this lying individual’s request. Later she was indicted on distribution of a controlled substance. Saunders served four months in prison as well as a lengthy probation since she did not offer up the names of her medical patients.

    While on pretrial Saunders was in another motor vehicle accident. This accident totaled her husband’s vehicle and left Saunders with a fractured foot as well as a back injury. She was placed on morphine, Xanax, and MARINOL®. The morphine began to make her heart hurt, so she opted to stop taking it in exchange for MARINOL®. MARINOL® is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring compound known as delta-9-THC. However, since Saunders was on probation, the state of Nevada told her that she could not take MARINOL® since they would not be able to determine if she was consuming cannabis or simply taking the medication.

    The State of Nevada Probation Department obtained a court order preventing Saunder’s doctor from prescribing MARINOL® to her. Now, not only was Saunders in trouble for selling 3.5 grams of cannabis and 10 grams of hash, she also lost her job, family and right to medicate.

    During her incarceration, her husband divorced her, took the kids and moved away. While in custody at the prison, Saunders says she was ‘sexually assaulted and harassed by US Marshals’.

    During Saunders’ trial, her attorneys advised her not to mention anything about her encounter with President Obama. For the 4 months Katree Saunders was incarcerated, the state split her time between a private prison corporation (Corrections Corporation of America – CCA) and a state prison, and earned a minimum of $5,000 for hosting her. The state of Nevada spent an estimated $20,656 per inmate in 2012, and reported 267.9 million in costs. They also claimed to have 15 million dollars in prison related costs outside of the state budget. This is where states and private prison corporations make big dollars housing criminals. In the case of cannabis consumers, these corporations make out like bandits.

     

    Imagine charging $21,000 a year to house someone who was busted selling or possessing cannabis. In Saunders case, that 13.5 grams of cannabis, with a street value of $150, cost taxpayers over $20,000 to put her through the system. That doesn’t include the cost of the actual arrest, which stands at $1,500 to $3,500 with booking, paperwork, police officers fees, donuts, etc.

    Saunders fought hard to break away from prescription drugs, but in the end they were her only option. Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, has been making billions off victims. Purdue Pharma is involved in countless lawsuits and their officials have admitted to deceitful and immoral medical practices, yet they are still making money. These are the ones that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks out about when he refers to the top one-tenth of 1%.

    In 1993 the DEA allowed pharmaceutical companies to produce 3520 kilos of a drug known as oxycodone. Twenty-two years later they are manufacturing 137.5 thousand kilos of the same drug. That is an increase of 39 times in the manufacturing of this controlled substance. Since President Nixon founded the DEA in 1973, they have done nothing but prosecute those who attempt to possess, grow, or in any way affiliate themselves with cannabis.

    Medical cannabis helps millions of people across the United States and world to find relief from pain and suffering. Cannabis helped Saunders break her addiction and take back control of her life. Cannabis is a safe treatment alternative for many illnesses, as well as the management of symptoms associated with a broad array of medical complications. Prescription drug addiction, of course, is a problem that is not only plaguing the United States, but the whole world.

    Saunders’ battle with a prescription drug addiction from a young age illustrates the carelessness of the medical industry in allowing doctors to over-prescribe dangerous medications. It has also enabled them to receive substantial kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies in the process.

    According to ABC News, America consumes over 90% of the world’s hydrocodone and 80 percent of the planet’s opioids. The United States of America makes up only 4.6 percent of the planet’s population. This opioid problem has destroyed mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Children and soldiers suffer horrendously because of our country’s support for the pharmaceutical industry. Children suffer by being denied medication that could in fact actually help them, and at times even cure them. Children also suffer by losing parents who are consumed by prescription drug addiction. Soldiers who protect our freedom, often with their own lives, suffer from illnesses such as PTSD. They are sometimes denied a natural treatment, such as cannabis, to help with their symptoms.

    The Doctors Enforcement Agency

    The DEA licenses more than 600,000 surgeons, doctors, and podiatrists to administer prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers. According to NORML (National Reform of Marijuana Laws), in 2011 there were an estimated 1.5 million registered medical cannabis patients living in the United States of America. The sad side of this is that the laws pertaining to medical cannabis forced so many to seek their medication on the black market.

    The public seems to believe that we think cannabis is the new cure-all, and other medications should be eliminated. This is not true. Common sense will tell you that there are many medical advancements today which have led us to the most sophisticated and advanced techniques and cures. During this evolution we have managed to de-evolve at the same time, through the abuse of prescription drugs, as much the fault of patients as it is the doctors doing the prescribing. Some individuals get prescription pain pills in large quantities because the doctors will prescribe them. Some individuals do not even take their medication. Instead they sell them on the street. When doctors prescribe as much as 100 to 300 pills at a time, with an average price of $10 a pill, some people can make an extra $3,000 a month.

    Prohibition Has Failed and it’s Hurting America

    The prohibition of cannabis that began in the late 1930s has devastated countless numbers of American lives and destroyed families across the country. The FDA will approve OxyContin for 6-year-olds but will not support cannabis oil. This is an absurd violation of human rights. The United States of America has held the patent for medical cannabis since 2003. This means that they knowingly have information that solidifies and validates medical cannabis as an effective treatment. This also means that the DEA and FDA know, and have evidence, that cannabis is medicine.

    For the past 12 years the DEA has left cannabis as a schedule 1 narcotic. This puts it in the same class as heroin and cocaine, that it has no medicinal value. They have lied to the American people kept the public sick, and now some laugh at us while the cannabis community is trying to change laws to better the world around us.

    The Dogs of the Feds

    The DEA regularly raids medicinal cannabis facilities and Indian tribal lands. They arrest, abuse, neglect and destroy the lives of countless cannabis consumers. Medical patients and recreational consumers alike suffer the wrath of the DEA everyday. There are no public benefits from cannabis prohibition! The medicinal aspects combined with potential taxes are unquestionably positive. The simple implementation of taxation on cannabis will help to eliminate the black market. This puts a lot of politicians, local sheriffs, and other individuals out of extra income they have enjoyed for years.

    Katree Saunders felt the wrath of the DEA during Operation Chronic Pain and now you know her story. From being hooked on prescription drugs at 15, to meeting the President of the United States, to prison, to an avid cannabis activist, Saunders’ struggle is all too familiar to many Americans, except for meeting Mr. Barack Obama.

    Help support America by being a seed. One seed can tip the scales of injustice. Are you that seed?

     
  • ShereeKrider 2:03 am on November 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cannabis sativa, , , , Nixon administration, Obama’s administration, Schedule 1 drug   

    Pot Block! Trapped in the Marijuana Rescheduling Maze 


    One citizen-journalist’s journey into the drug war bureaucracy shows why previous efforts to reschedule pot have been DEA’d on arrival.

    Harmon Leon

    October 30, 2013

     

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    Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in America. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Cannabis sativa is as dangerous as heroin. (You know… as in heroin!) To justify this ranking, the DEA has declared that the plant has absolutely no medical value. Zero. Nada. Zip. The federal government has determined that this position is backed by science.

    Marijuana’s current status as one of the most dangerous drugs in America became official in 1970, during the Nixon administration. (Putting matters in ludicrous perspective, cocaine and even Breaking Bad meth are Schedule II.) Every administration since then has treated marijuana as mad, bad and dangerous to know, with virtually no attempt made to reclassify it. And that list includes the current one.

    About the Author
    Harmon Leon

    Harmon Leon is the author of six books, including The American Dream, The Harmon Chronicles and Republican Like Me. His…

    “It’s a bit of an Alice in Wonderland scenario with the Obama administration,” explains Kris Hermes of American for Safe Access (ASA). “He made statements prior to being elected about changing the policy on marijuana, but in reality the opposite has happened.”

    Not only have there been more medical marijuana arrests during Obama’s administration than the entire Bush regime, but even in states like California and Washington, there’s been a steady rise in the number of people being raided even though they’re in full compliance with state law. The federal government has threatened landlords and financial institutions working with medical marijuana businesses; the IRS has been involved with audits; pro-pot lawmakers have been bullied; and veterans using marijuana for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder have been denied medical benefits by the Veterans Administration—all because of marijuana’s Schedule I status.

    On the other hand, dropping pot down a notch to Schedule II (let alone III, IV or V, or removing it from the Controlled Substances Act completely) would be a big step in resolving the clash between state and federal law, since such a move would at least acknowledge marijuana’s medical utility and allow doctors to legally prescribe it.

    So what can be done to reschedule marijuana in a country where the “drug czar” is required by law to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a Schedule I substance—in any form?

    Time to put on our citizen-journalist’s hat and go through the looking glass into the bizarre legal labyrinth of the rescheduling process. Kris Hermes warned that it wouldn’t be easy: “Bureaucrats shut down and refuse to talk when it’s convenient for them not to talk… when it suits their purpose!”

    I Contact the DEA

    Phoning the DEA is an unnerving experience—a sensation similar to being in high school and calling your dad at 2 am to inform him that you’ve crashed the family car (though now safe in the knowledge that the NSA will keep tabs on me).

    I get a DEA representative on the phone. He goes by the name Rusty. (Perhaps because of his employer’s corroded views on ending the drug war?)

    “Could I get any information regarding the rescheduling of medical marijuana?”

    “I don’t want to spark a debate,” Rusty from the DEA replies. “I don’t know if that’s something we’d weigh in on. I don’t know what the point would be—our stance is pretty much on our website.”

    Rusty from the DEA informs me that the agency’s position on medical marijuana can be found under the tab astutely labeled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse.” (The thirty-page PDF reads like some bureaucrat’s idea for a remake of Reefer Madness.)

    The key words in this manifesto: dangers, consequences, abuse. That doesn’t seem to indicate much willingness to consider pot’s medical value. Apparently, the DEA is still convinced that cancer victims are merely “abusing” marijuana to alleviate their chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.

    Rusty from the DEA adds: “You know, Congress can change this at any point—which people seem to forget.”

    Perfect. That would be the same body that recently shut down the federal government and threatened the United States with default. But while the DEA might say that rescheduling is up to Congress, according to the ASA, that’s not exactly the case. The DEA actually delays the process—with no time limit imposed for answering rescheduling petitions, the agency takes the longest possible time before reaching a decision. (And then it says no.) To get around to denying the ASA’s rescheduling petition, it took the federal government a whopping nine years.

    I Contact the FDA

    According to a memorandum of understanding between the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration, a rescheduling petition has to go through the FDA. (Despite the fact that the DEA is under no obligation to recognize the conclusions of that agency.) Meanwhile, roughly every nineteen minutes, an American dies of accidental prescription-drug overdose—and these are pills approved by the FDA. (“Approved!”) Since the big pharmaceutical companies can’t make money off homegrown medical marijuana, might that be swaying the FDA’s recommendation?

    “Can I ask a few questions about the rescheduling of medical marijuana?” I ask an unnamed FDA representative.

    “I’m looking into this for you,” she replies.

    Moments later…

    “We cannot comment on this topic due to pending citizen petitions, other than to say our analyses and decision-making processes are ongoing.”

    Not much to work with there, though I’m intrigued by the mention of “pending citizen petitions.” I press on: “What would be the process needed for medical marijuana to be approved by the FDA?”

    “As you are aware, Schedule 1 drugs have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and as I indicated before, we cannot comment on this topic of rescheduling due to pending citizen petitions.”

    My information parade has been rained out. Why so cagey? After all, the FDA approved Marinol, whose active ingredient is 100 percent synthetic THC (i.e., the stuff that makes pot so dangerous and addictive that it has to be classified as Schedule I). And Marinol, strangely enough, is Schedule III—even though no pot plant in the history of marijuana has tested at 100 percent THC. (Even the strongest pot these days clocks in at under 40 percent.)

    So my basic question goes unanswered, though the FDA representative does grant me an open invitation to check out the agency’s website—anytime I please!

    My inquiry at the Justice Department yields similar results: “Hi Harmon—DOJ’s enforcement policy on marijuana is in the attached. Thanks.”

    My attempt at securing a comment from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals—which threw out the ASA’s appeal on its rescheduling petition—doesn’t go much better: “I’m sorry. I don’t know the answer to your question. I am sure there must be subject matter experts out there who would know.… Good luck!”

    Down and Down the Rabbit Hole…

    At the heart of the approval process is the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Ironically—or maybe not—the organization is funded by the federal government. Catch-22: for the DEA to reschedule marijuana, scientific studies authorized by NIDA have to prove its medical benefits. This is basically like putting the mice in charge of the mousey snacks. In his now-famous about-face on medical marijuana, Dr. Sanjay Gupta pointed out how many of NIDA’s studies are actually designed to find detrimental effects—with only about 6 percent, he estimates, looking into medical benefits. The end result of NIDA’s efforts: the almost-complete suppression of research into the therapeutic value of marijuana.

    “Will Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s statement have any impact on rescheduling medical marijuana?” I ask the NIDA rep.

    NIDA’s response: “The best resource for questions about rescheduling is the Drug Enforcement Administration.” (A phone number is provided.)

    Reaching deep into my citizen-journalist’s bag of tricks, I try a more straightforward approach: “What would it take to have medical marijuana rescheduled? Clearly we’re at a crossroads where public opinion is changing, yet the federal government doesn’t want to change its stance. Is it left to further scientific studies or any other factors?”

    The Nation is facing a crippling postal rate hike—donate by October 31 to help us foot this $120,272 bill.

    “You’ll need to contact the DEA for questions about rescheduling.”

    And so I’m back at square one. It turns out that getting an answer from the federal government on rescheduling marijuana is a lot like contacting the local Scientology center and asking them to go on record about the planet Xenu. In the meantime, the Supreme Court recently declined to hear ASA’s appeal on its rescheduling petition—the one that the DEA waited nine years to reject, and that the DC Circuit Court turned down on appeal, declaring that only Congress has the power to amend the Controlled Substances Act.

    If the federal government is determined to maintain marijuana as a highly illegal Schedule 1 substance—despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary and an ongoing sea change in public opinion—then perhaps its best ploy at this point would be to sit on its hands and do absolutely nothing.

    Mission accomplished.

    Also In This Issue

    Katrina vanden Heuvel: “Why Its Always Been Time to Legalize Marijuana

    Mike Riggs: “Obama’s War on Pot

    Carl L. Hart: “Pot Reform’s Race Problem

    Harry Levine: “The Scandal of Racist Marijuana Possession Arrests—and Why We Must Stop Them

    Martin A. Lee: “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom: The Populist Politics of Cannabis Reform

    Martin A. Lee: “The Marijuana Miracle: Why a Single Compound in Cannabis May Revolutionize Modern Medicine

    Kristen Gwynne: “Can Medical Marijuana Survive in Washington State?

    Atossa Araxia Abrahamian: “Baking Bad: A Potted History of High Times

    Various Contributors: “The Drug War Touched My Life: Why I’m Fighting Back

    And only online…

    J. Hoberman: “The Cineaste’s Guide to Watching Movies While Stoned

    Seth Zuckerman: “Is Pot-Growing Bad for the Environment?

    Harmon Leon

    October 30, 2013

    CONTINUE READING…

     
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