Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Heroin sold in Happy Meals

PITTSBURGH — An employee of a McDonald’s restaurant in Pittsburgh was charged Wednesday with selling heroin in Happy Meals to customers using the coded request “I’d like to order a toy.”

Allegheny County authorities made the arrest after an informant told them that an employee was selling the drug at a McDonald’s in the East Liberty section of the city.

Customers looking for heroin were instructed to go through the drive-thru and say, “I’d like to order a toy,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. The customer would then drive to the window, hand over the money and get a Happy Meal box containing heroin in exchange, Manko said.

Undercover agents set up a drug buy and arrested Shania Dennis, 26, of East Pittsburgh. Dennis denied wrongdoing to reporters as she was being led away in handcuffs.

Authorities said they found 10 bags of heroin in a Happy Meal box and recovered another 50 bags from the suspect.

Another McDonald’s employee was arrested this month for selling heroin out of a restaurant in nearby Murrysville.

Authorities said the heroin recovered Wednesday does not appear to be related to the fentanyl-laced heroin blamed for 22 overdose deaths in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Obama Says Congress Responsible for Marijuana Being Schedule I Substance

During an interview with CNN that aired Friday, President Barack Obama explained that it’s Congress’ job to remove marijuana from the government’s list of Schedule I Controlled Substances, if anyone were to do it.  The President also reiterated his stance on marijuana during the interview, alluding to the fact that he might support Congress making such a decision.

In reaction to the President’s recent interview in the New Yorker, where he said he does not believe marijuana is more harmful than alcohol, CNN asked Obama whether he would push to have marijuana rescheduled.

Obama responded, “First of all, what is and isn’t a Schedule I narcotic is a job for congress.”  The President explained that the DEA is ultimately the body that determines Scheduling, but it does so based on the laws passed by Congress.  During the interview, Obama would not explicitly express his support for congressional action to reschedule marijuana.

However, he then added, “I stand by my belief, based, I think, on the scientific evidence, that marijuana, for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse, just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge.  But as I said in the interview, my concern is when you end up having very heavy criminal penalties for individual users that have been applied unevenly, and in some case, with racial disparity.”

Obama did end the interview with a warning, implying that both marijuana prohibition and full legalization can have their pitfalls.  “But I do offer a cautionary note,” Obama told CNN. “…Those who think legalization is a panacea, I think they have to ask themselves some tough questions, too, because if we start having a situation where big corporations with a lot of resources and distribution and marketing arms are suddenly going out there peddling marijuana, then the levels of abuse that may take place are going to be higher.” Continue reading....

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hemp growing going legit after decades-long ban


 DENVER (AP) — The federal government is ready to let farmers grow cannabis — at least the kind that can't get people high.

Hemp — marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin that's used to make everything from clothing to cooking oil — could soon be cultivated in 10 states under a federal farm bill agreement reached late Monday that allows the establishment of pilot growing programs.

The plant's return to legitimacy could clear the way for U.S. farmers to compete in an industry currently dominated by China. Even though it hasn't been grown in the U.S., the country is one of the fastest-growing hemp markets.

In 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of legal hemp products, up from $1.4 million in 2000. Most of that growth was seen in hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars and other products.

"This is big," said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a Washington-based group that advocates for the plant's legal cultivation. "We've been pushing for this a long time."

Legalized growing of hemp had congressional allies from both ends of the political spectrum. Democrats from marijuana-friendly states have pushed to legalize hemp cultivation, as have Republicans from states where the fibrous plant could be a profitable new crop.

"We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in a statement. McConnell was a lead negotiator on the inclusion of hemp in the farm bill.

The full House and Senate still must agree on the bill that will head to the House floor Wednesday. State departments of agriculture then must designate hemp-cultivation pilot projects for research purposes.

Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa. Marijuana, however, is cultivated to dramatically increase THC, a psychoactive chemical that exists in trace amounts in hemp.

Hemp has historically been used for rope but has hundreds of other uses: clothing and mulch from the fiber, foods such as hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds, and creams, soap and lotions.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, but centuries later the plant was swept up in anti-drug efforts and growing it without a federal permit was banned in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.

The last Drug Enforcement Administration hemp permit was issued in 1999 for a quarter-acre experimental plot in Hawaii. That permit expired in 2003.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last recorded an industrial hemp crop in the late 1950s, down from a 1943 peak of more than 150 million pounds on 146,200 harvested acres.

It's not clear whether legalized hemp cultivation suggests the federal government is ready to follow the 20 states that have already legalized medical marijuana, including two that also allow its recreational use.

"This is part of an overall look at cannabis policy, no doubt," Steenstra said. Continue Reading...