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Thursday Open Thread: Aspen Bound

I'm off to NORML's annual Aspen legal conference. My talk this year: "Federal Responses to Marijuana Legalization, Both Good and Bad." Here's the entire agenda, it's a privilege to be included with these impressive lawyers.

I'll be back Saturday night, after the annual Owl Farm picnic.

Enjoy the weekend, the weather is beautiful here. This is an open thread, all topics welcome.(I'll put up new open threads if this one fills up.)

(Date corrected from Friday to Thursday)

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Aspen Bound and Another Open Thread

It's time for the Annual NORML legal conference in Aspen. As always, I'll be staying with Anita at Owl Farm in Woody Creek, just outside of Aspen -- and with the peacocks. (And, she tells me 29 other animals.)

I'll leave you with a note that Hunter had on his fridge. I have no idea what he meant, but it seems particularly topical. [More...]

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Christmas Presents for Aspen Inmates

The tradition of making Christmas as pleasant as possible for the inmates at the Pitkin County jail continues. Deputy Sheriff and jail administrator Don Bird says the inmates will not only get their special Christmas day meals, but also wake up to little presents outside their cell door.

[P]roviding good food and a couple of small gifts for those who are incarcerated goes a long way toward helping morale at what can be an exceptionally hard time of the year.

“Nobody’s getting anything pricey,” Bird said. “It’s just something that somebody can get on Christmas so [when] they get up in the morning, there’s something outside their door.”

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DEA and Aspen: They Just Can't See Eye to Eye

The latest in the ongoing strife between the DEA and Pitkin County Sheriff's. The DEA thinks they are the good guys. The majority of the community, as evident by its overwhelming rejection of pro-drug war Sheriff candidates since 1976 say otherwise. [More...]

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Aspen Sheriff Says War on Drugs is a Failure

In the continuing saga of the DEA vs. Aspen, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo says he did nothing out of the ordinary by stopping by a 65th birthday party for a long-time Aspen resident who had a pending drug charge. The party was at a local hotel. He stayed 15 minutes and didn't even have a drink. In the wake of criticism of his decision to attend the party, and whether it was a mistake, he said yesterday:

“Well, it’s hard for me to say anything else but ‘of course’ now, looking back. But in the day-to-day life of the way I’ve been for the last 30 years in Aspen, it just seems like another thing that I do. It just seems like another type of [a] day in the life of an Aspenite, and maybe even the Pitkin County sheriff. At least for the last 40 years.”

After reiterating that the majority of the Aspen community is opposed to undercover drug operations, and that they pose a safety risk, he addresses the war on drugs: [More...]

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Aspen Officials Blast DEA Over Unannounced Arrests

The Pitkin County Commissioners in Aspen met a few weeks ago and condemned the DEA's recent bust of a group of retirement-age drug suspects. More here.

Yesterday they wrote the DEA a letter, lambasting the agency for not telling local law enforcement what they were up to. The Commissioners urge the DEA to "“reconsider the directive you've given to your field agents and employees that places innocent people at risk.”

The letter has more details of the meeting between DEA and local law enforcement after the most recent bust.

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Aspen: Sheriff's Candidates All Admit Prior Drug Use

I've been following the Aspen Sheriff's race and rooting for Deputy Sheriff Joe Di Salvo, who has promised to continue the policies of long-time and much beloved Sheriff Bob Braudis, who is retiring. Last week I wrote about the candidates' debate on undercover activity in the county (DiSalvo, like Braudis, opposes it, saying it fosters mistrust in the community.)

Last night, the three candidates faced the local media for what is called "Squirm Night." It's just what it sounds like: the candidates are asked questions that might make them squirm.

What came out: Two of the three had been arrested, and all three had used illegal drugs, although one couldn't remember the last time and a second only admitted to smoking pot in Amsterdam six years ago. I think DiSalvo gave the most honest answer. He gave no excuses (like "it was legal where I did it" or "I can't remember") and said simply, "1984." [More...]

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Sunday Afternoon: Homeward Bound

We're driving back from Aspen. Another great weekend at Owl Farm with the NORML lawyers. It rained all day yesterday but that didn't stop the outdoor picnic (Anita had tents brought in.) The Red Tones played for hours, the food was great and we all missed Hunter. Friday night, Aspen top chef Chris Lantern of Cache Cache cooked another incredible feast for 200 at Gerry and Chris Goldstein's home.

it was the TL kid's first time staying at Owl Farm. He got to sleep in Johnny Depp's room and got a weekend course on all things Hunter, including watching a slew of old videos even I had never seen. He had a great time. He says it was like stepping into an alternate reality.

As to the current state of drug law reform, while we all recognized there's been progress the past few years with medical marijuana, we are also aware things go in cycles and another backlash is always around the corner. We are still years away from where we need to be. For those of us who have been fighting the battle in courtrooms for decades, we're so glad to see more and more of the next generation of lawyers joining us.

This is my first full blog post on my iPad as we're still driving. Just got to the top of Vail Pass. I'll be back blogging tonight.

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Thursday Open Thread: Aspen Bound

The TL kid and I are headed up to Aspen for the annual NORML drug law conference. There's live coverage this year. We're staying with Anita at Owl Farm. The TL kid gets to sleep in Johnny Depp's room. (No, he won't be there, it's called that because it's the room he always slept in when he visited Hunter.) Here's the speaking agenda . I'll be speaking Saturday on new forms of electronic surveillance.

I'll have my iPad and my laptop and will be checking in, and maybe posting occasionally. (I will be following developments in Peru with Joran Van der Sloot but won't be able to devote as much time to them.)

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Charlie Sheen's Plea Deal Keeps Getting Better

Charlie Sheen, who will plead guilty to misdemeanor assault tomorrow in Aspen, just got another benefit added on: He's going to be able to get work release during his 18 day county jail stint to teach at a local theatre and it will apply to his useful public service obligation. The jail's guidelines are here.

I still think Sheen is being treated more harshly because of his celebrity, and it seems even the D.A. doesn't disagree:

“He's really not getting anything different than the average person under similar circumstances would receive,” [D.A. Arnold] Mordkin said, “and perhaps, he's receiving a little more harsh treatment.”

Also, apparently the jail has been getting so many media inquiries as to whether it's really a jail or just a comfy country club, Sheriff Bob Braudis is holding a media conference at 4:00 pm to explain. [More...]

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Good News: Aspen Undersheriff Enters Sheriff's Race

Last week I wrote that Aspen's much beloved, long-time sheriff, Bob Braudis, decided not to run for re-election. He's been Sheriff for 24 years and a great one, who believes, among other things, the best jail is an empty one.

I was troubled that Aspen police officer Rick Magnuson, whose views are light years from Braudis, and who unsuccessfully challenged Braudis (with some dirty tricks) immediately announced he would run for the job in November. (Braudis raised 10 times the amount of money Magnuson raised in 2006, which tells you something about how the locals feel about their sheriff.)

Good news, Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo has thrown his hat in the ring. DiSalvo is a good guy who shares Braudis' enlightened philosophy. Like telling the DEA to stay out of Dodge. [More...]

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Off to Aspen, OpenThread

I'm off to Aspen for the 2009 NORML Legal Seminar (that's me giving my talk in 2006.) Sad to say, not too much has changed since then, but at least some changes to our country's draconian drug laws are in the works. My topic this year: "High Hopes and Modest Expectations: Drug Law Reform under President Obama and a Democratic Congress." [More...]

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Bill Clinton Compares Obama and McCain on Environment

Former President Bill Clinton is in Aspen at the Ideas Festival. Today he's playing golf, but he spoke yesterday to a crowd of 700.

Via Troy Hooper, Editor of the Aspen Daily News, in the Denver Post:

It's well-documented that Clinton is no angel either but he remains a rock star of the Democratic Party and was the headliner at the festival, hosted by the Aspen Institute.

He filled the Greenwald Pavilion with more than 700 high-powered attendees who greeted him with an extended standing ovation. Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was seated next to Gen. Colin Powell front and center.

Much of Clinton's remarks centered on the Africa election in Zimbabwe, calling for Robert Mugabe either to step down or "form a power-sharing arrangement with his chief opponent."

He didn't mention Hillary or the Democratic nomination for President, but he had this to say about John McCain and Barack Obama on environmental policy: [More...]

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Off to Aspen for NORML Drug Law Seminar

It's that time of year again. I'm off to Aspen for the NORML Aspen Legal Seminar. My topic this year: Crackadoodledoo! A New Dawn in Crack Cocaine Sentencing. (I only wish it were true.) Here's the full schedule.

Like last year, I'll be staying in Woody Creek at Hunter Thompson's Owl Farm, with his wife Anita and his longtime Washington editor, Shelby Sadler. And of course, the peacocks.[More...]

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Sopranos Final Episode: Fans Have a Right to be Angry

I put up a Sopranos open thread before the start of Sunday night's finale as I have every week the past two seasons. I was too angry after the show to add my thoughts. I waited until I slept on it and watched it again. My final reaction: Count me among those who are livid.

Like many viewers I've watched every episode of the show. Unlike the most obsessed viewers, I cannot recall all the players in all the episodes in all the seasons. I just enjoyed the show as I watched. It was entertainment. I never saw any greater message in the show, never cross-checked the minor characters with their real actor names to see if they re-appeared in future episodes and didn't analyze the dialog or action searching for clues.

But, at the end of each show I wondered what would happen next. I never expected that the final episode would be one in which nothing happened.

More...

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