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Where Are The Oversight Records for St. Louis County's Drug Task Force?

Categories: Drugs

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St. Louis County Drug Task Force/Facebook
St. Louis County's drug task force may be making the busts (like this one), but who is doing the oversight?
The more Aaron Malin digs into St. Louis-area drug task forces, the more worried he gets.

Daily RFT readers may remember how last year Malin, a researcher with marijuana reform group Show-Me Cannabis, uncovered public records of a St. Louis city drug task force. The records included breakdowns of arrest data and budgeting documents listing $200,000 from state and federal grants, yet when Malin asked St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officials about the task force, he kept getting the same answer -- the task force doesn't exist.

Last week, Malin and Show-Me Cannabis turned their sights on St. Louis County police. In a formal complaint to the Missouri Attorney General, Malin accuses the county's multi-jurisdictional drug task force of failing to provide minutes of their oversight meetings. Malin suspects the meetings never occurred.

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Nixon Pardons Nine Nonviolent Offenders, Ignores Man Serving Life for Pot

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Kholood Eid
Jeff Mizanskey has languished in prison for more than twenty years -- all on nonviolent pot charges.
As far as late Christmas presents go, Governor Jay Nixon's decision to pardon nine nonviolent offenders is as big and unprecedented as they come.

But for a governor who, before Monday, has pardoned only one person since taking office in 2009, the list of formerly naughty Missourians is arguably more notable for the name it doesn't include.

While the eight men and one woman Nixon pardoned yesterday already served their sentences for felony and misdemeanor crimes ranging from minor theft, writing bad checks and marijuana possession, there's no mention of Jeff Mizanskey, the only inmate in the state who's currently serving a life sentence without parole for three nonviolent pot charges.

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Billboard for Jeff Mizanskey, Man Serving Life for Pot, Placed Near Governor's Mansion

Categories: Drugs, Politics

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Show-Me Cannabis
Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for nearly 21 years.

Governor Jay Nixon is the only person in the world who has the authority to release Jeff Mizanskey from prison. And activists want to make sure he's reminded of that every time he leaves his house.

The marijuana reform group Show-Me Cannabis recently purchased billboard space less than two miles away from the governor's mansion. The billboard urges people to call Nixon directly and ask for the release of Mizanskey, who is 21 years into a life-without-parole sentence for marijuana-only charges.

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Two Killed, One Wounded In Drug-Related Shooting in Downtown St. Louis

Categories: Code Dead, Drugs

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Google Maps
The shooting occurred around 2:35 p.m. in front of the Drury Plaza Hotel (left) at Fourth and Market.
Two men were killed during an apparent drug-related shooting yesterday in broad daylight near the Arch grounds.

Police say two male occupants of a red Oldsmobile Alero fired shots into a burgundy Dodge Caliber SUV near Gravois Avenue and Russell Boulevard as a result of a drug sale. The confrontation continued as both vehicles drove into downtown, before finally stopping at Fourth and Market streets just blocks away from Busch Stadium where some fans were already gathering for last night's playoff game.

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Is the St. Louis Metro Police Department Hiding a Drug Task Force?

Categories: Drugs, Police

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St. Louis Metro Police/Facebook
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department received $200,000 in grant funding for a drug task force that they say does not exist.

That might sound strange, but city officials tell Aaron Malin, a researcher for Show-Me Cannabis, the marijuana reform group, that they don't know about any so-called "drug task force." And that's despite several government records showing that grant money has been awarded to the non-existent drug task force and other records that tally the number of arrests the unit has made. These records were obtained by Malin via Missouri Sunshine requests.

Malin tells Daily RFT that he believes there can only be two explanations.

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Missouri Drug Task Forces Seize a Lot of Money and Don't Keep Close Records Of Where it Goes

Categories: Crime, Drugs, Police

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When drug task forces in Missouri confiscate money and valuables during narcotics investigations, they keep about 80 percent of what they seize through a federal asset forfeiture program. They are supposed to document what that money is used for, whether it's new equipment, overtime, or other expenses.

However, the form they fill out is vague and the drug task forces themselves say they aren't sure where much of the money goes without the help of accountants to figure it out.

According to Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force 2013 asset forfeiture report, which was obtained by Aaron Malin of Show-Me Cannabis through a Missouri Sunshine request, more than $141,000 out of $204,991 in seized assets spent by the task force was put in the "other" category.

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People Are Using More Heroin Because It's Cheaper Than Painkillers

Categories: Drugs

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wikimedia/hendrike
Doing heroin just makes good economic sense.
A new study conducted by Wash. U. says that an increasing number of drug addicts simply can't afford fancy painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin anymore, so they're switching to a cheaper alternative: heroin.

Dr. Theodore J. Cicero and his team based the findings on data collected between 2010 and 2013 from 150 drug-treatment centers across the country, which included surveys completed by 9,000 painkiller addicts. They found that 2,800 of these patients said heroin was their primary drug. But the researchers found that in many cases, it wasn't because the patients wanted it.

"Heroin has now been cleverly marketed by dealers as a cheaper and more accessible alternative," Cicero, a psychiatrist who studies opioid addiction, tells Daily RFT. "Interestingly, most people don't want heroin as their drug of choice, but can't afford their preferred opioid of choice."

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St. Louis Native Amber Lyon Starts News Site Devoted to "Psychedelic Journalism"

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Reset.me/Youtube
Psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico.
As a journalist for CNN, St. Louisan Amber Lyon had reported on some heavy issues, including war, government oppression, and sex trafficking. Being around that took its toll, and she showed symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But instead of taking prescription medication for relief, Lyon turned to natural psychedelics, and the experience led her to create Reset.me, a news website devoted to psychedelic journalism.

The site, set to launch this month, aims to be a resource for people interested in learning more about psychedelics like ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms as treatments for a wide range of mental and physical ailments. But before last year, Lyon says she had never tried any of these substances before. A straight-edge woman from Chesterfield, Lyon only tried ayahuasca out of desperation to cure her PTSD.

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Gov. Nixon Evades Questions About Jeff Mizanskey, Man Serving Life in Prison for Pot

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Gov. Jay Nixon
Governor Jay Nixon came to St. Louis on Friday for a ceremony celebrating the building of a dental school. And after the event, he finally addressed the topic of granting clemency to Jeff Mizanskey, the man who has been in prison for more than twenty years, serving a life without parole sentence for marijuana charges.

Well, maybe "addressed" is being a bit generous.

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Child Accidentally Shoots Brother, Media Blames Marijuana

Categories: Crime, Drugs

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Wikimedia/Gale82
A tragic accident involving a four-year-old shooting his three-year-old brother occurred Sunday. Fortunately, the younger brother is OK, but because the father was in another room allegedly smoking marijuana, the St. Louis County police and local media decided to make that the focus of the story.

The shooting happened around noon on Sunday. A loaded gun was hidden inside a closet, and the child was able to reach it. He and his brother played with the gun and it went off, a bullet striking the younger brother in the left shoulder. The child was treated at a local hospital for soft-tissue injury and released.

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