A few of my friends have questioned me about my Pot, Progress, and Peace platform for the Mayor’s office in Baltimore, with the main emphasis on questioning the Pot stance.
They question whether it really is a civil rights violation and whether the federal government really has unclean hands in all this. So, I offer the following two news pieces as evidence I am not only on the right track about this being a civil rights issue (the Oregon story) but that it is time for the Feds to bow out of this issue with their dirty DEA hands as detailed in the USA Today story..
From USA Today — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allowed its employees to stay on the job despite internal investigations that found they had distributed drugs, lied to the authorities or committed other serious misconduct, newly disclosed records show.
Lawmakers expressed dismay this year that the drug agency had not fired agents who investigators found attended “sex parties” with prostitutes paid with drug cartel money while they were on assignment in Colombia. The Justice Department also opened an inquiry into whether the DEA is able to adequately detect and punish wrongdoing by its agents.
Records from the DEA’s disciplinary files show that was hardly the only instance in which the DEA opted not to fire employees despite apparently serious misconduct.
Of the 50 employees the DEA’s Board of Professional Conduct recommended be fired following misconduct investigations opened since 2010, only 13 were actually terminated, the records show. And the drug agency was forced to take some of them back after a federal appeals board intervened.
In one case listed on an internal log, the review board recommended that an employee be fired for “distribution of drugs,” but a human resources official in charge of meting out discipline imposed a 14-day suspension instead. The log shows officials also opted not to fire employees who falsified official records, had an “improper association with a criminal element” or misused government vehicles, sometimes after drinking.
“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” said Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator. “I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy.”
The log, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, does not include details of misconduct or the agency’s reasons for choosing one punishment over another. But it illustrates just how uncommon it is for DEA employees to lose their jobs because of misconduct.
“There is a culture of protection internally that has to change. If there’s a bad apple, they need to be fired, if not prosecuted, and that’s just not happening,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Federal law enforcement should be held to the highest standard.”
Here’s the next piece from the East Bay Express — Oregon has taken the lead in righting some of the wrongs of the War on Weed. On Monday, The New York Times reported on Oregon’s leadership in expunging marijuana violations from citizens’ records.
Even simple pot tickets can haunt someone for the rest of his or her life, sabotaging job hiring and other milestones. So Portland’s Metropolitan Public Defender’s office is running “expungement clinics” to forever seal records of past pot crimes.
The Times interviewed a 43-year-old mother dogged by a pot ticket from her twenties. She handed a bong to a cop more than two decades ago, and it has disqualified her for jobs and she couldn’t volunteer at her kid’s school. Now, no one will see that conviction ever again.