Understanding The Cannabis Divide is Critical to the Process of Legalizing the Cannabis Economy in Ohio

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 04:40.

Medicinal Marijuana and edibles samples from Green Depot, Denver, Colorado
Legal, licensed Super Skunk and Blueberry Medical Marijuana and Cannabutter food samples from Green Depot, Denver, Colorado

In Denver, Colorado, the above medicine cabinet provides citizens economic opportunity and legal, natural, organic relief from many health ailments - in Cleveland, Ohio, the contents get citizens arrested... especially if they fit the demographic profiles targeted by new Jim Crow laws in America, designed to imprison our poor, minority, urban male population.

That reality defines The Cannabis Divide in America, which presents modern Americans with some of the greatest economic and social disparities in the history of the nation, leading to treatment and accommodations for blacks and Latinos (prison) that are inferior to those provided for white Americans (freedom), systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages (defining Jim Crow laws).

As I highlight below, from a study about criminal injustice in Northeast Ohio: "those areas that have the highest percentages of African-Americans are especially likely to be subject to police surveillance and arrests" for drug possession, leading to poorer treatment and accommodation of proportionately more blacks than whites in our inferior quality-of-life prisons.

"Of those drug possession cases in which the race of arrestee is known within Cleveland city limits, as Table 1 below illustrates, there has been a consistent magnitude of over-representation of non-whites among drug possession arrestees over the past 10 years."

 

To bridge The Cannabis Divide in Ohio, for America - to help end this new Jim Crow era here - I published on realNEO I never bring up a problem without a solution, proposing "making Northeast Ohio the Open Source Capital of the Brightest Greenest State of Earth, including legalizing Cannabis and basing the Global Cannabis Exchange and industry here... which will grow to over $1 trillion world-wide in the coming years."

I have since been investigating the implications of the Cannabis Divide in Ohio - the gap between the economies of the regions like in California and Colorado that have taken action to legalize positive cannabis economic development, and are growing their cannabis economies and benefits to their citizens, versus regions like Ohio, where cannabis remains illegal, and has only negative costs and impacts to citizens.

The Cannabis Divide in Ohio costs taxpayers $ billions - the only winners are cops paid overtime, and lawyers defending victims - the biggest losers are Ohio businesses and their workers, not allowed to participate in the Cannabis Economy, and poor young urban minority men disproportionately targeted for drug offense arrest, imprisoned, and stigmatized for life.

The most disturbing Jim Crow costs of the Cannabis Divide for Clevelanders are demonstrated in Selective Enforcement of Drug Laws in Cuyahoga County, Ohio: A Report on the Racial Effects of Geographic Disparities in Arrest Patterns, by Professor Mona Lynch, Department of Justice Studies, San Jose State University (Download .PDF - 66KB):

Within the city of Cleveland, there continues to be significant segregation, with African-American residents concentrated on the Eastside and White and Latino residents on the Westside. When one looks at a breakdown of where police make a significant portion of their drug arrests within the city, it is predominantly within neighborhoods on the Eastside. In the case of drug enforcement, due to the highly discretionary nature of identifying and arresting drug offenders, this indicates, at least in some part, a policy decision on the part of the Cleveland Police Department to concentrate a significant share of its law enforcement resources within certain sections of the city. So not only are city residents as a whole more likely to be subject to felony charges on low level drug instrument cases than their suburban counterparts, but within the city, those areas that have the highest percentages of African-Americans are especially likely to be subject to police surveillance and arrests.

...the majority of drug arrestees (both drug possession and drug trafficking) from 1990 through 2001 have been young, African-American males. In 2001, 85% of the drug offense arrestees were Black, which was close to the average over the prior decade. Approximately 10-12% of the arrestees over the period were suburban residents, but even among that population, Blacks were the majority of the arrestees. See Chart 1 below for specific breakdowns over the entire period.

Taken together, these sources clearly indicate that drug use, and by implication, drug possession and possession of drug instruments, occurs across the entire county among a diverse range of the population, and that there is a multiplicity of drugs being bought, sold, and used in the region. Thus, as Judge Connally pointed out in her Grand Jury report, it seems nearly impossible to argue that possession of “crack pipes” or other paraphernalia with trace amounts of drugs stops at the Cleveland city border. So if, as the anecdotal evidence suggests, the overwhelming number of these cases that are charged as felonies are originating within the jurisdiction of the Cleveland Police Department, it seems to be a matter of differential enforcement policies rather than stark differences in offending behavior driving this phenomenon.

Not surprising, considering findings of Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California - October, 2010:

The Drug Policy Alliance and the California State Conference of the NAACP have released a report that documents widespread race-based disparities in the enforcement of low-level marijuana possession laws in California. In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half a million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially young men. Yet, U.S. government surveys consistently find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks. From 2006 through 2008, police in 25 of California's major cities have arrested blacks at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites.

  • These racially-biased marijuana arrests were a system-wide phenomenon, occurring in every county and nearly every police department in California. They were not mainly the result of individual prejudice or racism. In making these arrests, patrol officers were doing what they were assigned to do.
  • The "scarlet letter" stigma of drug offense records can create barriers to employment and education for anyone, including whites and middle class people.
  • Changing the crime of marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction does not change the double standard of enforcement. Police will almost certainly continue to give out a great many summonses, disproportionately to young blacks and Latinos.

Most disturbing about these findings is the reason so many young black Cleveland (and other American) males are arrested, imprisoned and branded for life is genetic government enslavement, enabled by greed of our police officers seeking overtime pay. From Selective Enforcement of Drug Laws in Cuyahoga County, Ohio:

Judge Connally’s report raises one possible motivation for the local jurisdictional differences in the charging decisions; that is, that police officers in Cleveland earn overtime for their court appearances, thus can financially gain at a personal level by charging such cases as felonies. This potential motivating factor for the felony crack pipe charges was reiterated to me by another judge, who indicated that officers earn 4 hours of overtime pay for court appearances (presumably outside of their normal shifts). Since most misdemeanor cases do not require the appearance of the citing officer, yet in felony cases, officers are routinely called to court in case they are needed to testify, the charge as either a felony or a misdemeanor does indeed have an impact on how much overtime is necessary for court appearances. In this case, Cleveland police officers are paid to show up to court in the felony cases, even though they rarely end up testifying since the majority of cases settle early on in the adjudication process. Furthermore, given that felony drug cases reportedly comprised a significant share of the grand jury’s time, there is reason to believe that such cases result in considerable overtime pay for Cleveland officers.

The most recent collective bargaining agreement between the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA) bears this out. Article XI of the most recent contract, effective April 1, 2001, mandates that officers who are called to court at times when they are not scheduled to work get paid one and one half times their regular hourly pay for a minimum of three hours, or a minimum of four hours for 3rd Platoon officers—the night shift—who are scheduled to work that day. The contract also authorizes an additional shift of officers to overlap the second and third platoons, between 7:00 PM and 3 :00 AM in the winter and 8:00 PM and 4:00 AM in the summer since those are the peak hours for police. Presumably, then, given the added shift of police officers on duty during non-court hours and the added police activity during those hours, a majority of the police in the city, in any given week, are eligible for the overtime pay when required to appear in court.

These findings for Cleveland are consistent with findings regarding marijuana arrests in New York, where young black males have been under police seige - from DRUG ARRESTS AND DNA: Building Jim Crow’s Database - Council for Responsible Genetics Forum on Racial Justice Impacts of Forensic DNA Databanks, New York City, June 19, 2008:

 

Graph 1 shows the growth in forensic profiles (crime scene DNA evidence) and offender profiles (DNA from individuals) in CODIS, the U.S. government’s national DNA database, and the largest DNA databank in the world. As of January 2008, there were two hundred thousand forensic DNA profiles, but five and half million DNA profiles of individuals.
 

In 2007 the New York Police Department made 112,000 drug arrests, one third of all arrests in New York City, and 72% of the drug arrests were misdemeanors, mostly just for possession. Even though Whites possess and use all drugs at higher rates than either Blacks or Latinos, more than 80% of the people arrested for possessing small amounts of drugs were Black or Latino. New York’s large number of racially-skewed drug arrests are extreme, but they are by no means unique, and their racial bias is not even unusual.
Looking closely at drug arrests in New York makes it easier to see what is occurring elsewhere in the U.S. and especially the racial disparities that expanding the databases can be expected to produce almost everywhere. The racial segregation laws in the United States that ran for 89 years – from 1876 to 1965 – were commonly called Jim Crow laws. We conclude that expanding this racially- skewed genetic file system should be thought of as building a Jim Crow database.

Almost 13,000 people are now in New York State prisons on drug charges, 90% of them Black or Latino, most of them convicted of low-level and non-violent offenses. A study by
Human Rights Watch found that of the men and women incarcerated for long sentences on drug charges in New York State, 77% had no prior violent felony convictions, 47% had no prior arrests for a violent felony, and 50% had no prior drug felony convictions. Of those who had been previously convicted of a drug felony, 89% were convicted of the lowest categories of drug crimes (class C, D or E). Overwhelmingly these were not violent offenders; “most were street-level dealers selling small quantities, bit-players in the drug trade” and nearly all were men.

All of the people currently incarcerated in New York State prisons for drug offenses, and many who preceded them, largely Black and Latino, are now part of the state’s DNA database – which in May of 2007 had profiles of nearly 250,000 individuals.

Not only in New York City but in police departments across the United States, and especially in large cities, misdemeanor arrests constitute the large majority of all arrests including all drug arrests. If we are to understand the implication of expanding DNA collection to people convicted of misdemeanors – and even to people just arrested for misdemeanors – then it is important to understand why many police departments find it advantageous to make many misdemeanor arrests, such as marijuana possession, and why the arrests are so heavily skewed toward young Blacks and Latinos when they use marijuana less than young Whites.

  • Marijuana arrests are relatively safe, allow police officers to show they are being productive, and gain them much desired overtime pay.

Of course, taxpayers pay for all those relatively safe, unproductive petty drug arrests and wastes of police time and pay, as well as the costs for the legal and prison systems that must handle the 1,000s of unfortunate mostly young black men caught-up in this corrupt, evil game of greed... as best reflected in trends and costs for our Ohio prisons, which are constantly rising:

In fact, in mid 2008, Ohio's incarceration (or imprisonment) rate, which is calculated from counts of incarcerated persons per 100,000 total residents, was 445 (Bureau of Justice Statistics) - representing a prison population of over 51,000 - more than 6x the incarceration rate in the Netherlands - costing Ohio over $1.6 BILLION per year.

Worse, as posted April 27, 2010, on Crime Reporter - "Ohio prison crowding at crisis stage" - "the Ohio General Assembly allowed the state prison budget to grow this year, despite looming multi-billion-dollar budget deficits. Ohio’s statewide inmate population climbed within 128 inmates of the all-time record of 51,273 this month, prompting state lawmakers and Gov. Ted Strickland to blame one another for inaction."

Understanding the extent and implications of the Cannabis Divide is critical to the process of legalizing development of the cannabis economy in Ohio, as Ohioans are funding unnecessary expenditures for a government in crisis, which has failed to prepare the state for a global economy and environment in crisis - and Ohio businesses, entrepreneurs and citizens must now leave the state of Ohio to cross the Cannabis Divide, and work in and benefit from the cannabis economy, which is exploding in the most progressive and resourceful parts of the nation.

It is important for residents of Ohio to understand there are NOW cities - states - across the country where citizens may legally use, grow, sell and profit from marijuana, and Ohio is not one of them.

That means citizens in now 16 United States are largely free from prosecution and imprisonment for what is a crime in Ohio, making America a two class country. Ohio is the wrong class of state.

Thus, in America today, we have a cannabis divide, with one class of citizens liberated from prosecution for marijuana possession - encouraged to prosper in a cannabis economy - while a lesser class of citizens is prosecuted for pot.

That leaves Ohio businesses out of the cannabis business, as it grows in $ billions each year nationwide, where legal now.

Doing what is legal in Denver now would get a businessperson years in prison here in Ohio.

To make Northeast Ohio the Open Source Capital of the Brightest Greenest State of Earth, we must embrace best practices of world-class innovators in the markets in which we pursue global dominance, and improve upon them. In the case of learning and developing best practices in the cannabis industries - hemp and marijuana - we must learn and innovate where the cannabis economy is legal.

It is impossible to participate in the cannabis economy in Ohio now.

Medical marijuana is already legal in many states, and becoming more legal nationwide daily.... and where marijuana is legal is where the cannabis economy is ripe for entrepreneurship and churning $ billions.

I've been exploring the growing cannabis divide in America, which increasingly offers affluent whites the right to legally prosper and use marijuana while poor blacks go to jail for minor marijuana charges

I've been traveling out west, meeting with associates and exploring economic development opportunities in specific regions that offer synergistic benefits to stakeholders in NEO, interested to participate in the cannabis economy now, legally.

To offer Ohio businesses legal access into the cannabis economy, I am working with folks in the Denver/Boulder area to put in place what we call Grohio - a cooperative facilities-based cannabis think tank, advocacy organization, political action committee, venture capital fund, research and development institute and enterprise incubator, designed to help drive innovation at the bleeding edge of cannabis commerce world-wide, and allow Ohio entrepreneurs to fully participate in the cannabis economy locally in Colorado.

We believe this is the best way for Ohio enterprises to invest in and profit from the MMJ industry now, before it is legal in Ohio.

Examples of how this facility and enterprise may operate includes offering Ohio innovators like Sansai Technologies (vermicomposting, technology, worm casing products) a facility for MMJ R&D with their products, supporting MMJ-oriented marketing, sales, and distribution, and providing a site for vermicomposting in Colorado - offering Ohio food companies (of which many are interested) a facility for MMJ-based food product development, marketing, sales, and distribution - the next phase is determining exactly what Ohio enterprises are interested to be part of this cooperative in Colorado, for Ohio.

Of particular interest would be strong healthcare and pharmaceutical partners from Ohio interested to get a jump-start on MMJ diagnosis, treatment, and R&D where it is legal today, to be a leader in this emerging field of medicine worldwide. I suggest the Cleveland Clinic should make a major move in this market. We have the facilities available in Colorado to do that - Boulder or Denver... their choice....

Now is the time for action to grow Northeast Ohio's economy across the cannabis divide... in Colorado, where cannabis is now legal.

The Grohio cooperative shall drive legalization of cannabis in Ohio and worldwide, and position Ohio enterprises to benefit most from legalization, by having an active role in the cannabis economy where it is legal now.

We have the wheels in motion in Colorado and want to determine who else wants to pioneer this industry at the legal frontier from Ohio.

Please feel free to contact norm [at] realneo [dot] us for more information on how to join and support this cannabis economic development cooperative.

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Next Step for growing Ohio cannabis economy... be like algae

Next BIG STEP for growing Ohio cannabis economy... locking up grants and federal orders for products from Ohio featuring cannabis - hemp biomass and biofuels and medical marijuana for the military and other government uses - like is happening for algae -

In lastest twist on 'going green,' military invests in fuels from algae

Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 11:01 AM     Updated: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 11:15 AM

Jason Dearen, Associated Press
 
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The forest green algae bubbling in a stainless steel fermenting tank in a suburban warehouse may look like primordial pond scum, but it is a promising new source of domestically produced fuels being tested on the nation's jets and warships.

In a laboratory just a few steps away from the warehouse, white-coated scientists for a company called Solazyme are changing the genetic makeup of algae to construct a new generation of fuels.

These "bioengineered" algae are placed into tanks, where they get fat on sugar beets, switch grass or a host of other plants. The sun's energy, which is stored in the plants, is transformed by the hungry algae into oil, which can be refined into jet fuel, bio-diesel, cooking oil or even cosmetics.

While it may sound far-fetched, the U.S. Navy in September ordered more than 150,000 gallons of ship and jet fuel from Solazyme and the company received a $21.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy last year to build a new refinery in Riverside, Penn., to help push production to commercial levels.

Continued here...

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