Legalize it! Wait... it's already legal?
Well then. There's always authoritarian types who want to make all kind of personal choices illegal, so long as it isn't anything they personally do themselves of course.
No "unnatural" marriage of any sort. No divorces. No 'fornication'. No drinks stronger than 4% beer. Church services only on Saturdays and all else to stop that day. A long list of drugs to be prohibited and a shorter list dispensed only by state licensed physicians. Make gambling illegal, etc etc.
This is the first time I've thought, "Well, screw it then. If having things be legal means prohibitionists just have a clearer target to harass and prosecute, then who needs legality?"
We've already seen that in California, making medical pot shops legal just means they ghettoize you further and further away from your customers with city ordinances. So what's the point of legalization again?
[I'm not advocating for or against these drugs in particular, because I Don't Know (and neither do you or anyone else) what scientifically is going on with them when they hit human consciousness. Anecdata ain't data, folks.]
@D-Pain, you hittin the bath salts a bit hard this mornin?
@Carlson, Your skanky business makes me wretch. Do Duluth and the helpless victims of substance abuse (by that I mean the toddlers who live with drugged parents and the parents who have to live on after losing a family member) a favor. Go back to selling good, clean American fun like blacklights, numchucks and dildos or just fold it. This isn't a freedom thing, it's a slavery thing. You are a pusher.
MPR: "Duluth ER doctor disputes notion of 'harmless' synthetic marijuana"
It is certainly not a slavery thing. Adults have the right to put what they want in their own body, and it is ultimately a choice. I do understand that some people have more addictive personalities or tendencies and I obviously believe in treating people who need help and helping those who are hurt by drug abuse problems. Do you think that if it was illegal to sell these things that it would really make a difference? People would go back to easily accessible illegal drugs, or march straight to one of the many liquor stores or bars in the area. Ideally I'd like to see marijuana being used instead of scantly tested alternatives, but I also think these alternatives are less harmful than alcohol.
Of course this is only pure speculation, but I think people buy spice, bath salts, and whatever else it is called these days primarily because it is cheap and convenient. Legalization means tax revenue, respect for freedoms, regulated, safer products, elimination of a black market, reduced number of nonviolent drug offenders filling prisons, better age regulation (weed is typically more readily accessible to minors than alcohol), etc.
I don't think Last Place is ruining Duluth. If we see a significant rise in crime, accidents, child neglect, health problems, etc. as a result of this then perhaps we should come back to the issue. We all know about the number of people alcohol and tobacco have killed as well as the general history of prohibition (...it didn't work), so I won't go into that.
As long as the products on the shelves are legal then the LPON has a right to sell them, right?
I'm not saying it's a good product or worth wasting time on but they are LEGAL - unless proven otherwise and pulled from the shelves.
Toddlers also live with alcoholics, prescip' pill takers/abusers, and pedophiles. We haven't been able to scrub society free of those substances either.
2 things to add: One, synthetic marijuana is very different from the real thing, and causes some pretty nasty physical effects on the body. Whatever the bath salt stuff is, is no better. Not good to put in your body but it's sold legally as incense or bath salt; no FDA regulation. Two, try to tell a kid/young adult who has already had trouble with the real stuff (and more), to stay away from this. Just try. It's cheap and it doesn't test. Hello baby junkie. This stuff is bad news, and yeah, LPOE is ruining Duluth for selling it.
I don't think The Last Place on Earth has contributed to a huge rise in drug use. All of these people were using drugs, mostly weed, beforehand--just quietly, illegally and out of sight.
The pervasiveness of weed in the youth culture and underclass of Duluth is something that the well-insulated-from-reality middle class (insulated by nice homes, nice neighborhoods, nice cars that enable them to drive directly from middle-class destination A to middle-class destination B) largely overlooks, but views as horrible and nightmarish whenever they happen to see it (on their nice middle-class TVs, after a hard day working at their nice middle-class jobs).
To me, having driven a cab for over a decade, this nightmare vision of Duluth is a joke. Nothing has become worse; everything is pretty much the same. The poor people might actually be saving a little money, because incense is cheaper than weed. The prohibitionists would make me laugh, if I didn't realize that all the political power rests in their hands. I see nothing but repression in those tightly-pursed lips.
And, by the way: Nice objective forum. A policeman, a recovering addict and physicians "involved in the fight" discuss incense. I didn't see a single active user represented on the panel.
Well, except for David Ross.
Oh, come on. I'm kidding!
I have a problem with a business whose clientele bothers the owners and customers of nearby businesses. LPOE is a destination. It could be anywhere, and sadly, because the stuff scares the shit out of me -- people would come. Maybe if they would move somewhere else, so a wonderfully emerging part of Old Downtown would continue to thrive?
Question: Does anyone else sell this stuff in town or is LPOE the only place?
I blame the dildos!
He's a fuckin dealer. No other way to describe it. Personally, I wish he'd ingest enough of that shit to drop into a coma. Then we could close his rat house down and continue the process of cleaning up that part of town. Please spare me the shit about people will do it anyway. Since when was that ever a logical argument for a civilized society? You wonder why society is going clockwise down the toilet? It's PRECISELY because of people like those in line and the creature running the store.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I would love to open a competing headshop and call it "Bongs N' Dongs."
Until recently I walked past LPOE almost every day. I never had any special issues with people around it. I don't know how long it's been there, but at least a decade and probably more than that, so unless there's some recent specific complaint from nearby business who just hate the idea of people shopping downtown(?) I'd take Claire's comment with a boulder of salt.
The place where guys who creep me out sometimes congregate is outside the tatoo parlors on 1st street. Hey, it's not a crime to creep me out though and I don't really care for the idea of using city government to force people off of their property.
I don't use any drugs or drink very often, but I don't see any logical way the argument agains LPOE doesn't apply even better to bars. Unlike LPOE, bars are known hotspots of violent criminal activity. Unlike LPOE people actually congregate and use the product at the bar. Unlike LPOE, people leaving bars frequently cause traffic fatalities and property damage.
How many bars are there in downtown Duluth? I can think of 10 at least, but I've never heard of some community meeting about shutting down the bars. Logically, this should have a topic at the linked event. The fact that it wasn't suggests to me that these folks haven't thought through their proposal or aren't really concerned with public health and safety, but have some ulterior motive or predjudice.
I'm sure you would Danny. The "Bong" refers to the pipes you sell, and the "Dong" refers to the owner? Maybe Bongs and Assplugs would then be more appropriate for you.
It's folks like Amos, Erik, etc. that restore my confidence in PDD.
I've never heard anything positive from users of synthetic marijuana and I believe it's likely more dangerous than actual pot, but I think legalizing everything would solve more problems than trying to ban legal alternatives and run a business out of town by playing the (subjective) morality card.
I'm really glad the bars and the problems they create were cited.
Also, as someone who has spent considerable time in the downtown area between 1999-2009, I've had more problems (and scary encounters) outside the Domiano Center than anywhere near Last Place... Come to think of it, I've had more concern for my safety dealing with random nutjobs while working at Robin Goodfellows/Dragon Port than any other place downtown.
As long as I've been old enough to realize it, downtown Duluth has been more or less a shithole with a few scattered businesses that were otherwise... It's not that great down there and LPOE is hardly the worst thing around or a catalyst for destroying something awesome. I'm sure what's going on at the Family Sauna is far more offensive, the only difference is they aren't it the public eye the way LPOE is.
Jim just called me an assplug...and nothing could make me happier.
Well, Erik and Judas, why don't you go talk to the owners of businesses near the LPOE and ask them what they think about the people congregating outside that store at all hours, ever since Todd Fedora started his crusade against the store selling it?
LPOE is the flavor of the month for the armchair moral police. There are at least a dozen other businesses in this town that pose more of a threat to the community then LPOE. The virtuos "High and Mighty" on here bitch about it because its an easy target.
I am going to go a little out on a limb here.
I think the "unknowns" are the underlying problem. I hate to say I agree with Carlson to the extent that it is currently legal, and is, in that respect ONLY, not much different than alcohol or cigarettes. Where it differs significantly, however, is that the chemicals and their effects are both widely varied and unknown. That, to me, is where his moral lapse is rooted. He is selling something addictive and destructive (like alcohol), but that is unregulated and unsafe. He, further, is hiding under in the haze (pun intended) of perception that the products are safe. He is cloaking his greed and disconcern for other people's welfare in the shiny wrapper of his "rights" to sell it.
Further, I think much of the fear and outrage against him, and the drugs, have to do with the unknowns. If he sold vodka to alcoholics instead (as the store one block away does for the same people), there would be no outrage because we are aware of what is in vodka, and we are aware of the effects of vodka, and we believe the people buying the vodka know exactly what they are buying and how it will effect them. Additionally, we have systems in place, socially and emotionally, to categorize the effects on people and deal with them. Bath salts and fake pot are uncharted territory and, thus, are much more alarming to people.
I would argue Jim that if society is going down the toilet it's because of people who don't want to engage others, don't want to see others point of view, and spew their words like it is some sort of gospel as if it will ever help the situation. Saying someone should endure bodily harm and naming them "creatures" gets us nowhere.
Well, Claire, having managed a downtown Duluth business I will say that the area had it's fair share of unsavory characters long before legal alternatives became a thing.
The problem is not that LPOE is degrading downtown, downtown is already a hotspot for those types and those problems (loitering, harassment, chemical use, etc.). Banning sales or shutting down LPOE isn't going make any of the alleged problems cited go away, at most it will move them into less obvious (or maybe just less publicized) places. But hey, if you want to sweep the dirt under the carpet and call the house clean.
Judas, I rent an office in that part of Downtown and it's been an amazing experience, seeing it blossom in recent years. I see the development of that area as a destination being threatened by a business whose characters scare off other businesses' customers. No morality at play here, my attitude is you want to put that crap in your body, go ahead. Just don't let it impact me. And the crowds of addicts blocking the sidewalks waiting for their fixes impacts me and everyone else doing business downtown.
You know, it really bothers me to see how the police have been treating Carlson. You may not like what he sells but he hasn't actualky broken any laws and yet he's had his personal possessions -- including money from his pocket and his computer with correspondence to his attorney -- confiscated by law enforcement during a raid on his business.
I'm no legal expert but the private communication between an attorney and client seems like it would be some sort of protected thing that the people you are up against would gave no right in forcibly take.
If every detail was the same (legal merchandise that some people don't like, seizure of personal property, etc) but this was happening to a beloved local business, the same people trashing LPOE would be overflowing with outrage.
Claire, so what if in it's place a tattoo shop emerged and every time the employees and/or clientele congregated outside to smoke or take a breather between work they scared people off?
And don't forget, Judas, Jim Carlson hasn't even been charged with anything yet. If cops came into my house and took all my shit and kept it for three months, I'd at least like to be charged with something.
Also, if people congregating outside the business is the only problem, could they not just be asked to move?
I used to regularly disperse crowds of smokers from the doorways of the places I worked downtown, for the same reason. And I seem to recall being forced to leave the bus station for "loitering" (i.e., waiting for a bus). Surely Duluth can conjure up some lesser bullshit that allows everyone to coexist.
I think I'll go down to the police station and take a bunch of shit out of their offices right now.
Claire, so what you are saying is that LPOE needs to become more efficient to reduce lines?
The most dangerous drug off them all is alcohol, and that is legal. Anyone who can, with a strait face, say that this or that drug should be illegal, and does not include alcohol is dishonest at best and ignorant at worst. Prohibition doesn't work, it has failed over and over again in history.
If the legal product is more dangerous than the illegal product it is spoofing, people are being injured and killed by our broken laws.
Anyone here intimating that things are status quo around LPOE and you can see the same old-same old outside, say, Carmody, are full of it. I have to side with Claire and say the crowds outside of LPOE break even my uber-urban threshold for "comfortable." Is it so hard to admit this fact? Have to say, though, I see knife fights spilling out of Black Water all the time.
The crowds at Bentleyville make me uncomfortable, and the "Santa" freaks out my wife. I demand his immediate arrest.
What I don't get is why they don't spray the chemicals in synthetic marijuana onto cigarettes? The FDA doesn't test cigarettes for the chemicals they contain, so why not spray the active ingredients in synthetic onto tobacco or cigarettes?
Legalizing the illegal stuff would solve this issue, but prohibition continues.
And, as far as the crowd out front of the Last Place on Earth, isn't there a treatment center next door?
LPOE has always been skankville.
That being said, as long as the stuff is. Legal (and I believe the use, but not the sale, should stay legal) well then...meh.
I prefer not to ingest synthetics.
It is strange to me that a lot of people on this blog seem to be supporting the right of Mr. Carlson to knowingly sell a product that harms (with no possible positive effect) the person buying it. You might be able to morally argue that it is legal to sell, but you cannot argue that it is right for him to sell it.
This isn't a government intrusion argument. You can say it is legal to make money selling what Carlson sells, but is it right to do so? I do drink alcohol, but the same argument might be made for a liquor store. It is certainly legal to sell alcohol, but is it proper to make a profit selling it?
I am not a fan of government prohibition, but I am a fan of people letting Carlson know that what he is doing is wrong, and he is profiting from evil.
By the way, it is ridiculous to argue that downtown would not be a better place if his business was removed. That is an accurate statement, but one that the crazy folk will be very offended by. Some people do not enjoy anyone telling them that something is wrong, but sometimes something IS wrong.
How do you know incense has no possible positive effect, Erik?
What positive effect would you attribute to it that is enough to offset the negative effect? The bigger issue is whether it is right to make a profit selling it, not whether it is legal to do so.
And can you argue, with a straight face, that downtown is better with the LPOE than it would be without it?
I know people who, when they smoke incense, are able to stop their problem drinking completely. That's pretty big.
Am I talking about myself, or merely relying on my keen powers of observation? You decide.
Not to be picky at all, but it sounds like the 50K a month Carlson's making off the sale of poison is probably enough to make just about anyone put blinders on to justify selling it...ergo, it's all in the spin, and money makes the spin more passionate.
Then again, nobody's holding a gun to the head of anyone who stands in line to persuade them buy the crap.
And if you decide that I AM talking about myself, how do you square the supposed evils of incense with my intelligence, wit and clarity of thought?
Oh, and modesty as well.
To answer the question in the title of this post: No, Duluth was already ruined. Ha, I'm kidding! But I take issue with the title, it is unnecessarily inflammatory. I would hope it would take a hell of a lot more than a headshop to "Ruin Duluth."
"And can you argue, with a straight face, that downtown is better with the LPOE than it would be without "
Sure. Why the fuck not? I don't like LPOE but "better" and "worse" are completely subjective terms.
Really? Is murdering someone better or worse than not murdering them? Is stealing better or worse than not stealing? Is being able to walk down a sidewalk without being accosted better or worse than being accosted? Is being able to enjoy a park without watching two people too high to walk a straight line trying to care for an infant better or worse than enjoying the park in peace? This example isn't meant to equate the points cited above, just to show there is, in fact, a better and a worse that we can all agree on.
Why do people imbibe in the first place? Maybe we've done a crappy job as a society. After 230 years we aren't doing too well in the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness departments. Does anyone pursue an addiction if not to fill some void?
When arguing that "these products are legal," it's important to realize that they're only legal because their creators have found a way around the law, and have so far managed to stay a step ahead of lawmakers. It's not as if we as a society all got together and said, "these things should be legal." In fact, our society has banned all things like these products. The producers and sellers of these products make use of loopholes and technicalities in order to remain legal. It's an invalid argument.
Why are we wasting time comparing apples to oranges. One of the worst arguments that can possibly be made is the one Erik is making now.
Is selling spice/salts/k2 better or worse than shooting someone in the head? Duh.
Why not argue the finer points of shooting heroin vs. trading in your WIC formula for gift cards to buy cigarettes? That's the same thing, right?
Zra, Erik specifically said that is NOT the point he's trying to make.
Hm ... perhaps I read that wrong? Maybe, but that's the gist of what I was getting from his comment.
Is alcohol worse than drugs? That's a totally subjective line of reasoning, but in the current state of things, especially in this case, one really doesn't have much to do with the other.
Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Why can't someone tell me why they don't spray the active ingredients onto cigarettes? The FDA cannot test cigarettes for what is in them thanks to our great lobbiests in DC. They already contain a ton of deadly chemicals, why not add to them and put the spotlight where it really should be.
I've never tried the stuff, but I support what LPOE is doing from a legal standpoint. If he could sell the illegal drugs or at least the one he is really focusing on with synthetics, would it be the end of the world?
Marijuana is a weak drug that many alcoholics would be much more functional on.
As far as the preachers on here damning the use of anything to intoxicate yourself, I say lighten up. If your job and life are so at ease that you never need a break then good for you. If you can go to church and live a perfect life than I am jealous, but what I have learned is that many of the people who act higher than thou end up being the worst human beings and have some serious demons in their closets.
We are all flawed. Either we face the truth that some people need to escape through chemicals or we continue to fill our privately owned prison system and put money in the wrong people's pockets. I would much rather see a local man get 50K than some rich prison system owner who bribes judges get millions by feeding off of people's mistakes.
Really, really bad rationalizations from a morally corrupt populace that won't admit there are certain moral truths.
Good point Barrett.
Endion, cigarette companies already put nasty chemicals in their products, but they are regulated and approved chemicals. I doubt (doubt being the operative word) the chemicals used in incense would be approved, which kind of goes back to Barrett's point also.
Tangentially, I am somewhat curious why people line up at the store. People don't line up at the liquor store a block away. Is it because Carlson doesn't open up early enough? If so, that problem could be easily solved.
I think people don't line up at the liquor store because there are many liquor stores, so you know whether you show up an hour early or the minute one opens you're likely to get your fix just as fast because all the customers aren't converging on one place.
I think with this synthetic garbage they have to measure it out and there's some processes involved, so if you want your junk ASAP you have to get to the front of the line.
This is just my theory, though. The only place I stand in front of waiting for it to open is the library.
Erik, are you saying you have been personally accosted by someone waiting in line at LPOE? Are you saying you personally have been unable to enjoy Lake Place Park without seeing intoxicated people attempting to care for a child?
Because, see, that last one tells me that you just watch this stuff on the news/read it in the paper.
Also, can we please-oh-please finally agree that Anecdata Ain't Data. Just because you "heard it was bad" or see someone behaving badly and they've been using one of these substances does not does not Does Not mean that we know a damn thing about the effects of these substances. Until there is an empirical study done on this stuff (and bath salts and fake thc are different!), we have no right to condemn it based on what the news is hyping lately.
Please differentiate your disgust for the "dirtbags" you don't like hanging out at a place you don't like from scientific proof that something is evil and should be eliminated.
Every single one of these articles and news stories ends with the police answering queries about "why don't they do something?!" with the final word that they really don't know a damn thing about it. Oh, except anecdotes from a select group of people who encounter a certain population who are reacting badly *perhaps* to a substance that hasn't been scientifically studied. Some people who smoke pot end up going to the emergency room too, having panic attacks. Some people who drink alcohol poison themselves to death and make other people watch. The people who end up taking care of those situations have a rather skewed perspective on what healthy ingestion of those substances can look like. In a perfect world, we wouldn't let people with skewed perspectives dictate law.
You dont need quantification to know this shit is bad. One cannot apply empirical methods to matters of moral turpitude, one just has to abide by community convention. I agree with Zra, selling this stuff is just plain and simple wrong, data and science and "legal" rights have nothing to do with this. It's wrong.
Take your skank and do it all yourself! How much government assistance money is flowing into your bank account? How many toddlers don't have a dad, or food, because of the ruin you make your profit on? Shifting blame to other forms of social weakness doesn't absolve you of yours.
I wish people would stop acting like there's nothing to do besides drugs. If life is so hard that you have to do drugs to relax or feel better for a second, a good first step would be GET A NEW HOBBY. Maybe a cheaper one... A high is an extremely temporary fix for a much longer-term problem, and it tends to wreck the lives of people around you.
Drugs pretty much ruined a sizeable chunk of my life, and I have never, EVER done them myself. PTSD, anxiety, and depression are the life-long consequences I have to face because I grew up in a house with an addict. So just... Shut up and do something else to someone else.
Um, if the fake pot is legal, why isn't anyone else in town selling it? Why does Carlson appear to have a corner on the market?
Ever wonder why the touristas seldomly leave the confines of Canal Park? Downtown is a dump that is anchored by a casino and LPOE. Pretty sad that our city which is full of beautiful buildings is also full of numbskulls walking around with heads full o' spice.
Gotta love those gravatars. Oh well. Anonymity is
for wimps anyway.
hbh1- There is evidence in the medical literature about the harm these substances cause and they have been scientifically studied. Head down to the library and ask a librarian to help you find the research. You can start by having the library staff get this article for you.
Acute psychotic sequelae of "bath salts" by Striebel JM, Pierre JM. Published in the current issue of Schizophrenia Research beginning on page 259.
The Journal of Medical Toxicology also has a recent article examining the toxicological makeup and effects of bath salts. The lead author is JM Prosser.
On a minor but crucial tangent, regarding Paul's observation...
I think people don't line up at the liquor store because there are many liquor stores, so you know whether you show up an hour early or the minute one opens you're likely to get your fix just as fast because all the customers aren't converging on one place.
... this strikes me as a compelling moral argument for the Council immediately demanding that the Legislature make way for liquor in Lakeside. It's Lakesiders' civic duty, lest the rest of our fair city be overrun by our rummy selves.
I think the bottom line is that, while it may be true that because of loopholes Carlson can legally sell that crap and that the police have foolishly used highly questionable methods to harass (for lack of a better word) Carlson and that of course we are each of us responsible for what we choose to ingest, people with a basic sense of ethics still recognize that Carlson is taking advantage of a situation to make money off the addicted, the stupid, and the poor, and that is just plain revolting to most people following this issue. Just because you technically have the legal right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.
I used to pick up smokes at LPOE, but I won't go near it now. Does Carlson realize that by the time these items are made illegal, he will have lost a great deal of his customer base? And that with the anonymity of ordering over the internet, brick-and-mortar shops carrying smoking accessories and adult toys are an endangered species? But will it matter to him while he counts his millions?
The only thing I find slightly amusing about this whole affair is that in his effort to "ban" such substances from Duluth, Todd "Is-it-fiscally-responsible?" Fedora essentially swung the gates open for Carlson to do exactly what he is doing without spending a dime in advertising. No wonder LPOE had one of his re-election signs in its window.
Is LPOE/Carlson ruining Duluth? Not really, but he is making it easy for the haters who don't even go downtown to say, "See? Nothing but drugs and ugly old buildings down there, and lots of them people look different then I do, and I don't want to rub up against them there people what smokes the incense and bath salts while their toddler starves and that's why I shops at Wal-Mart!" you get the idea. If nothing else, he's feeding the ignorant regular commentators on DNT's Area Voices, and now he has the PDD community discussing it as well....
Caroline, my love, when are you going to stop blaming everything in your life on dildos?
Biomedical Researcher: I see you've listed two articles, both recent and both on bath salts. Do you have any articles on the health effects of incense, or synthetic cannabinoids? That's what most of those terrible, terrible people (how dare they be visible!) are lining up for.
EvilResident's gravatar looks like most of the people at the Chamber of Commerce forum.
Would this thread be a good place for me to announce my run for mayor, or should I start a new one?
"One cannot apply empirical methods to matters of moral turpitude, one just has to abide by community convention."
I see. Well, since I believe in gay rights and participate in other things that have been called "moral turpitude" in the past, we'll have to disagree on that. Personally, I like my laws to depend on science, not whether or not the community is comfortable with something. Especially since comfort is often swayed willy-nilly by media hype.
I may think that Jim Carlson is making a business error (for the long haul), or that he's making a moral error. But that doesn't give me the right to encourage police harassment of him or his customers because of my discomfort. Pass a law based on science, and everyone can quietly go back to worrying about whether the prostitutes on First St will teach their children "moral turpitude."
I can't get the abstract of the first study mentioned above from home (both of which, as Ramos pointed out, deal exclusively with "bath salts"). The second is as follows:
"Synthetic cathinones have recently emerged and grown to be popular drugs of abuse. Their dramatic increase has resulted in part from sensationalized media attention as well as widespread availability on the Internet. They are often considered "legal highs" and sold as "bath salts" or "plant food" and labeled "not for human consumption" to circumvent drug abuse legislation. Cathinone is a naturally occurring beta-ketone amphetamine analogue found in the leaves of the Catha edulis plant. Synthetic cathinones are derivatives of this compound. Those that are being used as drugs of abuse include butylone, dimethylcathinone, ethcathinone, ethylone, 3- and 4-fluoromethcathinone, mephedrone, methedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), methylone, and pyrovalerone. Synthetic cathinones are phenylalkylamines derivatives, and are often termed "bk-amphetamines" for the beta-ketone moiety. They may possess both amphetamine-like properties and the ability to modulate serotonin, causing distinct psychoactive effects. Desired effects reported by users of synthetic cathinones include increased energy, empathy, openness, and increased libido. Cardiac, psychiatric, and neurological signs and symptoms are the most common adverse effects reported in synthetic cathinone users who require medical care. Deaths associated with use of these compounds have been reported. Exposure to and use of synthetic cathinones are becoming increasingly popular despite a lack of scientific research and understanding of the potential harms of these substances. The clinical similarities to amphetamines and MDMA specifically are predictable based on the chemical structure of this class of agents. More work is necessary to understand the mechanisms of action, toxicokinetics, toxicodynamics, metabolism, clinical and psychological effects as well as the potential for addiction and withdrawal of these agents."
Note how this researcher also basically says that there has not been enough research for definitive direction/action/understanding.
P.S. Most of the things people are really complaining about have laws dealing with them already: violence/assault/child neglect/welfare fraud. So prosecute them please.
I'm going to leave out loitering and "bothering me on the street" because they seem like perennial complaints issued by people who don't hang out downtown anyway.
Womp, womp. Afraid your dealers are going to jack their prices?
Oh, and take your moral turpitude and shove it.
Who's got a lighter?
I am very passionate about this issue. Unfortunately, I am unable to comment at this time. I will say this: Bongs, Dildos, Throwing stars, two girls kissing posters are cool with me. LPOE has been "Spencer Gifts Plus" for years. Just don't sell drugs that are more dangerous than their illegal counterparts. If I knew Jim Carlson was intelligent I would say he's using this platform to force the larger issue of unnecessary prohibition. Unfortunately Jim is just a toolbox business man & a media whore. Too bad Duluth has to suffer but hey there's more addicts right across the street at the Casino and we haven't shut that down or raided it? 'Merica!
Quick searches of the database 'Medline' produce 859 results on synthetic cannabinoids and 156 results on bath salts.
Here's a few recent ones on synthetic cannabinoids.
1: Mir A, Obafemi A, Young A, Kane C. Myocardial infarction associated with use of the synthetic cannabinoid k2. Pediatrics. 2011 Dec;128(6):e1622-7. Epub 2011 Nov 7. PubMed PMID: 22065271.
2: Carroll FI, Lewin AH, Mascarella SW, Seltzman HH, Reddy PA. Designer drugs: a medicinal chemistry perspective. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Nov 17. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06199.x. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22092008.
3: Kovacs FE, Knop T, Urbanski MJ, Freiman I, Freiman TM, Feuerstein TJ, Zentner J, Szabo B. Exogenous and Endogenous Cannabinoids Suppress Inhibitory Neurotransmission in the Human Neocortex. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Nov 2. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.262. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22048459.
4: Malinowska B, Baranowska-Kuczko M, Schlicker E. Triphasic blood pressure responses to cannabinoids: do we understand the mechanism? Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Oct 24. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01747.x. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22022923.
5: Ashton CH, Moore PB. Endocannabinoid system dysfunction in mood and related disorders. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2011 Oct;124(4):250-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01687.x. Epub 2011 Mar 9. PubMed PMID: 21916860.
6: Lapoint J, James LP, Moran CL, Nelson LS, Hoffman RS, Moran JH. Severe toxicity following synthetic cannabinoid ingestion. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2011 Oct;49(8):760-4. PubMed PMID: 21970775.
7: Castellanos D, Singh S, Thornton G, Avila M, Moreno A. Synthetic cannabinoid use: a case series of adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2011 Oct;49(4):347-9. PubMed PMID: 21939863.
8: Iwata N, Kitanaka S. New Cannabinoid-Like Chromane and Chromene Derivatives from Rhododendron anthopogonoides. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2011;59(11):1409-12. PubMed PMID: 22041081.
9: Fattore L, Fratta W. Beyond THC: The New Generation of Cannabinoid Designer Drugs. Front Behav Neurosci. 2011;5:60. Epub 2011 Sep 21. PubMed PMID: 22007163; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3187647.
It is pretty obvious that Carlson is lining his pockets with the health of those who are trying to stay legal, yet still get high.
The fact that he is ignoring the facts on how it affects the users makes him no better than a crack dealer.
I have an anecdote. I knew a guy who tried incense and didn't end up in the emergency room.
Stop worrying, everybody!
The reason this is all such a joke to me is that there's an easy way to get rid of that line: Legalize weed. That's all it would take.
Oh no! Here come those EvilResident gravatars again!
+1 for Ramos. Though i prefer "grass" to "weed."
Erik: the things you now speak of are criminal activities. This is a false equivalency when you try to compare it to whether a legal enterprise makes a city " better" or " worse."
Stop being stupid.
Thanks for the random studies which the layperson cannot read with any amount of ease.
Here's what I (and probably a lot of people) would like to know:
-Of 100 randomly selected first-time users who are not at the same time using another intoxicating substance, how many experience unpleasant physical effects; how many end up seeking medical help; how many behave in a way that requires law enforcement intervention? Was that result influenced by the amount used, or possibly by the lack of understanding of the product? Could it be solved with education?
-Of 100 randomly-selected chronic users, how many become physically addicted? How many experience a deterioration in quality of life or a change that results in a negative trajectory in health or anti-social behavior? What percentage (who are not concurrently using other substances) end up seeking treatment for physical ailments or addiction?
And then a comparison with those groups, separated by synthetic substances used--how do those statistics compare with other mind-altering substances like alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, or MDMA?
With those stats in hand, with repeated like results, I would feel able to have an educated opinion.
For the record, I'm not opposed to marijuana being legal.
The place is ruining the lives of "people" who can't find joy and happiness and a "high" in simply living and enjoy life as it is given to each and everyone of us.
The place is a cancer on Duluth and the surrounding area.
I personally am infinitely more comfortable legalizing real marijuana, than this synthetic crap. But I also agree with Ramos as far as the DPD response to the issue. The only thing they had a right to keep from the raid was any synthetics containing illegal ingredients. How they can justify keeping all the other things they jacked is beyond me.
I enjoyed the DNT article where Carlson challenged the state law against synthetics, but the challenge was rejected on the grounds that no charges had been filed against him.
I would be, like, "Well, where's all my stuff then?"
I know Police Chief Ramsay follows PDD. Perhaps he would care to comment?
If he's too busy popping off Jim Carlson's guns out on the shooting range, I would understand.
I'm not sure how anyone can defend the Last Place. I guess it's legal for him to be open, but it's also a festering sore on that part of downtown, much like the NorShor in its final days. It certainly detracts from some of the exciting things going on in that part of the city.
I've lived here all my life, and have seen ups and downs downtown. But the recent activity in "Old Downtown" is great. It can only get better. But the Last Place is a holdover eyesore that has recently taken more visibility due to its constant activity. Maybe we can find him a location on Michigan street, or out West, or ???? Just my two cents worth.
It's amazing to me how many people happily tolerate the abuse of power when it happens to be directed against someone or something they don't like.
The fact that police took cash, computer drives and guns from a legitimate, if unsavory, business and is keeping them indefinitely without filing charges should have everybody up in arms. Instead, the owner of the business is vilified and the police are invited to participate in forums.
If it happened to you, I'd be right there with you, too. I just find it discouraging.
I guess it's my fault for not being able to follow my principles on a case-by-case basis. Sadly enough, I just have them all the time.
The only festering sores I see are all the womp womp and the folks climbing over each other to be more morally outraged.
It has now been 81 days since the Last Place on Earth was raided. No charges have been filed, and no property has been returned.
Starting now, I will keep track of how many days elapse until one of the above outcomes happens. The running total will be known as the Total Days of Bullshit (TDOB) Index. I will make a daily announcement of the TDOB on this thread.
TDOB Index, Dec. 11: 81
GTFO while you still can Carlson, and godspeed you relatively sober folks.
"We don't have the research data that backs up the statutes, and backs up any kind of case law or any type of criminal charging, that would allow us to go forward and charge out crimes and be successful in those prosecutions."
--Lt. Steve Stracek, Commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force, at the Chamber of Commerce forum
"But we can go in and raid businesses and keep all their cash and computers for as long as we want to, provided enough middle-class voters in the community turn a blind eye to us doing it."
--Lt. Steve Stracek's unspoken words, as divined by Ramos
TDOB Index, Dec. 12, 2011: 82
Opinion of a 17-year-old male:
If you can sell this "legal" alternative bull crap, why is it that you can not legalize real marijuana?
In my short existence, I've smoked marijuana about 25-30 times, I do not consider my self a stoner and I actually work out at the YMCA a lot, therefor, smoking pot is something I can't do often. I have smoked DOA before, which is a legal alternative. It wasn't by choice and I wasn't really informed what it was until I was smoking it.
I'll tell you all right now. The high from regular marijuana is far less intense than the one to DOA, or any other legal alternative. The high from that legal crap is extremely rocky and it's much scarier than the high of a marijuana high. Marijuana highs are stereotypically just calm and chill and giggly - like the stoners we imagine. But the high from the "legal" weed is just much more intense and I was much more paranoid and had much more anxiety.
The bottom line is, this dude, whoever the hell he is at LPOE, should not be selling this shit to our "community" and I use that term lightly. He's just a drug dealer getting away with murder essentially in front of our eyes. This city is broke as fuck, having to close down one of the best high schools in the city [Central], doing all kinds of other dumbass budget cuts, and jeopardizing the education of Duluth while this dude gets to sell "spices" and "bath salts" to fucking meth head looking dudes and just arrogant, obnoxious morons, pocketing thousands of dollars a month. He should be donating a lot of that damn cash at least to the school board or something, because not only is Duluth's downtown district just disgusting, so is the Duluth Public School system.
And for the record:
I have only been drunk once in my life
Never smoked a cigarette
Never smoked any other drug besides marijuana
So I do consider myself a rather functional smart person.
I don't know if this comment will be read thoroughly or whatever, but I thought I would just voice some opinion on this. All I know, once I get the chance to move away from this god forsaken city, I will do so.
The place was already pretty vile before he started selling this toxic trash. There's such a thing as taste, and Carlson clearly has none.
On today's menu, we have this link.
TDOB Index, Dec. 13, 2011: 83
Me too teen dude, but take it from one who's pretty much been/lived everywhere, there's a little paradise and a little poop, in every place. When I'd told a friend from MPLS I was moving up here by way of default, he mentioned how many crazies lived in Duluth, which, there may be a high density of crazies here, per capita, but I was like, 'there aren't any crazies in the cities?' And I also asked, 'you mean the guy with the pet cobras?' You think there's no meth in Hawaii or Alaska? Wrong again. Stupid is everywhere Teen Dude, the white people brought it with them when they swarmed from Europe. Better to face it head on than to run and hide. That said, there's nothing wrong with going out and seeing the world, just do it for the right reasons. This Carlson... shall too pass.
Did you know the police could hang onto somebody's cash and personal property for 84 days for no reason at all? Neither did I. This is turning into a science experiment.
TDOB Index, Dec. 14, 2011: 84
Hey Ramos, I hope the feds take his money and computers and donate them to a treatment program. Don't you got you're own website to post your blather on?
Yes. Because the Feds are clearly well known for donating money acquired from their "war on drugs." Luuuuuummmmmooooox.
Maybe the police are waiting until Day 100 to file charges. No sense in rushing things.
TDOB Index, Dec. 15, 2011: 85
There once was a drug in Duluth
Whose users were very uncouth:
They stood in a line
At opening time,
And on top of all that, they were youth.
TDOB Index, Dec. 16, 2011: 86
The Duluth News Tribune usually follows my lead on stories. I wonder why they haven't done anything on the cash and property seized by the Duluth police in their raid of the Last Place of Earth and held for 87 days with no charges being filed?
I'll look for details in tomorrow's paper.
TDOB Index, Dec. 17, 2011: 87
If there was an ongoing case before a raid, how does lawyer / client conversations work if they were conducted via computer, and said computer is seized?
I don't really think any laws are being followed here. The police are just sort of acting out the community's wishes in a symbolic way, knowing that the community quietly approves. The legality of the situation is beside the point.
The newspaper panders to the community in a similar way. "Charges likely to be filed against Duluth head shop for selling synthetic drugs" trumpeted the DNT headline of Nov. 18, 2011. This headline, like the police raid, reflected the community's fondest wish of the moment.
But that was a month ago. Wouldn't an equally large headline now be in order-â€”"No charges filed after all"?
Or, better yet: "Duluth Police Department returns property, apologizes"?
This entire thread is brilliant.
Endless War, Indefinite Detention, Class Warfare waged by the autocrats ... declining budgets ... impunity for; fraud, waste, abuse, criminality ... from our politicians and institutions
And here we have people talking about a "cancer" or a "sore" in Duluth.
I can only imagine the Duluth Chamber of Commerce has had its stealthy eye on this piece of property for some time now.
With all the experience I'm getting writing daily thoughts on this thread, I've decided to branch out into writing fortunes for fortune cookies.
"Much happiness lies in store for you."
"A change in the weather signifies good luck."
"The Duluth Police Department will confiscate your cash and computers and keep them, for no reason, for 88 days."
TDOB Index, Dec. 18, 2011: 88
One problem that the state has with trying to criminalize synthetic marijuana is that every time laws are passed against a certain chemical, the chemists tweak the formula slightly to come up with something new.
The only around this would be to make a law against anything that gets you high, then hire a team of Compliance Dudes to test every new chemical that comes on the market.
If the Compliance Dude gives you a drowsy thumb's-up, wolfs down a chocolate cake and says, "Peace, man," then it's illegal.
TDOB Index, Dec. 19, 2011: 89
There once was some heads in Duluth
The claims of harm were met with "Show proof!"
They stumbled about- brains they were without,
Not knowing they found permanent youth.
You would think that 90 days after raiding a place, the police would have enough evidence to file charges. You would be wrong.
You would think that after not filing charges for 90 days, the police would return the cash, computers and personal property they stole. You would be wrong.
You would think that somebody besides a few people on a blog thread would actually say something about this. You would be wrong.
You would think...well, never mind. You would be wrong.
TDOB Index, Dec. 20, 2011: 90
You would think you'd get the hint, Carlson is a skank and a pusher ... he deserves any bad karma that comes his way. Your chest thumping doesn't make what he's doing any less wrong. Your illusions of "freedom" are stretching thin Ramos. If the supreme court says that corporations are people then as far as the constitution goes, all bets are off...We have nothing then but moral turpitude and local community standards to gauge what we're comfortable with, I'm uncomfortable that marijuana is illegal, I'm MORE uncomfortable that skanks like Carlson convert our public assistance money into his profits while wrecking lives. Think about the toddler children of the user parents who will be hungery this Christmas Ramos ... do it when you're stroking your bloated ego and stuff your face on Christmas night.
Huh? Neither Carlson nor Ramos made those 'toddler children of the user parents' go hungry. They would have probably bought alcohol or found some meth if they weren't buying this shit ... or maybe go gamble. Shitty people are shitty people, it has nothing to do with whether some sleaze bag is selling fake (or real) weed down the street.
Fake pot was the second-most frequently used illegal drug behind natural marijuana, which 36.4 percent of seniors reported using, according to the study. Frequent use of marijuana reached a 30-year peak among high school seniors. More than 90 percent of synthetic pot users surveyed said they had also used natural marijuana.
"One in every 15 high school seniors today is smoking pot on a daily or near-daily basis," said Lloyd Johnston, principal investigator of the study.
â€”Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec. 15, 2011
You would think that with the $6 million Carlson has raked in he could hire a competent attorney. Wrong.
Today I saw a policeman walking towards LPOE with something in his hand. At first I thought he was returning some of the confiscated property, but then he walked on by.
One way to fight an unwinnable war is to increase the power of the police.
If the police can go into a place, take whatever valuables catch their eye, and keep them indefinitely without filing charges, that's a good way for the police to punish somebody who hasn't broken any laws.
The police really, really like having a tool like this in their toolbox. They don't have to worry about going to court or proving anything or gathering evidence. All they have to do is sweep in and bring down the hammer of punishment. It's like vigilante justice, with uniformed law enforcement doing all the work.
This can only happen as long as a community looks the other wayâ€”or actively supports the vigilantism. In Duluth, the police have found the perfect community.
You know, it's easy enough to end the TDOB Index. One of two things must happen. Please refer to my original announcement for details.
TDOB Index, Dec. 22, 2011: 92
The repeated derogatory references to Jim Carlson by some commenters--as if Carlson's perceived "badness" somehow justifies any and all actions taken against him, legal or not--only make my views stronger. It is rarely the perfectly behaved citizen who inspires police to overstep their bounds. Ask the civil rights marchers in Selma.
It has been 93 days since the Last Place on Earth was raided. No charges have been filed. So why do the police still have Carlson's cash, computers and personal items?
TDOB Index, Dec. 23, 2011: 93
If I came into your house and took all your cash and kept it for 94 days, who would you call?
TDOB Index, Dec. 24, 2011: 94
As we celebrate the joyous holiday season with family and friends, let us take a moment to think of those who cannot be here with us today--such as Jim Carlson's cash, computers and personal items, held by the Duluth police, for no reason, for 95 days.
TDOB Index, Dec. 25, 2011: 95
I'm fairly certain that in 95 days worth of confiscation, Mr. Carlson has made more than enough from the sale of poison to buy his stuff back many times over.
Not saying what the DPD has done is right, but...
You're right, zra. It's not right.
Again, I am amazed at how many people happily overlook the abuse of power when it is directed against someone or something they don't like.
How many Duluthians today, if they were alive 90 years ago, would have stood up at the lynchings? Not many, in my estimation.
Ramos, I like your support of this issue, but why pay attention to this in particular? What about the wider issue of forfeiture in drug cases? Police departments across the routinely have been seizing property and depriving individuals of it for months, if not years, without trial or even arrest. They'll take cash at traffic stops, cars and even houses on drug busts, and yes, hold them for a lot long than 96 days. The victims of this are often not even the people who supposedly perpetrated a crime... merely being in the same house makes the police think they have the right to take your property. This sure didn't start with Jim Carlson.
Plenty written about this, it's been going on since the days of St. Reagan: http://www.forbes.com/2011/06/08/property-civil-forfeiture.html
I know that super-punitive, quasi-legal drug laws didn't start with Jim Carlson. I'm focusing on Jim Carlson's case because that is the case that came before me. Whenever I'm in an argument on the subject in the future, I will have a specific, concrete example to bring to the table. I think it may be eye-opening to some Duluthians to see just how above-the-law the police actually are when it comes to drugs.
Anyone who's been paying attention since Reagan knows the score when it comes to the authorities and drugs.
There are more people in prison for drug related crimes than any other offense ... combined.
Thanks to Jerome for the link to the Forbes article, above.
"Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets--all without so much as charging you with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with a crime let alone be convicted to lose homes, cars, cash or other property."
In a ridiculous situation where the average citizen may feel helpless to change anything on a national level, the TDOB Index helps me not to feel helpless locally.
I have given the Duluth Police Department a clear choice. If they choose to hang onto Jim Carlson's cash, computers and personal property forever, then I guess the TDOB Index will go on forever as well. The ball is in their court now.
It comforts me to know that Chief Ramsay reads this. I just hope the cops don't come and take all my stuff.
TDOB Index, Dec. 26, 2011: 96
I have noticed a couple of unmarkeds lurking around my house lately.
And I haven't committed a crime, either. So I'm getting a little worried.
I know Mayor Ness reads this blog, too. I wonder what he thinks of all this? I assume he supports me, since I backed him up on the casino thing.
When it comes to public policy, there are few things that I can look at and say, "That is entirely good." Most of the time, there are tradeoffs with whatever course is taken.
The legalization of marijuana, however, would be entirely good. It baffles me that such a relatively benign vegetative substance can inspire such hatred and rancor among policymakers that they will happily destroy whatever civil liberties get in their way in order to fight it.
I hardly consider marijuana a drug. Certainly, it's much less harmful than alcohol. Marijuana is more in the category of a good steak dinner.
Why is everybody against steak dinners?
And why do the Duluth police still have Jim Carlson's cash, computers and guns?
TDOB Index, Dec. 27, 2011: 97
Because Ramos, keeping these "steak dinners" illegal is making huge amounts of cash for the drug companies. And they'll slice the earth in half to keep it that way if they have to. That is until they figure out a way to profit heartily on this new venture, which I can assure you, they are working around the clock on. I recommend the film Avatar, if you haven't, to better understand these dynamics.
Back from our holiday vacation, and can't believe that: while debate rages on about a relatively innocuous change in PDD user policy (although it really was a pain, having to copy and paste the registration link); Ramos's count goes basically uncommented on.
The DPD still has the property??? Really??? This is apparently A-Ok with PDD users, including the police chief and the Mayor?
Ramos, can't believe that, for once, I am in total agreement with you. Thank you for the countdown.
Citizen emmadogs' 'Can't believe it' index: 1 and counting.
Thank you, emmadogs. I'm used to my important, relevant issues going uncommented-on. It's the story of my life. People actually tend to blame me for bringing them up.
One thing that I like about PDD is that I know that public figures, like the mayor and the police chief, read it. That way, when I'm being ignored, I at least know that it's a conscious effort on the part of those ignoring me. Nobody can claim to be unaware.
Isn't it astonishing that the police can walk into a place, confiscate all the cash and computers and keep them forever without filing charges?
TDOB Index, Dec. 28, 2011: 98
Ramos, what is more astonishing to me is the relative lack of response to this. Sure the business is gross, as are forfeiture laws, but so few posters on PDD seem to care. As they say, if we don't protest when the nogoodniks are attacked, sooner or later there is no one to protest when you're on the hot seat.
So: Mayor Ness, police chief/officers, any thoughts on this abuse of power to the detriment of a (whether you like it or not) local business?
Duluth is not a city that should be silent in the face of abuse of power. That is not the type of city I have chosen to live in, and it does not constitute a perfect day in our fair city.
...and glancing at the title of this thread, please let me add: The LPOE is not ruining Duluth, but citizens' complete indifference to abuse of power sure could.
Oh, and how does police action while a case is in the middle of litigation effect litigation?
Adam, in response to your first question re attorney-client conversations via computer: the likely answer is: information contained therein, like client confession, probably couldn't be used in evidence; if a state statute prohibited police from reading such communications in otherwise validly seized evidence, the accused could sue and/or request charges be brought; but of course, surreptitious eavesdropping can get police all sorts of information.
Re: second question: police action doesn't have to stop once litigation has started; illegally obtained evidence, whether gotten before or during litigation, even if it can't be used, doesn't typically affect the rest of the litigation.
Hope that's basically accurate....
I wonder where the Duluth Police Department is keeping Jim Carlson's stuff? Do they have a special room for property that they seize from people who haven't committed crimes?
TDOB Index, Dec. 29, 2011: 99
Day 100. Who would have thought we'd ever see it?
The Duluth Police Department has confiscated thousands of dollars in cash, computer hardware and personal property from a citizen and held it for 100 days, without filing charges.
The Duluth News Tribune seems indifferent.
TDOB Index, Dec. 30, 2011: 100
The pathetic and apathetic nature of the media is matched only by the pathetic and apathetic nature of the populace.
Duluthians are great at expressing themselves on national issues, but when something happens closer to home--something specific and concrete that they might actually be able to do something about--they are eerily silent.
My ultimatum to the Duluth Police Department is hardly unreasonable. File charges, or return the property. It makes perfect common sense. To leave the property hanging in some law-enforcement limbo, subject not to any rule of law but only to the whim of its law-enforcement keepers, is unreasonable.
The fact that so few people think this is a serious issue blows me away.
Maybe he's being classified as a "belligerent actor."
Have you ever had that dream where you're standing on a stage in front of a bunch of people, and you're naked? I have, except I'm the only one who's clothed.
The Duluth Police Department has confiscated cash, computers, cell phones and guns from a citizen and kept them for 101 days to punish the citizen for being who he is. No charges have been filed.
Duluthians, for the most part, approve.
TDOB Index, Dec. 31, 2011: 101
I have been chatting with people who say that one reason they don't support Jim Carlson is because he's making so much money off the sale of incense. There's no doubt that he is. He mentions the money in every newspaper article.
But this is not new money, only a new recipient. All of these people coming out of the woodwork to spend their money at the Last Place On Earth were spending that same money on drugs, principally marijuana, beforehand. They were just more secretive and surreptitious about it, because marijuana is illegal.
I would guess that Jim Carlson's newfound wealth has been accompanied by a sharp reduction in the number of people driving slowly down alleys in the middle of the night, looking for this person or that person, running in here, running in there, making whispered phone calls, tossing pebbles at windows and generally participating in the underground economy.
The Duluth police have been holding Jim Carlson's property for 102 days. Charges have not been filed. Perhaps they enjoy the way the property catches the evening sun and brightens up the evidence room.
TDOB Index, Jan. 1, 2012: 102
Ramos, I (and I'm sure many other people here) DO think this is a big issue! Legal loophole or not, if something is currently legal, the police should not be involved, let alone keeping "evidence" for this long.
However, I think people have not responded to your comments, because frankly, you kinda sound like a crazy person... Your frentic TDOB Index updates are a little over the top, and no one else probably wants to get ivolved (imho).
In Duluth, a daily observation is over the top.
TDOB Index, Jan. 2, 2012: 103
And now, a quotation by Samuel Johnson from 1751, explaining why I am doomed.
"All the force of reason and all the charms of language are indeed necessary to support positions which every man hears with a wish to confute them. Truth finds an easy entrance into the mind when she is introduced by desire, and attended by pleasure; but when she intrudes uncalled, and brings only fear and sorrow in her train, the passes of the intellect are barred against her by prejudice and passion; if she sometimes forces her way by the batteries of argument, she seldom long keeps possession of her conquests, but is ejected by some favoured enemy, or at best obtains only a nominal sovereignty, without influence and without authority."
And still I carry on.
Hi BadCat -- I don't think Ramos sounds over the top at all; in fact, I am glad he continues to post about this. I just think that the low response is because, why bother? Truly, it seems that nothing we as the Little People do makes a bit of a difference. Electing Obama accomplished nothing. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
At least Ramos can rouse himself to care. I myself have mostly given up.
So, Go Ramos.
True that Ramos, in Duluth, a daily observation is the overest of the top. The toppermost of the poppermost. In the Stallonest sense of the word. But you know what? Who gives a fuck? We all need a reality check sometimes. Just like Grand Marais...
How does asking a question make you a crazy person?
@emmadogs: Iraq war-done, DADT-ended, Lilly Ledbetter FPA-enacted, historic health care reform-enacted. Have a child who is a young adult? S/he can now be insured under your insurance. Insurers must now spend 85% of premiums on actual health care.
If Jim Carlson makes $6 million a year selling incense, that's $60,000 in sales tax that goes directly to the city's general fund.
In other words, incense paid for the salary and benefits of at least one of the cops raiding the store.
TDOB Index, Jan. 3, 2012: 104
lojasmo, you forgot Osama bin Laden. Dumbyah couldn't find him, so he just quit. Par for the course.
Wrong again Guggemos, I wasn't calling anyone crazy for protesting the local Bronsonian style of law and order, whether I agree with it or not, it's unconstitutional. I was agreeing with Ramos that a daily observation being accepted by Duluthians was about as unlikely as going a day without an Old Knifey sighting. However, for prosperity, and to avoid my own unlawful search and seizures, I'll stick with your previous interpretation and side with local law enforcement.
Although the News Tribune has so far managed to ignore the unlawful holding of Jim Carlson's cash and computers by Duluth police for 105 days, they did run an Associated Press story on Jan. 3 entitled "Synthetic marijuana is problem for U.S. military."
In the story, incense was said to have caused vomiting, elevated blood pressure, seizures, "extreme agitation, anxiety and delusions" and people "tearing off their clothes and running naked down the steet."
Donald Hurst, a college student studying to be a doctor, provided the most horrifying anecdote in the story, a case of "a sailor who came in with his sobbing wife."
"He stood there holding a sandwich in front of him with no clue as to what to do," Hurst said. "He opened it up, looked at it, touched it. I took it and folded it over and then he took a bite out it. But then we had to tell him, 'You have to chew.'"
An hour later when Hurst went back to evaluate him, he was completely normal and worried about being in trouble.
@Herzog: It's cute how you think I was talking about you.
This stuff sounds more and more like a really bad acid trip ... if such a thing exists.
I should note that the horror stories mentioned above, with the exception of the sandwich story, were unsourced.
A Clemson University scientist created many of the chemicals [in incense] for research purposes in 1990s. They were never tested on humans.
Civilian deaths have been reported and emergency crews have responded to calls of "hyper-excited" people doing things like tearing off their clothes and running down the street naked.
Can we all agree to call it "spice" from now on?
Spice was slang for various mind-altering drugs. Varieties included ryll and the strongest (and most expensive), glitterstim. The planet Kessel was rich with these spices, which were harvested from dangerous mines, at one point in history by slave labor. Sevarcos II, Rori, Ryloth, and Troiken were other sources of spice. The word could also refer to non-narcotic herbs and minerals used to give foods or drinks flavor.
Oh shit, you weren't? That's a load off fanny. The last time someone called me cute, it was for trying to rebuild a 1966 T-120 Triumph Bonneville, weird huh? Thank god that ain't illegal, but hiding drugs in the gas tank with plastic tubing is though.
Adam: I see where you're coming from, but I still prefer the term "incense."
incense 1 n substance which gives off perfume when burned 2 v to inflame with rage, make extremely angry
So the cops can just go into a place, take all the cash, and keep it for 107 days, whether or not a crime has been committed? It boggles the mind.
TDOB Index, Jan. 6, 2012: 107
Now that the Duluth police have experience confiscating cash from people who haven't committed crimes, will they start pulling people over for not speeding?
TDOB Index, Jan. 7, 2012: 108
The Duluth police department is in the process of moving to a new, larger headquarters on Rice Lake Road. In a recent news conference, a spokesman touted the advantages of the new building.
"There are a lot of people in Duluth who haven't committed crimes," he stated. "With the new facility, we'll have ample room to store all of their stuff that we seize."
TDOB Index, Jan. 8, 2012: 109
I feel sure that if the police had found even a drop of illegal chemicals in the incense they seized from the Last Place on Earth, the full force of our draconian drug laws would have come down on Jim Carlson immediately. The fact that no charges have been filed after 110 days tells me that they didn't find anything illegal.
What did the police raid of The Last Place on Earth accomplish? It stopped the sale of incense in Duluth for less than one day; it wasted taxpayer's money and made our streets less safe by taking cops away from other duties; and it martyred a citizen that many people intensely dislike.
With nothing positive accomplished, the police are now simply punishing Carlson by holding his cash, computers and personal property indefinitely.
Way to protect and serve, cops! I feel safer already.
TDOB Index, Jan. 9, 2012: 110
I salute your tenacity, Ramos. I do figure that Tigue, or whoever Carlson has hired as an attorney, is working on this issue.
If Jim is anything like his old man, he'll fight this as long as he has breath. I do wonder why no sign on the front of the store, asking your question. Is it because his clientele and perhaps he would rather just keep quiet as long as they aren't actively being harassed while the court case plays out? Everyone seems to be circling and waiting to land. Meanwhile, Carlson makes enough money to fight his case.
And the cops will keep his stuff as long as they don't have a court order that says to return it. It's shitty, and it's obviously unconstitutional, but it's no surprise that they do it and wait to be told they can't. Police do a lot of things that are unconstitutional... until they get told they can't. Like spray pepper spray in the face of non-violent protesters.
We like to pretend we live in a kinder gentler city where this stuff is concerned, but we're only fooling ourselves. They always pick on the weak and unpopular. They always have. Even here.
Oh, I think if people started contacting the police department about the confiscated property, and the media started writing stories about it, and the mayor called up Chief Ramsay demanding to know what the hell kind of Mickey Mouse operation he's running down there, that the police might return the property without a court order.
I'm not saying I expect that to happen. I'm just doing my bit. I am a little surprised that the DNT continues to publish any random anti-incense anecdote that pops up from anywhere in the country, but ignores the very real constitutional issues going on in their own town. It's irresponsible of them, to say the leastâ€”and I believe that it's not mere ignorance on their part, but willful and intentional irresponsibility.
We have our devil, and we're damning his ass. That's what the people want, and that's what they're getting.
Whenever I see an article about a pot bust, my first thought is, "What a waste." It's a waste of law enforcement resources (inevitably, half a dozen agencies are involved), a waste of a small farmer's life (off to jail with you for growing a relatively benign vegetative substance! And we'll take your house, too! And your car! And all your money!), a waste of good weed and a waste of common sense.
How is it that people easily accept any sort of drug cocktail prescribed by a doctor, for virtually any condition, but are adamantly opposed to marijuana, a cheap, easily-obtained treatment for depression, pain and alcoholism? It has to be something psychological, because such rabid opposition has no grounds in reality.
It's this psychology that has allowed the Duluth police to hold onto Jim Carlson's property, for no reason, for 111 days.
TDOB Index, Jan. 10, 2012: 111
When did grass ever get to "not good enough" status? And why?
When they realized you couldn't patent it.
Convicted murderers don't lose their houses--but pot farmers do. Armed robbers don't have their cars taken away--but pot farmers do. Rapists and kidnappers don't have their bank accounts confiscated--but pot farmers do. Apparently, America really, really hates pot farmers.
In other news, the Duluth police have been hanging onto Jim Carlson's cash and property, without any cause, for 112 days.
TDOB Index, Jan. 11, 2012: 112
Surprisingly, nothing has changed.
TDOB Index, Jan. 12, 2012: 113
According to the paper, fourteen new police officers were sworn in. A picture shows one of their superiors showing them how to confiscate property from people who haven't committed crimes.
TDOB Index, Jan. 13, 2012: 114
Ending the war on drugs really seems like the quickest and easiest way to have a far-reaching impact on society. There are all sorts of positives that would come of it, and hardly any negatives.
How can the cops keep somebody's property for 115 days without filing charges?
TDOB Index, Jan. 14, 2012: 115
As I continue with this thread, bravely adding one or more segment each day, I begin to feel more and more like I am descending into an abyss. It's not a bad feeling. It's nice and quiet down here at the end of the thread. Nice and dark and peaceful. A few glowing creatures drift by. They don't seem harmful. I think I will enjoy myself.
Wait! Is that Jim Carlson's property I see, flashing in the depths?
Alas, no. That is only an electrified spongiform.
Jim Carlson's property has been held by the Duluth police department, without cause, for 116 days.
TDOB Index, Jan. 15, 2012: 116
To celebrate Martin Luther King Day, the Duluth police dusted off Jim Carlson's cash and computers, which they have been holding, for no reason, for 117 days.
TDOB Index, Jan. 16, 2012: 117
One thing that works to the advantage of injustice is time. If things are a certain way for long enough, people start not to care very much. In Duluth, "long enough" means about three weeks.
The Duluth police have been holding Jim Carlson's cash, computers and personal property for 118 days without cause. How is that possible?
TDOB Index, Jan. 17, 2012: 118
With bitterly cold temperatures covering the area, Duluth police warmed themselves by cuddling up to Jim Carlson's cash in the evidence room.
They have been holding this cash, for no reason, for 120 days.
TDOB Index, Jan. 19, 2012: 120
A sad news story today about a drunk driver killing a woman in a head-on collision in Woodland. The social and personal costs of alcohol are so much greater than the social and personal costs of marijuana as to make the comparison ludicrous. Which one do you think is legal?
The Duluth police have been holding Jim Carlson's guns and cash for 121 days for no reason. That pisses me off.
TDOB Index, Jan. 20, 2012: 121
(1) In the news today, Superior police captain Chad La Lor is on trial for perjuring himself in a drunken hit-and-run case, of which he was earlier convicted.
(2) In 2005, Duluth mayor Herb Bergson struck a bridge abutment with his car and was also convicted of drunken hit-and-run.
(3) In early 2011, Proctor Deputy Police Chief (and City Councilor) Troy Foucault was convicted of stealing seized morphine from a pharmacy robbery out of the evidence room.
(4) Each morning at the Last Place on Earth in Duluth, people line up on the sidewalk, patiently waiting to buy incense.
Question: Of the four examples above, which sparked such outrage in the community that angry citizens packed a public forum to denounce it?
Answer: Why, #4, of course.
The Duluth police have now been holding Jim Carlson's cash, computers and personal items for 122 days, without the shadow of a reason. What's up with that?
TDOB Index, Jan. 21, 2012: 122
Do you remember how, when the Last Place on Earth was raided, the cops told Jim Carlson that they would be back the instant he dared to restock his shelves with incense? He restocked his shelves the next day. The cops never showed. They must have forgotten.
Now they've been holding his stuff for 123 days, without cause. With every day that goes by, the situation gets more ridiculous. I would really like somebody to justify it, but I guess if you can just do whatever you want, you don't have to justify anything.
TDOB Index, Jan. 22, 2012: 123
We not only conclude that officers took items from the Strike Force offices for their personal use, but there is also reason to believe that they did so with the knowledge that the items could be returned to rightful owners. For example, we learned of two instances where apparent stolen property could have been returned to its rightful owner but was not. In one case involving a trailer, the rightful owner was easily identified, yet the trailer was sold to a relative of a Strike Force officer. In the second case, a new, expensive 4-wheel ATV could have been returned to its owner but was converted to the Strike Force's own use by equipping it with police lights.
Our review of the evidence room supports the conclusion that many items were taken by Strike Force employees. When the inventory of evidence at the Strike Force offices was complete, we found many items that were listed as being in the Strike Force evidence room that we could not locate. There is no record of these items being destroyed or sent to auction. They are simply missing. We designated these items as 'unidentified' evidence. Some of these items were found in officers' desks, lockers and other locations in the Strike Force offices.
I suppose it's possible that the Duluth police are waiting for their tax refunds, so they can reimburse the pile of cash in the evidence room that they've been borrowing from.
Ha ha! I'm kidding!
TDOB Index, Jan. 25, 2012: 126
An interesting headline in today's Duluth News Tribune: "At least a dozen guns went missing from Pine County Sheriff's Office from 2008-11."
Prompted by citizen complaints that firearms were not being returned to their owners [Pine County] Sheriff Robin K. Cole ordered an internal audit shortly after taking office a year ago, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.
The audit "found that access control and book keeping measures in place since 2001 were not in compliance with state mandated standards," the release said. "It was further determined that during the period from 2008 to early 2011, twelve firearms documented to be in the custody of the PCSO are missing."
The office has taken measures to improve the accountability of all property and Cole "will make every effort to contact the rightful owners of the missing firearms and make right these wrongs," the release said.
The ongoing firearms investigation is one of 11 internal investigations involving 15 sheriff's office employees conducted over the past year. The investigations included complaints of domestic violence, sexual harassment, excessive force, abuse of authority, failure to follow policies and order and failure to perform assigned duties. The investigations produced disciplinary actions ranging from oral reprimands to termination.
Cole will discuss the issue at a Monday news conference.
They still have it.
TDOB Index, Jan. 27, 2012: 128
They still do.
TDOB Index, Jan. 29, 2012: 130
An acquaintance dropped by to have a meeting with Jim the other day about selling some of his shirts and stuff in the LPOE ... after waiting on the guy for a half hour, Jim comes out, takes one look at my friend's stuff and says "When they make this stuff (motioning to the incense behind the counter) illegal, I'll buy your work."
I wonder what Jim's lawyers are doing about getting Jim's stuff back.
The system works, albeit slowly.
If the system works by allowing the cops to walk into a business and confiscate cash and computers and hang onto them for 131 days without filing charges, then I guess I'm not a big fan of the system.
TDOB Index, Jan. 30, 2012: 131
Don't district attorneys have say whether or not charges are filed and whether or not evidence is returned? That's the way that I always understood. District and prosecuting attorneys issue orders to the police to apprehend and collect evidence and based on that evidence prosecute via the courts.
If Jim's lawyers haven't been able to get his stuff back after 131 days, he needs to find better lawyers ... and with the amount of money he's making selling poison, he oughtta be able to afford a damn fine one at that.
Or perhaps the feds have gotten involved?
I find that a lot of issues get bogged down in details and legalities to the point where the original issue gets obscured.
The issue, in this case, is the TDOB Index. The quality of Jim Carlson's lawyers has nothing to do with the TDOB Index, nor does the TDOB Index care about who is prosecuting the case.
The TDOB Index exists until one of two things happens: (1) charges are filed against Jim Carlson or (2) Carlson's property is returned. Everything else is peripheral.
TDOB Index, Jan. 31, 2012: 132
Duluth police officers celebrated the first day of February by dancing around the evidence room and showering themselves with Jim Carlson's cash.
TDOB Index, Feb. 1, 2012: 133
Duluth police officers celebrated the second day of February by rubbing up against Jim Carlson's computers.
"It feels so good when no crime has been committed," one said.
TDOB Index, Feb. 2, 2012: 134
On the day after Groundhog Day, a squirrel popped out of a tree near City Hall and saw his shadow, which means the Duluth police will hold onto Jim Carlson's cash and property for another six weeks without filing charges.
On this thread only, February 3rd will henceforth be known as Squirrel Day. Hopefully we never have to celebrate another one.
TDOB Index, Feb. 3, 2012: 135
I walked by the Last Place on Earth today and a woman came out with her 4-or-so-year-old-son. The kid pointed at me as they walked by and asked, "Is that daddy?"
It seems important to clarify that I am not making this up.
But regardless of all the mush-heads involved, I'm with Ramos -- press some charges or return Carlson's stuff. It's getting weird.
If the TDOB Index didn't exist, the issue would go dormant until something happened that caused the newspaper to run an article. Then people would say, "Oh, yes. It seems like the cops had that property for a long time," but nobody would have any feel for how long it really was. The TDOB Index makes it real.
Just think if somebody took all your stuff and kept it for 136 days for no reason. Wouldn't that suck?
TDOB Index, Feb. 4, 2012: 136
Lundgren, kids ask you that everywhere.
Tsk tsk ... besmirching an innocent young man's name.
Because it was such a beautiful day, Duluth police officers took Jim Carlson's property ice fishing.
TDOB Index, Feb. 5, 2012: 137
Another day, another $164 in sales tax paid by the Last Place on Earth to the city.
Meanwhile, the police continue to hold Carlson's computers and property without cause.
TDOB Index, Feb. 6, 2012: 138
In the news today, a Duluth police officer is accused of taking money from the locker of another Duluth police officer. I wonder why she didn't just grab some of Jim Carlson's cash out of the evidence room like everyone else?
TDOB Index, Feb. 7, 2012: 139
Employees, including sworn officers, repeatedly took property obtained during searches for their own personal use. These items included, among other things, flat screen and large screen televisions, laptops and other computer equipment, electronics, jewelry and recreational items [...]
On a number of occasions, officers or their family members were permitted to purchase, at low prices, items from the evidence room, including flat screen and large screen televisions, jet skis, a trailer and other items.
A nice video by Jonathan Bothun on PDD today, where he interviews a few users of synthetic marijuana. Their comments indicate what I have been saying here: that the customers of the Last Place on Earth do not represent new drug users, but regular marijuana users who have switched to the legal stuff. One guy even said that he's having trouble finding real weed now, which indicates to me that the LPOE is taking most of its business away from the underground economy. As I have also said.
Given that these people have always been with us, the community's main problem with them now, as far as I can tell, is that they are visible.
The Duluth police stole Jim Carlson's cash 141 days ago. If they ever return it, do you think they'll pay interest?
TDOB Index, Feb. 9, 2012: 141
In the news today, Superior Police Officer Kirk Babic pleaded no contest to embezzling more than $5,000 from an account intended for a law enforcement fitness center. If he had only come across the bridge and grabbed some cash out of the Duluth evidence room, there wouldn't have been a problem.
TDOB Index, Feb. 10, 2012: 142
Is it just me, or do police officers seem a little more prone to criminality than other sectors of the population?
TDOB Index, Feb. 11, 2012: 143
TDOB Index, Feb. 12, 2012: 144
The Duluth police have been holding Jim Carlson's cash, computers and personal items for more than twenty weeks, without filing any charges.
What a great way to punish somebody who doesn't break the law! Nobody is held accountable, because there's no court order or sentencing hearing or formal record of any kind, but the person gets punished anyway. Just dump their stuff in a closet somewhere and forget about it. Sweet!
TDOB Index, Feb. 13, 2012: 145
Police Chief Ramsay celebrated Valentine's Day by laying a single red rose on Jim Carlson's computer drives.
"We'll be together forever," he whispered.
TDOB Index, Feb. 14, 2012: 146
Recently, viewers of a bear-den web cam in Ely were delighted to see two newborn black bear cubs playing with Jim Carlson's cash and property. No wonder it hasn't been returned.
TDOB Index, Feb. 15, 2012: 147
The Duluth police have been holding Jim Carlson's cash and property for 148 days for no reason whatsoever. I find it odd that the News Tribune doesn't consider this a story. If I wasn't keeping the issue alive, it would be like it never happened.
TDOB Index, Feb. 16, 2012: 148
Even after all these years, with so much evidence piled up to the contrary, I still manage to convince myself that if only I can explain myself clearly enough, that everyone will see it my way and change. This has never worked, on any issue. Still I carry on.
The Duluth police have been holding a private citizen's property for 149 days, because they feel like it. They don't need a reason.
TDOB Index, Feb. 17, 2012: 149
DPD wins for now
Duluth News Tribune: "Court: Cops can keep guns, cash seized from downtown Duluth head shop"
"In a memorandum to his order, Floerke wrote that Minnesota law 'allows for the retention of property seized by law enforcement if the property is being held in good faith as potential evidence in any matter, charged or uncharged...'"
What constitutes "good faith?"
That quote really jumped out at me when I read it too. Whether you agree with Carlson or not, that's a startling law. Basically, police are able to hold anybody's property for any reason as long as they want, as long as they claim it's in "good faith." And I have a hard time imagining that anybody who had property seized could go to court and prove that police aren't holding the property in "good faith." As long as police act like they're investigating, they can hold anyone's property as long as they want.
You guys are still surprised that 'probable cause/good faith' can be anything they want it to be? Did you think this was a democracy? It's been that way for a long time, that's why your best bet is to look/act/be clean cut and drive a librarian's car. But the American in me still gets off on statements like these...
"There's no law against having a '.50-cal,' " Carlson said. "The Constitution says people are supposed to be able to have guns to protect themselves against bandits and rogue governments so when things go bad we're not stuck throwing rocks at them."
Give the poor guy his 50-cal back, he'll need it in this town.
Duluth police officers celebrated the 150th day of confiscation by putting their arms around Jim Carlson's computer drives and humping them madly.
TDOB Index, Feb. 18,2012: 150
"Some of these investigations take time," Lt. Steve Stracek explained to reporters.
Just chillin', with $80,000 locked up in the vault. I hope they gave somebody a receipt for that. Something like: "Taken: $80,000. Thank you. The police."
In one way, the judge's ruling is actually good for the community, because it means that the TDOB Index will be around forever now. The police will never give the property back, and they will never file charges. The TDOB Index is good for the community.
I cheerfully carry on. Thank you for asking.
TDOB Index, Feb. 19, 2012: 151
According to Judge Shaun Floerke's ruling, the police can keep a citizen's property indefinitely as "potential evidence" for any crime, "charged or uncharged."
Question #1: What is potential evidence?
Answer: Everything that ever existed.
Question #2: What is an uncharged crime?
TDOB Index, Feb. 20, 2012: 152
Maybe it's time to wonder who Carlson's attorney is?
The police raided the Last Place on Earth on the suspicion that illegal drugs were being sold there. The reason the police seized guns, cash and computer drives was because if it turned out that illegal drugs were being sold there, America's drug laws would allow them to instantly seize those guns, cash and computer drives and keep them for themselves. They were preparing, just in case.
But that was five months ago. When the Duluth News Tribune had some of the LPOE's merchandise lab-tested, it took them less than a week to get results. This is why I am pretty sure the police haven't found anything illegal; if they had, they would have trumpeted the fact immediately and probably taken more of Jim Carlson's stuff.
Thanks to America's drug laws, however, they don't have to find anything illegal. They can take whatever stuff they want from whatever people they don't like for whatever "uncharged crime" they can think of and keep it forever.
What a great country.
TDOB Index, Feb. 21, 2012: 153
Actually, it is, though. Nobody interferes when somebody creates a TDOB Index, as could happen in some places. Nobody may care, either, but that's another issue.
$80,000 in cash and 28 guns held by the police, to say nothing of Carlson's computer drives, awaiting the discovery of a single drop of illegal substance to warrant their permanent, legal seizure. So what's the holdup?
The TDOB Index will end when either (1) charges are filed or (2) the property is returned. It is the position of the TDOB Index that the Duluth police should just give the property back without a lot of fuss, acknowledge their mistake, and move on. But the TDOB Index knows the homeboys don't play like that.
TDOB Index, Feb. 22, 2012: 154
Yep, Carlson is an immoral, disgusting tool, but the police do not make the laws. They need to give this property back, + damages and interest, and start operating legally.
The problem is that they are operating legally. Because "drugs" are supposedly involved, the law says the police can confiscate Jim Carlson's cash, guns and computer drives and hold them for 155 days without charging him with any crime. Theoretically, they could hold onto the stuff forever. The law specifies no maximum time period that property may be held.
TDOB Index, Feb. 23, 2012: 155
I don't believe forfeiture laws to be truly permissible under the Constitution. They exist, but should not, and would not if our government were not entirely corrupt, and that's only possible since our citizenry is entirely stupid.
I mean, there's one individual making an issue about this ridiculous injustice, out of the 100,000 or so in Duluth. Thanks Ramos.
Florida is one state among perhaps a handful that has property forfeiture laws. You get busted for possession of drugs, trafficking drugs or transporting drugs, they take your shit. Period.
Consuelo, I find this to be the exact same ratio of citizens utilizing their national parks! Take for instance, Tucson and Saguaro East, which is five minutes out of town. On any given evening, out of a city of one million, there were maybe ten people, give or take, using the park. Never misunderestimate the power of television and gadgets to completely stultify entire populations. Even in Yellowstone, the most popular park on the planet, in nexuses such as the Canyon and Old Faithful, crawling with people from all over the world, one need take only a few steps off the beaten path to reduce crowd exposure by over 99%.
When you look at it from the point of view of the police department, they have plenty of incentive to bring charges against Carlson, apart from the simple need for justice.
That $80,000 would buy some sweet equipment for the force. And those guns...oh, those guns...those sweet guns...those would make some great gifts for your Facebook friends, wouldn't they?
TDOB Index, Feb. 24, 2012: 156
But it's still the District Attorney that brings charges. The DA tells the cops to seize property. The DA decides whether or not property is to be held.
Who're you gonna call the next time some asshole tries to jack you for your cash? The DPD.
Ramos, thanks for keeping up the count.
The DA, the cops. Whoever is supposed to do the charging, that is who I'm waiting for to do it.
Don't you think $80,000 in lockup presents quite a temptation to your average cop?
TDOB Index, Feb. 25, 2012: 157
The police have been holding a private citizen's cash and property for 159 days without filing charges. Isn't that funny?
TDOB Index, Feb. 27, 2012: 159
Judge Shaun Floerke celebrated the 160th day of confiscation by peeking into the evidence room and winking at Jim Carlson's .50-caliber elephant gun where it lay in a corner.
"Hubba hubba," he whispered.
The .50-cal shivered and tried to cover itself. The judge smiled and gently closed the door.
TDOB Index, Feb. 28, 2012: 160
Good work Ramos, that was comment #237, it's my number dude! How did you know?
I believe the room in the Shining, where no one should ever go, was 327. I guess the evidence room is kind of like that. Do you think there's opium in there? My neighbor sure could use some. He messed his back up pretty bad on some experimental medication. I think since 'the man' caused his severe chronic back pain, they should give him carte blanche to the evidence room, at least the illegal narcotics, which after 300 years of medical research, are still the best thing we have for pain.
To celebrate Leap Day, Jim Carlson's cash and property held a melancholy party in the evidence room to keep up their spirits.
TDOB Index, Feb. 29, 2012: 161
I just moved back to the Northland from a place where everybody, OK, almost everybody smokes marijuana. Those that don't are probably on probation, and smoke spice. They can buy this crap in any head shop. There are no lines, and no one is bothered by people congregating outside the shops. Anyone who has previously compared spice to alcohol or cigarettes is absolutely correct. The state that I lived in previously sold alcohol in the grocery and convenience stores on every corner. You can't buy a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk without having to look at a bottle of booze. As an alcoholic trying to stay sober, I found it extremely difficult to go grocery shopping. You can't check out without a pack of smokes staring you in the face. As an addict I should probably side with the moral majority, but I don't. The cops here, as usual, are not doing the right thing either. Carlson is an unsavory character to say the least, but he has rights too. I truly believe that legalized, unadulterated, no chemicals added, marijuana would be a much safer alternative to spice, alcohol or cigarettes. I have never known anyone who was killed by a driver stoned on pot...alcohol is another story. BTW, most of the women I met in treatment, even those who had used heroin and meth hit rock bottom after they started drinking VODKA because they couldn't afford to buy drugs.
Check out the TDOB Index today. The higher it goes, the worse things are.
TDOB Index, March 1, 2012: 162
I heard that the Last Place on Earth offered a two-for-one sale on incense on Christmas Eve. Clearly, this is a first in Duluth's history. Next they'll be offering rewards points.
TDOB Index, March 2, 2012: 163
Don't you think that if everybody adopted a live-and-let-live attitude toward drug use, rather than piling on ever-harsher penalties, that there might be a ruckus for a little while, but soon everything would reach some kind of equilibrium and everyone would get used to the new reality and deal with it in their own ways, and life would go on? As has happened, long since, with alcohol?
I mean, seriously, how can the cops confiscate $80,000 from a business and keep it for 164 days without filing charges? Is the fight to stamp out drugs so important that property rights must be obliterated on even the mere suspicion of drug activity? If somebody gets a "gut feeling" about their neighbor and reports them as possible drug dealers, it is possible that the neighbor can have everything confiscatedâ€”even if no drugs are found and the neighbor is totally innocent.
It can happen. Try it out on your neighbor and you'll see what I mean. You can put a stop to all the loud partying that normally goes on over there.
TDOB Index, March 3, 2012: 164
Following the recent snowstorms, Duluth police took a few dollars out of the evidence room for mittens. If they're keeping it indefinitely, there's no sense in letting it go to waste.
TDOB Index, March 4, 2012: 165
Hell Day is when the TDOB Index reaches the number of the beast: 666. Hell Day is 500 days from today. I shudder to think of ever reaching it.
The last time I checked, the police still had Jim Carlson's cash, guns and computer drives locked up somewhere. It's understandable. If you can just take a person's stuff, why not take it, you know?
TDOB Index, March 5, 2012: 166
The Duluth police have been holding a private citizen's cash and property for 168 days without filing charges. Oh well.
TDOB Index, March 7, 2012: 168
When I drove by the Last Place on Earth yesterday afternoon, the line of people was out the door and down the block. If the city got into selling incense, we could take care of our budget deficit in no time.
TDOB Index, March 8, 2012: 169
How about you? If you got into selling incense, at this time next year you could be a millionaire.
TDOB Index, March 9, 2012: 170
What is so horrible about marijuana that causes us to stamp out civil liberties and imprison large chunks of the population in the name of fighting it? At its worst, marijuana is harmless; at its best, it can be very, very helpful. I don't understand why people hate it so much.
TDOB Index, March 10, 2012: 171
I don't understand how things got to the point legally where the police can raid a place and take all the stuff, but never charge out a crime. It just seems so wrong. I can't imagine any prosecutor making arguments to justify such an action, nor can I imagine any judge accepting those arguments. Yet it happens routinely, all over the country, and it's been going on for decades. All because America hates drugs so much.
TDOB Index, March 11, 2012: 172
Ramos, I think part of the pot problem and keeping it illegal (aside from the activists not being able to remember where they put the petitions) might be found here on Truthout.
IMO, I find the "grass being too hard, expensive, whatever" argument to be pretty weak, based on the number of folks who still smoke it. For what it's worth, if you really want grass, you're gonna find it.
"At its worst, marijuana is harmless" I don't know about that. At its worst it can cause a whole shmorgas of problems. Recent studies concluded there is in fact some level of impairment while driving stoned, which I can't imagine really surprises a smart guy like you Ramos, which, if you've ever been really stoned, i.e., on good shit, you might realize there is some truth to this. Me, I find it heightens my instincts and awareness. Nearly impaired as much as alcohol, texting, or B.J's? Of course not. All drugs have side effects, and smoking anything really isn't good, vaporizers notwithstanding. That's why when the gov hooked a monkey up to a face mask in the 1980s and killed it through marijuana asphyxiation to conclude pot causes brain damage, they merely succeeded in proving lack of oxygen causes brain damage. So I would have to all around disagree it is harmless if it kills monkeys. Less harmless than alcohol or synthetic WTF? Most certainly. But harmful or harmless has got nothing to do with it Ramos, as I'm sure you've already clicked on Dog's link to find out what all this really does have to do with. Namely, that Evil walks when Money talks.
As in.dog.neato's article indicates, a big incentive to keep the drug war going is financial, on the part of law enforcement, who rely on fighting marijuana to get grants from the government. Nevertheless, I cannot lay all the blame at the feet of law enforcement.
The real problem is that Americans are willing to overlook any abuse as long as somebody claims it's happening in the name of the drug war. They don't have to really fight drugs; they just have to say they are. That is reason enough for the sheeplike, do-nothing citizenry to look the other way and forget all about it. You go, po-po. Fight that shit.
When pointing the finger of blame, I always go back to the people. A country as rich and powerful as ours should have solved its problems long ago. Instead, most Americans use their vast leisure time to fret about frivolous matters and build up more enemies in their minds.
The cultural zeitgeist of America craves enemies, especially within our own ranks. The drug war is an enemy mill, churning out enemies by the hundreds of thousands each year. In the enemy business, as in the drug business, supply meets demand.
So the Duluth police can stroll into a place, grab $80,000 and keep it indefinitely, even if no crime has occurred. The people have said it should be so.
TDOB Index, March 12, 2012: 173
Ramos, thank you again for your continuing fight on this issue. Some of us are prohibited from using our work computers for 'political' issues, so I can only weigh in when I've got the laptop at home. Nonetheless, I salute you every day for bringing this to our attention, despite the seeming lack of interest from....well...everyone?
Seriously, is this what the PDD community thinks is kosher? Seizing assets without criminal prosecution? If not, weigh in! It seems that Mayor Ness reads this blog--so what is his response? Frankly, I get the feeling that the owners of PDD have some impact on local gov't--so what is your response to Ramos's concerns?
It is nice and everything to extol the virtues of living in Duluth (my favorite city) but we need to address this issue if we want this to continue to be the 'perfect' duluth day.
This stinks. I think this business owner is disgusting, and it still stinks.
I just have to p.s. I've lived here for 20 years and would go to my grave extoling the virtues of living in Duluth. That said: we have an injustice occuring in this city. That's not so radical; you could say that of any city. but there is a complete lack of reaction from the citizens of this fair city, who also claim to love this city, and even go so far as to buy/own a blog about the city.
Look, I'm 48 yrs old and am looking forward to retirement soon. I'm your average old fogey. And yet I wonder, why isn't anyone upset about this situation at LPOE? If it's that despicible business owner, it can be you, too. I have $ invested in this city. I wouldn't want it seized by the city; would you?
So: thank you, PDD owners, for running this blog. It makes me happy and feel connected to Duluth. Thank you Mayor for the same reason.
What is your response to Ramos?
Yeah, and you can couple this with a recent article I read the other day about the privatization of the prison system. Occupancy rates are guaranteed to be at 90%.
Given that there are more people in prison for drug crimes than every other type ... combined ... keeping drugs illegal looks like rule #1 for making that a reality.
(I'll look for citation here in a bit on that, I've got kids to put to bed.)
Emmadogs: Speaking for myself, I agree with Ramos. I don't like what Carlson is doing -- taking financial advantage of sick, broken people and our sick, broken society -- but that's irrelevant. Of course, I can't speak for the rest of PDD's staff, only for myself.
I disagree however, that as an owner of PDD I personally have an impact on local government that's greater than other voters. The power of PDD is that it is a system which allows for (hopefully intelligent) communication among Duluthians, including those with power and influence. It's PDD that's powerful, not any individual behind it. I too would like to see some official participation in this discussion on why this is happening, how it's being justified, and when Carlson can expect to get his property back, even though the officials have spoken.
Marketwatch article on above post.
Hi Barrett, thank you for your response. I assumed that with your unearthly powers, you and the PDD team were the Wo/Men Behind The Mayor.
I see that Mayor Ness weighed in on another post today. So I really would like to hear from the Mayor and City Council. I care that the police can do this, and I care about whether the people who govern us support this.
I know this business owner is not a Popular Favorite with the powers that be. Is the answer really just that self evident? Because I am sick of this country's history of putting it to the Unpopular Favorites, and will take great umbrage if that is in fact what is going on. Call me naive.
Oh and thanks for that link, in.dog.neato
The major issue with regard to the above article on private operation of the prison system is that increasingly, we're seeing serious violations of what could be construed as Code of Conduct...we saw it repeatedly in Iraq where government contractors overstepped their authority and pulled off some really nasty shit...had it been the US Military, chances are they'd bed spending some time in front of a UCMJ panel getting ready to spend the rest of their lives in Leavenworth. Blackstone didn't seem to have it as bad as any soldier who got caught doing the same crime.
It seems then that the privatization of things like security ops and the penal system allows those companies to operate outside a federal guideline.
When I leave my computer unattended, the one-year-old likes to weigh in.
emmadogs, don't hold your breath waiting for the mayor and city council to respond. As politicians, they are well aware that the vast majority of Duluthians either approve of what's happening to Carlson or don't care. Nobody is going to bother standing up for principle. They could lose votes.
The Duluth police swiped $80,000 from a citizen 174 days ago and have yet to file charges. None of our leaders gives a rat's ass.
TDOB Index, March 13, 2012: 174
I wouldn't be surprised if no one in the city government even knew about this thread. Not everyone clicks the recent comment links on the sidebar or subscribes to comment RSS.
Even if our leaders don't know about this thread (which I believe they do), they certainly know that police raided the Last Place on Earth, confiscated a bunch of cash and property and never filed charges. That should be information enough for anyone to realize that an injustice is taking place. I shouldn't have to walk everybody through everything step by step on a blog thread.
Our leaders don't care. It's that simple. I'm not sure I should even be calling them our "leaders" any more. Perhaps "myopic rubberstampers" would be more accurate.
To those few of you I've managed to rope into caring about this issue, you can now experience the joy that comes from being totally ignored by your government.
It reminds me of the council meeting where Councilor Gardner asked for more information on the Community Investment Trust Fund. As I had done quite a bit of research and writing on the subject, I emailed Councilor Gardner links to articles I had written that answered all her questions.
Her response? "I'm too busy to read blogs." No shit.
I think I'll speak about the Last Place on Earth at the next council meeting. I haven't been down there in a while. Maybe I'll speak on it at every council meeting from now on. I refuse to be politically invisible.
TDOB Index, March 14, 2012: 175
I went back and dug out Councilor Gardner's email. Here it is verbatim.
"I do not read blogs - I do not have the time to indulge, so thanks for sending me an email. I do read emails and respond, as long as they're civil and respectful. I have more than enough professional reading to do, in order to keep up with Council issues."
And then Councilor Julsrud deletes me as spam...
According to the newspaper, the state Legislature is trying to figure out how to crack down harder on synthetic drugs. Nowhere have I seen any discussion of the one action that would really knock synthetic drugs off the map: Legalize marijuana.
Say the word "drugs", and a huge number of Americans, including most politicians, immediately think PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH. Never mind that all the punishment over the past thirty years hasn't done a thing to curb marijuana use. All it does is wreck people's lives and overburden the prison system.
It's just a frickin' plant, for crying out loud! It's hardly even processed, other than being dried. They call it weed because it grows anywhere. If you tossed a handful of marijuana seeds into a ditch and forgot about them, in a few months you'd have a crop of weed.
Despite the common sense, the government has seen fit to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 illegal drug, as dangerous to use as heroin.
Schedule 2 drugs, which are deemed less dangerous, include crack, morphine and crystal meth.
I mean, come on. When classifications like these are used as the basis for drug policy, how can we possibly accept drug policy as legitimate?
The Duluth police snatched Jim Carlson's cash, property and computer drives out of his business 176 days ago and have not returned any of it. Nor have they filed charges. Nor do they have to. He's a bad, bad man, don't you get it? Don't you know that we can do anything we want to bad, bad men, and nobody will complain?
You, my friend, need to come to grips with reality.
TDOB Index, March 15, 2012: 176
It has now been 177 days since police raided the Last Place on Earth and carried away 28 guns, $80,000 in cash and all the computers. No charges have yet been filed. Prosecutors must be working really hard on the case. I'll expect a magnum opus when they get to court.
TDOB Index, March 16, 2012: 177
ODE TO A URINE SAMPLE
Tinkle, tinkle, little jar,
How I wonder what you are--
Positive or negative?
A week ago when I was high,
Like a diamond in the sky,
Everything seemed relative;
But now my money all is gone,
And Walmart late shift's hiring on
An inventory-replacement executive.
So here I stand, my bladder tight,
Under Nursie's watchful sight,
Shaking off my [expletive].
Hahahahaha! That cracked me up Ramos!
As a special treat for St. Patrick's Day, Police Chief Ramsay slipped into the evidence room and rolled around in Jim Carlson's green, green cash.
TDOB Index, March 17, 2012: 178
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency's website,
(1) "High doses [of methamphetamine] may result in death from stroke, heart attack, or multiple organ problems caused by overheating."
(2) "Overdose effects [of morphine] include: cold, clammy skin, lowered blood pressure, sleepiness, slowed breathing, slow pulse rate, coma, and possible death."
(3) "Overdose effects [of cocaine] include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions and possible death."
(4) "No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported."
Question: Of the four drugs listed above, which does the DEA consider the most dangerous?
Answer: Why, #4, of course.
TDOB Index, March 18, 2012: 179
Last night I was parked around the corner from the LPOE, but not realizing I was. Illegally parked momentarily, almost on Michigan, waiting, when a van full of young native women parked hastily in behind me, one of them was holding her baby. As they started to apply makeup, I realized I'd better tell them they shouldn't park there if they were going to the bars, then saw that the lady with the baby was staying in the car as the others, I realized, were probably headed to ol' Carlson's place to get their fix of "synthetic marijuana." I suppose your body adjusts to this shit just like any poison, if you're lucky.
I noted earlier how when drug busts are made, inevitably a half-dozen law enforcement agencies are involved. Why is that? Couldn't one or two agencies handle it on their own?
The reason is that when the cash has been seized and the house and cars and weapons and TVs and jewelry and guns have been sold, everybody involved in the raid gets to split up the money. Who wouldn't want to be in on something like that?
TDOB Index, March 19, 2012: 180
When they make the TDOB Index into a movie (following the success of the book and Broadway musical) who do you think they'll get to play Gordon Ramsay?
TDOB Index, March 20, 2012: 181
Today is the six-month anniversary of the raid on the Last Place on Earth. Six months. One half of one year. Obviously, there's no active investigation going on. The cops are just sitting on Jim Carlson's stuff because they don't like his long hair. All that is required to make such harassment legal is when the judge asks, "Are you investigating?" the police answer yes.
In another six months, when the judge asks them again, the police can answer yes again. They can just keep doing this forever. For some reason, the judge (who is presumably an intelligent adult) will never think to ask, "How long does it take to test a substance, anyway?"
I mean, come on. Everybody involved here--cops, prosecutors, judge--knows perfectly well that the only reason they're keeping Jim Carlson's stuff is for harassment purposes. They just can't come right out and say it like that, because that would be illegal.
If Carlson's $80,000 had been invested instead of confiscated, and earned a modest 5 percent annual return, today it would be $82,000. And who's to say the cops haven't done that? Since they don't have to return the money, and they're not held accountable for it, they can treat it as their own. All that interest income from evidence room cash would make a nice little addition to their usual bribes and graft.
If you have something, cops, let's see some formal charges. Otherwise, give the stuff back. This is hardly an unreasonable request. In any other context, it would be simple common sense.
TDOB Index, March 21, 2012: 182
TDOB Index, March 22, 2012: 183
It's nice to take a day off once in a while. I didn't realize this was going to turn into a lifetime project. But that's where common sense will get you.
TDOB Index, March 24, 2012: 185
The Duluth police are free to take things from citizens and never file charges. What a deal, eh?
TDOB Index, March 26, 2012: 187
Ramos, do you think we could see an episode where the police and judge retreat to a remote forested location like Chequamegon with Carlson's guns and cash, build a bon fire, strip naked, and recite ancient druid text while drinking beer and getting stoned?
Mead. You drink mead at ancient, naked druidic rituals.
Not these kids nowadays, they got no knowledge, class, or respect for the past. And given the nature of this thread, appear to only summon the constitution when it suits their needs. It would most likely be Colt 45s (as aluminum cans don't melt into cool shapes) and some Mexican swag laced with PCP, which helps you eviscerate the deer you just poached, but, seeing how White Winter Winery is nearby, it could happen...
Billy D. Williams drinks Cold 45.
Have you heard of that movie Super Size Me, where the guy eats only at McDonald's for a month? It's not very good, at least by my standards. Much better is Super High Me, where the guy smokes weed for 30 days.
I don't recall ever watching a movie that celebrates crack or heroin, but movies celebrating weed are everywhere. The only thing more common than movies celebrating weed are laws against it.
TDOB Index, March 27, 2012: 188
I wouldn't say Trainspotting 'celebrates' it (unless our hero falling into a toilet full of poo was celebratory). Requiem for a Dream was pretty grim too.
I forgot about Trainspotting, which I do think is an exception to most hard-drug movies. I wouldn't say the movie celebrates hard-drug use, but it handles the subject with a nihilistic, anarchic humor that most hard-drug movies lack.
Anybody who has read Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting, the book) would not be surprised by this. One scene that sticks with me is that of a drug user who is happy when his leg gets amputated, because the stump gives him a nice fresh area in which to shoot up.
That scene may have been from Porno, the sequel to Trainspotting. Irvine Welsh is not for the faint of heart. I myself can only manage to read about one of his books a year.
The Duluth police are still holding Jim Carlson's cash, guns and computers, as they have been for the past 189 days, without filing charges. They just took the stuff, you know? Because they can.
TDOB Index, March 28, 2012: 189
There's a whole genre of movies where drugs play a major part of the plotline. Take Suburbia, for example. Drugs weren't the central theme, but they did play heavily into the activities of the characters. Same holds for Trainspotting, mainly because it was one of the first ones that basically centralized drug use in the plot.
*first ones that I could think of in recent history* I mean.
Lt. Steve Stracek, commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force, celebrated the 190th day of confiscation by peeking into the evidence room and checking that Jim Carlson's guns and computers were still there. They were.
"Whew," said Lt. Stracek, mopping his brow and closing the door. "That's enough investigation for one day."
TDOB Index, March 29, 2012: 190
I've asked it before, but I'll ask it again, because it baffles me so: Why does America hate weed so much? If we're going to stamp out civil liberties and take people's stuff on a whim, shouldn't these punishments at least be applied to a more serious problem than people smoking weed?
I mean, I could smoke weed all day and still function normally in societyâ€”-and I'd probably still be better than most people at some things, like writing, problem-solving and thinking. I'll smoke weed all day and compete against Chief Ramsay himself at Sudoku. With alcohol, by contrast, I'd pass out cold, probably vomit on myself, and suffer terribly the next day on top of it. Which is worse?
The whole thing just seems so ridiculous. But that's not stopping anybody from piling on ever-harsher punishments for weed.
TDOB Index, March 30, 2012: 191
No fighting in the war room!
Next, if Judge Shaun Floerke is willing, I will smoke weed all day long and kick his ass at Scrabble.
TDOB Index, March 31, 2012: 192
It's over. At long last, it's over.
At approximately 11:00 Sunday morning, with no fanfare (and apparently without notifying the local media) three Duluth police officers pulled up to the Last Place on Earth in a departmental van and returned Jim Carlson's property to him.
In a telephone conversation, Carlson confirmed that everything was brought back--almost.
"There are two hunting rifles still missing," he said, "but they said they would bring those back later this afternoon, as soon as some paperwork is filled out. All the money is here. All the computers are here."
Naturally, I'm taking all the credit. The TDOB Index worked, man! Average citizens can make a difference, even in Duluth.
And now I am going to take a well-deserved nap.
Nice, Ramos. You actually had me going for a minute there. Then I realized what day it is.
I should have known better than to include the part about average citizens being able to make a difference.
TDOB Index, April 2, 2012: 194
In California, thirty-one state and federal agents raided Donald P. Scott's 200-acre ranch on the pretext that marijuana was growing there. Scott was inadvertantly killed by a deputy sheriff. No evidence of marijuana cultivation was discovered, and a subsequent investigation by the Ventura County's District Attorney's Office found that the drug agents had been motivated partly by a desire to seize the $5 million ranch. They had obtained an appraisal of the property weeks before the raid.
A typically incomplete story in the News Tribune today reports that the Minnesota Senate passed a bill making the sale of synthetic drugs a felony. What goes unreported is the other part of the bill (S.F. 2319) which greatly expands the types of drugs that will be considered illegal. Under the new law, entire "chemical categories" will be classified as felonies, regardless of what actual molecules are in them. This is an attempt to solve the problem of chemists getting around the law by "tweaking" a molecule or two every time a specific substance is listed as illegal.
"There's no need to prove that it's pharmacologically active," Dr. Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, testified at a committee hearing on the bill on March 14, 2012.
That is, under the new law, you could theoretically serve years of hard prison time for selling a substance that doesn't even get you high.
Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, representing all the police chiefs in Minnesota, also testified at the meeting.
Gordon Ramsay: Duluth has kind of become ground zero in this issue. We have a business there downtown that made about $6 million last year on the sale of this substance. It's had an impact on our emergency rooms and our police calls. It's had a tremendous negative effect on the businesses surrounding this business downtown. He sells it for about $5.99 a gram. Marijuana right now is selling between $15 and $50 a gram. We've actually seen some of our downtown panhandlers who used to panhandle for the 60-ounce malt liquor, now are panhandling for this synthetic drug. We've seen an increase in police calls, as well as just the overall quality of life downtown. We have a lot more, um, sorry for my crudeness, but we're seeing vomit, we're seeing other bodily fluids from people that are using this drug. It makes them sick. The long-term effects, nowâ€”so it's been used up in Duluth for a good year and a halfâ€”we've seen a lot of habitual users, we're seeing that the behavior is paranoia, depression, and the ERs and the folks in the hospitals are begging us to do more. Unfortunately, you know, our hands are kind of tied, given the current law.
"He sells it for about $5.99 a gram. Marijuana right now is selling between $15 and $50 a gram."
His math says: $21 per LPOE synthetic â…› oz., versus $52 to $175 per black market organic â…› oz.
There's a free range zucchini joke here somewhere.
If the police chief is paying $175 for an eighth of weed, he needs to find a new dealer.
One bizarre aspect of the government's latest attempt to crack down on synthetic drugs is the great pains that law enforcement officials and conservative politicians take to distinguish between synthetic drugs and marijuana, with the result being that marijuana doesn't sound bad at all. The following excerpts come from a House committee meeting held March 1, 2012.
Dr. Cody Wiberg, Executive Director, Minnesota Board of Pharmacy: Some folks ... like to equate these drugs with marijuana, as if they were equivalent. I can assure you they are not. They're far more dangerous. They are in many cases far more potent than the active ingredient in marijuana, and in addition to that, these are synthetic substances. They are chemically produced. They're not derived from a plant. (8:58)
Gordon Ramsay, Police Chief, Duluth: One of the things I need to clarify, though, is that this has been called synthetic marijuana. This is nothing like marijuana. This is more similar to LSD. This is some type of vegetable substance that's sprayed with a manufactured drug. It is having a terrible impact on youth and our emergency rooms acrass the state. (21:24)
Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Shafer): Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana. It's much worse than marijuana, and that's a message we want everyone to know. (25:48)
Paul Beaumaster, Rice County Attorney: Synthetic drugs aren't the same as marijuana. When people say it's synthetic marijuana, I think it's been said here before, these are simply chemicals being sprayed on organic matter to be burned for consumption, and it doesn't help when we continue to refer to it as synthetic marijuana. (34:45)
Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder): This isn't like the Sixties, where you can throw some homegrown in the blender and dry it and smoke it and not much happens but you get a buzz. I mean, we're talking about people spraying some garbage on things and the young people frying their brain and, you know, hallucinating and seizures and up in Duluth, obviously, causing quite a problem and loss of business. (1:01:36)
Given my stance on certain issues, people might be surprised to know that I am a law-and-order person, but it's true. I am extremely concerned with the abuse of power in every form. Crimes against people and property are abuses of power by criminals over their victims. I oppose that. When the abuses are carried out by uniformed police officers, ratified by judges, and enthusiastically supported by the community, I vehemently oppose it.
I know most people hate Jim Carlson, and believe that he deserves everything he gets, legal or not, but just think about it for a minute. What would it be like to know that you have no protection under the law? To know that the police can come into your business and take the money right out of your pockets whenever they want to, without having to provide a reason or justification? To know that they can hold your property forever without charging you with any crime, simply because people don't like you?
Jim Carlson may be a bad person, but he has more balls than most people in this chump-change town could dream of having. Is he profiting off misery? Perhaps. But it's not illegal. Until it is, I say he deserves every penny he can get.
TDOB Index, April 5, 2012: 197
And, by the way: Under the proposed new law, the penalty for selling a single gram of synthetic marijuana would be the same as the penalty for racking up three DUIs.
"How could this issue not be bipartisan?" asks the News Tribune editorial board.
Such is our fear.
Man, I can't wait till my novel comes out.
"The law so far has been largely ignored [is currently being challenged] by sellers such as Jim Carlson, who owns the Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth. He has challenged [is challenging] the law as being too vague and claims the compounds he sells can't be identified as analogs.
Adam, you have inspired me. Here's the News Tribune story in its entirety, with the necessary corrections made in bold.
"DULUTH COP, DOC DESCRIBE HURDLES IN WAR ON SYNTHETIC DRUGS"
Sgt. Andy Mickus reached into a grocery bag and pulled out what looked like a Dr. Pepper can.
Then he unscrewed the can, revealing a hiding place for illicit drugs (or money, or insurance papers, or prescriptions, or bankbooks, or keys, or anything else a person might want to hide.)
Police find drugs hidden in what appear to be water bottles, pop cans, and Duracell batteries, said Mickus, a Duluth police officer who is supervisor of the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force. They've found drug scales disguised as CD cases. (Gasp!)
"You can get them on the Internet," Mickus told an audience Thursday evening at the Morgan Park Good Fellowship (for non-synthetic drug users) Building. "Head shops sell it. You can get this stuff all over the place. Please call Senator Reinert and have him pass a law against fake Dr. Pepper cans immediately."
Mickus was part of a four-person panel who spoke to about 40 people on "Trends and Local Perspectives on Synthetic Drugs in Duluth." The event was sponsored by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.
Clever hiding places are only part of the challenge police face in dealing with today's drug problem, Mickus said, but it's a huge one. Another is the difficulty in keeping up with the ever-growing number of synthetic drugs.
"You get one banned and they release three more," Mickus said. "We were never going to catch up."
Legislation passed in Minnesota last year made sale of a few specific synthetic drugs or analogs â€” compounds meant to mimic the effects of actual drugs â€” illegal. But it didn't go far enough, Mickus said, because it made it only a gross misdemeanor to sell the banned substances, and Duluth police weren't even able to charge Jim Carlson with that. "It was important enough to pass this legislation, but it wasn't important enough to give it any teeth. Thus, we were forced to go in and take Carlson's stuff without filing any charges against him at all. Nobody likes to do that."
The Legislature made up for that this year, he said, with stiffer legislation that will take effect Aug. 1. It will make selling vast categories of as-yet-nonexistent substances a felony and give the State Board of Pharmacy (led by devout Christian Cody Wiberg) increased ability to add to the list of banned substances.
"Making things that don't exist a felony is the ultimate in preemptive policing," Mickus added, to widespread applause.
The law so far has been largely ignored followed by sellers such as Jim Carlson, who owns the Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth. He has challenged is challenging the law as being too vague and claims the compounds he sells can't be identified as analogs.
Panelist Dr. Elisabeth Bilden, a medical toxicologist for Essentia Health who is also associate medical director for Hennepin Regional Poison Control, spoke about what she sees in patients who have had a bad reaction to synthetic drugs.
"These people are revved up," Bilden said. "They're agitated. They are paranoid. ... They're kicking, screaming. Before synthetic drugs were available, we never saw any patients do that. Certainly not patients on alcohol."
All of the speakers said part of the difficulty with the synthetic substances is that they aren't regulated. "Nobody knows where it's coming from, and none of it is ever the same," Mickus said.
The quest for money to buy synthetic drugs has led to an increase in property crimes, Mickus said, without providing any support for this statement. "It certainly couldn't be due to anything else."
Wide-eyed reporters hastily scribbled down Mickus's comments verbatim.
"Shouldn't we verify some of this?" asked one young journalist sitting in the back. He was quickly shushed by the veteran reporters in the room.
Panelist Dennis Cummings, director of the Bethel Outpatient Center and noted violent-crime expert, said it's also tied to an increase in violent crimes.
"Some of these high-profile acts of violence you've seen in the papers these last few months, people are flying high (that's a medical term) on bath salts," Cummings said. "Like that ex-cop in Hibbing who shot all those people, he was on bath salts. Oh, wait. He was drunk. But all the other ones were on bath salts. I'm sure of it."
"Can't we check on that?" the annoying cub reporter whispered to his colleagues. Irritated, they sent him from the room and ordered him to work on the Community Calendar.
Deb Holman, an outreach worker for CHUM, said she came to the event because she has seen synthetic drug use among her clientele in recent months.
"I'm seeing it on the streets," Holman said. "People are smoking it right in front of us. We need to get them back behind closed doors, where they used to be. Then all will be right with the world."
The Magna Carta, an English legal document issued in 1215, was revolutionary in that it subjected even kings and queens to the rule of law. No longer were the whims of royalty treated as inviolate. If a king wanted to chop off somebody's head, he now had to give a reason.
Duluthians, in the year 2012, have decided to discard 797 years of legal precedent and return to the rule of the king. The king of Duluth is not a monarch, but public opinion. If public opinion demands that somebody's head be chopped off, or all their property seized, the Royal Duluth Constabulary, led by Chief Lickspittle Gordonias Ramsay IX, springs into action and does it. Formal charges are unnecessary. They can always be fabricated later, if any nitpickers complain. It is rare that any do.
What's next? Public hangings? In Duluth, I wouldn't be surprised.
TDOB Index, April 7, 2012: 199
Ramos, it's a good thing that I and all Right Thinking Americans here in Duluth agree with you. Otherwise...I could just complain to King Gordonias...and we all know what would happen next.
The Peace and Tranquillity of our Faire Citye being Troubled by the Presence of Mirth; ande Disturbed by the Practise of Sarcazm;
Our morals being Outraged by Villainous Malefactors who Besmirch all that is Kinde, Noble, Cleane ande Decent with theire Wicked Innuendo;
Sire Jawn of the Raymos;
BE IT RESOLVED
That theye have theire heds Chopped Off immedieatteliie
Cast into Lakke Superiorre for the Trouts to Eat.
BY ORDER OF
Sir Gordonias Ramsay, Chief Lickspittle;
Count Shawnty Florky, High Adjudicator;
Duke Roger Rabbit, Royal Rubberstamper;
All Decent Citizens.
From time to time I feel the need to explain my exact positions on things, both for myself and for others.
There may be those who read the TDOB Index and assume that I am an apologist for synthetic drugs. I am not. I am as concerned as anyone about the lack of regulation of these chemicals, because, truly, there is no way of knowing what you're getting from day to day. On the other hand, I am extremely skeptical of the horror stories that the vast majority of people seem to accept as gospel truth.
In the two years that synthetic drugs have been with us, I have seen few stories in the media that purvey anything other than rumor, anecdote and fear-mongering. When you read a story in the newspaper that says, for example, "Synthetic drugs have been implicated in violent crime," what they actually mean is, "While writing this story, the reporter did a search of other newspapers and found a story somewhere in the country that said 'Synthetic drugs have been implicated in violent crime' and decided to pass that along verbatim." Then, when that reporter's story is published, future reporters will look it up and parrot the same information again. Thus do one or two inflammatory sentences replicate themselves over and over, like amoebas, until it seems as if the world is engulfed in horror. But, in reality, it's still only one or two, generally unverifiable, cases.
Nobody actually takes the time to check anything out. Certainly nobody in Duluth does. "Kids are dying," the News Tribune editorial board declared on April 5. This is not true. There has been one death linked to synthetic drugs in Minnesotaâ€”a 19-year-old man in Blaine who overdosed on bath salts. How do you get from the death of one adult to the sentence "Kids are dying"? It's easy, if you're a journalist.
And who (besides me) will call them on it? Nobody, of course. The horror stories fit everyone's preconceived notions. It's a lot easier to support felony prison terms for your fellow citizens than to bother proving anything.
I do not doubt that emergency room physicians have seen paranoid, violent patients who were under the influence of synthetic drugs. I also do not doubt that they have seen many, many more paranoid, violent patients who were under the influence of alcohol. If you took every violent-crime story in the media where alcohol was implicated and replaced the word "alcohol" with the words "synthetic drugs," you would see an uproar that would put the Salem witch trials to shame. In reality, nothing would actually be different in the world; but the masses would feel like things have gotten much, much worse.
But all of this is beside the point when it comes to the TDOB Index. The TDOB Index is not concerned with drugs at all, but the abuse of governmental power. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which has its roots in the Magna Carta, referenced earlier) states that "No person shall...be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law." Yet that is exactly what's happening at the Last Place on Earth: Jim Carlson has been deprived of his property without due process of law.
Nobody seems to care about this too much. Our leaders certainly don't. Modern-day Americans seem to have inserted a mental clause to the Fifth Amendment that reads ... "except in cases involving drugs." For some reason, my mind doesn't work this way. My problem may be that I am too consistent.
Happy Easter, everybody!
TDOB Index, April 8, 2012: 200
Gordon Ramsay, Shaun Floerke and Roger Reinert celebrated the 201st day of confiscation by giving each other backrubs in the evidence room.
TDOB Index, April 9, 2012: 201
There was a kid in Pennsylvania who smoked some synthetic marijuana out of a Pez dispenser and got chemical burns on his lungs that were so bad he had to get a double lung transplant. He later died from complications.
According to doctors, the chemical burns came from the burning plastic of the Pez dispenser. Guess what his parents, the media and the Pennsylvania Legislature blamed?
TDOB Index, April 10, 2012: 202
Courtesy of Jeremiah Brown, we present Jim Carlson's April Fools joke:
In March of 2011, in Cranford, New Jersey, 22-year-old William Parisio murdered his girlfriend, 22-year-old Pamela Schmidt, by striking her with a 12-pound dumbbell and strangling her. Parisio's mother told the media that he had been smoking bath salts at the time. The story swept the East Coast. The New Jersey Legislature sprang into action and passed "Pamela's Law" within weeks, banning synthetic drugs from the state.
Six months later, at the trial, toxicology reports showed that Parisio had had no bath salts in his system. The story appeared briefly in one or two places. Nobody suggested repealing Pamela's Law.
TDOB Index, April 11, 2012: 203
Do you see what I mean about checking things out? It's fun, huh?
Thanks for the pic, Jeremiah Brown and Paul. If that sign was true, Duluth really would be heaven.
Whenever you read a news story that says synthetic drugs have been "linked to" or "implicated in" some horrible tragedy, what this usually means is that a friend or family member of the victim happened to mention to a reporter that the victim had been using synthetic drugs prior to the tragedy occurring. Then, with the mere mention of synthetic drugs by some random person, the story explodes across the media-verse.
One thing that has amazed me, during my recent research on the subject, is how often the initial synthetic-drug assertion turns out to be false. But generally this isn't known until months or even years later, when the results of autopsies and toxicology tests come in. By that time, concerned parents have already picketed stores that sell synthetic drugs, law enforcement officials have demonized synthetic drugs, and legislatures have banned them. The negative toxicology results, if they are noted in the media at all, tend to be buried in the middle of articles about the dangers of synthetic drugsâ€”-the truth getting a little different treatment than the wild accusations that preceded it.
When it comes to running around in hysterical circles based on nothing, journalists are worse than regular people. And then you hear them talk about their professional skepticism. What a laugh.
TDOB Index, April 12, 2012: 204
April 8, 2012
To: @Duluth-News-Letters to the Editor
Subject: Synthetic Drugs
To the editor:
In your editorial of April 5, you supported the Legislature's latest effort to crack down on synthetic drugs because, you said, "kids are dying." After searching the Internet for most of the day, I have been unable to turn up any reports of kids dying from synthetic drugs. As responsible journalists, I know you would never dream of pulling your facts out of thin air. Please provide your readers with the names and circumstances of all the kids who have died. Thank you.
April 9, 2012
Examples are numerous of young people who've used synthetic products and then died after making impaired choices to drive or engage in other risky behaviors. In one high-profile incident a young person, after smoking incense, drove a car the wrong way on the freeway and crashed 100 mph head-on into an oncoming car. I don't see how we can publish your letter. You're suggesting kids aren't dying as a result of using these products. That's not accurate.
April 9, 2012
You publish letters that aren't accurate all the time. That's why they're called "letters." But you still haven't proven to me that my letter is inaccurate. You say that examples of kids dying from synthetic drugs are numerous, yet you still have not provided me with a single concrete example (names, dates, locations, etc). Like, where was this high-profile case? The only instance that I can find of anybody smoking incense and driving their car 100 miles per hour and crashing is that of a 19-year-old adult in North Aurora, Illinois, who drove off the road and hit a house. An adult is not a "kid."
I repeat: I have been unable to find a single example of a kid dying from synthetic drugs. Since you used the plural in your inflammatory editorial, please provide me with at least two examples of kids dying. If you cannot do this, I do not accept that my letter was inaccurate.
April 9, 2012
We do not knowingly publish letters that are inaccurate. So teenagers still living with their parents and still in high school aren't "kids"? The editorial intentionally didn't use the word "juvenile," which carries a stricter definition, according to age. College kids can still be "kids," especially if engaging in unsafe premature activities. But fine, if you say no one younger than 18 has ever died after using synthetic drugs I'll take you at your word. I can't afford the time to find other examples. I do recall publishing a column from a mother who provided me a picture from her son's high school graduation party. He died soon afterward. I will require we change one sentence, however: From, "I have been unable to turn up any reports of kids dying from synthetic drugs," to, " I have been unable to turn up any reports of kids younger than 18 dying from synthetic drugs." We'll be in touch for verification.
April 9, 2012
Excellent. But I would ask that the disputed sentence read: "I have been unable to turn up any reports of people younger than 19 dying from synthetic drugs." I haven't found any 18-year-olds who have died.
April 9, 2012
April 13, 2012
Subject: Fake pot death - 13 year old
A colleague found this one after reading your letter to the editor. Youngest I was able to find was 18, which I did consider a "kid," even if not technically a juvenile. Do with this what you will, if anything. Have a good weekend....
April 13, 2012
Subject: Re: Fake pot death -- 13 year old
Thank you, sir. I already knew about that story, and I was appalled at the way it swept through the media and the Pennsylvania Legislature. You passing this along to me without checking anything underscores the way such hysteria spreads.
The only doctor interviewed in the case, Dr. J. Douglas Bricker, dean of Duquesne University's Mylan School of Pharmacy, blamed the chemical burns on the burning plastic of the PEZ dispenser. In a news story, Dr. Bricker "said that although he doesn't underestimate the danger of the ingredients in the man-made designer drug, smoking synthetic marijuana in a plastic PEZ dispenser would have been a 'significant factor' in Brandon's death.
"'It's (the drug) fairly potent, but nothing in the literature has been shown to cause any lung toxicity,' he said. But Bricker said plastic -- such as that found in the candy dispenser -- heated at high temperatures will release highly toxic cyanide gas and carbon monoxide."
April 13, 2012
Dear lord, Mr. Ramos, you have GOT to be kidding! Of course I knew that. But this 13-year-old kid died after smoking synthetic marijuana! That's a fact. The dangers of smoking this stuff absolutely have to do with the unsafe way in which some choose to smoke as much as the products themselves. Impaired judgment? Yeah, I think so. I can't help but wonder why you're fighting so hard to publicly defend synthetic drugs and their use? Do you own stock in "Bliss" or "Bay Spice" or something?
April 13, 2012
If this stuff is so bad that it can cause chemical burns on somebody's lungs, why has only one person in the country suffered chemical burns on their lungs? The doctor clearly said that the burning plastic was to blame for the kid's actual injuries, not the drug. The kid could have been smoking tobacco out of a Pez dispenser, and the end result would have been the same. There's a reason pipes aren't made of plastic.
I'm not defending synthetic drugs. I'm attacking the ridiculous hysteria that accompanies every aspect of their portrayal in the media and the draconian penalties that legislators feel is necessary to fight them. So far, in the course of my research, I have come up with less than a dozen confirmed deaths in the country related to synthetic drugs. Three of these, including the one in Blaine, were bath salt overdoses. Not one was an overdose on synthetic marijuana. Several were accidents that occurred after someone had smoked something.
Seeing that synthetic drugs have been widely available to people of all ages, including children, for several years, the truly astonishing thing, to me, is not that there are so many deaths, but that there are so few. Compare that to the hundreds of deaths from alcohol poisoning that occur each year. If you want to go your route and include every accidental and traffic death that's related to alcohol as well, the number rises into the thousands. Yet I don't see anybody agitating for felony prison terms for people who sell alcohol.
You think I'm kidding? I've backed up everything I've said. You, on the other hand, go on and on about "kids dying" and make snotty remarks about my research. If you want me to, I'll call the medical examiners in every case you send me and tell you what they said. I'm a journalist, and I've learned my job the hard way. If you could see past your internal biases, you'd recognize the quality of my work.
You wonder why I'm fighting so hard? Well, let's see...in Duluth, about four people are interested in the facts about synthetic drugs and about 86,000 just want to throw everybody in prison. When you're bucking those kinds of odds, you have to fight a little harder.
TDOB Index, April 13, 2012: 205
If somebody smoked synthetic marijuana and a brick fell on their head, the headline in the News Tribune would be "Child dies after smoking synthetic marijuana".
TDOB Index, April 14, 2012: 206
As I dutifully carry on with my research, googling through tales of mayhem and destruction for several hours each day, I am increasingly convinced that, just as I make a clear distinction between real marijuana (good) and real methamphetamine (bad), a similar distinction can be made between fake marijuana and fake methamphetamine.
Fake marijuana, or incense, has not been confirmed in any overdose death that I can find. Fake methamphetamine, or bath salts, has. So far, I have found seven confirmed cases of bath salt overdoses in the country. The symptoms typically include an extremely elevated body temperature (105 degrees, 107 degrees), erratic, often violent behavior prior to death, and multiple heart attacks one after the other. The victims in these cases tend to be hard-core drug users in their late twenties and early thirties, often with lengthy criminal records, who have been bingeing on bath salts for days.
In Duluth, the vast majority of people purchasing synthetic drugs at the Last Place on Earth are there for synthetic marijuana. Law enforcement, legislators and the media, judging by their comments, like to equate all synthetic drugs with bath salts. The public, hungry for titillating horror stories and always eager to think poorly of their neighbors, is more than happy to go along with this.
The police have now been holding Jim Carlson's cash, guns and computers for 207 days without filing a single charge against him--not a littering ticket or parking citation have we seen. They just took the stuff and kept it, you see. And how many stories do you think the News Tribune has done on the obvious Fifth Amendment violations taking place right under their noses?
Oh, never mind. You know the answer as well as I do.
TDOB Index, April 15, 2012: 207
I wish I had the budget for stringers.
My wife worries that people reading the TDOB Index will think I'm a total stoner, constantly smoking weed and other drugs. To which I initially said, "Good! Then they'll have to reconcile that belief with my obvious wit, intelligence and clarity of thought. I would be like a living argument in favor of smoking weed! And besides, who cares what people think?"
Well, it turns out that my wife does. So I guess I'll just have to come out and make a boring statement: To those of you who think I'm stoned all the time, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. This is me clean and sober. I'm constantly running around researching things and writing about things and cleaning the house. I wish I could relax a little, actually. But at this point in my life, that's not going to happen. No drugs, not even alcohol or tobacco, crosses these saintly lips any more.
(Obviously, the two or three pots of coffee I drink each day don't count, because caffeine isn't a drug.)
My wife doesn't realize that most people already think poorly of me, regardless of my personal habits, because the force of my thought and contrariness of my outlook frightens them. But I guess she'll figure that out in time. As for me, I've said what I needed to say--opening a window into my personal life that people really have no business looking through--and everybody's happy now. Right? Okay? Good. Now I'm off to dust my halo.
I swear, it's like I'm married to Kristi Stokes sometimes.
TDOB Index, April 16, 2012: 208
Ramos, I am amazed at the letters you received in response from DNT. I never really regarded them as a highly respectable news source but this has opened my eyes even further to their blindness and ridiculousness. "Hysteria" is the perfect way to describe this situation. Whether or not you personally consider a "kid" to be someone older than 18 years old doesn't matter...it should be evident that a distinction of the age is needed when "kid" can also mean a 12 year old. In fact, when someone says a kid that is the age I happen to first picture.
It seems as though Duluth has decided that LPOE is a part of the "undesirable" element of Duluth and have decided to be rid of it whether or not it is a legitimate, legal, or relevant reason. I applaud your efforts to spread the truth. I can't believe this many people are willing to look the other way just because of something they don't personally agree with.
What's amazing to me is that I still haven't found a single overdose death that can be attributed to synthetic marijuana. When I started this project, I certainly expected to find some. There are always people who, by accident or intention, will use too much of whatever drugs are out there.
I'm not saying there haven't been any overdose deaths, just that I haven't found any. But I'm not searching lightly. I've conducted this project from the point of view of a prohibitionist. In the absence of definite confirmation of a case one way or the other, I ask myself, "What would a prohibitionist do?" Of course, a prohibitionist would blame synthetic drugs for everything. And so, for the purposes of this project, have I.
Even by that standard, I haven't found oneâ€”â€”not ONEâ€”â€”synthetic marijuana overdose death in the country. There have been a handful of suicides, and a handful of traffic accidents, and a handful of cases where people fall down and bump their heads, but no overdoses.
So why on earth does the Minnesota Legislature want to make it a felony to sell the stuff? How can Police Chief Ramsay sit in front of the state Senate and say, with a straight face, that synthetic marijuana is more like meth than marijuana? And how can Senator Reinert repeat the same assertion, as if he actually has some kind of proof, to reporters with the News Tribune?
Obviously, they're talking out of their asses. When it comes to drugs, that's how public policy is made.
TDOB Index, April 17, 2012: 209
Why does a person have to die to make the public's concern about this issue valid?
The key here is that the drugs and their analogues are unregulated and potency varies from product to product. There is a lot of inherent danger in this situation.
Do I think Carlson should have his property returned? Yes. Because legally he is entitled to the return of these materials.
Do I think that anyone who knows about the situation should ever patronize LPOE after this debacle? Absolutely not.
The public's concern is always valid. I just don't think that the public's concern, in this case, is quite worth throwing someone into prison for five years. The solution, to me, would make society worse overall than the problem it was meant to solve. It discourages me that people are so into punishment.
Is selling one gram of a substance that has never been shown to kill anyone a crime on par with racking up three drunk-driving convictions? In my opinion, the answer is no.
As I have said elsewhere on this thread, I agree that the unregulated nature of synthetic drugs makes them potentially dangerous. My own answer would be to regulate them.
I was just about to say that, Ramos. I don't think that's what the people opposing the sale of these synthetics are looking to do. They are trying to run Carlson out of town hoping that he'll take all his nasty drugs and customers with him. Honestly, I'll tell them what I told people doing a happy dance when the Kozy burned up the first time: "they're just gonna go somewhere else."
It's not like getting rid of Carlson or the Kozy is going to solve any problems, it's just going to remove one source and force them to get their drugs someplace else. It's going to punish one person for selling unregulated synthetics when the real problem is the synthetics themselves.
I'm all for regulation. Even cigarettes, proven to kill people, are regulated so they're not deadly on the first few smokes. Something sold for the purpose of ingestion needs to be made as safe as possible.
Oh but I also want to add, that these synthetics are being touted as "deadly" by news sources and by the people opposing them. I understand they may be unsafe or unregulated, but it's important to know just how unsafe. "Not deadly" is enough to let people drink and smoke.
A Custom Cab driver was recently arrested for allegedly burglarizing a Kenwood home when he knew the owner was away. Police Chief Gordon Ramsay expressed concern.
"Only the police should have the power to take cash and property away from people without their consent," said Ramsay, adding proudly that the police department has been holding Jim Carlson's $80,000 for 210 days now.
"We haven't charged him with anything, either," Ramsay said, buffing his fingernails against his chest as reporters applauded wildly.
TDOB Index, April 18, 2012: 210
Okay, I found one.
On September 30, 2011, 19-year-old Lamar Jack, a basketball player at Anderson University in South Carolina, collapsed on the court during a practice. He was rushed to the hospital with a temperature of 103 degrees, where he lapsed in and out of unconsciousness for four days before he died. The autopsy showed that Jack had a "blood clot and lung blockage" that led to "cardiac arrest," as well as the presence in his bloodstream of JWH-018, the chemical found in some brands of synthetic marijuana. The death was ruled accidental, resulting from "acute drug toxicity that led to multiple organ failure."
Here is my running tally, and some other interesting numbers.
Fatal synthetic marijuana overdose (2011-12): 1
Fatal bath salt overdose (2011-12): 7
Fatal alcohol overdose (1998): 300
Fatal illegal drug overdose (2008): 16,406
Fatal prescription drug overdose (2008): 20,044
Fatal marijuana overdose (beginning of time to present): 0
TDOB Index, April 19, 2012: 211
Duluth police marked the 212th day of confiscation by handing out free samples of Smokin' Camel Incense in the evidence room.
"I read in the paper that kids are dying from this," said Chief Ramsay, "but we're not kids. Smoke up, my friends, smoke up. Celebrate 4/20 like you mean it."
"Thanks, Gordy," said Judge Floerke. He sparked the bowl on a large purple bong shaped like the Statue of Liberty. Water bubbled. The judge collapsed heavily on a pile of seized cash and exhaled happily. "Whoo-eeee! That is some good shit."
"It sure is!" Senator Reinert enthused. He tapped out a line of bath salts on one of Jim Carlson's hard drives and snorted it up with a powerful vacuuming noise. "Have you got all the confidential information you need off these computers, Chief?"
"We're working on it," replied Ramsay. He stuck his face into the bong and took a deep hit. Water bubbled. The chief doubled over, coughing and choking. Reinert giggled and patted him on the back. Judge Floerke stood on one toe and did a little ballet twirl in the corner.
Regaining control of himself, Chief Ramsay grinned at Senator Reinert in a weepy-eyed sort of way. "It may take us a little more time."
"Take all the time you need, Gordon," Reinert said heartily. "You have all the time in the world."
"It makes it a lot easier when you don't have to charge people with anything, doesn't it?" piped up Kristi Stokes, popping her head out of a pile of cash.
"It certainly does," said Ramsay. Senator Reinert bent his head and snorted up another line with an industrial suctioning sound.
Judge Floerke giggled and swatted at some imaginary butterflies. "Did you see Carlson's face when I said you could keep his property forever?"
"I always thought the Bill of Rights was outdated," said Reinert. He blew his nose on a hundred-dollar bill and dropped it on the floor. "Who needs all those amendments, anyway?"
"Well, we've taken care of the Fifth," said Ramsay contentedly. He rolled up a fat joint and licked the paper to seal it. "Now if only we could do something about the First."
TDOB Index, April 20, 2012: 212
The Duluth Police Department celebrated the seven-month anniversary of their raid on the Last Place on Earth by sleeping.
TDOB Index, April 21, 2012: 213
Can I just say that I love Ramos' wife?
The media is fond of describing every new drug that comes along as an "epidemic." Remember the CAT epidemic of the early Nineties, when a few methcathinone labs in Michigan's Upper Peninsula were poised to destroy the nation with their evil products? Well, that one never quite panned out, though the media did get several months of hysterical coverage out of it.
The latest generation of synthetics is no different. Media reports about incense and bath salts are dense with phrases like "the new epidemic," "the next epidemic," "the impending epidemic," and so on. A dispassionate observer might wonder how a nation that has a new epidemic every five or six years could survive, but fortunately for the media, there are few dispassionate observers around. Most people just open their mouths as wide as possible and gulp the stories down whole.
One group of drugs that has seen actual skyrocketing deathsâ€”as opposed to hysterical media tales of skyrocketing deathsâ€”are prescription painkillers. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental deaths from prescription painkillers tripled in just eight years--from 2,901 deaths in 1999 to 11,499 in 2007.
Imagine if incense were responsible for these kinds of numbers. The Constitution would be jettisoned without a backward glance and martial law would descend upon the nation. One reason that prescription painkillers aren't perceived as a massive, existential threat is the lack of hysterical media coverage. Also, people aren't lining up outside of the Last Place on Earth to buy them.
That line of people, more than anything else, is what mainstream Duluth hates. No punishment is too severe, no scaremongering too extreme, if only they will make that awful line of people go away.
TDOB Index, April 22, 2012: 214
Better be careful if you're dissin' Mommy's Little Helper.
It has now been 215 days since police strolled into the Last Place on Earth and walked out with $80,000 in cash, 28 guns and all the computers. They haven't charged anybody with anything, but they still have the stuff.
Nobody at the News Tribune has bothered to cover this yet. Journalism itself depends on the Bill of Rights for its protections, so you would think that somebody down there would care about the Bill of Rights a little.
Oh, wait. I forgot. Drugs are involved. Writing stories about the Bill of Rights would force them to take time out from running around in hysterical figure-eights.
I wonder how they're coming on that list of dead kids I asked them to compile?
TDOB Index, April 23, 2012: 215
It should be noted that the Duluth News Tribune did report in February that District Court Judge Shaun Floerke denied Jim Carlson's motion to have his stuff returned.
But no, there has been no analysis of how in the hell a judge could decide police can keep items seized in a raid indefinitely without filing charges. I mean, really, does it takes 215 or more days to prove a substance is illegal?
Clearly what is going on is that products seized at the Last Place on Earth by police do not contain an illegal compound, but the "investigation" is being dragged out so everything on Carlson's computer can be carefully gone over. And at least one judge thinks that's just fine.
Under normal circumstances, police investigations begin when a crime has been committed. In this case, investigators don't have a crime, but they're doing their best to find one. With Carlson's computers in their clutches, they can comb through his personal records at their leisure, secure in the knowledge that the legal system (or at least Judge Floerke) will never require them to return the computers. If they don't find anything illegal, well, at least they'll have files full of personal information on Jim Carlson to amuse themselves with. And Carlson will get punished without anybody having to go through the time and expense of a trial. So it's basically a win-win for the cops.
It really is nice for them to be able to take people's stuff on a whim. All they have to do is say, "Nobody likes this guy. We want to go in and take all of his things and see if he's involved in anything. Okay?"
And the judge says, "Sure, boys. Go right ahead. I'm sure he's involved in something. Have you seen how long his hair is?"
Before police raided the Last Place on Earth, I had read of cases where people had their property confiscated and never got it back, despite never being charged with a crime. Almost always, these cases involved drugs, or the rumor of drugs, or the vague possibility that drugs might be somewhere in the vicinity. Mainstream America hates drugs so much that no punishment is too severe in the fight against them.
Even if no crime has been committed. Even if everybody involved is innocent. Even if there aren't actually any drugs. If somebody calls up the cops and mentions the dreaded word -- whisper it with me -- "drugs" -- suddenly every right and protection under the law flies straight out the window. And that's just the way the cops like it.
It's such bullshit. I can't believe that people stand for this. But people will stand for an awful lot, if it doesn't involve them personally. The media is all for it, of course. So are politicians. Who would ever get elected on a platform of giving accused drug suspects civil liberties? It's much more popular to strip those liberties away to the point that mere rumor can cause somebody to lose all their property, or land them behind bars.
The case of the Last Place on Earth has really opened my eyes to how badly the legal system has been distorted and debased in the name of fighting drugs. It can do anything to anybody, and nobody cares. If people think about it at all, they tend to approve. What a fucking crock.
TDOB Index, April 25, 2012: 217
Maybe you heard about this one.
Four months ago, Stacey Knutson, a waitress at the Fryn' Pan Restaurant in Moorhead, Minnesota, discovered that one of her customers had left a takeout box at her table when she left. Knutson followed the woman into the parking lot and offered her the box. The woman said, "I'm good, thanks," and drove away. When Knutson opened the box, she found $12,000 inside.
Ever the responsible citizen, Knutson contacted the Moorhead police to report the money. The police took the money away and told Knutson that if nobody claimed it within 60 days, it was hers to keep.
After 60 days passed, the police changed it to 90 days. After 90 days passed, they still hadn't turned the money over. They now told Knutson that they were keeping the money becauseâ€”get thisâ€”the bills had a "strong odor of marijuana" and were therefore part of a drug investigation and subject to civil forfeiture under Minnesota law. They told Knutson she would get a $1,000 reward for turning it over.
When Knutson filed a lawsuit against the police, the case made national headlines. Four days later, the police announced they were giving her the money back.
Question #1: If Knutson hadn't filed a lawsuit, would the cops have returned the money?
Answer: Ha ha!
Question #2: How about if the story hadn't received any publicity? Would they have returned the money then?
Answer: Ha ha! That's great!
Question #3: If your car smelled of marijuana, but no marijuana was present, could the cops seize your car?
Answer: Of course.
Question #4: And never give it back?
Answer: Well, obviously. That's what civil forfeiture means.
Question #5: How about your house?
Answer: What is with these questions? Are you a drug addict or something?
Question #6: What if a cop just said they smelled marijuana?
Answer: Just a minute. We need to run a background check on you.
Question #7: Aren't drug laws just a big steaming load of you-know-what?
Answer: Do I smell marijuana?
TDOB Index, April 26, 2012: 218
I suppose there are those who find my coverage of this issue to be overly excitable, but the more I look into it, the more convinced I become that I'm not worked up enough.
Under the modern version of civil forfeiture laws, which took hold of the nation in 1984, law enforcement agencies have a direct financial incentive to seize people's cash and property. In Minnesota, the seizing agencies can keep up to 90 percent of what they seize and apply the proceeds directly to departmental budgets. As the case of the $12,000 tip cited above shows, the standards required to seize something are ridiculously thin, or nonexistent.
I'm not saying the Moorhead cops didn't smell anything. They certainly did smell something. They smelled 90 percent of $12,000, or $10,800, applied directly to their budget.
How about in Duluth? Do you think the Duluth cops aren't well aware that 90 percent of Jim Carlson's $80,000 is $72,000, and that if they hang onto it long enough, it will eventually become theirs? Even if they don't charge Carlson with a crime? They know it, all right. Everybody in law enforcement knows it. Some agencies actually include forfeiture revenue in their budget projections.
Can you imagine any situation more ripe for abuse?
Here's a cute little story about the small town of Tenaha, Texas, which took the opportunities provided by civil forfeiture to the limit.
TDOB Index, April 27, 2012: 219
You think East Superior Street has a problem? Imagine every stoner with a passport. On a Surrey.
"Restuarants." "Seperates." "Covention."
Duluth may have many attractions, but the ability to spell doesn't seem to be one of them.
I find those surrey riders more annoying than the customers at the Last Place on Earth. I know they're putting $18 an hour into the local economy, but somehow that only makes it worse.
"Look, Daddy! A bird!"
"You're right, Trevor! Look at him flying!"
"Mommy! Mommy! Look! Is that a pelican?"
"No, I think it's a duck!"
"Quick, Alayna, throw him a nacho!"
"Look, Grandpa! A big animal pulling a buggy!"
"By golly, you're right, Trevor! Good eye!"
"Is that a wild moose?"
"No, I think it's a cow!"
"Let's pedal faster!"
Actually, that sounds a lot like my last family outing. Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge.
I'm YouTubing out today.
If Chief Ramsay needs a break from counting Jim Carlson's cash, he might consider cracking down on Canal Park skateboarders the way this cop in Baltimore does.
A beauty of a story coming out of Michigan.
For years, Lt. Luke Davis of the Michigan State Police was the highly respected and highly effective commander of the Office of Monroe Narcotics Investigations, or OMNI. The only problem was, Davis wasn't satisfied with confiscating and seizing millions of dollars in cash and property on behalf of the Michigan State Police alone. He wanted it for himself. Aided by modern civil forfeiture laws (of course) and a populace that cravenly licked the badge whenever it came to drugs, Davis ran OMNI as an out-and-out criminal enterprise, with himself as the kingpin.
In June of 2008, OMNI agents raided a house in Monroe County on the basis of an anonymous tip and a marijuana stem they claimed to have found in the garbage. Inside, they found several members of a rock band practicing in the basement, a quarter-ounce of marijuana and one-half of a pain pill. On the basis of this evidence, they proceeded to strip the house of valuables. They took all of the band's instruments and recording equipment, a 52-inch plasma television, cash, jewelry and pretty much everything else that wasn't nailed down. Throughout the night, OMNI agents helped themselves to snacks out of the cupboards and drinks from the refrigerator. The list of seized property was three pages long by the time they were done.
Unknown to them, the band's recording equipment caught them on tape. When local TV news stations played the tape, there was a stir in the community, as you might expect. This, in itself, may not have been enough to bring down Davis, but when his estranged wife approached the Michigan State Police and told them everything else that was going on, the shit really hit the fan.
When investigators raided Davis's house, they found a treasure trove of stolen goods, cash and drugs, including "vicodin, oxycontin, steroids, a wall covered with a large quantity of men's and women's jewelry, 30 designer purses, 22 cell phones, computers, televisions, motorcycles, and a golf cart." As the investigation went on, things only got worse.
Davis is currently on trial for 24 felonies, including racketeering, embezzlement, tax evasion, forgery, misconduct of a public official, and possession of controlled substances.
This is just another example of what happens when you get so tough on drugs that suspects have no rights and police officers have carte blanche to do as they please. When their powers are unchecked, the predators among us will always rise to the occasion.
TDOB Index, April 28, 2012: 220
The Duluth Police Department celebrated the first day of Homegrown by confiscating everybody's cars.
"That name kind of sounds like marijuana," Lt. Steve Stracek explained to reporters.
TDOB Index, April 29, 2012: 221
Just once, I'd like to prevail on an issue. Just once.
I thought I had a slam-dunk this time around. I mean, I only asked the police to do one of two things: Either (1) charge Jim Carlson with a crime, or (2) return his stuff. And I can't even prevail on that.
If the police take somebody's property by force, never file charges, and never return the property, then that's stealing. I don't like stealing. I'm sorry to be so radical and subversive, but I just don't like it, okay? If everybody else does, then I guess I'll just have to resign myself to howling in the wilderness forever.
"What's the noise?"
"Oh, that's just that guy howling again."
"What's he howling about?"
"He doesn't like stealing."
"What a weirdo."
"I know. People say he was brought up that way."
"That's really sad."
"I know. Poor guy."
TDOB Index, April 30, 2012: 222
One of the most ridiculous aspects of the War on Drugs, to me, is the fact that marijuana is illegal--particularly in light of the much more harmful substances, such as alcohol and prescription opiates, that are not illegal. It is hard for me to believe that police officers, who are in a position to observe the effects of all of these things, actually believe that marijuana is harmful. My guess is that they don't believe it, or most of them don't. I suspect that the reasons they don't say anything are twofold: (1) They have a financial incentive not to, because of the way civil forfeiture laws are set up; and (2) they simply like to have things be illegal.
The more things that are illegal, the more probable cause cops have to search vehicles and houses without warrants--and searching vehicles and houses without warrants is something that cops absolutely love. If a vocal group of Americans suddenly decided that they hated carrots, I suspect that cops would be at the forefront of the move to make carrots illegal. That way, they would have probable cause to search virtually everybody.
Anyway, the Duluth police have now been holding hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, property, inventory, jewelry and computer hardware belonging to Jim Carlson for 223 days, and they still haven't filed any charges against him. None of our leaders, and no members of the media, have questioned this. Maybe they're too busy stage-diving.
In case you forgot, TDOB stands for Total Days Of Bullshit. The name gets more apt all the time.
TDOB Index, May 1, 2012: 223
At a Chamber of Commerce forum reported in today's paper, Police Chief Ramsay said that drug dealing and prostitution were down in Duluth, but panhandling was up. Naturally, he blamed the panhandling on the Last Place on Earth.
I won't argue with that. I'm sure there are some people panhandling to buy synthetic drugs. What irks me is that the chief ascribes the decrease in drug dealing to the Kozy Bar burning down and the Norshor Theater strip club closing. He never even considers the most obvious possibility: that drug dealing is down because the Last Place on Earth has taken away all the drug dealers' business.
The reason he doesn't mention this, I'm sure, is because it would sound like something sort of positive about the Last Place on Earth. Nobody wants to hear anything like that.
TDOB Index, May 2, 2012: 224
Two hundred and twenty-five days ago, the Duluth police stormed into a local business and took away all the cash and valuables they could carry. They haven't filed charges against anybody yet. Duluth's leaders, Duluth's media, and 99.8 percent of Duluth's population don't care, so why should I?
TDOB Inex, May 3, 2012: 225
Well, for exactly that reason, of course. The answer was in the question.
While it is true that I drape my questions with attitude, the questions themselves are journalistic. The only reason I can think of why the News Tribune isn't asking them is that the News Tribune, like the cops and the community, would prefer to drive the Last Place on Earth out of business.
Civil asset forfeiture is a big deal, both nationally and in Minnesota, and it's getting bigger all the time. In criminal cases, a person is innocent until proven guilty. With civil forfeiture, by contrast, a person's property is presumed guilty until the owner can prove its innocence. Many people do not have the time or resources to do this--especially when they know they'll be fighting a justice system that's stacked against them from the beginning. So they don't do anything, and the money slides into the pocket of law enforcement. It's just that easy.
According to Policing For Profit, a 2010 report issued by the Institute for Justice, the federal Assets Forfeiture Fund received $1.2 billion in forfeited cash and $62 million in forfeited property in 2008 alone. In 2003, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota made $4.6 million in drug-related asset forfeitures. The federal government paid an additional $1.1 million to Minnesota law enforcement out of the Assets Forfeiture Fund.
These are not small numbers, and they grow every year. But all the News Tribune wants to do is make sure that $80,000 from the Last Place on Earth gets added to them. And if no charges are ever filed against Jim Carlson, well, that's life. It's certainly not the basis for a story.
What are we at nowâ€”226 days? I can only shake my head.
TDOB Index, May 4, 2012: 226
The News Tribune's crime coverage, in general, is just awful. It relies almost entirely on press releases put out by the police department. To test this theory, first make a list of crime stories that you see in the newspaper. Then go to the city's website and look at the list of police department press releases. They're identical!
Now, I don't mean to be overly critical, but who needs a journalism degree for that? What is the name of the class -- "How To Copy and Paste 101"?
Obviously, there are many things wrong with this sort of reporting. The worst is that it gives police officers total control over their own portrayal in the media. Nobody else has that kind of luxury. Why should the police department?
Man, if I had that crime beat, I could ... I could ... man, I could ...
Oh, never mind.
TDOB Index, May 5, 2012: 227
Dear Ramos: I think maybe they have won. No response from our mayor or council people. PDD posters seem to care more about how cool it is that our mayor stage dives and hangs out at Homegrown, than about how he is completely ignoring your concerns, even though he weighs in on PDD about other weighty issues of the day (see, e.g., Homegrown).
I care, and even I do nothing more than occasionally thank you for your TDOB index, while grumbling to myself about the lack of justice in a supposedly progressive town like ours.
So, thank you for your commitment to this issue, but I think...yikes...maybe...it's...how do I say it...doomed.
Of course, that's what they said to the Founding Fathers/Mothers. And Rosa Parks. And Gloria Steinam. And Harvey Milk.
So go Ramos go, and thanks.
Oh, sure. I'm doomed. But that's nothing new: I'm always doomed in the battles I choose to fight. I'm forty-two years old next week, and I don't think I've ever prevailed on a single issue. With tiny issues, people get riled up. But when you have a large, serious issue with local relevance and far-reaching implications, the indifference of the populace is like a fog bank hanging over Lake Superior.
The good thing is that I'm getting an education. I can only make so many wisecracks and smart-aleck comments before the demands of producing an observation a day lead me to do some actual research. Just as I became an expert on the Great Lakes Aquarium and city finance a few years ago, I am now becoming an expert in civil forfeiture and the war on drugs. That's worth a lot to me.
If this thing goes on forever, then I guess it does. It's a nice hobby for me, something to fill in the gaps between writing my novel, learning magic tricks and taking care of my whelps. If I ever get tired of research, I can always go back to wisecracks.
How can the police take somebody's property and never return it, without filing charges? I don't think asking a question like that is all that rebellious, but apparently the vast majority of sheep in the pasture do. Oh well.
If Michel de Montaigne were alive today, he would be right here with me. I just know it.
One thing I have noticed about the civil-forfeiture horror stories that I'm finding is that almost all of them have occurred since 2008. This is a sign, to me, that law enforcement, at least in some places, is really starting to depend on civil-forfeiture money for its funding.
Once the ball gets rolling, it can really move. In time, and maybe not that much time, my concerns, which seem so outlandish and fringe-element to the masses now, may become standard wisdom. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. All it takes is one or two particularly egregious cases where innocent, white, middle-class property owners are victimized, and public opinion can turn right around.
TDOB Index, May 6, 2012: 228
A full week without updates from Ramos. I smell a conspiracy theory. I know Jim Carlson's belongings haven't been returned, so my theory is that the Duluth Police Department has confiscated Ramos's computer (and probably other stuff).
Hopefully Ramos won't mind me doing this for just one day...
TDOB Index, May 13, 2012: 235
I noticed his absence too. Either he is on vacation, or on strike due to PDD censorship on a separate thread, or in a dungeon somewhere far below the city.
Come back, Ramos! We need you!
Yeah, someone really ought to go bang on Ramos' door and check on him. But I do suspect he was upset about moderators removing comments of his from another post under the threadjacking clause. (I'd explain, but it's a sunny day ... and explaining that here might be a threadjack all by itself ... although on this post that would probably be fine.)
On May 4, 2012, in the middle of the 14th Annual Homegrown Music Festival, Duluth Mayor Don Ness posted a whimsical "Homegrown Origin Mythology" on Perfect Duluth Day. Set in the language of a sword-and-sorcery tale, the Origin Myth described Homegrown's founders as "a rag-tag group of rebels" who were "desperately fighting to establish a foothold for original live music and authentic culture" in the cultural wasteland that was Duluth in 1998. They found hope amidst despair when they heard a pirate radio station on the FM dial, run by "a brave insurgent [who] was thumbing his nose at corporate radio and the FCC by laying claim to a small spectrum of the public domain" in order to play real music.
"It was the sound of originality, of talent, of nonconformity, and for this weary group of mutineers, it was the sound of HOPE!" gushed the mayor. He was referring, of course, to Random Radio, the real-life pirate radio station that Scott Lunt, father of Homegrown, operated in 1998.
Naturally, I was delightedâ€”not so much by the content of the post (although it did reveal a certain cleverness of the pen on the mayor's part) as by the fact that the mayor had posted at all. Throughout my long career of being ignored by politicians in Duluth, I have always tried to establish that I was being ignored intentionally, rather than simply because the politicians were unaware of my concerns. One way that I do this is to confront them publicly at unrelated events. For example, I once asked Mayor Gary Doty several pointed questions about the Great Lakes Aquarium at a press conference organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, thereby incurring the wrath of the mayor, a mob of mothers and all the reporters in the room. But at least I had my proof. With Mayor Ness's post on PDD, I saw a similar opportunity.
In the 228 days since police raided the Last Place on Earth, the mayor, as far as I knew, had not made a single public comment on the issue. I wanted to change that. Even if I got him to say something innocuous, like "No comment" or "I'm leaving it in the hands of the police," at least I would know that he was aware of the issue, and the historical record would reflect this.
Moreover, given that Mayor Ness's post praised rebellion, nonconformity and lawbreaking (operating a pirate radio station is a crime) I held out some small hope that he might actually see things my way and stand up to injustice by making some kind of pro-Jim Carlson comment. Ness was, and is, a very popular mayor. Surely he could afford to expend a little political ammunition fighting for an issue of principle, even if it cost him a little support among the general populace.
Such is the optimism I am prone to, even after all these years.
Utilizing the mayor's own sword-and-sorcery imagery, I posted the following comment:
And then the thunder of police-issue boot heels filled the air as police stormed into the Last Place on Earth and carried away everything. Shrieking, the mayor dove from the stage into the crowd. His rebellious squealâ€”"We will never file charges! Never!"â€”was the sound of HOPE!
I can assure you Mayor Ness did not contact PDD asking for comments to be removed.
I did hear Mayor Ness make a public statement about the Last Place on Earth recently, although he did not specifically address the issue of the seizure of Jim Carlson's property. At a Chamber of Commerce lunch panel on April 26 he made a few remarks indicating he strongly opposes the sale of synthetic cannabinoids. (That's not exactly what you're looking for, but it is relevant.)
Hey Ramos, remember me? On 1/2/12, I called your updates "over the top." However, over the the weeks and months as this whole thing dragged on, I realized how complete bullshit this whole situation was.
Maybe I was being naive, but I honestly thought the police would decide to charge in a timely manner, and if no charges were filed, return the property as required to by law. As this whole thing has dragged on, I realize that this isn't "slow justice," this is willful neglect by our police and our elected city government.
Why the hell hasn't this situation been resolved by now?!? Why isn't everyone as upset as Ramos?!?
Yep. Good to know. I wish he strongly opposed the city's police force violating the Fifth Amendment, but that's the way it goes.
Why isn't everyone as upset as Ramos? Because there is always more to the story than meets the eye. Rather than venting on PDD why not ask the Chief of Police the same questions you are asking here?
If this issue was as clear as Ramos sees it, Carlson's attorneys would have his confiscated items back. Either that or he has inept legal guidance.
Standing on a sh!t pile wrapped in the Fifth Amendment is still standing in a pile of sh!t.
Maybe your buddy Carlson can make some more money by opening a day care, there sure a lot of toddlers in that line stretching down the block out the door of LPOE. They're being forced to endure the wait while their "parents" (used loosely as I don't know a caring parent that would be waiting for synthetic drugs on the street with their kid) que up for their weekly dose of soul numbing. The more we can do to make life for the lich Carlson uncomfortable the better.
BTW, I say legalize the real stuff for those who want it, get the commerce out of the gutter and into the board room where it belongs.
I've said it before, and so have others on this thread, but it never ceases to amaze me how easily people overlook the abuse of power when it's directed against someone or something they don't like. I am astonished that a progressive like you would say that "the more we can do to make life for...Carlson uncomfortable the better." I mean, I guess we could drag him out into the street and break his legs. That would make him uncomfortable, wouldn't it? How about burning down his store? That would make him very uncomfortable. Hey, how about if we found a lamppost and strung him up? Duluth already has some experience in making people uncomfortable that way. Once we decide that certain people shouldn't enjoy constitutional rightsâ€”because, you know, they're really, really badâ€”there's no telling where we'll end up.
You may be right in saying that the whole issue is just a big pile of shit. Nevertheless, that shit is protected by the Fifth Amendment, just like my weed whacker, your hobbit games, the mayor's beer growler and everything else in the United States is.
The other thing that amazes me is how superficial Duluthians are. Your (and almost everybody's) biggest problem with the Last Place on Earth is that people line up outside the store. I guess you would rather they all made back-alley deals for marijuana and smoked up in their apartments, like they used to. The problem (if that's what it is) would be the same, but you could forget all about it, because nobody would be intruding their unwelcome selves into your field of vision. To me, it's sort of refreshing to have things out in the open.
Oh, and by the way: How do you know synthetic marijuana is "soul-numbing"? Do you work for the Duluth News Tribune or something?
I don't know how the issue could be any clearer. The police need to either (1) file charges against Jim Carlson, or (2) return his property. Police Chief Ramsay himself, in his testimony before the state Senate, admitted that they didn't have enough proof to file charges against Carlson, or so I gathered when he said, "Our hands are tied." Nevertheless, the police continue to hold Carlson's property.
The reason Carlson's attorneys haven't been able to get his stuff back is because the law says the police don't have to give it back. That's the whole problem. That's what I've been talking about. America has been so tough on drugs for so long that police can now hold onto property, theoretically forever, even if no crime has been committed. It is the laws themselvesâ€”drug laws and civil forfeiture laws, which give law enforcement infinite discretion over citizens' propertyâ€”that violate the Fifth Amendment. This is something that needs to change at the Supreme Court level. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet.
Per your excellent suggestion, I have emailed the police chief this very day.
TDOB Index, May 16, 2012: 238
I'm aware of the Orewellian nature of what I said, and it does go against my progressive tendencies, but my blood boils when I see children suffering for their parent's bad choices. Carlson is profiting from those choices and it's not right! Authorities holding his stuff is illegal seizure to be certain, they should nard up and make the sh!t illegal post haste! But your daily fist thumping for the constitutional rights of a merchant profiting off child neglect has lost its tenuous glimmer of righteous indignation and now reeks of tedious self aggrandizement.
Tenuous, is your child neglect assertion, Sally Struthers. (Facts, not "someone-seen-ums," or "I-bets.")
Don't pull the "save the children" line just because it's something you don't like. In that regard, there is plenty of other shit that people do that could be considered "a merchant profiting off child neglect."
Adam, standing with your kid in line to buy fake pot at a dildo shop is at best bad parenting and at worst neglect. What is that child being exposed to when they enter LPOE? I mean "guns are allowed" there ... Dont "Sally Struthers" me until you have a kid. Other stuff to worry about? Sure lots! And I do. But, I choose to talk about this and call it like I see it. Which I am .. I know the "problem" won't go away until the real stuff is decriminalized and taxed, just like all natural medicine. By the way, if I'm Sally Struthers, then you're a big ol' Ralph Furley .. so there!
BTW, I'll stop griping on this thread if Ramos will.
We used to get lollipops at the liquor store when I was a kid. I believe they gave them away at the tobacconist, too.
Some days for fun I like to reread parts of the TDOB Index and replace the words "Jim Carlson" with "Bob Carlson," and "Last Place on Earth, Duluth" with "Wabasha Book Store, St. Paul," and "synthetics" with "smut," and pretend it's 1968 all over again.
Day 238: Ramos finally takes action and sends email to Chief of Police
Baci: Self-aggrandizement? Really? I don't think I've talked about how great I am all that much. Certainly not as much as I could have. Actually, I'm quite proud of the self-restraint I've shown in that regard. I mean, I've been really, really modest throughout this entire thread. I can't believe how fantastically humble I've been. If modesty were nickels, I'd be a millionaire. If I were in the Modesty Olympics, I'd take gold, silver and bronze without even trying. I mean, I'm just so MODEST! So I don't know where you get off making a criticism that.
I will be happy to stop griping. All that needs to happen is for the police to either (1) charge Jim Carlson with a crime, or (2) return his property. I can hardly think of a request more logical and straightforward than that. I'm not even being a Carlson apologistâ€”I'll point out again that charging Carlson with a crime would satisfy the requirements of the TDOB Index. But to have nothing happenâ€”other than the cops taking Carlson's stuff and keeping itâ€”that's intolerable. The fact that this has been permitted to drag on for so long shows just how out-of-whack with simple common sense our laws really are.
Terry G, I emailed the police chief for you. I already know what kind of answer I'll get. Long experience has taught me how little I can expect from the people in charge, and how little actually changes when you depend on them. The TDOB Index is where the action is. If you haven't learned a lot by reading it, you haven't been reading it.
Two hundred and thirty-nine days ago, a dozen police officers skipped into the Last Place on Earth empty-handed and pranced out with $80,000 in cash, 28 firearms, Jim Carlson's jewelry, and all his computers. They haven't found evidence of a crime, but they have no intention of returning the property. Why? Because they don't feel like it.
The mayor, walking like an Egyptian in his office, doesn't realize that anything has happened.
TDOB Index, May 17, 2012: 239
Carlson is acting like a skank. He should not sell that stuff strictly out of concern for fellow humans, not because it's illegal. Other than that, I hope he sticks around. I frequently need to stock up on shuriken. Don't worry, Ramos, I supersede you and out-self-aggrandizement myself just as much as I hate seeing "LPOE" in the comments of PDD every day. Which is a lot!
For such a seemingly intelligent person, you sure are a stickler for the law.
A moral panic is an incident of widespread social fear that appears seemingly out of nowhere and that grows in the space of a few months or years, then fades to nothing: the CAT scare of the early 1990s is a perfect example. As expressed by Stuart Hall and his colleagues, "When the official reaction to a person, groups of persons or series of events is out of all proportion to the actual threat offered, when 'experts,' in the form of police chiefs, the judiciary, politicians and editors perceive the threat in all but identical terms, and appear to talk 'with one voice' of rates, diagnoses, prognoses and solutions, when the media representations universally stress 'sudden and dramatic' increases (in numbers involved or events) and 'novelty,' above and beyond that which a sober, realistic appraisal could sustain, then we believe it is appropriate to speak of the beginnings of a moral panic."
Judge Floerke celebrated the 241st day of confiscation by vigorously wiping his feet on a welcome mat shaped like the Fifth Amendment.
TDOB Index, May 19, 2012: 241
Now that the city is losing the casino money it's counted on for so long, I'll bet our city leaders wish they hadn't been so hasty in pushing to criminalize synthetic drugs. Just think if Duluth promoted synthetics instead of trying to stamp them out. We're already a regional synthetic drug center, with only one store selling them. If the city opened half a dozen more stores, sales tax revenue would go through the roof. Our streets would get fixed, our water system upgraded, shiny new skywalks would spring up everywhere, and a spirit of optimism and hope would fill the air, replacing everyone's usual crabbiness. Wouldn't that be nice?
Of course it would. But it's too late now. The harsh new medieval-style laws against synthetics are scheduled to take effect on August 1, and everybody will go back to smoking weed. There's no tax money in weed.
I wonder if Carlson will get his stuff back then?
TDOB Index, May 20, 2012: 242
Today marks the eight-month anniversary of the raid on the Last Place on Earth. No charges have been filed, and no property has been returned. I ate a cupcake to celebrate.
In December of 2010, when the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force carried out a major crack bust in Duluth, Lt. Steve Stracek told the media that that investigation had been going on for three months. The investigation into Jim Carlson, which has now been going on for nearly three times that long, must be very serious indeed. Jeepers, I wonder what he did?
TDOB Index, May 21, 2012: 243
Hahahahaha! Sally Struthers! Thanks Adam.
Victoria Jackson seemed like much too deep of a cut. We're all friends here.
Yes... no, I don't know! He had jewelry too?
Yay Ramos, you're back! The Mister and I just returned from Miami. The Miami PD is extremely impressed by the sheer audacity of the Duluth PD's unconstitutional-yet-legal approach to fighting drug crime. You may have to start a Miami thread too.
Speaking of other threads--you were right on with your response to the Mayor. If you are a mayor, extolling the Fighting Of The Man, then you can't get bent out of shape when someone calls you on your hypocrisy. Ditto if you run a blog that extols the Fighting etc. It wasn't a threadjack, it was a pertinent response to the Mayor's posting. It took PDD, what, two seconds to hit Delete on your pertinent thoughts vis a vis Fighting the Man?
I was going to strike on your behalf, but I am a sucker for PDD.
Does 244 days seem like a long time to hold somebody's $80,000 when that person hasn't been charged with a crime? It does to me. How many of Duluth's nine city councilors do you think feel the same way?
Stay tuned! The answer will be revealed right here in three short days.
TDOB Index, May 22, 2012: 244
A recent story from the Huffington Post, sent to me by one of my multitude of fans, describes how Wisconsin cops have developed a neat new way of raising revenue.
Step 1: Arrest somebody for something. Put suspect in jail.
Step 2: Have a judge set bail for suspect.
Step 3: Call suspect's friends and relatives. Advise them that bail must be paid in cash.
Step 4: When friends and relatives arrive at police station with bail money, have a police dog sniff the money.
Step 5: Tell friends and relatives that their bail money smells like drugs. Confiscate bail money under Wisconsin civil forfeiture laws.
Step 6: Leave suspect in jail. Tell friends and relatives to go home.
Step 7: Apply 70 percent of seized bail money to departmental budget.
A joke? Not at all. In the story, Brown County Drug Task Force Director Lt. Dave Poteat said "it 'isn't unusual' for his task force to seize bail money under forfeiture laws. 'I'd say we've done it maybe eight or nine times this year.'"
The take-home lesson? In Wisconsin, don't let cops get anywhere near your cash.
TDOB Index, May 23, 2012: 245
As the above story illustrates, one of the most outrageous aspects of civil forfeiture is the use of canine sniff tests to justify seizing someone's cash. The owner of the cash is often not charged with anything; the cash, howeverâ€”a pile of paper and inkâ€”is presumed guilty of a crime. If the dog says that the money was in the vicinity of drugs at some point in the past, that is all the reason police need to seize the money and keep it for themselves. That's all it takes!
A few thoughts come to mind immediately.
For one thing, who are these dogs? They're well-trained, so the police claim, but who's to say they're foolproof? Humans aren't, so why should a dog be? The truth is, we have no idea what a police dog might alert to. Maybe another dog peed on a dollar and the police dog wants to hump it. Maybe somebody set their hamburger on the money and the dog smells that. Maybe the dog smells drugs on his handler's shoe from a previous bust. Maybe there are traces of drugs on the floor underneath the money. Maybe the dog is alerting to a legal drug that has similar properties to an illegal drug. Maybe the dog is having a bad day and wants to screw somebody over. At the very least, police should be required to run chemical tests on the money to verify the dog's wild accusations. But they're not, and they don't.
Second, how do we know that the dog alerted to anything? In most cases, there is only the handler's word for that, and the handler has a direct financial incentive to say the dog smelled drugs. As soon as he or she says that, the money is whisked away and deposited into a police bank account. By the time the case gets to court, if it ever does, the actual money is long gone. How do we know the dog hasn't been trained to alert to the sight of a hundred-dollar bill, with or without drugs on it? How do we know the handler doesn't have some kind of signal that tells the dog to go into alert mode, whether or not drugs are present?
Third, if money can be guilty, shouldn't it be locked in a cell somewhere, so that it can't do any more harm to the community? How can it be put to work for the police? It's illegal for human inmates to be put to work for the police. Why isn't the guilty money sentenced to community service or probation instead?
Fourth, what if a police dog sniffed you and alerted to drugs, even though you had no drugs on you? Could the police grab you and make you paint their headquarters?
These days, I'm not so sure the answer would be no.
TDOB Index, May 24, 2012: 246
On May 17, 2012, I sent the following missive to the Duluth City Council:
Councilors: It has now been eight months since police raided the Last Place on Earth and seized over $80,000 in cash, 28 guns and all the computers. No charges have been filed against Jim Carlson, the store's owner, nor has his property been returned. I feel that in police investigations in a free society, one of these two outcomes must happen. Otherwise, the police are free to take a citizen's property and keep it indefinitely for no reason. This is a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. When regular citizens do such a thing, it is called stealing.
The police department being sensitive to publicity, it is my belief that city councilors, by calling attention to this issue--even by making a single remark--could help to achieve some sort of resolution of the issue: that is, get charges filed or have the property returned. I respectfully request that you do something to help this situation get back on the rails of common sense.
All right, so three hours after I post the above comment, Councilor Larson responds to my email of eight days ago.
Councilor Emily Larson: "Hi John, Thanks for your email. I've copied David Montgomery, our Chief Administration Officer for the City of Duluth, in case he wishes to weigh in on where we are at in terms of investigation. Thanks much."
I cannot believe how wrong I have been all these years. I have always listed Stauber at the very, very bottom of my "People I Would Vote for City Council" list. But he is, apparently, the only city official who will actually say that a) you have a good point, and b) shouldn't we be discussing this?
All my previous lefty votes for Duluth officials, starting with Mayor Ness: wrong.
All the councilors who are ignoring this, and/or making vacuous 'Thanks for your email!" comments: everyone but Stauber.
Guess I will be changing my local voting pattern. In the meantime, thank you Councilor Stauber for getting at least a little involved in this.
And I'll bet you there's not a single one of those lefties who doesn't firmly believe that, if they had been alive during Duluth's infamous lynchings, they would have been one of the brave few trying to save the lives of the circus workers. However, seeing that these same lefties can't even take a stand to protect Jim Carlson, whose harassment is serious, but less serious than lynching, I doubt they would have made the slightest effort at all to save the circus workers. To do so, they would have had to defy the will of the community, the vast majority of whom believed the lynching was the right thing to do. I see no evidence that any of our current crop of lefties would dream of defying the community on anything. Many of them, I suspect, would have quietly made themselves scarce until the lynching was done.
It's easy to point fingers at the past and preach about how unenlightened everybody was back then. It's a lot harder to apply the same principles of justice to real problems of the here and now. Sellers of synthetic drugs, it seems, occupy the same reviled position in Duluth today that black circus workers accused of rape occupied eighty years ago. Standing up for their rights is not supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It's supposed to be difficult. It's supposed to put you at odds with your neighbors. You may not even like the people you're standing up for. That's what makes standing up all the more important. If we claim to believe in these things called constitutional principles at all, somebody has to stand up for those who are hated.
The parallels between the two cases are not perfect, of course. But they're parallel enough. Modern people may be enlightened when it comes to issues that are decades old, but they're gutless and self-absorbed when it comes to issues of today. Our politicians are bureaucrats and pencil-pushers, not people who have any interest in unfashionable subjects like citizens' rights. Especially not when drugs are involved. Jim Carlson is so hated that people don't care how serious the violations being perpetrated against him are.
Well, that's enough for today. There's no need to rush things. The TDOB Index is going to be around for a long, long time.
TDOB Index, May 26, 2012: 248
Seven of Nine is my favorite Star Trek character. You forgot the jewelry, they took jewels too.
While the rest of the world discusses legalization of drugs.
Drugs: The Rebellion in Cartagena
I think I might have been born a couple of hundred years too late. Back then, fiery rhetoric was valued. Nowadays, people just turn away and pretend to be texting.
Two hundred and forty-nine days ago, police raided the Last Place on Earth and seized over $80,000 in cash, $50,000 in inventory, computers, video cameras, financial records, 28 guns, attorney-client communications, store surveillance tapes, Jim Carlson's jewelry and the change out of his pockets. Despite the vanloads of potential evidence, they haven't charged anybody with anything yet.
"I don't know what everybody's big fat problem is," Lt. Steve Stracek growled to reporters. "That was only a little over eight months ago. Some of these investigations take centuries."
TDOB Index, May 27, 2012: 249
Mayor Ness celebrated Memorial Day by thanking area veterans for fighting to protect American freedoms.
"We don't really bother with them much any more," Ness said, "but it's cool that you went to the trouble."
He concluded his remarks with a little impromptu air guitar.
TDOB Index, May 28, 2012: 250
Victoria Jackson Yawns ..... yawn.
From State Auditor Rebecca Otto
Release of Criminal Forfeitures Report
ST. PAUL (5/29/12) -- For your planning purposes, State Auditor Rebecca Otto will release the Report on Criminal Forfeitures in Minnesota on Wednesday, May 30. The report provides information on the amount of cash and property seized subject to forfeiture by Minnesota law enforcement agencies in 2010.
We will be sending you a press release with the report's highlights and a link to the report once it has been released.
The story in Emmadogs's link, above, references Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police officers, prosecutors and judges who believe that the war on drugs is a dismal failure that should be ended. I feel a little boost in my spirits, just knowing such a group exists. LEAP's website features a number of videos from its members, discussing their feelings about drug prohibition. The following statement comes from Captain Peter Christ (retired) of the Tonawanda, New York police department.
"We have created this myth in our society, and the press has helped further the myth, because they use terms like 'drug-related shooting,' which implies that drugs were involved. Let me give you a quick example. February 14, 1929, Chicago, Illinois. There was a shootingâ€”seven people in a garage mowed down. I went back to the Internet and checked all the old newspaper articles I could find about that incident, and not one person that wrote an article about that shooting referred to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre as an alcohol-related shooting. They all knew that alcohol may have been the product, but that shooting wasn't about a bunch of people who got drunk and shot seven people in a garage. That shooting was motivated by people that wanted to make sure that nobody got between Al Capone and his money. These are money-related shootings. They are not drug-related shootings. And according to the federal government, in a study they did in the late Eighties in New York City....seventy-five percent of the [drug] violence was associated with what they called in their report 'marketplace disputes.' That isn't people being high on drugs. That's people fighting over cash."
A story about the Last Place on Earth in the current issue of Zenith City Weekly has some interesting tidbits, including a quote from Deputy Police Chief Robin Roeser saying that the police "fully intend to charge [Jim Carlson] at some point in time."
Well, that's good to know. Then I guess the TDOB Index will end at some point in time, too. The question is when? How long will it take the police to test the synthetic drugs they seized for illegal compounds?
The answer, as of right now, is 252 days. They must really be doing a thorough investigation. The entire police force must be crouched over electron microscopes twenty-four hours a day, going over every particle and flake of the seized drugs. I wonder if they'll be done soon?
"Depends on how you define 'soon,'" says Roeser.
I define it like the dictionary does. Here's what my Scribner's says:
soon adv 1 in a short time; shortly; 2 in the near or immediate future; 3 quickly; promptly.
I see where a local marijuana grower got five years in prison for pursuing the crime of agriculture. It almost makes me physically ill to read stories like this--all of that time wasted and law-enforcement resources squandered to make society worse off.
TDOB Index, May 31, 2012: 253
Another ridiculous aspect of the war on drugs is the widespread practice of drug testing people for employment at menial jobs. As if the lives of the poor weren't tough enough, now society is telling them that if they choose to smoke a little weed on their own time, they're not allowed to stock shelves at Home Depot. It's like the turn of the century, when prospective employers snooped around your home and interrogated your neighbors to make sure you had good character.
Members of Congress and CEOs of corporations don't get drug tested, but the people who make their beds and serve them steaks do. The people who open doors for them do. The people who fight their wars do. I'm pretty sureâ€”no, I'm absolutely certainâ€”that if you could get the powerful to piss into cups, the percentage of them testing positive for drugs would be the same as that of the help. But the help aren't the ones who make the laws, so the hypocrisy rolls on, blanketing the country like smog.
TDOB Index, June 1, 2012: 254
Rock on, Ramos!
Maybe if marijuana was legalized, there'd be less bath salt face-chewing going on.
"There will always be alcoholics, heavy smokers, and drug addicts, but a society that provides for the welfare of its citizens is likely to produce fewer of them." from Emmadogs' link above.
Someone once asked comic book writer Neil Gaiman why he was a supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They used as an example of some of the most disgusting comics defended by the CBLDF and asked why he would want to defend such filth. Neil replied that in order to defend comic books, you have to defend *all* comic books, even the disgusting ones. You can't draw the line and say "these comics I like, so they get first amendment rights, but these I don't, so they get censored."
The same is true here. You don't get to say "well, this business got illegally busted by the police, its property kept for longer than legal, and the cops are still holding their stuff, but it's OK because I don't like what LPOE was selling." If you use that excuse, then Pure Pleasure gets busted, but it's OK because you don't use dildos. Then the strip clubs get busted, but it's OK, because you don't approve of stripping. Then the cigarette shop get busted, but that's OK, because you don't smoke. Then your favorite bar gets busted, but it's OK because you don't drink whiskey, but wait, you actually liked to hanging out there. Then the library gets busted, but it's OK, because you were never going to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" anyway... but wait, you like going there for other books. The local photographer gets busted for racy bondage photos, but it's OK because you don't like seeing that stuff ... but wait, you liked their outdoor photographs as well. Etc. etc. etc.
The point is, you don't get to pick and choose what is "legal" and what is "not legal" based on what your particular opinion of a business is. If at the time LPOE was busted its marijuana-alternative was legal under state law, then the police need to concede that the bust was a failure, and they need to return Carlson's property. If you find the law's excuses acceptable, then remember that when your vice/alternative publisher/artist gets busted. It's a slippery slope.
Even if the police have some intention of returning Jim Carlson's property at some point in time, I doubt that it will happen before August 1. On that day, the new, tougher laws against synthetics take effect, and all of the seized drugs sitting in the evidence room really will become illegal. The police don't want Carlson to make any money off those, not if they can help it, no no no.
It's all pure harassment at this point, anyway, so why not drag it out for another couple of months and take another $50,000 out of Carlson's pocket? It's a nice way to punish somebody without charging him with a crime. All the police have to do is say they're still investigating, even if everybody knows that's nonsense.
I've never understood why police officers seem to dislike the U.S. Constitution so much. You'd think they would support it, right? The law of the land? The foundation of our freedom? But in practice, they do everything they can to restrict and ignore it. It's baffling.
TDOB Index, June 2, 2012: 255
@Bad Cat, I'm no prude ... I understand the hypocrisy of my assertions. I just get uber riled when I see children in strollers in the cold in line in front of that place. @Adam, I have seen it and I'm not alone. And I don't want it out of sight because it ruins the hipster utopia of "old Duluth," I want Carlson to stop providing access to dangerous synthetics, go ask a local emergency room nurse or doctor about their experience of the effects of these chemicals. It's sad and idiotic to waive this flag in the name of constitutional freedom, does nothing but assert the right to kill yourself and ruin the lives of children. I won't salute that right. On the other hand, I'm entirely supportive of legalization (if you choose to use). If people were standing in line in the cold with their toddlers to buy black-light posters and switch-blade combs, I'd stomp my feet about that too.
Yours truly, Victoria Jackson
Our freedoms are completely illusory of only the Popular Favorites can count on their protections. June is Gay Pride month. As a middle aged, married heterosexual woman, I am getting out my Pride Tshirt to wear in support of my gay and lesbian citymates. I remember when gays were not given the protection of the laws, because so many people despised them. I hope that time is over soon.
Why am I comparing Carlson to this? "I think what he does is gross and harmful to society and to our children." How many people has this been said of, to justify excluding them from the protection of the laws, and to justify police abuse?
You, my fellow PDDrs, are only a step away from losing your rights, if your rights are completely contingent on you meeting the approval of the police and of your citymates.
PS vote for equal rights for gay marriage this November. (Sorry for the thread jack Ramos, but I reckoned you wouldn't mind.)
I'm not convinced that synthetic marijuana is as nightmarishly dangerous as Baci, the police, the Duluth News Tribune and most of the community seem to believe. My personal feeling is that synthetic marijuana is somewhat more harmful than real marijuana, but not quite as destructive as alcohol. Just look at how extensively it's being used in Duluth. Shouldn't the bodies be piling up like cordwood? Instead, the problems associated with synthetic weed tend to be low-level, nuisance problems: loitering, panhandling, blocking access to another business's doorway, etc. I do not see much evidence that people are "kill[ing] themselves and ruin[ing] the lives of children."
Even the emergency-room anecdotes that I hear lack a certain deadliness. People under the influence of synthetic weed come in withâ€”what, an elevated heart rate? Oh, my goodness! Paranoia? Oh, no! Obviously you're going to have an increase in emergency-room visits over a few years ago, because synthetic marijuana didn't exist a few years ago. That doesn't mean it's some kind of epidemic.
I know that if even one death attributable to synthetic marijuana occurred in Duluth, a lot of people would point at me and say, "See! That's what it does! You're responsible!" Yet deaths attributable to alcohol occur in Duluth by the hundreds every year (overdoses, car crashes, liver cirrhosis, exposure, accidental) and there's no big uproar over that. Duluth's synthetic panic is driven by a fear of the unknown, horror at seeing so many poor people gathered together in one place and a double standard big enough to choke a hippopotamusâ€”not by anything particularly dangerous in the chemicals themselves.
Even the whole thing about seeing children in line...I say, so what? They're outside, enjoying the fresh air, associating with their friends. Not everybody has a corner lot in Woodland, surrounded by a picket fence, where their (white, middle-class) kids can cavort with butterflies and a carefully-approved roster of playmates. Some kids just get tossed into life. The ones that I see in front of the Last Place don't seem any more unhappy than any other ones. I don't really think it's my place to make gigantic judgment calls about their parents, just because they're standing in a line. Actually, I'm a little more disdainful of people who stand in line all night for a new Star Wars movie or Harry Potter book. But I don't call the police.
TDOB Index, June 3, 2012: 256
People with children make bad choices on lots of different things. You only know about LPOE parents' bad choices, as there is media footage to go along with it. If we started legislating "dumb parents" we'd never stop (note, I'm not including "harmful parents" in with "dumb parents" - we have laws that govern those actions, as well should be).
"Brandon Keim reports that the war on drugs has a new front with chemists fabricating synthetic mimics of marijuana, dissociative drugs and stimulants, and so far lawmakers appear to be a losing the war as every time a new compound is banned, overseas chemists synthesize a new version tweaked just enough to evade the letter of the law in a giant game of chemical Whack-a-Mole. "Manufacturers turn these things around so quickly. One week you'll have a product with compound X, the next week it's compound Y," says forensic toxicologist Kevin Shanks. "It's fascinating how fast it can occur, and it's fascinating to see the minute changes in chemical structure they'll come up with. It's similar, but it's different." During the last several years, the market for legal highs has exploded in North America and Europe and while people raised on Reefer Madness-style exaggerations may be wary of claims that "legal high" drugs are dangerous, researchers say they're far more potent than the originals. Reports of psychotic episodes following synthetic drug use are common and have led to a variety of laws but so far the bans aren't working as the drugs can be subtly tweaked so as to possess a different, legal molecular form. One obvious alternative approach is to ban entire classes of similar compounds; however this is easier said than done. 'The problem with that is, what does "chemically similar" really mean? Change the structure in a small way â€” move a molecule here, move something to the other side of the molecule â€” and while I might think it's an analogue, another chemist might disagree,' says Shanks. 'That's the crux of the entire problem. The scientific community does not agree on what "analogue" essentially means.""
I'm not sure I'd go as far to say that the concerns over "spice" are unfounded. Especially as the ingredients have historically (if one can use that word in this context) changed pretty rapidly to try and circumvent controlled substance updates. I don't think the manufacturers have any particular concern over the health of their consumers, and go through great pains to distance themselves from any liability ("not for human consumption" *wink wink*)
I do concur that a large part of the problem is the over-concern surrounding relatively safer substances.
Panic is not warranted, absolutely true. But the disregard the manufacturers and sellers have shown puts me pretty firmly in the close it down camp. Hell they have worse practices than the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA (a historically troublesome pairing there), and that puts them pretty far in the unethical side of things as far as I'm concerned.
As to the LPOE, yeah I think holding onto the cash and computers for so long is beyond the pale.
Taking a cue from their brethren in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota and Michigan, law enforcement agencies in Georgia have embraced the wonderful world of civil forfeiture with open arms. In 2012, the number of civil forfeitures in Georgia have already surpassed those in any of the previous four years, according to a recent story in the Augusta Chronicle.
Such a case was filed May 15 and stems from a McDuffie County traffic stop Oct. 19 on Interstate 20. According to the complaint, two sheriff's deputies smelled marijuana coming from the car, and the driver, William Ewell Jr., said he'd been arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession "back in the day." A search of the car found a duffel bag that contained "a strong odor of raw marijuana" and a book bag with marijuana flakes, but no drugs.
Deputies seized $15,252 in bundles of cash from the car that night, which Ewell said was a payment to his Florence, S.C., business, Grind Brothas. The next night, the same rental car was stopped and again the odor of burnt marijuana was coming from the car, according to the complaint. A passenger, Brittney Williams, was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Deputies seized $3,297 in cash that night, for a combined claim of $18,549.
And then there's Tewksbury, Massachusetts, where the local police force and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are trying to seize an entire motel, because they say drug activity occurred there. Please note: Russ Caswell, owner of the Caswell Motel, is not charged with anything. Authorities have said he is innocent of any crime and that he has cooperated with them. It's his motel they have a problem with. The case filed in U.S. District Court bears the title United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts. It's the USA versus a chunk of property!
The case, which is being defended by the Institute for Justice, received some well-deserved national attention in a recent George Will column. Why was the Caswell Motel targeted, and not some other motel with alleged drug activity? According to Will, "A federal drug agent operating in this region roots around in public records in search of targets â€” property with at least $50,000 equity." The Caswell Motel could fetch $1.5 million at auction, eighty percent of which would be given to the Tewksbury Police Department.
This is not some dystopian vision of the future. It's happening right now. As law enforcement becomes more and more dependent on civil forfeiture for their budgets, the cases we see will become more and more brazen. How much of this will the public tolerate? It's hard to say. Whenever the word "drugs" is mentioned, the public seems willing to tolerate an awful lot. It drives me up a wall.
TDOB Index, June 5, 2012: 258
A story in the paper today describes a sting operation by the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force that resulted in 22 people being arrested on heroin-related charges. The article doesn't mention whether the suspects are users or dealers, or both (the police department press release must not have specified) but it does say that the investigation took about six months. The investigation into Jim Carlson is now approaching its nine-month anniversary. Does the Guinness Book of World Records have a category for "Longest Investigation Without Charges Being Filed"? I hope so.
TDOB Index, June 7, 2012: 260
WDIO's "Heroin Bust in Duluth" story says 23 and a NNC article says 24 arrests ... but that's not why I responded.
I overheard the other day (pure hearsay) that the DPD is waiting to charge until after the August (September?) 1 date that outlaws a lot of these "synth" drugs ... again, overheard, potentially false info, read into it what you will ... and in waiting, they can charge him for those previous "crimes" even though they occurred before the law went into effect.
Hopefully someone can disprove this as being an impossibility and restore my faith in the DPD. I don't think this synthetic chemical should be legal (I am in favor of legalization of marijuana (and all drugs with proper gov't assistance programs, check out Portugal for evidence that drug reform laws work), but prosecuting (and persecuting) a business owner for selling a legal (at the time) product and paying taxes is asinine.
Just my $.02
De man, you can't be charged criminally for doing something that was legal at the time you did it/sold it, but became illegal after you did it. I doubt the DPD will have to return the synthetic chemicals once they become illegal, but I would assume they would have to return the still-legal items (cash, computers,etc.).
But then again, I assumed the DPD would have had to return Carlson's property by now. So what do I know?
p.s. That doesn't restore faith in law enforcement, but in our Constitution.
If the police dare to charge Carlson with selling illegal drugs that were legal when he sold them, eleven months earlier, I will go ballistic. Terrible though our drug laws are, I can't believe they're that warped and debased. A perversion like that would not end the TDOB Index. It might make me start a new one.
TDOB Index, June 8, 2012: 261
Because civil forfeiture cases bring legal action against objects and not people, the case names reflect this. The Caswell Motel suit mentioned above is one example. My favorite is State of Texas vs. One 2004 Chevrolet Silverado.
Zaher El-Ali, a Texas real estate and car salesman, sold the Silverado to a customer on credit. El-Ali retained title to the vehicle until it was paid off. The customer was subsequently arrested for drunk driving, his third offense, and sentenced to six years in jail. The government seized the Silverado and filed a civil forfeiture action against it. El-Ali, the innocent owner of the truck, does not understand this.
"The truck does not drink," El-Ali explained in an interview with a local TV station.
With the help of the Institute for Justice, El-Ali is fighting the forfeiture. In a column in the Houston Chronicle, he described his fight and the opposition he has faced in trying to get his truck back.
In February I received a pile of "discovery" demands from the prosecutor. In it, the state demanded to know whether I had asked about the buyer's previous drunken-driving arrests before I sold him the truck. I never knew I had such a burden to investigate the backgr