After Legal Pot, Are We Ready to Decriminalize Psychedelics?

Now that marijuana has been legally accepted for medical use in much of the U.S., it may be worth considering the decriminalization of psychedelic substances for similar reasons, according to a paper in the Lewis & Clark Law Review.

“Psychedelics are now being shown [as] viable therapeutic alternatives in treating depression, substance use disorders, and other mental illnesses, and even to enhance the well-being of healthy individuals,” wrote Dustin Marlan, assistant law professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Law.

Marlan recommends posing a referendum question at the state level in the same way as state voters were asked to consider decriminalizing medical marijuana.

Decriminalizing psychedelics could represent a “potential major shift in the War on Drugs,” he added in his paper, entitled “Beyond Cannabis: Psychedelic Decriminalization and Social Justice.”

In May, 2019, Denver became the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin (the active compound in “magic mushrooms”), and Marlan predicted that other cities and states would follow suit with referenda.

Marlan cited several studies purporting to show the medical value of psychedelics. One study, according to Marlan, concluded that, “[s]ingle moderate-dose psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy produced rapid, robust, and sustained clinical benefits in terms of reduction of anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer. . . . leading to immediate antidepressant and anxiolytic effects with enduring clinical benefits.”

An additional study, Psychedelic Medicine for Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders, produced by Mason Marks, an affiliated fellow at Yale Law School, argued physicians should rethink their biases against psychedelics, and separate fact from fiction.

According to Marks, “Legal measures [such as state law decriminalization] that would encourage the medical use of psychedelics are justified, based on the relative ineffectiveness of traditional psychiatric drugs in treating mental illness.”


Lophophora Williamsii (peyote) by Armen Tsirunyan via Flickr

Moreover, experiences generated by psychedelics are also “found to enhance the well-being of individuals without health problems,” Marlan argued.

“Focusing only on medical exemptions to prohibition could obscure the fact that healthy individuals can also benefit from the use of psychedelics, and that a legal right to do so could exist.”

However, Marlan wrote, “It is worth clarifying that, due to the psychological dangers involved, use of psychedelics outside of the therapeutic context should not necessarily be endorsed or encouraged by law or society.”

Marlan laid out several possible strategies for the decriminalization of psychedelics:

      • Work within existing regulatory guidelines to get FDA approval;
      • Remove some psychedelics from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act so that research becomes less expensive and burdensome;
      • Establish state-governed systems for regulating psychedelics.

Marlan then concluded that policymakers must consider the medical value of these mind-altering drugs, as well as its implications for religious freedom and social justice.

The full research paper can be accessed here.

Andrea Cipriano is a staff writer at The Crime Report.

via The Crime Report

October 2, 2019 at 09:22AM

Prominent Baltimore defense lawyer indicted for allegedly aiding crimes of marijuana kingpin

By Debra Cassens Weiss

Prominent Baltimore defense lawyer Ken Ravenell has been indicted on federal charges based on allegations he helped a Jamaican marijuana kingpin and his crew members launder drug proceeds and avoid detection.

The indictment returned Wednesday charges Ravenell, 60, with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and narcotics conspiracy, according to the Baltimore Sun and a press release.

The indictment alleges Ravenell instructed crew members to “utilize certain drug couriers, to utilize specific modes of transportation and to transport shipments of drugs and money at particular times of day, all for the purpose of evading law enforcement.”

The indictment also claims Ravenell told crew members they should use payphones and prepaid phones, and should remove batteries from their phones when meeting to discuss illegal activities.

Prosecutors say Ravenell used the law firm where he was a partner in furtherance of the conspiracy, which took place between 2009 and 2014.

Some of the drug crew’s meetings were held at the law firm, and Ravenell used law firm bank accounts to launder drug money and pay lawyers representing other members of the conspiracy, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors also say Ravenell found lawyers who refused to represent cooperating witnesses to represent crew members, and required the crew members to sign retainer agreements that allowed their lawyers to withdraw from the case if the client tried to cooperate.

Ravenell obtained information about the status of the cases and whether the defendants were cooperating, and then relayed that information to other conspirators, prosecutors say. Ravenell also met with defendants in jail without permission of their lawyers and encouraged them to accept plea deals that did not include cooperation, according to the indictment.

The Baltimore Sun identified Ravenell’s former firm as the Murphy Law Firm. Since leaving the firm, Ravenell has emerged as a top defense lawyer who has handled high-profile murder cases, according to the Sun.

via ABA Journal Daily News

September 21, 2019 at 12:24AM

Officer Who Guarded El Chapo’s Wife Is Accused of Dealing Drugs

CreditCreditMark Lennihan/Associated Press

By  Sept. 19, 2019

A New York City officer named Ishmael Bailey had an off-duty job as a bodyguard this year for the wife of one of the most notorious defendants to step inside a courthouse — Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo.

Officer Bailey had a front-row seat as federal prosecutors unspooled Mr. Guzmán’s long career shipping hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States and orchestrating the deaths of dozens of people to protect his vast operation.

On Wednesday, Officer Bailey was back in a courtroom, this time as a defendant.

Officer Bailey was accused by prosecutors in Queens of moonlighting as a bodyguard for people he believed to be drug dealers and of selling illegal drugs, according to a criminal complaint. Officer Bailey, who became an officer 12 years ago, was suspended without pay.

Karlton Jarrett, an assistant Queens district attorney, said in court on Wednesday that Officer Bailey had worked off-duty jobs, including as an “escort security” for Mr. Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro.

“It was one day — three minutes walking her to the courthouse and three minutes walking her back to the vehicle,” Ms. Colon Miro said. “It’s very unfortunate.”

Officer Bailey’s lawyer, Jeff Cohen, said his client’s side job providing security for Ms. Aispuro “is irrelevant to the charges.” His client entered a plea of not guilty and intends to fight the charges, Mr. Cohen said.

“We have a lot of investigation to do,” he said.

The accusations against the officer involve wrongdoing that occurred long after the trial of Mr. Guzmán ended and are not related to the Mexican drug cartel he controlled.

The acting Queens district attorney, John Ryan, said Officer Bailey had betrayed his oath of office.

“Today, sadly, he is accused of taking part in an illicit drug operation,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement. “This kind of malfeasance will not be tolerated.”

New York’s police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, also expressed his dismay.

“There is no place for corruption within the N.Y.P.D.,” Mr. O’Neill said. “When an individual officer intentionally tarnishes the shield worn proudly by thousands before him, he will be held to the highest account the law provides.”

Brian O’Neill, center, an assistant chief of internal affairs for the New York Police Department, discussed the case against Officer Bailey on Thursday.
CreditJefferson Siegel for The New York Times

Officer Bailey had worked briefly for a company that provided transportation for Ms. Aispuro, the police said. Officers often work second jobs, but the department would not say if it knew at the time that Officer Bailey had arranged to work for Ms. Aispuro.

The department also did not respond to specific questions about its vetting policies regarding officers’ seeking to work second jobs.

According to a Police Department patrol guide, an officer must file an application with details about the second employer’s name and assignments, which is later approved by more than one supervisor.

The investigation of Officer Bailey began in July after his commanding officer raised concerns about him, according to Assistant Chief Brian O’Neill, the executive officer of the Internal Affairs Bureau. Chief O’Neill would not say what those concerns were.

According to the criminal complaint, Officer Bailey, 36, agreed to act as a
security guard and to transport and sell cocaine from late August to mid-

On Aug. 27, Officer Bailey first agreed to act as a security guard for a drug dealer who turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Officer Bailey met with the same undercover agent on Sept. 4 in Astoria, Queens, and held open a duffel bag while three packages — one of them containing cocaine and the other two material meant to look like cocaine — were placed in the bag, the complaint said.

Officer Bailey was paid $2,500 to take the bag to a parking lot and give it to a man who was also an undercover police officer. Later, Officer Bailey again offered security services to the first undercover officer, and he was paid $10,000 to pick up two kilograms of cocaine, according to the complaint.

Officer Bailey faces a host of charges including first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree conspiracy, second-degree bribe receiving and official misconduct, officials said.

Officer Bailey’s brother Joshua Bailey, 34, said his family was in disbelief over the accusations. He described the officer as a dedicated member of the force and a father of two.

“He’s a good man, a good father,” Mr. Bailey said. “I can’t believe this.”

Ashley Southall contributed reporting.

Edgar Sandoval is a metro reporter covering crime, courts and general assignments.  @edjsandoval

Despite Crackdowns, Illegal Drugs Still Sold on Dark Web

Authorities in the U.S. and Europe recently staged a wide-ranging crackdown on online drug markets, taking down Wall Street Market and Valhalla, two of the largest drug markets on the so-called dark web. Yet the desire to score drugs from the comfort of home and to make money from selling those drugs appears for many to be stronger than the fear of getting arrested, The New York Times reports.

Despite enforcement actions over the last six years that led to the shutdown of about half a dozen sites, there are still close to 30 illegal online markets, according to DarknetLive, a news and information site for the dark web. The fight against online drug sales is starting to resemble the war on drugs in the physical world: There are raids. Sites are taken down; a few people are arrested. And after a while the trade and markets pop up somewhere else.

via The Crime Report

June 12, 2019 at 10:31AM

Denver First to Decriminalize Psychedelic Mushrooms

Denver voters narrowly approved a proposal to make their city the first in the nation to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, the Denver Post reports. If the unofficial result is certified May 16, police will treat enforcement of laws against possession of psilocybin mushrooms as their lowest priority, similar to the marijuana decriminalization policies that preceded Colorado’s trailblazing pot-legalization vote more than six years ago.

Efforts are afoot to get psilocybin-related measures on the ballot in Oregon and California in 2020. An earlier effort in California last year failed to qualify for the ballot. Psychedelic mushrooms still would remain illegal to buy, sell or possess, with the latter crime a felony that carries a potential punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine. But Initiative 301 backers hope to lower the risk users face of getting caught with mushrooms. Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin “breakthrough therapy” designation for its potential to help with treatment-resistant depression, a status that speeds up the development and review process for a medicine containing the substance.

via The Crime Report

May 9, 2019 at 08:41AM

Phila. Drug Police Falsified Info, Hid It from DA: Report

In May 2017, Philadelphia Narcotics Bureau supervisors Raymond Evers and Anthony Boyle called staff into a mandatory meeting. Evers called it a “pep talk” to “get better-quality investigations.” What he outlined, according to an internal affairs report obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer, was a scheme to flip low-level suspects into off-the-books confidential informants through a process that evolved into falsifying paperwork and hiding information from the District Attorney’s office. Some officers described the system as illegal and a violation of police directives, the report said. It sustained allegations Evers abused his authority, failed to supervise subordinates, and lied about it. Internal Affairs sustained charges against Boyle for failure to supervise. The Police Board of Inquiry has not held a hearing.  “I was shocked … These officers were provided improper instructions involving illegality,” narcotics Capt. Laverne Vann told investigators.

One officer said Evers “was encouraging the officers to obtain informants by flipping. Persons with a small amount of drugs, he said to put it on a property receipt and say you found it on the highway.” The internal investigation was launched in response to a letter “from stressed black personnel of the Narcotics Unit.” It echoes claims in a lawsuit filed by the Guardian Civic League, an organization representing black police officers, and three African-American narcotics officers who claimed they suffered retaliation for resisting. Boyle said followed “legitimate and long-standing law-enforcement procedures.” He called the allegations baseless, and said Evers acted properly. The rift could have far-reaching consequences, says Michael Mellon at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, who said hundreds of arrests made could be tainted. Mellon said, “This practice clearly violates the law, police protocol, and often the constitution.”

via The Crime Report

January 14, 2019 at 07:54AM

This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A Chicago DEA agent gets caught helping a Puerto Rican drug cartel, an L.A. Customs agent gets convicted of big-time drug trafficking, a Pennsylvania police chief’s heroin habit gets him in trouble, and more.

[image:1 align:left]In Elizabeth Borough, Pennsylvania, the former police chief was arrested December 19 for stealing thousands of baggies of heroin from the department’s evidence room. Timothy Butler, 42, was the police chief until the day of his arrest, when he resigned. Butler went down after officers complained he was interacting with a person who possessed heroin and that person told investigators he was making controlled drug buys for the chief, which investigators found unlikely. When confronted, Butler admitted the thefts and said he was addicted. He is charged with theft, obstruction of justice, drug possession, and prohibited acts.

In Chicago, a DEA agent was arrested December 20 for allegedly helping a Puerto Rico-based drug trafficking organization. Agent Fernando Gomez, 41, a former Evanston, Illinois, police detective, joined the DEA to help further a “narcotics conspiracy,” prosecutors said. While still with the Evanston Police, Gomez sent guns obtained from drug dealers to a Puerto Rican man who is a member of La Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. He is also accused of helping the group smuggle drugs into New York. He faces federal drug, conspiracy, and firearms charges.

In Yulee, Florida, a former Georgia narcotics officers was arrested on December 20 on charges he was leading a meth distribution ring. Jason Kelly Register, a former Camden County Sheriff’s Office and Darien Police narcotics officer, went down as part of a joint state-federal undercover investigation into meth trafficking in the area and was arrested along with 29 others. Department in McIntosh County. He is charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, sale of methamphetamine, and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

In Los Angeles, a federal customs agent was convicted December 15 of hiring a trucker to smuggle large quantities of drugs from Los Angeles to Chicago. Customs and Border Protection Agent Manuel Salas, 52, a 25-year veteran of the department, went down after the trucker was stopped in New Mexico and drugs were discovered. He then implicated Salas and his wife, who was found guilty of money laundering for accepting cash deposits for the drugs from the trucker. Salas himself was convicted of drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. He’s looking at a minimum of 10 years in federal prison.

In Atlanta, a former state prison guard was sentenced December 21 to seven years and eight months in federal prison for taking money from an inmate to smuggle meth and marijuana into the Hays State Prison. Tiffany Cook, 34, went down after another inmate ratted her out and she was searched as she arrived at work. Prison officials found 118 grams of meth and 150 grams of marijuana inside her bra and vagina. She pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and introducing contraband into a prison.

via Criminal Justice

January 2, 2019 at 08:00PM

‘El Chapo’ vs the US Government: Jury Selection Begins in Tight Security

Police officers standing outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn on a rainy Tuesday described the scene as “totally normal.” Normal, perhaps, if you consider that behind the closed doors of that courthouse, the trial of a reputed major international drug kingpin was underway. 

There were two officers outside, and a few more down the street. The main road was blocked off. A secret service agent hid in his car on the adjacent street. A bomb dog waited inside…

Read more…

This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A Border Patrol agent gets in trouble, and so do a crooked trio of Miami cops. Let’s get to it: 

In Miami, three Miami police officers were arrested last Tuesday on an array of federal drug and corruption charges from distributing dozens of kilos of cocaine to protecting drug dealers. Veteran officers Schonton Harris and Kevin Harris and new recruit James Archibald. Among other charges, the trio are accused of collecting a total of $33,500 in cash from sales of opioids like Percocet, selling and transporting dozens of kilos of cocaine, selling a police uniform and a badge to an undercover detective who claimed to be a cartel assassin wanting to use it in a hit. After being alerted to questionable activities in April, the FBI set up a sting operation that has now apparently thoroughly ensnared the trio. 

In Tucson, Arizona, a Border Patrol agent was indicted Monday for allegedly conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the country. Agent Ramon Antonio Monreal Rodriguez, 32, is accused of exchanging $334,000 in cash for 41 kilograms of cocaine near the San Miguel border crossing and a few days later transferring $317,000 in cash to a smuggler at the border. Authorities said Rodriguez received $66,000 and six pounds of cocaine for his efforts. They have seized the cash and the drugs. He is charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine.
Read more…