Starting in January of each year the Maryland Legislature meets for about three months to debate and vote on hundreds of proposed laws. News stories chronicling the progress of these bills come out of Annapolis daily during the three-month session. But it's not until October that the work of the legislature actually begins to affect the people. Now that October is upon us all the new laws that we forgot about over the summer are in the news again, as the first of the month marks their effective date. This year there are a host of new laws that are relevant to the Blog. We'll start off with one that may seem like a big deal, but those who have been reading each of our posts won't be fooled by the headlines. As of tomorrow Maryland is officially a medical marijuana state. But as we have discussed numerous times in the past the medical marijuana program will not be functional until about 2016. Even when the program is functional it will hardly be accessible by anyone with legitimate medical need for the drug. The program will only be administered by a few select research hospitals so don't expect to see medical marijuana dispensaries popping up at your local shopping center or strip mall. The legislature will likely revisit the marijuana issue in the 2014 session though, and pot may actually be decriminalized before the medical use program even treats its first patient.
September 2013 Archives
The DEA and the United States Attorney's Office recently announced the infiltration of a large international drug trafficking ring. The announcement took place in upstate New York where 8 suspected drug dealers were arrested for their involvement in the illegal operation. Authorities described the operation as an international conspiracy to import and distribute significant amounts of synthetic MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy, throughout the country. The drug was allegedly manufactured in laboratories in China and smuggled to the U.S. for distribution in as many as 20 different states, including Maryland. The investigation began back in June of 2012 when federal authorities were tipped off to the supplier of the chemical compounds used to make ecstasy pills. The supplier would take orders for the chemical compounds via internet, and mailed the drugs to the states. Upon learning about the scheme, federal agents sought and received a court order authorizing the interception of emails from the Chinese supplier to possible suspects in the U.S. Law enforcement generated as many as 450 leads during the 30-day interception period allowed under the court order. These leads produced over 50 arrests nationwide and here in Maryland. In addition to the arrests, feds also seized over 70 kilograms of Methylone, a substance with a highly similar chemical compound to MDMA. This substance is often used to make ecstasy pills or is sold in powder form as molly. DEA agents also seized several kilograms of cocaine, meth, and actual MDMA. Cash, firearms, and cars were also confiscated during the execution of arrest and search warrants.
A joint press release with the Baltimore police and State's Attorney was called to announce the indictments of 9 men and women in a West Baltimore drug conspiracy. The area, which includes several blocks of Ruxton Avenue is one of the most violent in the city, and the state for that matter, as over 60 incidents of violent crime have been reported there in the past 3 years. Police attribute much of the violence to an organized drug ring that according to the department has held the neighborhood hostage. In an effort to end this violence, cops and the state's attorney initiated a five-week investigation focused on bringing the alleged drug dealers to justice. All but four of the nine suspects have been arrested, and their names were announced at the press conference. The other four have yet to be arrested, and as a result their indictments are still under seal.
The 2013 NFL season is officially underway, and week one of America's most popular sport is now in the books. Over one million people attended an NFL game in week one, and tens of millions more watched on television. The sport has never been more popular, and with the concussion lawsuit being resolved, the sport has never been in a better financial position. But the stain of a tumultuous offseason remains; as over thirty active players were arrested from the end of the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl win until the start of this season. Players from 19 different teams were either booked on criminal charges or taken into custody on outstanding bench or arrest warrants. The charges ranged in severity from simple possession of drugs all the way up to murder. Despite the league's growth in popularity and prosperity, player arrests are an issue that the commissioner's office will continue to battle in the coming years.
We recently posted an article about a notable medical personality and University of Michigan grad Dr. Sanjay Gupta shifting his stance on marijuana. Although the influential celebrity doc came out with strong public support for legalizing medical marijuana, his revised stance will have little direct affect on state and federal laws. But just last week a politician, whose stance on the topic will affect state and federal pot policy, voiced a similar change of heart. Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Colorado and Washington that the Department of Justice will not seek to override their state's new marijuana decriminalization laws. The Fed's top prosecutor and his staff also issued a memo to each of the assistant United States attorneys, which clearly spells out the revised guidelines for handling marijuana cases on the federal level. The memo describes eight points of emphasis, and not surprisingly simple possession didn't make the cut.