Category: Correspondence

Defending Public Defenders

By A.P. DuJardin There’s a real basis for concern over free attorneys. Free seems too good to be true and there are good and bad in every group. Outside of California pay is often low and case loads unreasonable. However, it’s also quite common for people who make poor decisions to also make poor judgments about the quality of assistance they receive. Their evaluations of their attorneys are based on limited experience and they have a strong incentive to lay the blame on someone else. Their lawyer, most commonly a PD, makes the most obvious target. This is why clients attack (and kill) their own lawyers more often than they attack the district attorneys prosecuting them. In a sense, public defenders and defense lawyers generally are culpable because the “criminal justice system” would not work without them. It would catastrophically fail without defense attorneys negotiating the plea agreements and making it appear to the public that “someone is looking out to make sure the criminals don’t get walked all over, so the system must be fair.” That’s the attitude of most citizens until they get personally involved, at which point they suddenly realize how completely fucked-up the laws and procedures can be. PDs have tried taking every case to trial to break the machine, with decidedly mixed results. Innocent clients are the exception, but they are usually quite easy...

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A Warning re Dabs

From Dale Gieringer:  The latest O’Shaughnessy’s has some delightful nuggets, thank you.   Your coverage of the anti-cancer potential of cannabis is admirably open-minded.  The report on WAMM’s experiment was especially interesting;  the results so far sure don’t make cannabis look like a miracle cure. Jeff Hergenrather’s article overlooked the number one hazard of dabbing in my experience.  That is the danger of passing out from an overdose.  In the past couple of years, there have been repeated occasions in which 911 teams have had to be called in due to cannabis overdoses.  At the NORML conference in LA, there were at least three different emergency calls due to use of high-potency cannabis extracts.  I hear that 911 was also called a few times at the High Times cannabis cup two years ago.  At the NORML party in LA, one person fainted and cracked his nose on the sidewalk.  I know someone else, a beautiful lady my age who has been smoking pot since the ’70s, who fainted and broke her teeth on the floor after dabbing.   Things like this never happened until the popularization of hash oil in recent years. The dangers are dire enough to merit a special warning.  The best-authenticated case of a cannabis death in the literature  —reported by Gabriel Nahas or Reese Jones as I recall—  was of someone who collapsed and cracked their...

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RIP Randy Givens

From Chris Conrad: I’m saddened to bear the news of Randy Givens’ passage in San Francisco Feb. 5, 2013 at age 73 after years of poor health. Randy was a real character in the San Francisco activist scene. He was a pool hustler and a common fixture at the SF Cannabis Buyers’ Club SF-CBC until it was shut down by the state in the days before SB 420 authorized collectives. [O’Shaughnessy’s published Givens’ piece  re Cannabis and the Bible in the 2010 book issue.]  Some may remember he gave a passionate presentation at the 2011 California NORML Next Steps conference in a panel organized by my wife, Mikki Norris. I had several conversations with Randy in recent months about how he was going to unite the movement by focusing on our common enemy of prohibition and that we need to hammer the opposition with a one-two punch of strong facts and strong rhetoric, and that if he could just get into the room with George Soros for one hour it would open the floodgates of his wealth to make marijuana legal for adults. Randy was opinionated, thought provoking, enthusiastic, optimistic and a fighter to the end. We’ll have to carry on his spirit from here. We will try to get more information and post his obituary and eulogies...

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Vietnam Flashback from Dr. O’Connell

News that Tom Hayden will be speaking at the NORML conference in LA next week inspired a flashback from Tom O’Connell, MD. The NORML agenda identifies Hayden as “former CA Assemblyman, Caravan for Peace.” But to those with the wide-angle view, like Dr. O’Connell, Hayden will forever be a founder of Students for a Democratic Society and a leader of the movement that helped end U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. O’Connell recalls: “I’d been taking care of wounded GIs from ‘Nam in Japan from November ‘65 on —the first big engagement between American troops and the NVA regulars in...

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Who is responsible for fact checking?

We were sent this piece from the Huffington Post, which reads like a press release. Is there really a 10,000 member Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce or does Mr. Leto just want to call attention to his statement about Obama? Can a writer just send stuff to HuffPo and they run it? Whose responsibility is it to fact check in this brave new world? Right now the Repugs are filling people’s minds with blatant lies —like Obama’s cutting MediCare when he’s actually making the insurers cough up some dough. The Democrats are irate but impotent as corporate money buys the airwaves.  “Reform movement” honchos and honchettes have also been getting away with telling a lie about Obama’s position on their special single issue. They do it by lifting one clause from a long riff  in which Obama, campaigning in Oregon in 2008, restated the Demo-Prohibitionist line on marijuana.  “Treat it as a medicine,” the first words out of his mouth, was the Clinton-Gore rhetoric and it means clinical trials, Cannabis from NIDA, DEA approval, FDA approval, etc. —the old four-cornered stall. Taking a few words out of context can be an effective misquote. Dennis Peron’s detractors did it to him when he said “in a country that’s giving Prozac to shy teenagers, all marijuana use is medical.”  But I digress. Our Reform leaders, to maximize their leverage with the President, continue...

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